2 December 2014

How to Sew an Invisible Zip

How to Sew an Invisible Zip

An invisible zip is my favourite kind of fastening to sew into my clothing. The teeth are hidden on the wrong side of the zip, so all you see from the outside of the garment is a subtle seam line. Gorgeous!

I’m going to show you how to insert an invisible zip into the Francoise dress, and you can also use this tutorial for other types of garment too.

presser feet

You will need:
  • Invisible (or concealed) zip (56cm / 22in for the Francoise dress)
  • Invisible zip foot (check the one you get fits your model of sewing machine)
  • Regular zip foot or adjustable zip foot (adjustable is my preference – again, check it fits your sewing machine)
  • Sewing machine and tools (pins, scissors etc)

How to Sew an Invisible Zip

Try your dress on and adjust the back opening seams if you need to. If you want your seams to be hidden behind the zip, trim them down to the same width as the zip tape – about 1cm (3/8in). If your fabric is fairly lightweight, applying a strip of interfacing to each seam allowance can help stop the seams from puckering when you insert the zip. Finish the back opening seam allowances using zigzag stitch or an overlocker. Press them under 15mm (5/8in), wrong sides together. Open the invisible zip and press the back of the curled teeth flat with a warm, dry iron, being careful not to touch the iron to the zip teeth themselves (so they don’t melt!). Uncurling and pressing the zip will help when it comes to stitching close to (but not over) the teeth.

How to Sew an Invisible Zip

With the dress lying right side up, temporarily fold the left seam allowance flat. Pin the left zip tape to the left seam allowance of the dress, right sides together. Align the zip teeth with the pressed seam line and the top stop with the neckline, folding the facing (and collar if your dress has one) out of the way.

How to Sew an Invisible Zip

Attach an invisible zip foot to your sewing machine. The invisible zip foot has two little grooves at the bottom – slot the zip teeth into the left groove. Stitch all the way down one tape, as far as you can go before the zip pull gets in the way, back tacking at each end of the stitching. Trim your threads carefully so they don’t get jammed in the zip.

How to Sew an Invisible Zip

Pin the right zip tape to the right seam allowance of the dress in the same way. Stitch.

How to Sew an Invisible Zip

Now we need to sew the rest of the back opening seam. Close the zip. Keeping the ends of the zip tapes out of the way, pin together the back opening seams below the zip. Change the foot on your sewing machine to a regular zip foot or an adjustable zip foot. Stitch the seam, starting about 2cm (3/4in) above the bottom of the zip, and back tacking at each end. You won’t be able to stitch directly on top of the original zip stitching line because the teeth will be in the way, but get as close as you can to avoid creating a bubble at the bottom of the zip, and sew diagonally up to the seam line as smoothly as you can. An adjustable zip foot really helps here as you can slide the edge of the foot super close to the needle. I love my adjustable zip foot!

How to Sew an Invisible Zip

It should look something like this (above).

How to Sew an Invisible Zip

I also like to stitch the flappy bottom ends of the zip tapes to the seam allowances (not through the outside of the dress), using an adjustable (or regular) zip foot. Press the seam allowances open.

How to Sew an Invisible Zip

Open the zip and fold the zip tapes and back opening seam allowances away from the dress. Trim the top of the zip tapes, then fold the facings over the back of the dress along the neckline seam, right sides together. Pin the back edges of the facing to the zip tapes and seam allowances. (If your dress has a collar, this should be out of the way.) Using a regular or adjustable zip foot, stitch the back ends of the facing down close to the zip teeth (again, an adjustable zip foot will help you stitch closer to the zip teeth). Turn the facing right side out, using a pin to gently ease the corners into a point. Press the facing to the inside of the dress, rolling the seam line slightly to the inside.

How to Sew an Invisible Zip

To finish, close the zip and lightly press the zip seam on the right side of the dress. Be careful here as you don’t want to melt the zip – you don’t even need to touch the iron to the fabric, you can just hover it over the seam and emit a little steam to neaten the seam.

And that’s it! You’ve sewn a lovely invisible zip.

If you’re sewing the Francoise dress, all we’ve got left to do is hem the dress and sew the optional tab if you’re adding it. Nearly there!

10 comments:

  1. Hi Tilly, I always machine tack my concealed zips in place with a standard zip foot first, fairly close to the teeth, and right to the end of the tape, before finally stitching them in with the concealed zip foot. It means you can concentrate on the concealed zip foot and you don't have to worry about the zip or the fabric shifting. And it saves you having to hand stitch the ends of the tape in place! I never press the zipper flat either, and I always get a really good finish (if I do say so myself!). Great dress, well done x

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    Replies
    1. Interesting tip, thanks for sharing that!

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  2. I'm struggling with adding an invisible zipper to a dress with lining (the outer and inner fabric are assembled, I only need to add the invisible zipper to it... )
    You don't have by accident a tutorial for that?

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  3. I'd love to learn how to do thesesewing patterns tutorial. I've bookmarked your web-site & will be checking back in the hopes of learning how to do this. Thanks! :

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  4. Hi Tilly,
    Do you cut the top of the zip or just fold over and in case in the facing as it looks bulky to me
    Thanks

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    Replies
    1. It's up to you - if it's really bulky, you can snip it, but be careful because it can weaken the corner :)

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  5. Hi Tilly,

    I can't get an invisible zip foot for my Janome J3-24 - I'm told they don't make snap-on ones for this model and was advised to use an adjustable foot (like the one you've pictured) instead.

    Trouble is, I'm really struggling with it - I can't seem to get a stable sewing line close to the zip teeth, resulting in an all-too visible zip! Also: I've tried using the iron to flatten out the teeth but this has resulted in a distorted tape (the tape is nylon-y and a bit prone to losing it's shape with heat).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Argh! That sounds frustrating! Have a play around with how close you secure the foot's edge to the needle, you can usually get them to sit really close so the needle comes down right next to the zip's teeth. If it all starts moving around when you start sewing, some tacking stitches will help to hold the zip in the right position. Apply a strip of interfacing to the seam allowances where your zip is attached helps to keep things stabilised too!

      Keep trying, you can do this! I believe in you!
      Good luck!

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  6. Hi..... my problem is the top. Do I just take my life in my hands and cut off the tape above the top stop? Doesn't that leave a ragged top? I've got the rest of it perfect. Just daren't cut!

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    Replies
    1. Hello Ann! I don't blame you for being nervous to take scissors to your nearly finished dress! You can fold the top of the zip tape back on itself and it'll be encased in the facing, making a nice strong corner. If it's feeling a bit bulky at the corner you can snip a bit off but it's up to you :)

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