If you are making a skirt dress or a pair of trousers you will need to incorporate a zip somewhere along the line. The invisible zipper, as seen here, is really your best option but it might seem like a tall order for a sewing novice. Fear not, there are really only a few steps that you need to worry about! Read this quick step by step guide and start creating polished pieces of your own!
Before you even tackle the sewing machine – think about the basics.
Your number one concern is to think about the length of the zipper opening. Measure it and get a zip that fits. In sewing terms, that means one which is one inch longer than the opening – its normal to have an inch or two left over and far preferable to having one which is too short.
You will need to pay attention to the quality of zip that you buy. That doesn’t mean going for the most expensive one at the haberdashery store. We simply mean that you should select one that is in good condition. If it is bent or has been folded in storage steer well clear – you want the teeth of the zip to be perfect and not weakened.
There are also a few bits and pieces that you will need to have to hand – the garment itself of course, a zip of the right colour and length and perhaps a zipper foot, which will be attached to the machine.
The zipper foot is crucial – if you get the right one (i.e., the one made especially for invisible zippers) the entire process will be straightforward for you. The foot allows you to sew as close to the teeth as humanly possible and does so quickly and without error. You can sew an invisible zipper in by hand but this is only an option for the very patient and experienced!
Place the zipper on the open seam of your fabric. Start with the right side. Place the zipper face down and open it all the way up. Basically, it needs to be fully unzipped and placed at the edge of your garment fabric.
Pin it in place, as shown here, to secure its position. You don’t have to be too exact – that’s what the zipper foot is for – but it should be aligned as close to the teeth as possible, so that from the outside it already looks very neat and polished.
Stitching the First Side
Attach the invisible zipper foot to the machine and get the needle in place. It should be lined up exactly, so that when it hits the fabric it is going to go right through the centre, and sew right next to the teeth, giving a precise finish. Start sewing – most people like to sew from top to bottom. Sew all the way along the opening so that when you have finished it looks something like this…
Don’t worry about sewing the whole zip to the fabric – its normal to leave an inch or two spare and we tidy that up at the end.
Stitching the Other Side
Now it’s time to stitch the other side of the zip. Repeat step 3 (Stitching the First Side) – pinning the fabric to the edge of the zipper and sewing along as close to the teeth as possible. Well done – you are almost there…
Once you are happy with the work you have done so far and feel that you have sewn as precisely as possible, close up the zipper. It should be invisible from the outside.
Now what you have to do is tidy up that bottom. Pin the seams below the zipper and move away the free end of the zipper from the seam. As you can see here, there is at least one inch free – and that’s okay. This can be tidily tucked away and will never be on display so don’t worry if you have a long free end remaining.
We wouldn’t advise cutting it – that will only weaken the teeth and over time, this will effect the overall performance of the zip
You can use the zipper foot or you can use your hand-sewing skills to stich the seams. The stitches should overlap so that the free end is completely hidden by the garment.
Now look back and admire your handiwork. If it looks anything like this, congratulations!
And that’s it! There isn’t really much to it really, is there? It sounds daunting but putting in zippers is really a 5-step process that with practice will become second nature for you.