Hi! I’m Rachel and I have a recently-rediscovered passion for sewing.
One of the biggest milestones of my fledgling dressmaking career was putting in my first ever invisible zip. The invisible zip is legendary in it’s infamy, the most painful of all pains in the butt, but when put in correctly the invisible zip is sexiest and slinkiest of all notions. My aim for today’s cheatsheet is to demonstrate that the invisible zip need not by a source of fear but rather the means for achieving an effortless modern look in your garments.
For today’s tutorial I will be diverting from my pattern and adding an invisible zip to my Chardon skirt. My reason for doing this is that I do not want to distract or break from the strong geometric print. I am a big believer in the hiding or disguising of anything which doesn’t add to the design of a garment. The choice to add the invisible zip here allows for a continuation of the fabric pattern and leaves the garment feeling clean and uncluttered.
Without further ado let’s get started on today’s cheatsheet.
1. Making your nip (optional)
To begin, we will need to follow a similar route to the exposed or channel zip tutorial in ensuring that we mark the nip in your fabric. For those of you who are following a pattern this should already be marked for you however if you are drafting your pattern or need to make an adjustment you will need to add this step.
Lay your zip flat on the fabric, the top of your zip should meet the top of your fabric. With your tailors chalk make a mark roughly 5cm or 2 inches prior to the end of the zip to create a short tail. The tail is one of the key differences of the invisible zip and is vital for keeping the mechanism as invisible as possible.
2. Sewing your seam
Readers of the exposed zip cheatsheet may experience a slight feeling of deju vu for this section.
Once you have marked your zip you are ready to sew your seam. Taking care not to exceed your mark, stitch from your nip to your seam to leave an opening the same length as your zip. For the purposes of this tutorial my seam is 1.5cm.
Once this is complete press your fabric open. I like to press the entire seam here, including the zip opening, as I feel it comes in useful later on when lining up the zip to the seam but it’s entirely up to you.
If you have not done so already, secure your seams with an overlocker or a zigzag stitch – it will be a real pain to try and do this later on!
3. Press your zipper teeth
Technically this is optional but I would strongly recommend pressing back the teeth of your zip at this point as it will be incredibly helpful when you come to attach your zip to your fabric.
You are aiming for the following effect:
3. Aligning your zip
With the right side of your fabric facing upwards, open the zip and place it face down on to the fabric. Just to note, you will need to leave your zip fully open for the duration of this process and only close once finished.
Next up, this is where your pressed zip comes in very handy as you will need to line up the pressed edge of your zip with the folded seam of your fabric like so:
Once aligned pin and/or tack the left side of the zip to the right hand side of the fabric. The tail of your zip should be moved out of the way to the wrong side of your fabric.
Take care at this point to ensure your zip is flat against your fabric so as to avoid any unwanted puckering.
4. Attaching your zip
This tutorial uses an invisible zipper foot, also known as a concealed zipper foot, for attaching your invisible zip. You can order one online here or alternatively visit your local sewing machine supplies shop. UK readers, I purchased mine from the ever handy John Lewis (you’ve got to love John Lewis). I would definitely recommend investing in the concealed zipper foot as I feel it provides you with a greater level of control than the standard zipper foot and stitches as closely as possible to the zipper teeth.
Your concealed zip foot, once attached to your machine, looks like this:
The two gaps at the bottom of the zipper foot are for inserting your zipper teeth. Place your fabric and zip underneath the gap and bring the foot down to meet the fabric. I often find at this point that the pressed teeth do not want to go into the gap, if you are having the same issue unroll the zip as if to press flat and then bring the foot down quickly to trap the teeth. You may have to try this a couple of times before the teeth are secure.
Now is time for my favourite bit, stitching the zip into place. As you stitch you will see that the foot literally shows that invisible zip whose the boss, forcing the teeth out the way whilst stitching as closely as possible to them.
Here I go, take that zipper teeth! I must admit this bit gives me a bit of a power trip but you aren’t obliged to feel the same way!
Back to the stitching, sew your way down the zip stopping a couple of millimetres prior to your chalkline so as to give space to zip and unzip your garment – this is very important!
5. Aligning and attaching the right hand side
Turn your zip over and repeat steps 3 and 4 attaching the right hand side of the zip the left hand side of the fabric (as your look at it from the right side). I sometimes actually prefer to turn my fabric over the wrong side for this bit but this is up to you.
Close your zip and press your fabric. If required use your iron to force the fabric over the invisible zip on the right side of fabric, this will disguise those teeth.
You should now have a very happily attached invisible zip like so:
That’s all for today but pop back on Sunday to see my completed Chardon skirt.
Enjoyed this post? Feel free to post your own tips and tricks for invisible zips below.