Invisible Zipper Tutorial from Gertie

Invisible zippers are a very popular choice for garment closures. They disappear into a seam, making them virtually undectable—when inserted properly. They work best on light- to medium-weight fabrics.

An invisible zipper is different than a standard zipper in a couple ways. First, the teeth of the zipper are on the backside of the zipper tape, rather than the front.  There’s a little ditch between the teeth and the tape; that’s where you’ll stitch the zipper in place. Secondly, the zipper pull is usually a teardrop shape. It’s important to match the color of the zipper pull to your fashion fabric, because the pull is the one thing that shows in an invisible zipper application. (Tip: I’ve heard of people painting their pulls with nail polish to get the perfect shade!)

It’s a good idea to baste your invisible zipper in place by hand before stitching it on the machine—I’ve noticed that this little step makes invisible zippers so much easier for first-timers! (Once you gain confidence, you can try skipping this step and simply pin each side before sewing.)

 

Here’s what you’ll need:



Your garment, with the zipper seam completely unsewn
Coats Invisible Zipper 

Coats Invisible Zipper Foot (see instructions for using this type of foot here)
A regular zipper foot (this is used to close the seam after the zipper is inserted)
Pins
Hand sewing needle


Instructions
1.      Construct your garment up to the point of inserting the zipper, but leave the zipper seam completely unsewn.


2.      On the zipper seam, press in your seam allowances 5/8”.

3.      Unzip your zipper. Open out the teeth of the zipper and finger press to get them to lay flatter, rather than curled in on themselves. As you’re pressing, take a look at the zipper teeth and tape. See that little ditch just next to the zipper teeth? That’s where you’ll be stitching later on in the process.

4.      Start with the left side (as you’re looking at it) of the zipper opening. Open out the seam allowance place the left side of the teeth face down on the crease of the seam allowance. Pin the zipper, and then baste into place, placing your basting stitches down the middle of the zipper tape.

5.      Repeat step 4 with the right side of the zipper tape. After pinning the tape in place, test closing your zipper to make sure your zipper tape isn’t twisted. Hand baste zipper in place.


Important tip: If your garment has a waistline seam, you’ll need to make sure that the waistline seam matches up on each side of the zipper. To do this, pin the zipper tape in place a couple inches above and below the waistline seam first. Close the zipper to test that both sides of the waistline seam match up. Test again after basting the zipper in place. If the waistline seam doesn’t match up, take out your pins or basting and try again until it does.


6.      Install the invisible zipper foot on your sewing machine. Here is a tutorial to help you do this: How to install the invisible zipper foot
 Place the left side of the zipper tape underneath the presser foot. See the little tunnels  in the middle of your zipper foot? The tunnels  hold the teeth down and out of the way of the needle. You’ll also want to make sure that the center foot is aligned with your needle.

 Start stitching. You may need to keep finger-pressing the teeth open as you stitch down the zipper tape.  It’s crucial that you stitch exactly in that ditch. If you stitch too close to the teeth (or worse, on top of them), the zipper will get stuck as you try to close it. If you stitch too far away, your zipper tape will show when the zipper is closed, and it won’t be an invisible zipper any more! If you accidentally stitch on top of the teeth, stop, remove the stitches, and try again. If you stitch too far away, you can try again without having to remove your stitches. When you get as far as you can go (the zipper pull will eventually stop you), backstitch and stop.

7.      Repeat step 7 with the right side of the zipper tape.

8.      Test your zipper application by opening and closing the zipper. Look good?


9.      Next we need to finish the seam. Close the zipper .
10. Install a regular zipper foot on your machine (this will allow you to get close to the zipper without the presser foot getting in the way).
11. Pull the bottom of the zipper tape out of the way. Stitch the seam closed, overlapping your stitches with the line of zipper stitching. The two lines won’t meet, but will be parallel to each other, about 1/8” away. This may seem weird, but it prevents a little bubble from forming at the base of the zipper. Finish the seam as usual and press open.

12.  Remove your basting. And you’re done!

Gretchen “Gertie” Hirsch is a passionate home seamstress and the creator of one of the web’s most popular sewing blogs: Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing. She teaches sewing in New York City, around the country, on PBS’s It’s Sew Easy, and on Craftsy.com. Her work has been featured in Sew Stylish, Vogue Patterns Magazine, Threads Magazine, Stitch Magazine, and on Jezebel.com.

6 thoughts on “Invisible Zipper Tutorial from Gertie

  1. Rose C. Reply

    This is an excellent tutorial – I’ve been doing invisible zippers for a very long time and love the way it makes a garment “feel.”

  2. Anonymous Reply

    Great tip about stitching the seam 1/8″ away from zipper stitching. I will try this. Thanks

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