Tutorial: Installing an Invisible Zipper (with video)

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How to Sew an Invisible Zipper from Colette Patterns on Vimeo.

finished zipper

Zippers can be daunting even for experienced sewers. The reason? Zippers are often installed the wrong way.

Lots of seam ripping and swearing ensues, especially when it’s a simple mistake. There’s no need to be scared of zippers anymore!

We’re here to help. With a little bit of practice you’ll get it. Remember that it takes time to master something new and even then, it’s easy to make mistakes. Give yourself a break if you feel overwhelmed and come back to it later.

Invisible zippers are one of the nicest looking zippers because they are (as the name implies) invisible. We love to use this zipper in the garments we make for ourselves and recommend them often in our patterns. They look clean and professional, and (even better), they are perhaps the easiest to install!

items needed

Items Needed:

  • invisible zipper
  • thread
  • scissors
  • pins
  • invisible zipper foot
  • zipper foot
  • garment

IMG_8170

Before we start, take a look at the back of your invisible zipper. Do you notice how the coils of the zipper curl toward the back? This is what makes the zipper less visible than a normal zipper. But for sewing it in, it’s helpful to uncurl those coils and press the zipper flat first. This lets you stitch a bit closer to the coils.

IMG_8171

1) Lay your zipper wrong side up, with the zipper open. Set your iron on warm (or the synthetic setting). Use your fingers to uncurl the teeth of the zipper while pressing it flat with the tip of your iron. Do this on both sides.

measure zipper

zipper tape is usually smaller than 5/8″

2) Put your garment right side up, facing you. Place the zipper face down on the fabric. Here we left about 1/4″ between the zipper tape and the edge of the fabric because the zipper tape was thin. Use a seam guide or measuring tape to make sure the zipper coil lines up with the seam allowance. In this instance a 5/8″ seam allowance was used.

pin first side

place the pins parallel to the zipper

3) Pin the zipper to the garment. Notice that the zipper is face down in this photo as it should be every time you sew an invisible zipper.

line up zipper in foot

4) Having inserted the invisible zipper foot into your machine, lower the foot down onto the zipper. Make sure that the zipper coil is in the left groove of the foot.

sewing first side

sewing slowly helps prevent the fabric from puckering

5) Stitch the pinned zipper. Sew slowly, removing the pins before they reach the foot. Stop when you reach the end of the zipper, or the mark on your garment where the zipper should end. Backstitch about 1/2 inch.

pinned second side

6) For the opposite side, pin the zipper to the garment so that it resembles the above photo. Again, make sure that the right side of the fabric is facing up. So you are pinning the zipper to the right side of the fabric.

testing zip

double check your zipper before sewing

7) Close the zipper to make sure that you’ve pinned it correctly. This part can easily get twisted, so it’s best to double check before you do any sewing. Once you’ve checked, unzip it before sewing.

sewing second side

remember to back stitch at the end of the zipper

8) Sew the zipper as you did the other side. However, this time make sure that the zipper coil is in the right side groove of the foot.

iron zipper

9) The zipper is now firmly in your garment, you did it! Just a few more steps to go. Pull the zipper closed and lightly press before continuing.

pin seam allowance

make sure the seam allowances line up

10) Sandwich the zipper in the seam allowance and pin carefully down the rest of the seam. The zipper tail should be out of the way, otherwise it’ll get caught in the stitches you’re about to make.

zipper foot sewing

keep your seam line even to avoid puckering

11) Remove the invisible zipper foot and replace with a standard zipper foot. Put the foot to the left of the zipper. Starting about 1/4″ or so above the end of the zipper, slowly stitch forward then do a small back stitch. The zipper adds bulk right here and will try to pull away from the needle. Instead of forcing the needle to be right next to the zipper, just stitch slowly as close to the zipper as you can. Sew down the remainder of your garment.

stitched seam

12) You can see that the stitching lines have about 1/8″ of space between them. It’s okay that they don’t match up! If you are able to match them up perfectly, then do so. Even with that small bit of space your zipper will still look good.

finished zipper

And there you have it! A lovely finished invisible zipper.

Caitlin Clark   —  

Caitlin is the Colette Patterns design assistant. You can follow Caitlin at her blog, the story girl.

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Comments 172

An easy to use basic A line Skirt pattern - McCalls 3341 | The Thrifty Stitcher

[…] zip, just buy one 2 inches longer than indicated on the envelop back, and check out this fab blog post on how to instal an invisible zip, it’s the best tutorial […]

The Great British Sewing Bee- Insider tips from Episode one | The Thrifty Stitcher

[…] If you’ve never put in an invisible Zip, and fancy having a go, then this is the best online tutorial I have found from Colette patterns. I recommend all my students read this […]

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[…] one from Coletterie has lots of clear photographs and easy to understand […]

Laura Lee

This tutorial is great, but one question. The Laurel pattern, page 23 says to finish individual back edges before installing zipper. I finished my edges and now see these instructions using raw edges…what now?

Laura Lee

Never mind, I mixed up “finishing” with “stitching the seam”, I get it.

Oliver + s fairy tale dress – KCW Day Four, Spring 2013 | Behind the Hedgerow

[…] for awhile, checked pinterest, flickr groups, facebook (the usual time-wasting suspects), read The Coletterie tutorial on invisible zips, tried again – success!!!! […]

Holly

You lost me at step 10. Could you please re-phrase? The picture from step 9 and the end look exactly the same so I’m not sure what you’re doing in steps 10-12..

DIY Napkin Pillow | Classically B

[…] zippers aren’t as hard to sew as you think (check out this step-by-step).  You just need to pin the right side of the zipper to the right side of the fabric and sew right […]

Helen

Brilliant thank you. I’ve been trying to follow instructions in my sewing book and got nowhere and your clear step by step instructions have really helped.

Colette

I have tried installing an invisible zipper foot twice now with the cheap plastic zipper foot I bought at the fabric store. It’s not working, the zipper tape shows through. I’m a fairly experienced amateur seamstress, but I cannot get this stupid thing to look invisible. I’m using a regular zipper, screw it.

Colette

(I meant zipper, not zipper foot.)

Colette

Wow, I tried it one more time and got it right, yay. The most important trick of it is to get the needle really close to the zipper teeth. Sorry about the earlier temper tantrum. I’m getting a better zipper foot. The plastic one I bought by the zipper display is just cheap junk, it makes it difficult for the novice invisible zipper installer.

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Hello, just wanted to mention, I loved this post.
It was practical. Keep on posting!

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Denim Ginger Skirt | Lucy and Sadie's Stitch and Sew

[…] install the zip I followed the tutorial on the Colette website which were really clear. The issue the first time around for me was that I hadn’t pressed it down […]

Maw & Mo Sew Along: Invisible Zipper : School of Moxie

[…] an opening for our invisible zipper.  If you are totally unacquainted with invisible zippers, the Collette Patterns blog has a great introduction on […]

Ann

This is the first time I have ever inserted a zip of this type although I do have many years of sewing experience. It was to go into my granddaughters satin bridesmaid’s dress.
I followed your instructions exactly and the result was fantastic. Amazing.
I was using a generic plastic foot (I bought specially, before I read the comments about the metal v plastic feet) on my Singer XL400.
I must admit that when I had finished I did think I had actually sewn too close to the teeth as the zip would not go up but a gentle touch from the iron sorted that out!
Thankyou so much from a very grateful English fan!

Allison littlethistles.blogspot.com

Hi,

thanks so much for the tutorial! I have a question in regards to the final look of my invisible zipper..I sewed as closely as a i could to the teeth as posible but there is still a huge amount of zipper on show on the outside of my skirt, is there better quality zippers than others? this zipper i got doesn’t really match my fabric that well so i am wondering what i can do. I have sewed invisible zippers in the past with no worries. thanks! Allison

Sew Crazy: An (Almost) Comprehensive Concise Guide to Sewing Feet | Crafty Green Rabbit

[…] Invisible Zipper Foot – Concealed Zipper Foot – Hidden Zipper Foot For installing invisible zippers. The zipper coils actually act as the guide, allowing for perfectly positioned stitches that won’t show on the front of your garment. See this tutorial for installing an invisible zipper. […]

Learning and Mistakes Along the Way | Stitch It Again

[…] Installing an invisible zipper from the Colette Patterns website […]

sharvanna

this was a helpful tutorial. im making a chiffon circle skirt with lining and im not sure how to sew the zip. HELP!!!!!!!!!!! please

Linda

Glad I found your site. Excellent tutorial on Invisible Zippers.

Paulette

I have read and view several documents on invisible zippers and this is by far the best. Directions are clear and concise, pictures perfect. Thank you

sandy hello-cestmoi.blogspot.com

Hello
I just started about a week ago on a dress for a client. It was a custom order, no patterns only a photo as inspiration… well… this dress became the dress of terror more than a couple of times.
I was even thinking about giving my client her money back….
Especially when I realized I had to give in and put a zipper in it…
Well… after lots of debating, Prayer and Patience I finally finished the dress! It turned out OMG super gorgeous! Especially since the placement of a zipper can “make or break” the garment.
Thanks to your tips in this tutorial I am so happy that “I Did it!” I actually did it.
I had done zippers before, but really never looked forward to them.
Always felt a tad bit intimidated by them.
I had several tricks but they were never really it.
One was… working on the wrong side of the fabric.
And zig zagging the space closed and placing the zipper over the zig zag. Pin, stitch and then take the zig zag away and voila… Well… it was never really done well 100% (And I am a perfectionist).
I had only the normal zipper foot “metal though” I did think “hummmm maybe I should get an invisible foot?” I did break the rules from a particular commenter and I DID IRON THE ZIPPER!
I loved that part. It made so much sense! Move the coils out of the way to actually get as close as possible. Yay!
The only part I still had a hard time with was the second part of the zipper… It felt weird…
However… My teen daughter looked with me and we did that part together.
I am super happy… This dress is gorgeous and it is covered with lots of lace and a lace train in an angle flowing down.
And now it will fit perfectly thanks to a zipper that no one can even see!

Thanks so much!

Sandy

P.s. My daughters’ middle name is Sarai as well. (A name you do not hear that often, but is so beautiful)

sandy hello-cestmoi.blogspot.com

Oh, I forgot!
Would you please please please make a tut on another zipper placement with lining?
I think so many of us seamstresses would be so super happy!

Thanks a lot in advance.

Sandy

Elisalex dress: nearly finished | poppy in stitches

[…] And if fitting in an invisible zip is daunting, check out this brilliant tutorial! […]

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[…] as per manufacturer’s instructions.” Really. So I turn to the Coletterie tutorial Installing an Invisible Zipper to refresh my memory, install the zipper, and then sew the seam above and below the zipper. […]

Uterus Hack « I Heart Guts

[…] Gather your tools. You’ll need a Uterus, seam ripper (that weird fondue utensil lookin’ thing), thread (pink or red), scissors, pins, and a 6 inch (or longer) invisible zipper. […]

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[…] straightforward in construction.  Of course the invisible zip can be problematic but I followed The Coletterie tutorial (as usual) which made the process […]

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[…] avoided them since my last catastrophe but with the help of Twitter and 2 tutorials (Gertie and Collete) I made it through! […]

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[…] How to insert an invisible zipper by coletterie.com […]

Susan

it worked! it worked!
thank you! : )

Minerva Craft Blogger Network – Simplicity 1666, Lisette Attache Dress | Behind the Hedgerow

[…] used an invisible zip instead of a normal zip and installed it using this tutorial from The Coletterie (by far the best tutorial I’ve come […]

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[…] for my ‘Magic Week’ to post a tutorial for how to install one. Colette was nice enough to post a tutorial on their blog. It’s a fantastic […]

Waistband and pocket  |  Colette Patterns Sewalongs

[…] Install the invisible zipper as usual. […]

Jan Erickson

This was very helpful as I just purchased the invisable zipper foot but wasn’t sure how to properly use it. Thanks!

The Case of the Squiggle Print Fabric | Toferet's Empty Bobbin

[…] zipper EVER. Bia gave me an invisible zipper foot for my Bernina for christmas and I just followed this tutorial on the Coletterie. Perfection. So much so that when I pulled it up closed for the first time and saw how far off the […]

Lisa

How would you install an invisuble zipper on the side of a dress with a pocket?

Maxine Jones

I bought the plastic foot. It is actually consists of about three separate parts, and at least two of the parts tended to fall off while I was sewing . My machine is a Pfaff Dorina, and is older than the invisible zipper so I don’t know if there is a metal invisible zipper foot that would fit it, if there is I would gladly pay any amount – it’s cheaper than buying a new machine. Therefore, I am really interested in knowing how to stitch the zipper in by hand.

Louise

I found this helpful but the written instructions not so much. You say place the zipper down on the fabric which is facing up, but you do not explain that the whole zipper goes on the left side and that you then turn the other side of the zip to the right and sew it on the top of the zip -you just say sew it like this. it is not as obvious as you think.

Sally facebook.com

Thanks I’ve just followed this word for word and it turned out great. I don’t have an invisible zipper foot so just used a normal zipper foot and stitched as close as I could get to the teeth. It’s not quite as close as the other foot would have been but its still good and once the fabric is pressed it covers any zip that might have been visible. I’m dead chuffed thanks!

Julie

Thank you so much, have never tried an invisible zipper before, but thanks to your instructions, it went in with no trouble at all!

I’ve never had a lot of success with ordinary zippers, so thought this would be out of my league, NOT ANY LONGER!!

Converting Washi to a nursing top

[…] this version, you may want to refer to Colette’s Invisible Zipper tutorial or Invisible Zip Video; I found it helpful. And honestly I didn’t include a ton of detail […]

Blogger Network #2 – Sewing Bee Circle Skirt | Sew Sensational ♥

[…] for someone new to dressmaking. The only tricky bits include inserting an invisible zipper (see the Colette blog for help with this!) and creating button holes . If you’re a bit wobbly with these skills then […]

Weekend Tutorial Round-up: April Sewing Edition | Fan of Stuff

[…] my next frontier, I found this easy to follow tutorial on adding a zipper to a bag and another for installing an invisible zipper. I think I may start off with a pouch like the first tutorial. And how about that […]

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[…] which came with my machine and the two most incredibly useful sites for zipper installation were this and this. I have never really used Youtube for how-to videos and such, but having used it once I am […]

Simple Sew Brigitte dress Sewalong. 7: Insert the zip | Thread Carefully

[…] made absolutely no sense to you, you could try following the tutorial on Colette’s website here – explained by professionals! […]

Jane janerobinsontextiles.co.uk

Thank you! I found this just in time as I was just about to put one in wrong. It worked fine with an ordinary zipper foot. I tacked the zip in place first as it was my first one and it made it easier to stitch. The only problem was that I was so successful in stitching right close to the coiled teeth that the velvet fabric I was using got pulled into the teeth because of the fluffy surface, so I had to re-do it and stitch slightly further from the edge. But with an ordinary flat fabric the first attempt would have been perfect. I’m delighted with the result.

Steph, if your students melt the zipper teeth, damage the ‘roll’ of the zipper and stitch over the zipper teeth, then perhaps this tutorial would help them.

Megan Muslin Accomplished - Sew All The Things!

[…] This dress required my first ever invisible zipper, for which I ordered an invisible zipper foot. I was mildly terrified about this zipper, as the entire sewing planet seems to think invisible zippers are the work of the devil. Now that I’ve inserted one myself, I don’t get what all the fuss is about. I thought it was much easier than sewing a regular zipper. Maybe it’s just that the Colette tutorial I used is THAT good. Just in case, you should check out the Colette tutorial on how to install an invisible zipper. […]

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