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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