WHAT IS IT?
An invisible zipper is a special type of zipper that is designed to be hidden and nearly invisible from the right side of your garment. These zippers are sewn in differently than any other type of zipper insertion. To insert an invisible zipper, you’ll need an invisible zipper, not a regular zipper. (Can’t tell the difference? If you can see the zipper teeth or coil as a ridge on the right side, it’s a regular zipper. If the tape is flat and the ridge of the zipper coil is on the underside, it’s an invisible zipper.)
Invisible zipper on Cambie Dress
WHEN DO YOU USE IT?
Use an invisible zipper when you don’t want the zipper opening to be visible from the outside of the garment. Skirts, dresses and blouses are all good places for invisible zippers. It’s rare to find an invisible zipper that separates at the bottom, so they’re best for zipper openings above or below seams. Invisible zippers are great in side seams because both sides of the garment look the same. If you are having trouble finding a zipper color to match, know that very little of the zipper will actually show on the right side—only the little zipper pull at the top! I do find that invisible zippers are more delicate than regular zippers, so I don’t recommend them for snug-fitting garments. They’re great for loose-fitting or semifitted garments where there isn’t a lot of stress on the zipper. Also, if the pattern you’re using recommends an invisible zipper, follow pattern recommendations, as other construction steps can depend on this type of zipper application. Or read through the pattern instructions to determine whether you can substitute a regular zipper. You can use a standard zipper foot or buy a special foot for installing invisible zippers.
HOW TO INSERT AN INVISIBLE ZIPPER
When sewing an invisible zipper, the seam below the zipper needs to be left open. This is the opposite of most zipper applications, which have you sew the seam below the zipper first. If the zipper is going into an unlined garment, finish the seam allowances of the opening all the way down to the bottom of the seam. If the zipper is going in a lined garment, where the seam allowances will be enclosed, leave the seam allowances unfinished.
Place the closed invisible zipper along the right side of the seam allowance, face down with the zipper tab at the top. Open the zipper and pin or baste (page link) the zipper tape to the seam allowance. Pin with the points facing the top of the garment, so they are easier to remove.
With a zipper foot, sew through the zipper tape and seam allowance, and make sure you don’t catch the rest of the garment. Sew as close as you can to the teeth. A special invisible zipper foot comes in handy, as there is a ridge in the foot to allow the zipper teeth to pass underneath. It’s possible to do it with a standard zipper foot, but it’s easier with the invisible zipper foot. Roll the zipper tape back, and sew as close as you can to the teeth in the groove of the tape. Sew to the bottom of the zipper.
Pin or baste the other side of the zipper tape to the seam allowance on the other side of the opening, and line up any horizontal seams with the other side of the zipper. Sew with a zipper foot. Make sure you stop your stitching at the same point at the bottom of the zipper. This makes it easier to sew the seam below the zipper.
Close the zipper. Attach the regular zipper foot, and sew from the bottom of the zipper to the hem.
As an alternative to the last step, attach the regular sewing machine foot, sew upward from the hem to 1″ (2.5cm) below the zipper opening, and backstitch. Then use the zipper foot to sew up the gap between the seam and the zipper stitching. Get close to the stitching along the zipper so the seam can be pressed smoothly below the zipper. Press the seam open, and lightly press the zipper opening from the right side.
SHORTENING AN INVISIBLE ZIPPER
Some fabric stores will have a variety of invisible zippers in varying lengths. Some will only stock short (8″ [20.3cm]) and long (22″ [55.9cm]), and you’ll have to shorten them for lengths in between. Luckily it’s easy to do!
Decide where to shorten the zipper, either by checking the requirements on the back of the pattern envelope or by measuring the length of the zipper opening. Measure from the top opening to the bottom and mark the new zipper length. Set your sewing machine to a wide zigzag and a short stitch length. I usually set my zigzag as wide as it will go, with a 0.5 stitch length. Start on one side of the zipper coil and use the handwheel to make sure that the next step of the zigzag is going to clear the zipper coil. If it’s not wide enough, adjust the stitch width.
Zigzag over the tape about ten times until a nice thick bit of stitches secure the zipper coil. Cut 1″ (2.5cm) below the stitching.
COVERING THE END OF AN INVISIBLE ZIPPER
If you shorten an invisible zipper, the cut end can be scratchy. Why not cover the end with fabric? Doing so adds a nice finishing touch and softens a stiff zipper end, making your garments more comfortable to wear! This works best with fabric that is lightweight. If your garment fabric is bulky, use a lightweight scrap fabric in a similar color to the garment or zipper tape.
Cut a small square from leftover garment fabric. Make it the width of the zipper plus two 5⁄8″ (1.5cm) seam allowances (about 2¼” [5.7cm] total). Press under the seam allowances on either side, so the zipper cover is the same width as the zipper tape. Press under the other ends as well. Sew to the zipper, with the inside of the zipper facing you, as shown. You’ll wrap the tab up and to the front, so it’s easy to sew from the right side.
Wrap the folded end around to the front, and line up the folded edge with the line of stitching you just sewed. Edgestitch (page link) all around the zipper cover, pivoting at the corners. When in doubt, stop short of each corner, as it’s easy to overshoot and sew off the edge. Trim the loose threads.
Tips + Notes
- Invisible zippers take practice. It’s OK if your first attempt at sewing an invisible zipper is less than invisible! If you can, sew a second row of stitching slightly closer to the teeth.
- Buy an invisible zipper foot for your specific machine. The results are better than using the universal invisible zipper foot, and doing so makes inserting invisible zippers easier.
- Be careful not to accidentally sew over the teeth of your zipper. If you do, remove the stitching carefully and make sure the teeth aren’t damaged. If they are, switch to a new zipper. Broken or bent teeth on an invisible zipper can cause the zipper to burst when it’s zipped or to stick when it’s being zipped up.
Source : The Sewtionary An A to Z Guide to 101 Sewing Techniques + Definitions
About the Author : Tasia ST. Germaine