I have had a long, tiresome, and frustrating journey with the invisible zipper. It was once my sewing skill nemesis.
I used to dread... absolutely dread, invisible zippers. In the days before Pinterest tutorials and YouTube how to's became abundant, I could only consult books in order to discern the steps. And the invisible zipper always evaded me.
I'd ask one of my good friends, an expert seamstress and fashion designer, how she got her zippers so perfect. And she told me "I press them open and sew them in."
Without the foot? Because I bought a universal invisible zipper foot, and it fell apart.
"Without the foot," she told me.
Yeah. So of course I went home and tried it, and it did not work for me. I was so frustrated and then began to avoid them all together relying on my boxed universal zipper method and refusing to try the invisible all together.
Years later, I was working on a skirt, and the woman I was sewing who commissioned it supplied me with an invisible zipper. I had to do it, there was no avoiding it. Luckily by this time I had picked up a used Bernina, and went searching for their invisible zipper foot- and found it, along with the video on their website demonstrating it. I love this about Bernina, they still have all the demos on their site as to how their presser feet function.
I paid $40 for it, and then, went to work. Only, I still had problems. The zipper seemed to shift, and never aligned to the seam properly. I had to fake it and move some stuff around using some super sneaky techniques to get the skirt to be right, I am afraid to say. So my $40 foot and future attempts at the invisible zipper went bye bye for another 2 years.
Finally, I had a good friend commission from me a cashmere blue shift dress. The material was exquisite, and of course, this level of elegance required an invisible zipper. She insisted on it, though I told my friend how much I HATE THEM! But there was no arguing with her. She even sat in the studio with me and whistled while I tried to put it in. As I struggled, I considered, what if I incorporated the techniques from the box zipper that I love so much and see if that helps me with the invisible?
And it worked, beautifully, elegantly, and easily!
Today I'm sharing this with you. This is the technique I use every time to put in an invisible zipper that works for me. Now I use invisible zippers almost exclusively on all of my clothes.
Please note: I have taught this technique to my students, and it is really essential that you get the right kind of foot. Some of the universal invisible zipper feet I have seen where you can shift the foot from side to side and line it up with the zipper have caused sewing fails for some of my students. I like a foot that is made for the machine I am using.
1. cut the zipper to length, and sew a tab at the end.
If you don't sew a tiny cloth tab at the end of your zipper, it will scratch you while you wear your garment. Simply fold a square of cloth over the end and straight stitch it into place.
2. baste the seam closed
Pin the seam closed, and sew it at seam allowance with a baste stitch. Your stitch length should be 5 more more.
3. Pin Zipper Over Seam
Press your basted seam open, and then lay the zipper on top of the seam.
You will line the zipper teeth over the seam you just basted.
Pin the zipper through the side of the seam. If you are sewing the right side, you will pin the zipper to the right side of the seam allowance. Check your work to make sure you are only pinning one side of the seam allowance.
4. Sew Left and Right Side of the Zipper
Sew one side at a time, only sewing that one side of the zipper through only one side of the seam allowance.
Flip your work and check where you are sewing frequently.
5. Seam Rip the Basting and Open the Seam
Pop the seam open by removing just one stitch and then pulling. Seam rip carefully, and now you can see the zipper is secured to the garment.
6. Use Invisible Zipper Foot to Sew Down the Zipper
I only sew invisible zippers with an invisible zipper foot. I have failed too many times without it. A good invisible foot will have grooves on the left and right side for sewing one side of the zipper at a time.
Sew the zipper down by placing the zipper teeth into the groove of the foot on the side you are sewing. If you are sewing the right side, place the teeth under the right side groove.
7. Close Little Opening at the End
There's always a little hole at the bottom because you can only get so close to the slider.
You will close this little hole by folding the seam in half, and then stitching the gap where the hole is. This will be a continuation of your seam that's already there, at seam allowance, and its much easier to do if you have a conventional zipper foot to really get close in there. I'm in the process of getting more Bernina feet, so I just line up the foot on top of where I'm sewing and go from there.
Test your zipper by opening and closing it a few times. Make sure the alignment in the garment is correct and you are all set.
I hope this tutorial was helpful and that you seeing the steps makes you confident to give invisible zippers a try!
I'm always looking for fun tutorials to show you and my students. Let me know how I can help you, and you might just see it pop up as a tutorial soon :)
Thanks and happy sewing!