When you’re just learning to sew, sewing zippers can feel like a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The truth is that sewing zippers isn’t all that difficult, and once you do one zipper, you’ll have learned enough to make the rest of them very easy to do. Learning how to sew an invisible zipper might sound more difficult, but learning the difference between an invisible zipper vs. regular zipper is the first step in making the task a lot easier.
Invisible zippers are similar to regular zippers in that once you learn a few basics, it’s much easier to sew them from that point forward. With invisible zippers, everything is done in a way that makes the stitches virtually unnoticeable because they are hidden with your seam allowances.
How to Sew an Invisible Zipper: First Things First
One of the things that makes invisible zippers a little easier is the use of an invisible zipper foot, also known as a concealed zipper foot. Using a regular zipper foot can waste a lot of time and cause you stress. Invisible zipper feet, on the other hand, make everything a lot easier and less time-consuming.
An invisible zipper foot also allows for a much neater and more professional look. It isn’t as expensive as you might think, and it is certainly worth the money you’ll pay to own one.
To get started with an invisible zipper, you’ll need the following materials:
- Invisible (or regular) zipper foot
- Fabric marker or pens
Also keep in mind that you should sew in invisible zippers with pattern pieces that are lying flat and separated from one another, as well as sew them to the right side of the project and not the other side.
Step 1: Preparing Your Seam Edges
To finish the edges, go to where the zipper is going to be added and finish or serge the joining edges. Make sure that the joining seam edges are side by side and right side up. If the garment is either a skirt or a dress, make sure that the back seam is not sewn in.
Next, make a mark three-quarters of an inch from the edges of each of the piece’s top sections. You’ll do this in order to make sure that both sides of the pieces that have been adjoined line up flawlessly. It also indicates exactly where the zipper will go when you get to that step.
Step 2: Make Sure That the Seam Allowances Are Marked
To mark the seam allowances, take some chalk and mark a 5/8-inch vertical seam allowance at the point where you’re planning to put the invisible zipper. This is an important step that requires you to use this exact size every time.
Step 3: Prepare Your Zipper
Preparing the zipper requires ironing it on low heat, but first you’ll have to open up the zipper and make sure that the curled zipper teeth are laying a little bit flat. You’ll do this to make sure that you get a stitch that is a little closer, which means that the zipper will have a much cleaner and more professional-looking finish.
When you iron the zipper, make sure that you use a low setting. Otherwise, the heat from the iron may actually melt the teeth of the zipper, ruining the project altogether. Learning how to sew an invisible zipper is much the same as learning how to sew anything else and ironing correctly as the project progresses is extremely important.
Step 4: Pinning the Zipper: Invisible Zipper vs. Regular Zipper
When it comes to sewing an invisible zipper vs. regular zipper, some of the steps are the same while others are a little different. At this step, you’ll want to make sure your zipper coil is placed right side down right along one of the seam allowances that are marked 5/8-inch on the fabric. After you do this, go ahead and pin the zipper so it’s in the proper location.
If you have fabric that is slippery and you’re nervous about it moving around while you’re sewing the zipper, you might want to hand baste it in the right place. Once you do this, you can go ahead and remove the pins in the fabric. Always do this if you aren’t positive that your fabric is going to be steady and not slip around while you’re working on it.
Step 5: Work with One Side of the Invisible Zipper
At this point, you’ll want to make double-sure that the zipper coils are flat and rolled out. When you’re sure of this, set the zipper teeth in the right location under the right groove in your invisible zipper foot.
Then, starting at the top edge, you’ll want to stitch the zipper in place until you notice that the foot has reached the zipper stop. Once you do this, go ahead and backstitch to lock the stitch then remove and move onto the next step.
Step 6: Pin the Other Side of the Invisible Zipper
With this step, you’ll have to first make sure that the 3/4-inch markings that you placed on each pattern piece’s top edge are in line with one another. This is crucial because if they don’t line up exactly, you’ll end up sewing the zipper in an uneven manner.
Take a good look at the markings on your fabric and make sure that they’re perfectly even. If they aren’t, you should adjust the zipper and even repin if you feel that you need to do so.
Step 7: Sew the Other Side of the Invisible Zipper
Go ahead and sew your zipper to the other side of the piece of fabric. At this point, your zipper coils will be rolled out and lying flat. Position the zipper teeth in the correct groove in your presser foot, then start at the top edge and sew it in place. Do this until your presser foot reaches that zipper stop. Next, backstitch in order to lock and remove.
Step 8: Finish Your Seam
When you get to this step, you’ll want to close the zipper and place the right sides of your fabric together. Move the tails of the zipper out of the way to make sewing it a little easier. Place the fabric into your sewing machine and when you lower your needle, make sure that it is as close as possible to the last stitching line.
Next, lower the presser foot and stitch away from the zipper. Do this for around two inches. Remember that you should always backstitch at both the beginning and the end so that the zipper stays as secure as possible on the fabric.
Step 9: Completing Your Seam
When you’re learning how to sew an invisible seam, finishing the seam correctly is important. At this point, even if you’ve been using an invisible presser foot up to this point, you should go ahead and switch over to using a regular presser foot. Follow the last stitching line to complete the seam. This is the final step of the process, so you’ll soon be able to view your masterpiece.
When you’re reviewing all of these steps, you’ll notice both differences and similarities when it comes to sewing an invisible zipper vs. regular zipper. It’s important to follow each and every step to the letter so that the project comes out perfectly. This applies regardless of the type of zipper you’re working on.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Invisible Zippers
To help you learn useful tips about sewing with invisible zippers, below are some questions and answers that you can learn from.
What Projects Benefit From an Invisible Zipper?
Before you learn how to sew an invisible zipper, you need to realize that they are not recommended for all projects. For example, when you’re working with fabric that is super thick or a garment under a lot of strain (e.g., a corset), it’s best not to use an invisible zipper because it can break.
Invisible zippers are good, however, for tops, skirts, trousers, and even dresses. They can also be used for home furnishings, provided the fabric isn’t too thick.
How Important Is it to Use the Right Size Zipper?
When it comes to an invisible zipper vs. regular zipper, keep in mind that with both zippers, you can buy a longer zipper and cut it down to size. With an invisible zipper, you’ll have to cut it down to size after you’re finished sewing. Standard zippers can be cut down beforehand, but invisible zippers cannot.
To get started, just mark with a horizontal marking on the fabric wherever you want the zipper to stop, then proceed to the next step. This is important to remember if you aren’t sure what the size of your invisible zipper should be.
What Problems Might I Run Into When Working with an Invisible Zipper?
If you’re a beginner with invisible zippers, two things can happen. The first one is that you sew too far away from the zipper. This can make the zipper visible, but all you have to do is sew right along the zipper again, only this time get closer to the teeth.
The second problem that might happen is that you sew too close to the teeth of the zipper, even sewing over the teeth occasionally. If this happens to you, it’s best to unpick the stitching you just completed and try it again. This is one of the reasons why sewists always check the zipper before moving onto the second side.
Tips for Making Sewing an Invisible Zipper a Little Easier
Finally, here are a few tips for making sewing an invisible zipper a little easier on you:
- If you don’t have a zipper (invisible) foot, don’t let it get you down. In many cases, you can use a blind hem foot instead. The little bar in the middle of the foot does a great job of keeping the zipper teeth in place. You can even move it either closer or further away from the needle, allowing you to sew very close to the zipper.
- When you iron the coils (again, on low heat), you can stitch closer to the teeth of the zipper. Open up the zipper and lay it with the wrong side facing up. While you’re ironing the zipper, use your fingers to uncurl the teeth, and iron the zipper flat using the tip of the iron only. Using the tip, among other things, ensures that not too much pressure is put on the zipper as you’re working with it.
- Keep in mind that in the last step, after you replace the invisible foot with a regular zipper foot, the zipper may try to pull away from the needle. Don’t panic when this happens. Just stitch as close to the zipper as you can, using a slow and deliberate motion, down the rest of the fabric. Also, check that the zipper pull is completely out of the way.
- Always sew the invisible zipper into a seam before you sew up the seam of the garment. In other words, you should place the invisible zipper into the garment as soon as possible, in part because it is so much easier to work with if the fabric is flat and you haven’t yet joined a lot of garment seams together.
Learning how to sew an invisible zipper isn’t as difficult as it may sound, but this doesn’t mean it doesn’t require a little practice. The good news is that once you do it once, the other times you work with an invisible zipper should be easy. Invisible zippers give any item a cleaner, neater, and more professional look. They are also good for a variety of projects as long as your fabric isn’t too thick.
It also requires knowing more than just the basic differences between an invisible zipper vs. regular zipper, although the basics are still fairly simple. Just take your time with the first one and follow the instructions to the letter and you should be fine from then on.