Invisible zippers are really cool… once you figure out how to use them that is. The instructions that come in the zipper package are actually really helpful so if you’re ever bored one day, you should try reading them. =D
First things first: invisible zippers are not good if your outfit has a lot of material where you want to install the zipper. In fact, they won’t work because they’ll just get stuck if the material is too thick. (You’ll see why this is important later on.)
So here is the dress that I want to put my zipper in. As you can see, I’ve already closed up the back seam of the dress up to the point where I want my zipper to start.
And here is the invisible zipper I purchased. Unfortunately, invisible zippers don’t come in a lot of colors so I picked the closest thing I could find. Make sure you buy a zipper that is longer than the opening you want to close. The opening on the back of my dress was about 16″ so I got a 22″ zipper.
Take out your zipper and wrestle it off the annoying piece of cardboard it’s stapled to.
If you unzip the zipper and lay it on a face down, you’ll see that the teeth are sticking up. (We’re switching zippers here because I realized I needed to add some more photos after I finished the original tutorial.)
Take an iron (that’s not too hot or you’ll melt the zipper teeth!), and press the zipper flat so the teeth are now facing down.
And now back to the original zipper…
I’ve seen people skip the ironing step but I like to do it as it only takes a couple of minutes and makes it easier to stitch close to the zipper teeth.
Now take the right side of your zipper and pin it to the right side of your garment so that the teeth are facing away from the opening.
Baste the zipper down. Basting just means you set your machine to do wide straight stitches and take a fast pass over your zipper to tack it down. We just want to get the zipper position set so it doesn’t shift around as we are working.
Basting is a good way to test things because it’s quick and the big stitches means if you mess up (which I do a lot), it’s easy to rip out and do over.
So here’s the right side of our zipper basted down.
Zip the zipper closed and flip your garment over so that you’re looking at the inside. Pin the left side of the zipper to the left side of your garment.
You don’t have to close the zipper to pin it to the left side but I like to do this so that I can see that the top of the zipper pull is lined up with the top of my garment.
Open up your zipper and baste down the left side of the zipper.
Now that your zipper is basted into position, you can zip up your outfit and see how it looks.
This is a good check to do because sometimes the fabric shifts as you are basting in your zipper and when you zip it up, you find that the top of the garment no longer matches up or maybe there is some weird rippling along the zipper line. (This happens to me all the time when I’m doing lycra bodysuits.) If you don’t like the positioning of the zipper, now’s the time to get out the seam ripper and fix it!
Now you will need an invisible zipper foot. You can definitely install an invisible zipper without a specific foot for it, but your life will be a lot easier if you have it.
You can get this plastic foot from Joanns which is pretty cheap. I used this one for a year or so, before I decided to get a metal foot. If you think you will be doing a lot of invisible zippers, seriously consider getting the metal foot.
Here’s what my invisible zipper looks like.
(Check out all that kitty hair on my ironing board. Sigh…)
Put your zipper foot on your machine and put the zipper under it so that the teeth go into one of the grooves on the foot. The invisible zipper foot allows you to stitch very close to the zipper teeth and this is what makes the zipper disappear when you zip up your garment.
Stitch down both sides of the zipper. Remember that on the left side, you want to stitch to the right of the teeth and on the right side, you want to stitch to the left of the teeth.
And here is what your garment will look like unzipped.
And zipped up.
Ok, remember at the beginning where I said invisible zippers don’t do well going over thick materials? Well, I had way too much fabric where my bodice met my skirt and my invisible zipper got stuck when I tried to close it so I had to pick out the stitching line and move it. The end result is a very visible zipper which kind of defeats the whole purpose… Thankfully I have a belt that is going to go over that area that will hide my yucky zipper installation, so I decided I could live with it. =D
Here is what a properly installed invisible zipper should look like.
And the final step is to tack down those little ends sticking out at the top of your zipper!