True to their name, invisible zips are barely visible from the right side of the garment and so are ideal for giving dresses and skirts a neat finish. Follow these steps and we’ll show you how to insert a visible zip into your next project.
Positioning the zip
Step one: Pin the two pieces of fabric the zip will be inserted between with right sides (RS) together.
- Learn more about making your own clothes with our Sewing School series
- How to use a sewing pattern: beginner’s guide
- How to alter sewing patterns for a fuller bust
Step two: Using a long machine stitch, stitch these pieces together along the seam allowance given for your pattern. [See Figure 1]
Step three: Press the seam open.
Step four: With the fabric wrong side (WS) up, place the zip (zipped up) centrally on top RS down. The teeth should lie exactly on top of the seam with the zip slider in the position you want it to be when finished.
Step five: Tack it into place – you should only tack it to the turned-over seam allowance and not into the main fabric. Only tack down to the end of the long stitched seam. A little of the zip will reach beyond this as this gives a neater finish. [See Figure 2, above]
Step six: Undo the long machine stitching you worked earlier. Your zip is now positioned in the correct place and both sides will match up when stitched in place.
Uncurling the zip
Step one: Undo the zip then roll the teeth over and press the WS of them so they lie flat. Use a warm, dry iron so you don’t melt them. This will help you stitch the zip in later.
Sewing the zip
Step one: Open out the fabric so it is RS up. The zip will be RS down on top with the seam allowance folded out flat.
Step two: Swap your machine foot for an invisible zip foot. Starting at the top of the zip on the left side of the fabric seam, slot the teeth of the zip into the right groove of your invisible foot. Your needle will go into the zip tape and fabric just to the left of the zip teeth. [See Figure 3, above]
Step three: Backstitch to start, then stitch all the way down the zip, making sure that the teeth stay under the groove on the foot. Stitch until you reach the end of your tacking stitches so there is a little of the untacked zip beyond.
Step four: Backstitch to secure.
Step five: Stitch the other side of the zip in place in exactly the same way.
Step six: The teeth should lie under the left groove of the foot this time and the needle will go into the zip tape and fabric just to the right of the zip teeth. [See Figure 4, above]
Step seven: Do up the zip.
Stitching the seam below
Step one: Swap to an ordinary zip foot. Pin the fabric RS together, starting at the bottom of the zip and finishing at the end of the seam.
Step two: Hold the unstitched part of the zip out of the way and begin stitching the seam about 2cm (3/4in) up from the bottom of the stitching you worked to insert the zip. You won’t be able to stitch right on top as the teeth will be in the way, so stitch as close as possible without catching the zip tape or teeth. [See Figure 5, above]
Step three: Continue stitching the seam using the seam allowance.
Step one: Hand-stitch the bottom ends of the zip tape to the seam allowance to neaten. Don’t stitch through to the front. [See Figure 6, above]
Step two: From the RS, press the seam and zip edges flat using a cool iron and pressing cloth to finish.