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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Invisible Zipper Tutorial

My Pin Pal Chris Lucas http://chrislucas.com.au/  wrote me about her challenge with finding information about insertion of invisible zippers through a waist band, so I have prepared a tutorial that will help her, and others.
 First of all I have to sing the praises of invisible zippers! These zippers are the easiest to install (after the learning curve), and they look far better than any other zipper!
 As I was preparing these photos I remembered that I called a sewing supply company a few years ago and I ordered some invisible zippers from a fellow over the phone. I said "I want four black 22" invisible zippers" to which he responded "how will you know if we sent them when you open the box"?   That still makes me smile!!!

I am going to show the installation of an invisible zipper through a  waist band of a different color. This surely can be tricky, but with these instructions you should be able to master this sewing challenge too!

 I am using fabric scraps to demonstrate. We will pretend that these are full size garment sections. The garment sections are labeled on the wrong side of the fabric.

I always use a lightweight interfacing (tricot iron-on) on the wrong side of the fabric when I am going to install an invisible zipper. This helps tremendously to keep the fabric from puckering. I cut the interfacing at about 1" wide, so that it goes over the seam allowance. In this photo I have applied the wrong colors of interfacing for demonstration purposes, and I have also finished the seam allowances with my serger.  This step will vary depending on the type of fabric you are using and if the garment is to be lined or not.

I have now sewn together the bodice, waistband, and skirt pieces, and pressed the seam allowances toward the waistband.

This shows the right side of the garment. The sharp difference in fabric colors mean that if the zipper installation is not perfect it will be very obvious.

Starting with the zipper stop below the seam allowance at the top of the garment (in most cases 5/8")
I sew the zipper tape to the right side of the fabric. There are many types of machine feet that are designed for this task. I actually use my regular zipper foot and just roll the teeth back a bit so that I can get the stitches very close to the teeth.

I determine how long I want my zipper to be, and sew up to this point which I have marked on the zipper tape with a pencil. I make sure to lock my stitches well at this point.

Now here is the key to making this kind of zipper installation look great! Mark on the zipper tape exactly where the tape crosses the band.

Now zip the zipper and mark on the second side of the zipper exactly across from the first markings.

Pin the second side of the zipper to the other side of the garment having the contrasting band right at the pencil markings. Sew the zipper locking the threads carefully at the bottom of the zipper exactly across from the stitches at the bottom of the first side of the zipper.

The inside of the garment looks like this when both zipper tapes are sewn.

The outside looks like this. Hurray! Now you don't have to avoid the many current sewing patterns that require mastery of this technique!

AND while I was preparing this tutorial I also was preparing a loaf of Sally Lunn Cinnamon Bread. It is a no-knead yeast bread that is really delicious!

Another happy day shuttling between the sewing studio and the kitchen!!!


  1. Hi Patty!!! Thanks for visiting my blog and the link to yours!!! It's such an honor to be in the presence of one so experienced!!!! Love your blog and look forward to following along (I'm trying to add you to my blog roll but am having cache/cookie issues). Nice tutorial and great pointers. Invisible zippers are definitely my fave's to sew. Anyhow I'll be seeing you around.

  2. Hi Patty and thank you so much for a great tutorial! Love the tips you shared and placing the markers will definitely make a difference. I too use a regular invisible zipper when sewing with invisible zippers and after seeing your pictures I think I could sew a little closer to the teeth than I have been. So I'll be sure to try that next time I'm inserting an invisible zipper :)

    1. Oh by the way I've shared this tutorial on Twitter and on a couple of my Pinterest boards as well... nothing like sharing a little blog loving and I'm sure there will be so many others who will enjoy your tutorial and your blog as well xx