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Inserting an invisible zipper: the definitive tutorial

I'll be the first to admit that invisible zippers have been the bane of my life for a long while now. Having taught myself to sew, I was never showed how to insert a zipper, invisible or otherwise, so my first attempts were blind stabs in the dark. Hell, I didn't even have an invisible zipper foot! Needless to say, I ruined many a zipper and many a garment; and my sewing machine barely walked away with its life.

Now that I have tamed the snake and realised how straighforward this technique can be, I thought I'd put together the definitive tutorial on invisible zipper insertion - for your sewing pleasure, and my point of reference if I ever feel daunted again!

You will need:

  • an invisible zipper
  • garment needing zipper (completely open at seam where you will be inserting the zip)
  • pins
  • an invisible zipper foot
  • a regular foot/standard zipper foot
  • matching thread
  • a sewing machine

Step 1

Open your zipper as far as it will go. You'll want to gently press the zipper teeth away from the tape to make it easier to stitch. Make sure you set your iron on a low heat, or else you'll end up melting the plastic zipper teeth (been there, done that, bought the t-shirt!).

Step 2

With the right side facing down, place the righthand side of the tape down the lefthand open edge of your fabric (right side facing you) and pin into place.

Step 3

Attach the invisible zipper foot to your sewing machine. Starting from the top, position the raised zipper teeth in the lefthand tunnel of the foot, so that you are stitching to the right of the teeth. Remember to backstitch at the beginning and end of every line you sew!

Step 4

Stitch until the foot meets the zipper pull which should still be all the way down. Backstitch.

Step 5

Gently press the fabric back to reveal the side you have just stitched. Halfway there!

Step 6

Take the lefthand side of fabric and flip it over so it is lying face down on the righthand side of fabric. Now just as you did before, position and pin the loose zipper tape in place down the righthand egde.

Step 7

Now position the teeth in the righthand tunnel of your zipper foot and stitch down the length of the zip as you did before, stopping when you can't go any further.

Step 8

Press.

Step 9

Your invisible zipper is done! Zip it up to the top and admire your work. Now all that's left to do is close the seam. With right sides together (and the zipper closed), pin your seam as usual. Starting about half a centimetre back from where the line of zipper stitching ends (which will be a bit fiddly as the bulk of the zipper gets in the way - if you have a regular zipper foot like the one shown in the photo, use that), sew your seam down to the bottom of the garment. Press open.

All done! Now tell me that wasn't a breeze...!

x Elisalex

  • Elisalex de Castro Peake
  • sewingtutorialzippers

Comments on this post ( 24 )

  • Oct 04, 2016

    Oh my goodness, your post took me back to my first sewing days – like you no tuition, trial and error, (more error than anything), and have always shied away from the invisible zip nightmare!! Having upgraded my sewing machine which of course come with an invisible zipper foot, I thought it was time I gave it a go! This tutorial is so clear, and the pictures are so good I have every confidence I’ll manage it. To be on the safe side, I’m going for a small zip and some fabric that ’doesn’t matter’ (is there such stuff!) try it out, before I commit to my expensive shot taffeta fabric! Keep you all posted!

    — JanH

  • Sep 22, 2016

    ITS NOT THAT EASY….IVE BEEN SEWIING FOR A LONG TIME AND I HATE ZIPPERS. YET DO YOU UNDERSTAND HOW EASY YOU MADE THIS SEEM

    — whitney jones

  • Aug 31, 2016

    Thanks sooooo much for this. I inserted a long zip correctly first time of trying. I’m well impressed.

    — Claire Jackson

  • Aug 19, 2016

    Hi Jules, sorry to hear you’re having trouble with your zip… It’s hard for me to see what’s gone wrong, but if you email me directly at help@byhandlondon.com with a fuller description and some images, then I can do my very best to help you out. I hope this helps! ~Elisalex

    — Elisalex - By Hand London

  • Jul 23, 2016

    OMG!! Best tutorial, I just did it and it came out perfect!

    — Kenya

  • Jul 03, 2016

    Hi,

    Two broken needles later I have found your wonderful tutorial.
    Can I insert the concealed zip with the seams completed?

    Many thanks
    Tania

    — Tania

  • Jun 16, 2016

    Hi

    I’ve just put an invisible zip into a thin cotton shift dress but it seems to have gone wrong.
    At the end of the zip it’s made a ledge that sticks out. I thought it might be because it’s too low on my bum, so I unpicked and finished it higher up (just enough so I can still get it over my hips) but it hasn’t made any difference.
    Do you have any idea how I can rectify this please?

    — jules

  • Jun 07, 2016

    Whew! Glad I found this! Have to sew culottes today with an invisible zipper (and I’ve never done any zippers at all). I will be keeping this handy!!!

    — Dana Bultje

  • Apr 23, 2016

    Thank you very much for this, now feeling a bit clearer and less scared of trying it again!!

    — Christine Hall

  • Feb 01, 2016

    Read through the instructions on how to insert the invisible zip. Thank goodness not many steps to follow. Seems simple. Cant wait to insert my zip.

    — zanap

  • Nov 08, 2015

    Thanks for that tutorial….very clear and easy to understand. I have just inserted my first invisible zip !!

    — Jan

  • Oct 17, 2015

    Thank you so much!! You saved my Granddaughter’s Princess dress. I was sweating about messing the zipper up. The material was fragile could take much rework. I couldn’t put the zipper in the beginning of the dress but last which complicates the whole process. So I followed your very clear directions and 20mins later. I’m finished.

    — Julie

  • Oct 15, 2015

    Best invisible zipper tutorial I have found!! I could manage the zip but always had problems with the seam afterwards. You lovely clear closeup photos have made this part clear. Thank you very much. xx

    — Lesley

  • Dec 30, 2014

    I forgot to add that I used an ordinary flat seam foot to sew the zip as I don’t have a special invisible zipper foot. Just moved the needle to the right or left. Finished the end bit with my old zipper foot.

    — Judy

  • Dec 30, 2014

    Thanks so much. Great tutorial. I’ve just got back into sewing again after about 20 years and sewing my first dress (for me) with an invisible zip. I did it!! Good old Google ?

    — Judy

  • Aug 12, 2014

    I’ve watched a lot of videos on sewing an invisible zipper. This blog encouraged me to try it. I DID IT! I made three dresses in one day using this invisible zippers technique and they all came out great. Thanks so much for making this easy enough for me to understand and apply!

    — Liza

  • May 10, 2014

    loved to see it very close and well done!!

    — Ilona Katalin Dako-Tolman

  • May 06, 2014

    Brilliant! Thank you for including photos that encompass the surrounding area of the zipper so one can get an idea of how it is all laid out. Other tutorials had fantastic close-ups, but it was frustrating figuring out which end was up!

    My dress pattern had me sew the entire skirt, leaving a few inches open at the top back seam. Instructions indicate to sew skirt to bodice, then insert zipper. I have my fingers crossed that I can still use your method given that the entire dress will be finished with the exception of the zipper. Oh, and have I mentioned that it’s poly satin? Wish me luck!

    — Lis

  • Apr 08, 2014

    Fab tutorial. Currently on my third Charlotte, and zip gone in first time. Many thanks x

    — Teresa

  • Feb 18, 2014

    Thank you so much.
    Brilliant tutorial! You have saved me from pulling out anymore of my hair. This is by far the easiest invisible zip tutorial I have come across. Once again thank you!

    — Jennifer

  • Jun 17, 2013

    Thanks so much for this tutorial! It’s the best one I’ve seen by miles and every time I need to insert an invisible zipper I come back to this page.
    You are a zipper-inserting genius!

    — Laura

  • Jun 17, 2013

    And thank you for letting us know you found our tutorial helpful! Much appreciated and definitely feeling very happy that we can make inserting an invisible zipper a little less painful.

    — byhandlondon

  • Jan 26, 2013

    Great tutorial. So so helpful!

    — Kirsty

  • May 10, 2013

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! Previously I have always sewed up the back seam before putting the zip in, but always ended up with a ripple in the fabric at the top of the seam. I’ve just done it this way, and no ripple! It’s the neatest zip I’ve ever done, and my Charlotte skirt is looking great!

    — Lynne

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