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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

Comments on this post (45)

  • Aug 18, 2018

    Oh my goodness! This was amazing. I was so confused by previous tutorials I tried – my first try looked like I sewed the zip in drunk – it was the most visible invisible zip ever (with wobbly lines and sewing over the teeth to boot). This tutorial was SO helpful – I now have a perfect invisible zip – invisible zips all round for everything from now on!

    — Rachelina

  • Aug 13, 2018

    Made the job twice as quick. Thank you.
    But I still can’t get it so the zip doesn’t show.😩

    — Vivienne Pennington

  • May 14, 2018

    Thank you made it so easy. Put the zip in and then pulled it up only to find (I had used and old zip) I had cut the end off. So had to start again with new zip.

    — Vivienne Pennington

  • May 14, 2018

    I am a very experienced sewer who just needed a quick reminder on how to install the invisible. With clear, concise, simple pictures that said it all, took me no time at all to scan and implement your directions. Discovering and looking through your blog, however, took many, many minutes of pleasure. You are in the right business my dear!

    — Lynn

  • May 14, 2018

    I must have looked at 10 zipper tutorials before I found this one and it’s the only one that made the instructions clear and easy. Sewed in my first invisible zipper today and it was painless and flawless! Thank you so much.

    — Cal

  • May 14, 2018

    Close up pictures of what happens at the closed end of the zipper and beginning of the back seam just wonderful. Very clear instructions. Off to try again, this time with confidence.

    — Kathy

  • May 14, 2018

    This is so clear. Thank you so much. Feel a bit more confident to apply now! : )

    — edith.strawhorn

  • Jul 17, 2017

    thank you …so clear xxx

    — josy

  • Jul 09, 2017

    I found the tutorial very clear and helpful. Thanks.

    — Phyllis

  • Jul 06, 2017

    You are amazing! Thank you so much!

    — Lou

  • Jun 21, 2017

    Brilliant, crystal clear – thank you!

    — Sarah

  • Jun 17, 2017

    Thank you so much for this! Am making my first dress and just couldn’t work out what the pattern was saying about the zip till I read your clear instructions and photos.

    — Jane

  • Mar 31, 2017

    Thank you for the clear (foolproof) invisible zipper instructions. The photos and dialogue made it so easy to follow.

    — Llesa

  • May 14, 2018

    This was the most helpful tutorial I watched. I managed to put my first invisible zip in today ? The instructions and photographs were very clear. I had tried a couple of other tutorials but this was by far the best. Thankyou ?

    — Susan Fyvie

  • Feb 17, 2017

    Hi Bradlee,

    To insert an invisible zipper to a bodice that is lined, you’d just insert the zipper to the main fabric and then hand sew the lining in place at the inside of the zipper tape.

    I hope this helps!

    Elisalex

    — Elisalex - By Hand London

  • Feb 08, 2017

    How would you do this if you have a lining on the inside ?

    — Bradlee

  • Jan 12, 2017

    Yay I managed it! These instructions are straightforward – I have looked at other tutorials and have been put off before I started (I am a beginner OAP). Thank you.

    — Ann

  • Jan 06, 2017

    Brilliant thank you

    — Christine Gees

  • Jan 01, 2017

    Thanks so much for posting this turorial! I am working on my friend and her fianceé’s wedding dresses and zippers have always been my weak spot, thanks to you they have gone in perfectly!! I couldn’t believe how brilliant and straightforward the method was, it all makes perfect sense now :)
    Thanks so much,
    Chani

    — Chani

  • Dec 17, 2016

    Ruddy great! could not envisage this would work_- and yet it did! Was all fingers and thumbs making sure both sides same distance from top’also too worried about how much of teeth would be on display.It is actually quite a forgiving method and I’m thrilled with my 1st result.Tutorials definitely the way to go,thank you by hand x

    — Janey

  • Dec 13, 2016

    Thank you for this tutorial… you made it so easy! Even though my sewing machine has a slightly different foot, I managed easily, though not 100% perfectly, but with a bit of practice I will no doubt be able to make inserting an invisible zip perfect for the first time!

    — Lena

  • 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

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