Learn to in­sert an in­vis­i­ble zip

Simply Sewing - - CONTENTS -

Mas­ter es­sen­tial sewing and dress­mak­ing tech­niques with our cut-out-and-keep guides. This is­sue, we take you through in­sert­ing an in­vis­i­ble zip for a neat and pro­fes­sional nish.

In­vis­i­ble or con­cealed zips are hid­den within a seam. The only part that can be seen from the out­side is the zip slide, giv­ing gar­ments a neat, pro­fes­sional look. They are ny­lon coil zips with the coil on the back of the zip rather than the front so its teeth are hid­den behind the tape. They’re the eas­i­est zip to in­sert as you long as you work care­fully.


In­vis­i­ble zips are com­monly used in skirts and dresses where you don’t want the zip to show and need a smooth, neat fin­ish. They also work well on cush­ion cov­ers for a seam­less look. It’s best not to use them for thicker fab­rics or items which will have a lot of strain as they could break if put un­der too much pres­sure. They should be sewn into a seam be­fore you sew the seam above or be­low it as you’ll get a neater re­sult and it will be eas­ier to in­sert the zip when the fab­ric is flat.


In­vis­i­ble zips are at­tached in a dif­fer­ent way to stan­dard zips and are sewn onto the right side of the fab­ric. It’s best to use a spe­cial in­vis­i­ble zip foot. These have two small grooves at the bot­tom for slot­ting the zip teeth into as you stitch. Make sure you buy one that fits your sewing ma­chine brand and model as they do vary.

If you don’t have an in­vis­i­ble zip foot then you can use an or­di­nary zip foot in­stead us­ing this method, but don’t use a gen­eral pur­pose foot as you won’t be able to get close enough to the zip teeth and the foot will get in the way. Pre­pare your fab­ric, tack the zip into place and press the teeth flat as ex­plained over­leaf. Lower your foot on the zip tape as close to the teeth as you can then swing the nee­dle over so it goes into the zip tape right next to the teeth. Stitch the zip in place, mak­ing sure you keep the teeth rolled over and the nee­dle up close to the teeth.


There are dif­fer­ent weights, lengths and colours of in­vis­i­ble zips avail­able to buy – just choose one in a colour to match your fab­ric and a lit­tle longer than the seam you want to sew it into for a neat fin­ish at the bot­tom.

Lightweight and trans­par­ent ny­lon con­cealed zips are avail­able, which you can use for sheer and lightweight fab­rics. In­vis­i­ble zips can be bought from most craft and hab­er­dash­ery shops or on­line.


If you are in­sert­ing a zip into a lightweight or stretch fab­ric then press a nar­row strip of iron-on in­ter­fac­ing to the wrong side of the seam al­lowance only. This won’t be seen from the front but will sta­bilise the fab­ric and stop the seams from puck­er­ing as you stitch.

If your gar­ment isn’t go­ing to be lined or the fab­ric frays a lot then it’s best to fin­ish the edges of the seam al­lowance that the zip is go­ing to be stitched to with a zigzag stitch.


It’s re­ally im­por­tant to get the place­ment of the zip cor­rect so that the teeth lie just be­neath the seam al­lowance and are hid­den from the front. There are sev­eral meth­ods of do­ing this and ev­ery­one has their pre­ferred one. Most peo­ple pin one side of the zip tape in place then stitch it on, then re­peat on the other side. Us­ing the method of stitching the seam first be­fore you pin and tack then un­pick­ing it does take a lit­tle longer but en­sures a neat place­ment. It’s im­por­tant that the zip matches at the top and that any hor­i­zon­tal seams that the zip passes through, such as waist­line seams, match up per­fectly when the zip is done up.


Step one Pin the two pieces of fab­ric that the zip will be in­serted be­tween with right sides (RS) to­gether.

Step two Us­ing a long ma­chine stitch, stitch these to­gether along the seam al­lowance given for your pat­tern.

Step three Press the seam open – do this care­fully as it’s not as sta­ble as a nor­mal seam. Step four Keep­ing 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 Now tack it into place so that it’s re­ally se­cure when you ma­chine stitch it – 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.

Step six Undo the long ma­chine stitching you worked ear­lier. Your zip is now po­si­tioned in ex­actly the place you want it to be and both sides will match up when stitched in place.


Step one Undo the zip right to the bot­tom then roll the teeth over and press the WS of them so they lie flat. Use a warm, dry iron for this so you don’t melt them. This will help when you stitch the zip in later.


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, the zip tape near the edge of the seam al­lowance and the zip teeth on top of the pressed-un­der al­lowance.

Step two Swap your gen­eral pur­pose foot for an in­vis­i­ble zip foot (if you don’t have one, see the pre­vi­ous page for work­ing with a 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.

Step three Re­verse stitch 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 Re­verse stitch to se­cure the seam.


Step one Stitch the other side of the zip in place in ex­actly the same way start­ing at the top and stitching down to the bot­tom of your tack­ing stitches. Make sure the fab­ric and seam al­lowance is ly­ing flat.

Step two 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.

Step three Pull up the slider to do up the zip.


Step one Swap to an or­di­nary zip foot in your ma­chine. Pin the fab­ric RS to­gether start­ing right at the bot­tom of the zip and fin­ish­ing at the end of the seam.

Step two Hold the loose un­stitched part of the zip out of the way and start stitching the seam about 2cm ( in) up from the bot­tom of the stitching you worked to in­sert the zip. You won’t be able to stitch right on top of this as the teeth will be in the way, so stitch as close as pos­si­ble with­out catch­ing the zip tape or teeth. This is a lit­tle fid­dly as the zip is in the way. Work slowly, re­mem­ber­ing to re­verse stitch so the end of the seam is se­cure.

Step three Con­tinue stitching the seam us­ing the seam al­lowance de­tailed in your pat­tern.


Step one You’ve now fin­ished, but for neat­ness hand stitch the bot­tom ends of the zip tape to the seam al­lowance to keep them lay­ing down flat. Don’t stitch through to the front.

Step two At the top of the zip, your pat­tern should tell you how this is fin­ished as it can be folded over at the top and tacked to the seam al­lowance or sewn into the fac­ing, de­pend­ing on the type of gar­ment.

Step three From the RS press your seam and zip edges flat, re­mem­ber­ing to take care when press­ing the zip so you don’t melt it by us­ing a cool iron for this.

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