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Invisible zipper tutorial, part I

February 5th, 2010 by Pavlina

I was perusing my sewing blogs via my RSS reader and came across a post that vilified the awesome invisible zipper. Truth be told, when I returned to sewing with a passion ten years ago, te humble lapped zipper terrified me. I discovered the invisible zipper and liked it so much I went on ebay and bought a huge lot of them. I already had bought the invisible zipper foot at Vogue fabrics in Evanston, IL. Since then I’ve done a handful on non-invisible zips, only when the design demands it.

Honestly, invisible zippers are soooo easy, and they look soooo good, I don’t understand all the hate. Putting one in is very easy, but there are two critical steps that if left out, will turn your invisible zipper into a hot mess.

  1. Iron the coils flats
  2. Use a regular zipper foot to put the rest of the seam in under the zip

If one does not do the two above steps, one WILL end up with an invisible zip that is visible and will be nigh impossible to zip up without breaking it.


  1. First, dump all your zips out and admire them:
    Pick a zipper
  2. Then, separate all the ones you want by color:
    Narrow the selection by color
  3. Then narrow the selection by size:
    Too short!Too Short!
    Too long!Too Long!
    Just rightJust Right!
  4. Put the pattern pieces right side up, edges to be joined together:
    Put back pieces right sides up
  5. Put the zipper on the ironing board, and unzip it:
    Place zipper on ironing board
    Unzip it
  6. Open it out with your fingers and iron the coils flat with a HOT iron. It was kind of hard for me to get a good photo of this bit, but I am sure you can imagine how to do it:
    Get ready...
    Hot iron
  7. When I say iron it flat, I mean FLAT baby! Get those coils flat as can be!
    See the difference!
    The coils on the right have been ironed, the ones on the left are still all curly.
    Both sides ironed downBoth sides ironed flat.
  8. Now, place the zipper on the right hand side garment piece. The zipper coils should be facing the garment, the zipper tape should be in the SA. The coils should lie right on the seam line, in my case this is 5/8″.
    Now place zipper
  9. The top of the zipper will vary depending on the garment. In this case, I put the zipper stop on the seam line, 5/8″ below the top.
    Measure from the top
  10. Pin the zipper all the way in, make sure to measure the SA so it is constant:
    Pin zipper down
  11. This is what it should look like:
    All pinned in
  12. My invisible zipper foot. Bought for ~3 dollars, it is the perfect tool for the job. Made by YKK for YKK zippers.
    The secret weapon
  13. Put zipper under the foot. See, this is why I place my pin heads down, I can pull the pins out easily while I sew down the zipper tape. Notice how the rollers perfectly fit the zipper coils:
    Invisible zipper foot on zipper
  14. Admire the perfect stitching right next to the coils.
    Nice stitching!
  15. Now for the left side. Place the right hand side of the garment next to the left hand side, ensuring the zipper is still face down and nothing is twisted. The coils should be facing into the garment, the zipper tape should be in the seam allowance. Carefully measure from the top.
    Time for the other side
  16. Pin in well. You can also baste or use wonder tape, but I prefer pinning as it is easy to move the pins in case of an error.
    Pin it well!
  17. Do a test zip and make sure the top is aligned. This also works to make sure nothing got twisted. :) :
    Zip it up!
  18. At this point, once I am happy with my zipper placement, I go ahead and pin out the rest of the seam. I make sure that my notches and edges are lined up.
    Pin the rest of the seam
  19. Go down the other side:
    Now we use the other side!
  20. Now, switch to a regular zipper foot:
    Switch feet!
  21. Snug right up to the bottom of the zipper seam. I can never get right on the seam, but I can get pretty darn close. Go ahead and sew from the bottom of the zipper tape, finishing the seam:
    Sew the seam!
  22. This is what it should look like:
    The seam should be right here!
  23. Now, press everything, then admire the invisible zipper perfection!
    Turn, press, admire!

I’m sure some eagle eyes is all nitpicky thinking, well I can see where it ends, but really! There isn’t a dimple, or a pucker and that is why it is so important to use a zipper foot beneath the zipper to get as close as possible to the seam. Like wise, the coil ironing will allow the stitches to form right next to the coils, right where they should be.

This is the easiest zip to put in, just in one garment piece. The next logical question is, how do I put an invisible zip into a yoked skirt or a dress? Stay tuned, that will be in my Invisible zipper tutorial, part II. I’ll give you a hint, chalk is your friend! :)

Tags: 9 Comments

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9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Hot Rod Apr 10, 2010 at 9:13 am

    where is part 2. I’ve been waiting months

  • 2 Rachel May 5, 2010 at 10:22 am

    thanks for the tutorial. I love that you’ve taken the time to teach us in internetland. Thanks it’s great.

  • 3 Deborah Jun 19, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    You are so AWESOME!

  • 4 Hot Rod Aug 17, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    Woohoo, you are back.

  • 5 carine Dec 22, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    excellent, excellent tutorial. I had only wished you would have spoken or shown more about the “tail” end of the zipper, I have bee trying to figure out for an hour now how to keep it from getitng twisted – I’m so confused on how to keep both sides of SA with edge of tape and coils toward fabric without getting the bottom twisted….you seem to have two photos with a bit of the end showing but that is all perhaps more images of what the tail end of zipper should be positioned – and how it keep it from getting twisted when pinning left side…
    thank you for all you did here.

  • 6 Pavlina Dec 22, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    ah yes, the twisted end. Thta does happen sometime, the entire dress gets twisted around and some turning must be done. I think if you follow the steps exactly as presented, you won’t need to worry about the twisting. With that said, it can and does still happen. Unzip the garment, then while holding the tail, turn the garment inside out, kinda around the zipper. The zip up the zipper, garment should now be zipped up, but inside out. Then just turn it right side out. Hope that helped!

  • 7 shuttle service Jan 13, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Hello there, WHEN I trust everyone, when you arrived at Romania you then have a draught beer by me: ) Cheers!

  • 8 Helen Nov 4, 2012 at 7:03 pm


  • 9 John Broughton Nov 5, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    This is very helpful Pavlina! Thanks for sharing.