22 July 2011

NL6274: Invisible Zipper

I think I finally got the hang of installing invisible zippers (IZs) successfully. IZs installed in side seams can be tricky since the seams are usually curved. I found that taking extra care in the beginning and stitching slowly help to make installation quite simple.

  • invisible zipper foot
  • contrasting thread
  • regular zipper foot
I use an invisible zipper foot by Unique. I found it at a thrift store for $0.50 and love it. I used to use the YKK zipper foot, but I like the Unique one much better. It has a single hole opening (sort of like a straight stitch foot) and deeper grooves for the zipper coil.

1. Using a medium warm iron, press the zipper coils flat. This helps the coils feed through the specially designed groove on the IZ foot.

2. On the skirt front and skirt back, sew a guide line along the seam using contrasting thread. It's kind of hard to see in the photo. The contrasting thread is orange on the right-hand side.

3. On the skirt front and back, fold the seam along the guideline to the inside. Press.

4. Place the zipper (face down) on top of the skirt back (right side up). As oriented, pin the left side of the zipper to the seam allowance making sure that the zipper coils are on the guideline/crease. I like pinning vertically because I can stabilize the zipper more efficiently.

5. Stitch. If you pinned vertically, be careful not to strike the pins! When sewing, I usually place my finger on the pin tip and sew until the presser foot meets my finger. I haven't had have any mishaps doing it this way.

6. To make sure everything lines up (reasonably) well, use chalk to mark match points across the entire zipper and skirt front by lining up the waist seam, hem, and seamlines accordingly. Usually I am pretty good with the match points, though, I admit that I am off a tiny bit on this one. Oh well. I am *not* unpicking this zipper. Really, who will know?

7. Now it's time to attach the right side of the zipper to the skirt front. This takes a little maneuvering, but not Houdini-like. Place both the skirt front and skirt back side by side, right side up. The left side of the face-down zipper should be sewn to the skirt back. With the free zipper tape right side down, orient (by turning) so that the zipper tape is face down on the skirt front with the coils aligned with the guideline/crease. It should only take one turn (hmm...maybe a turn and a half) of the tape to make this happen.

Use the markings on the zipper tape to match the skirt front. Pin and stitch.

8. Close the zipper. Using a standard zipper foot, secure the tape ends to the seam allowances.

9. Finally, finish the seam allowance beneath the zipper. At present, I haven't found the best way to make this part easier. I've been searching for a very narrow zipper foot for my machine. Cleaner's Supply sells zipper feet, but I'm not sure it will fit. I'll buy it (provided there is a return policy) and see. Until then, I use my standard foot (zigzag) and get as close as I can to the area beneath the zipper.

Up next: Attaching the lining to the zipper tape.

Be well!


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