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Invisible zippers often intimidate even the most experienced sewers if they dont look perfect, your skirt or pants can really look homemade. After constructing at least 20 Cassandra Skirt samples, Ive become adept at inserting an invisible zipper that looks good every time.
First, cut two 1" strips of fusible knit interfacing (such as Fusi-Knit or SofKnit) the length of the zipper opening. Pink the edge that faces away from the center back seam. Fuse each strip to the wrong side of the skirt at the zipper opening. This will prevent your fabric from stretching while the zipper is being applied. To prepare the zipper, unzip it and lightly press the coils flat as they will go, using the tip of your iron. Be careful to avoid placing the entire iron on the coils they could melt.
I apply invisible zippers without using the special foot that one must purchase, using a regular zipper foot instead. It takes practice, but it can work. The secret it to remember that the zipper foot forces the zipper slightly away from the edge. So I always pin the zipper ½" away from the raw edge and sew very closely to the zipper teeth. This way, it ends up right on the 5/8" seam line.
First mark a line with a fine chalk marker ½" from the raw edge of the garment opening on the right side of the fabric. Place the zipper coil on the line, with the right side of the zipper against the right side of the fabric and pin the zipper in place. Set your machine for a long basting stitch. Machine baste the zipper to the garment, stopping as soon as your zipper foot touches the zipper pull. Pin and sew only one side of the zipper at a time. (Note: an invisible zipper is inserted before the center back seam is sewn.) Repeat the process for the other side of the garment.
If you zip up your garment at this point, you will still be able to see some of the zipper tape in the center back seam. Dont despair -- this is only the first step! Since you have basted the zipper into your garment )and removed the pins as you sewed). You now have your hands free. Using your fingers, push the zipper coil as flat as you can and stitch with the needle as close to the coil as you can get it. This step guarantees that you wont have any zipper tape showing on the outside of you garment. Be sure to sew both sides of the zipper in this manner, stopping as soon as the zipper foot touches the zipper pull.
The other challenge that sewers run into when inserting an invisible zipper occurs when connecting the center back seam with the end of the zipper. Often, you get a bumpy seam at this spot. Again, through trial and error, Ive worked out a method that works well for me.
Sew the center back seam, using a standard foot and ending about an inch below where you stopped sewing the invisible zipper. Now switch to your zipper foot. Place the needle in the center back seam about 3 or 4 stitches before the last stitch. Pushing the end of the zipper aside, sew the remainder of the center back seam, again overlapping your stitching line a few inches at the bottom of the zipper stitching. If the seam has a slight bump at this point, you can usually press it flat.
Starting at the bottom of the zipper tape, sew the edge of the zipper tape to the seam allowance for 1", with the zipper foot still attached to the machine. This prevents the bottom of the zipper from popping out through the seam -- something you will often find in ready-to-wear. Press the center back seam open and Voila! -- you have a professional-looking invisible zipper.
More information about the Cassandra Skirt and Patterns by La Fred
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