Invisible Zipper Tutorial

When it comes to zippers, believe it or not, the invisible zipper is one of the easiest to insert. How is that possible, you ask? This is the one zipper application where no machine stitching is visible from the right side of the garment or project. All of the stitching is done behind the scenes, if you will, totally concealed within the seam allowances. It’s the primary reason for using this type of zipper, but it is also what makes it the easiest to insert.


An invisible zipper can be applied using a regular zipper foot with relative ease, but by all means invest in a presser foot designed for such applications.  They make the application so super fast and so much easier, well worth the investment. Invisible zipper presser feet are often also referred to as concealed zipper feet. They can cost as little as $5 or as much as $35 depending on your sewing machine brand and model. Once you master the technique for applying this type of zipper, you will be less inclined to ever insert a traditional zipper again.

Most sewers are intimidated by the thought of applying this type of zipper, but the technique is rather straightforward and simple. As is the case with all zipper applications, the key to a successful insertion is the prep work done before any machine stitching begins. Here are the steps to inserting this type of zipper using an invisible, or concealed, zipper foot.

1. First and foremost, when applying this type of zipper it is best to do them when joining pieces are still in a flat state, or in other words, before corresponding pieces are assembled or joined together. It is also important to note that when applying an invisible type zipper the application is done from the right side of the project - contrary to all other types of zipper applications.

2. Prepare the seam edges. Finish or serge the joining seam edges before applying the zipper. Place the joining seam edges side by side, right side up. In the case of a dress or skirt application, do not sew in the back seam.  Now place a mark ¾ inches from the top edges of both pieces using either a straight pin, chalk or fabric marking pen - anything that will not leave a permanent mark on the project. This indicates the placement of the zipper and ensures that both sides of the joined pieces align perfectly.

3. Next, mark a ⅝ inch seam line along the corresponding seam edges, again, with either straight pins, chalk or fabric pen.
4. Prepare the zipper. Open up the zipper and press out the curled zipper teeth so they lay slightly flat.
5. With the zipper opened up and right side down (it makes no difference which side is sewn first) lay the zipper teeth along the marked ⅝ inch seam line and pin securely in place. Pinning in place should be sufficient if the fabric is stable. If the fabric is slippery or thick and more likely to shift during stitching, hand baste the zipper in paste to keep it securely in place throughout the application process.   Once the hand basting is complete the pins can be removed. 

6. To stitch the zipper in place position the zipper teeth under the proper groove in the presser foot and stitch until the presser foot reaches the zipper stop.  Backstitch to lock and remove.
7. With the joining pieces laying side by side, flip the piece with the zipper sewn in place. This puts the corresponding side of the zipper in position for placement.

8. Repeat steps 5 & 6.
9. The last step is to sew the seam below the zipper using a regular zipper foot. Place the foot as close to the zipper stitching as possible making sure to move the zipper tail out of the way.  Now, complete the seam.  

Infinity Scarf

1. Cut out a piece of fabric that is at least 18" wide and anywhere from 45" for a single turn scarf to 62" long for a double turned scarf.

2. Fold the fabric piece in half lengthwise with the right sides of the fabric together. Pin the raw edges together and then stitch together using a 1/2" seam allowance. Press the seam open.

3. Fold the sewn piece in half, width wise, with right sides together so the seams match and the short ends come together to form a tube.

4. Stitch the width of the tube together leaving a 2" opening in the stitching to allow for the scarf to be turned right side out.  Please note: the 2" opening can be applied to either the width or length of the scarf.

5. Turn the scarf right side out through the 2" opening.

6. Lastly, stitch the 2" opening together either by hand or by the sewing machine as shown.

Darts - A Reverse Approach


The subject is darts - one of the mostly commonly performed and easily done techniques for any experienced garment sewer. As we all know, darts play an important role in creating curves and shaping a garments silhouette. And, when executed well help create a professional look in clothing. In contrast, poorly executed darts can make a garment look "homemade." 

So, what's the big deal? Yes, for most sewers we don't give them much thought. Within a matter of minutes they're done. But, as I have learned teaching many new sewists, this simple technique can be a daunting one. Sewing darts for the first time can consume an inordinate amount of time to accomplish when conventional methods are employed.  But, it doesn't have to be that way.

I have painfully watched new sewers struggle sewing darts for the first time. Where they (and let's face it a lot of us, too) go wrong is sewing beyond the dart's end point or short ending the points that produce the dreaded pucker.  Or, simply not being able to follow the dart leg properly. A task most sewists can perform with relative ease and precision can take 3-4 times as long for the beginner. This simple sewing basic should be, for all practical purposes, a cinch to master

The objective of sewing the perfect dart is pretty straightforward.  Follow a properly marked, and pinned, dart leg to a precise end point without overshooting, backstitching or short ending it. 

I have a nice library of reference books, from basic sewing how-tos, to textbooks and those advocating couture techniques which I frequently consult to ensure I teach my students proper techniques.  All of them instruct sewers to sew darts starting from the wide end. Whether there is a technical reason for starting there I have yet to find one.  For a new sewer (or even some of us more experienced ones) when starting from the wide end the task of finishing the dart at the precise end point can be a challenge. All the more important when they sit right and left of one another. The last thing you want is to have one dart taller or shorter than the other. OOPS!

To remedy this I now instruct my new students to sew darts starting at the end point. Gosh, I wish I had thought of this sooner! By doing so darts all finish at the precise end point - hooray! And, if properly marked the dart leg is much easier to follow - another hooray! Most of my students can now complete a dart well on the first try.  

The trickiest part is positioning the needle to go into the dart point just a thread away from the fold line so as not to create a pucker. Furthermore, to ensure a secure dart stitch the first quarter inch or so with the stitch length reduced to a small 1.5 cm setting and then turn up the stitch length to a normal setting for the balance of the dart. 

I am amazed at how much faster my students can master this most basic of sewing tasks. More importantly of course, the darts are far better done than those performed using the traditional, prescribed methods. No more puckered end points. Left and right darts are balanced. And, fewer darts have to be ripped out and redone. Mission accomplished! I now have happy students who have easily mastered one of the most basic of techniques that they will perform many many times in their sewing journeys. 

So here is a complete tutorial for sewing basic darts in reverse fashion.

 1. Mark the dart completely. Using whatever marking method your fabric dictates, mark/draw the dart legs to the end point. Also make sure the end point is well defined. 

2. Pin the dart. Starting at the wide end, match the dart leg lines precisely and pin together. Continue pinning to the end point.  Switch pins to position them perpendicular to the dart lines to facilitate machine stitching.


3. Stitch the dart starting at the end point.  Reduce the stitch length setting to a 1.0 to 1.5 cm length. Position the needle of the machine to enter the dart point just a 'thread' away from the fold line to prevent a pucker or bubble at the end point.  Once past the quarter inch point, increase the stitch length to a normal setting and continue to stitch the dart leg. Be sure to backstitch at the wide end to finish the dart. Tie off the dart point and press. 


1 comment:

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