How to sew an invisible zip with lining

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I can’t express how much I love a perfect invisible zip. It gives your clothes such a professional finish and wow’s anyone who’s inspecting your work. And, as much as I love the way it looks on the outside, I can’t stand what it looks like on the inside. So, lining a bodice or skirt with the invisible zip is almost my go-to finish. But, it can be a little daunting. So, I put together some photos to show you just how I do it.

Before we start, though…

If you are a novice invisible zip installer, I recommend you check out a tutorial on just that first. These photos will tell you how it’s done, but skips a lot of the basics and assumes a lot of knowledge about zips already. I recommend Colette’s Invisible Zip tute. It’s what I learned on and the best I’ve ever seen.

Now, I’m not one to over-mark my fabric. I’ll mark darts and pleats and that’s really it. I’ve seen people who mark up every little thing and that’s just not my style. But, I insist on marking the seam line for your zipper. For a perfect bodice or waist line fit, it’s critical. And, since it’s so hard to keep track of where you’re sewing on your machine’s seam ruler and keep the needle super close to the zip teeth, I think it’s easiest to mark the sewing line right on the fabric and keep close to it.

This pink chalk lines marks the 5/8" seam allowance for my back zip.

This pink chalk lines marks the 5/8″ seam allowance for my back zip.

Next you’ll want to place your zip teeth on the marked line and place the top of the zip where indicated by your pattern. The end of the zip will be closer to the top for certain things and farther away for others. If you want to use hook and eyes, you’ll need to place it slightly further away, for example. My pattern called for the zip 1/2″ from the top.

Place the teeth along marked line and zipper stop 1/2" from top (according to pattern)

Place the teeth along marked line and zipper stop 1/2″ from top (according to pattern)

Using an invisible zipper foot — yes, this is mandatory. You can buy a cheapy, universal one from Hancock/Joann’s. They work just fine for me — sew very close to the zipper teeth. If I’m feeling very OCD, I’ll press the teeth open to ensure I can get into that little fold easier. But, doing that has also caused other problems like getting too close to the teeth. Yes, that is entirely possible.

Grey thread is the stitch line...sooo close to the teeth!

Grey thread is the stitch line…sooo close to the teeth!

Once, the first side of the zip is sewn to the garment, zip up the zipper. You’ll want to mark any and all lines, seams, etc that need to be matched with the other side. This is helpful for waistband seams, lines of your fabric, and facings. Just place a simple line on the tape of the zipper on the side that you are about to attach. It’s particularly helpful to mark both sides of the tape as well.

Pink lines mark where the waistband hits the closed zipper tape to make matching on the other side super simple.

Pink lines mark where the waistband hits the closed zipper tape to make matching on the other side super simple.

Unzip, your zipper and place the other side of the zip along the other side of your garment ensuring you line it up along the seam allowance line once again. Using the lines you just marked on the tape, line them up with the seams, fabric markings, facing, etc on the other side of fabric. Pin the zip in place and sew using your invisible zipper foot.

Tada! You have a perfect invisible zip installed on the main part of your fabric.

Bodice with invisible zip inserted.

Bodice with invisible zip inserted.

Now, we’ll get to the good stuff and get the lining in.

Follow your patterns instructions for sewing in the lining. For a bodice, you’ll most likely sew any front seams and side seams then place your lining and main right sides together matching dots, notches, etc. For this tutorial, leave the shoulder seams of both pieces open. Sew along the armcyes, neckline and along the back neckline just until you get to the zipper. Understitch all of these as far as you can.

Open your zipper so the teeth point toward your fabric and the tape points toward the raw edges. Lay the lining, right sides together, on top of the zipper.

Teeth face in and raw edges face out.

Teeth face in and raw edges face out.

At this point, you’ll have the raw edges of the seam — main, zipper tape, and lining — all matched up. Match the same marking lines you drew for the main with those of the lining ensuring everything lines up on the inside as well.

Using your REGULAR zipper foot…not the invisible zipper foot…sew the lining to the zipper tape about 1/8″ to 1/4″ inch away from the zipper teeth.

Lining lays over the zipper matching all raw edges.

Lining lays over the zipper matching all raw edges.

Finish off the back neckline seam sewing completely over the zipper teeth and across the zipper tape.

Finish stitching the neckline sewing right over the zipper -- teeth and all.

Finish stitching the neckline sewing right over the zipper — teeth and all.

Flip the garment right sides out through the shoulder seams you left open. Open out the raw edges of the shoulder seam matching main to main and lining to lining with right sides facing. Sew across this in one swoop. Fold it back so wrong sides are facing. You’ll have a little hole in the side — most likely the side where the neckline is. Hand-stitch (gasp! I know) this closed.

Lining sewing to the zipper after turning through the shoulder seams.

Lining sewing to the zipper after turning through the shoulder seams.

Depending on your garment and whether or not you’re doing a full lining or not, you’ll have to either hand sew the bottom edge of the lining to the main at the waistband or at the very least sew a hem.

But, that’s it. You’ll have a perfect invisible zip with a neat lining to keep everything inside nice and neat.

Let me know if a video tutorial would be helpful. Lighting in my sewing nook isn’t the best, but I’ll see what I can do!

Good luck!

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