Maw & Mo Sew Along: Invisible Zipper

This is it… this is the final post for the Maw & Mo Sew Along!  After today’s post, it’s time to wear a new dress.  Hearts & happiness!

See the previous installments:  part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9, part 10, part 11.

The first thing we should all check is that on the left side of the dress, there is an opening for our invisible zipper.  If you are totally unacquainted with invisible zippers, the Collette Patterns blog has a great introduction on installation.

Here’s the cool thing about zippers with nylon coils (teeth):  you can re-size them.  Mo’s local JoAnn Fabrics was out of the 12″ invisible zipper called for in the pattern instructions, so she picked up a longer one.  In my own sewing studio stash, I had a 22″ invisible zipper and didn’t want to spend extra money on another zipper… so we both re-sized our zippers.  The trick with re-sizing is that the length you are measuring is from the top of the zipper pull to the bar tack where the zipper stops.  NOT the measurement of the zipper tape, which is what we will actually stitch to our fabric.

Simplicity 2305 zipper install

The first thing I did was lay my (closed) zipper on my measuring surface and lined up the top (the zipper pull) at 0″.  Then, I marked the zipper at 12″ so that I could hand-sew a simple bar tack across the zipper teeth.

Simplicity 2305 invisible side zipper install

Simplicity 2305 invisible side zipper install

Simplicity 2305 invisible side zipper install

Simplicity 2305 invisible side zipper install

About an inch below my new bar tack, I took my NON-FABRIC scissors and cut through the whole thing.  If you’ve never done this before, you’ll find that cutting through the nylon coils is ridiculously easy.

Simplicity 2305 invisible side zipper install

If you bought the proper 12″ sized zipper, you’re already set for our zipper installation.  You do need to use a special invisible zipper foot for your sewing machine and every machine is a little different.  When I made this dress I was still sewing on Hugo and had to change the ankle and everything.  On Lizzy, I just swap out the feet (I did have to purchase the invisible zipper foot) and I’m told that on Lizzy I do not have to press the coils for my invisible zippers, which is kind of cool.  Must be why I spent all that money!

For most machines, you will want to do the traditional method of carefully pressing the coils away from the zipper tape on the back side of the invisible zipper.  I just gently run the end of my iron into that crease and I’m really careful not to press the coils because they will melt and then you won’t be able to actually use your zipper.

Simplicity 2305 invisible side zipper install

With the dress facing you right side up, you’re going to take your open and freshly pressed zipper and lay it down on your zipper opening like you see in the picture above.  The zipper pull is down, touching the right side of the fabric.  When you look at your zipper, it’s the left side of the V, but technically, it’s the right side of the zipper.  I chose to hand baste in my zipper first, so that I could actually try on my dress and see how it was fitting at this point.  You can also use fusible web and/or pins.  (If you really need a major zipper tutorial, Craftsy.com has a *free* online class that I highly recommend!)

After we secure the right side of the zipper (the left side of the wrong-sided V), we’re going to stitch it from top to as far as we can get to the bottom.  The zipper pull will prevent us from sewing to a certain point and that’s OK — we’re going to close up the bottom after we install the other side of the zipper.  Invisible zippers are special because when you sew them, you’re sewing really close to the teeth so that the fabric just covers the opening and it looks “invisible” from the outside.  The special foot we use on our machines acts like a railroad track.  It’s not totally fool proof, so you do want to help guide your zipper.  But it’s really cool how the zipper just sort of glides through the groove marks in the foot!

Simplicity 2305 invisible side zipper install

To install the other side, I like to first close my zipper to make sure it’s working.  (If you accidentally stitched through the coils, you can use this time to carefully pick them out with your seam ripper and repair the section(s) that need to be re-stitched.  Have I done this before?  Oh, yes… on every single zipper I’ve ever installed.)  Once I’m confident my zipper is operating properly, I then pin the other side to make sure the dress fabric is even and the zipper is even.

Simplicity 2305 invisible side zipper install

I can hand baste this again, or utilize the fusible web method (definitely see the zipper tutorial for this if you’ve never done it before!), or just take out the pins as you come to them.  Open your zipper and stitch it just as you did for the first side.  When you’re done, do the same check by opening your zipper and make any stitching corrections that you may need.  Your zipper should only be “visible” when open, otherwise you should just see fabric from the outside with your delicate zipper pull.

Simplicity 2305 invisible side zipper install

I didn’t take any pictures of this part, but we still need to stitch the bottom of the zipper opening.  To do this, I like to use my regular zipper foot and I just stitch from the point where my stitching ended at the bottom of the zipper all the way to dot mark on the skirt.  We don’t want any holes in our dresses!  The Colette Patterns blog has a great picture demonstrating this and you can see it by clicking here.

I also chose to finish the edge of fabric joining with my zipper tape.  The fabric I was using was starting to fray a bit and I thought ahead to future wearings and washings.  It was a sound decision!  I have yet to clip any stray threads from my seam allowances on this dress.

Simplicity 2305 invisible side zipper install

Give the dress a final press… all over!  It will help release any wrinkles incurred from all the stitching we’ve done in these final steps and ensures that your work looks professional at the finish.

Now it’s time to wear this dress all over town!  I sometimes pair my dress with a belt if I want a more defined waist.  The colors in my fabric were great for the fall and winter months, so I often wore this dress with some sweater tights and a pair of ankle boots.

Simplicity 2305 finished

Simplicity 2305 finished

Simplicity 2305 finished

If you’ve chosen to make this dress, I would love to see your finished garments!  Feel free to post links to your dresses in the comments.  I think Mo will be a guest contributor here at School of Moxie in a near future and she’ll have lots of insight from a beginner perspective.

Our next sew along will be the Amy Butler Cosmo Bag.   I’ve had a bunch of comments on that post and other direct messages with questions, so I’m planning a tutorial that will follow the bag construction instructions (which have a lot to be desired) step-by-step.  Stay tuned… it’s coming soon!

Happy stitching, my Moxie Peeps!

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  • Madelyn - I have one photo of my in my erstwhile finished product… I’m sure I’ll be sharing that in its own post very soon 🙂 But we’ll just say SHINY SACK and leave it at that 😉

    Thanks for hostessing this Sew-Along, Maw! I look forward to future sew-alongs, tons of fun, and lots of handmade garments! 😀ReplyCancel

    • Mary Ann Williams - You did great, Mo! 🙂 And look at all the things you’re making now. Awesomeness! I’m sure we’ll have more projects up on here before long…ReplyCancel

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