OAL2017: Invisible Zipper + Hemming

30 Jun

Hello, everyone! I’m back from Belize, burned butt and all (this dum-dum didn’t think about how her ass would literally be the ONLY thing sticking out of the water while snorkeling… oh well, worth it! I swam with sharks and stingrays and even waved at a manatee! He responded by showing off with an underwater somersault!). One more final OAL post, to wrap up our dresses and then get back to normal (post-vacation) (post OAL) life!

This post is pretty redundant as I’ve covered invisible zippers in the past, but I’m always keen to take some ~fresh photos~. Plus, this shows you how to insert an invisible zipper with the facing already sewn in, and a French seam at the bottom!

If you are sewing a lapped zipper, here is a tutorial for that! Or you can do an exposed zipper! THIS IS YOUR DRESS, U DO U.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Start by measuring exactly where your zipper stop will hit (or use the pattern marking if that’s your jam) and sew up to the marking, starting from the bottom and backstitching to secure. If you are using French seams, clip into the seam allowance right above the marking so the rest of the opening is free and can lie flat.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Finish the seam allowances where the zipper will go (a really lovely touch would be to bind these with self-fabric post zipper insertion, but since my fabric is sooo light, I am just serging here). I also like to apply a length of fusible stay tape along the seam allowance of opening, to give the fabric from extra stability.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Place your zipper with the right side facing down (so the straight side without teeth is next to the finished seam allowance, and the bulk of the teeth is facing upwards), aligning the zipper stop about 1/8″ away from the seam where the facing meets the bodice (if you want to insert a hook and eye, you can lower the zipper stop as needed).

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Start your sewing at the top stop (leaving the tail above the stop free), working your way down to the bottom of the zipper. You will want to use an invisible zipper foot- yesss, you can use a regular zipper foot if you want but OMGAH this foot will make your life sooo much easier I swear. Regardless, you want to line up your fabric edge with the 5/8″ marking on your throat plate (or whatever your seam allowance is) and determine your zipper placement from there. Sew down as far as you can, and then backstitch.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Before you attach the opposite side, zip the zipper closed and mark any matching points (such as the waist seam) with a pin or marking tool. When you place the zipper tape on the seam allowance to sew the opposite side, it makes it easier to match that point so the lines are uninterrupted.

Sew the opposite zipper side as you did the first one, again, starting from the top and working down to the bottom. If your machine does not that seam allowance markings on the left hand side, measure out the distance with a seam gauge and mark it with a piece of tape or a post-it note.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Here is the zipper after it has been sewn in. You can go ahead and try on your dress to make sure you like the fit (as you can probably see, mine was way too loose in the waist and I had to DETACH THE ENTIRE SKIRT to take in the waist seams, lord, my life).

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
If you measured accurately, your zipper *should* have ended right where you stopped sewing your center back seam. If it’s a little off – that’s ok! You can sew it right up, using a standard zipper foot with the needle moved all the way to one side. If you used a French seam, sew up along the seam line, and then zigzag over the raw edge to keep it finished. The bottom of the zipper will cover this, ain’t no one going to see it!

If you’re curious about the bottom of my zipper, I just bound it with self fabric bias because I thought it looked cute.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Next, you want to tack the zipper tape to the seam allowances at the bottom. This keeps the zipper secure and makes it much easier to zip up. I sew right where those pins are, about 1″ – 2″ along the seam allowance. You don’t want to catch the outside of your garment, just sew the tape to the seam allowances only.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Finally, the facing! First, take your little unsewn zipper tape tail (above the zipper stop – if you accidentally sewed this, no worries, just unpick it) and turn it down and out so it points toward the seam allowance. I have pinned this so you can see what it should look like, but in reality I just hold this with my finger when I’m sewing it. This will keep the tail from poking out of the top of your garment when the facing is secured.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Flip the facing down so it completely covers the zipper, with the finished edges lined up. The seam where the facing meets the bodice should be just barely below the fold. Pin in place, and use a zipper foot to sew along this edge. You’ll want to be about 1/4″ away from the zipper stitching – that’s enough to catch the zipper in the seam allowance, but not so close that it makes the zipper difficult to operate.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
This is what it should look like after it’s been stitched.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Push the center back seam allowance to one side, and turn the entire piece right side out. You can pull the top of the zipper to get a more square corner if you need to.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
The finished zipper from the outside! The top edges should match right up. Feel free to sew a hook and eye here if you would like. I always skip those if I think I can get away with it haha

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Now you can tack down the facings so they don’t flip out when you are wearing your garment (if you opted to include lining, you obviously can skip this step). I attached mine to the seam allowance of all princess seams, plus the side seams.

OAL2017 - Hem
Last step is hemming! I turned my hem up 1/2″ twice (for a total 1″ hem) and then topstitched by machine.

That’s all for this dress! Hang around a few weeks while I work up the nerve to take photos outside (I have a yard in this new house, but it’s not fenced and on a very busy cross street and therefore I have no privacy D: D: D: help), then it’s Big Reveal time!

How are you coming along with your garments? As always, let me know if you have any questions!


16 Responses to “OAL2017: Invisible Zipper + Hemming”

  1. janetlouisemiles June 30, 2017 at 9:58 am #

    Thank you–as always, a GREAT tutorial! I am sure you look adorable in your new dress. Can’t wait for the big reveal. P.S. I love polka dots (and french seams).

    • LLADYBIRD June 30, 2017 at 10:12 am #

      Thank YOU!! Excited to wear my new dress 😀

  2. bethnegrey June 30, 2017 at 11:14 am #

    You deserve many HALLELUJAH’s, Lauren! And you are one very gifted teacher. I can’t think of anyone I’ve come across online whose tutorials are any clearer (and more fun to read 🙂 ) than yours. Re your backyard, is there any way you could plant some quick growing shrubs that would work as a privacy hedge? Different stuff grows up here (Oregon) pretty much, but I’m sure TN has some gorgeous natives (besides you, LOL).

    • LLADYBIRD June 30, 2017 at 11:34 am #

      Thank you so much! You just succeeded in making me blush in one comment 😉 haha!!

      That’s a great idea about planting a privacy hedge! I will have to look into costs and talk to my landlord (I’m renting, and while I don’t plan on moving – I have to ok with her, and also, I don’t want to sink a bunch of money into something I don’t own!), but it’s certainly cheaper and easier than a fence!

      • bethnegrey June 30, 2017 at 11:56 am #

        I would think your landlord would be all over this one — it would be a huge improvement to her property — so if I were her I’d bear the cost. Maybe you could even talk to someone at a local grower or garden center to have some ideas and costs ready when you talk with her? Keeping fingers crossed!

        • LLADYBIRD June 30, 2017 at 11:59 am #

          That’s a really good idea! I was just looking at ideas here via google and I could definitely do crepe myrtles (already have a couple in the front of the house and they are gorgeoussss) and maybe even lilac bushes? Even just a partial “fence” would be great; the backyard is enormous. One of my favorite local students works at a garden center, so I may chat with her next time she comes in for a class. I bet my landlord would be game for it, she’s a smart and reasonable lady and honestly is just thrilled to have someone in her house who actually keeps it clean 🙂 lol

          • bethnegrey June 30, 2017 at 12:02 pm #

            ack — LOVE it! (and simply adore crepe myrtles, which we do have here as well). Do keep us all posted on your blog!

            • LLADYBIRD July 1, 2017 at 9:12 am #

              Hopefully there will be pictorial evidence of my progress 😀

          • Yvonne July 1, 2017 at 12:08 am #

            Leyland Cypress is a fast growing evergreen that needs no pruning and has a great shape. If I remember correctly you plant about 15-20 ft apart and in a few short years you have a beautiful green and tall privacy fence. Oh, and darling dress!

            • LLADYBIRD July 1, 2017 at 9:13 am #

              I just googled those and they are lovely! Thank you for the suggestion!

  3. mertxelasierra June 30, 2017 at 4:05 pm #

    Lovely tutorial! It’s amazing that the top ends match so perfectly, as well as the waist seam! Mine allways end up off somehow! The thermosfusible application (and markings) may do the trick, because it prevents the fabric to give when machine sewing… That dress is gonna be gorgeous, girl! Green wall, yesss! It’s gonna be a glorious background for pics as well as privacy provider!

    • LLADYBIRD July 1, 2017 at 9:14 am #

      Thank you! I agree, I think the stabilization and marking help with keeping things from shifting. When I do those, I generally get a good match (and in the event it is off, it’s only off by like 1/8″ – not enough for anyone to notice, although I usually end up fixing it anyway haha). And yay green wall!! New summer project 😀

  4. Donna B. June 30, 2017 at 10:38 pm #

    Zippers freak me out! Yes, I’ve put them in successfully, but I’m not at all comfortable with them. Always glad to see a helpful, clear zipper tutorial. Thanks, Lauren.

    • LLADYBIRD July 1, 2017 at 9:15 am #

      I used to feel the same way about zippers! The only way you are going to conquer that fear and get more comfortable is with a LOT of practice! Sew up some practice scraps or make a bunch of pouches! I promise it gets easier the more you do it – kind of like driving a car 🙂 You are welcome for the tutorial! Happy zipper-ing 😀

  5. theknittingarchaeologist July 8, 2017 at 5:39 pm #

    I also have trouble with zippers. The stitching around the teeth is never even on both sides 😦 So I think I might actually use a regular zipper on this dress and hand pick the zipper with some beads! Still in the toile phase because life has gotten in the way again. Must start planning some craft time into every day!


  1. OAL2017: My Completed Kim Dress | LLADYBIRD - July 31, 2017

    […] Invisible zipper and hemming […]

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