Invisible Zipper and Facing Homework Helper

Now for the easiest zipper application ever, and a cool trick to make the facing lie nice and smooth.

Invisible zippers and conventional zippers are handled differently. For one thing, invisible zippers are inserted before the seam is sewn, so you are working from two unattached garment pieces. Also, because the invisible zipper creates a fold in the garment, it is easy to get confused about which side of the zipper gets attached to which garment piece.  The fact that basting tape can be repositioned easily is a big plus here. Take the time to walk through the placement as you go and check positioning before sewing and you will be fine.

1. Another difference between invisible zippers and conventional zippers is that invisible zippers are shortened from the bottom. If shortening, close the zipper and use the stitch on your sewing machine for attaching buttons or a wide zigzag with the shortest stitch length to make a bar tack across the teeth. Cut below the stitching.

2.     Open the zipper and press so the teeth lay flat.

3.    Place the open zipper face down on the right side of the garment piece with the zipper tape at the  raw edge of the fabric and the teeth facing toward the body of the fabric. Fold the seam allowance to the inside to check the position, then secure in place with basting tape.

4.     Sew from the top next to the teeth until the presser foot hits the slider. (Some people swear by invisible zipper feet, others say they are unnecessary and a regular zipper foot works fine. Decide for yourself.)

5.    Close the zipper and turn the garment piece to the right side. Place basting tape on the right side of the second garment piece in the seam allowance flush with the raw edge. Holding the zipper with the attached garment piece, position the second side of the zipper tape so that both garment pieces match, including any intersecting seams, such as a seam at the waist joining bodice to skirt.

6.    When the zipper is positioned correctly, unzip it and sew it to the second side of the garment, starting at the top. (The basting tape washes away in the first washing of the garment, but you can peel it off easily if you prefer.)

7.    Close the zipper and admire your work.

8.    Now for the tricky part, which really isn’t all that tricky. This is another area of controversy. Some teachers say to close the rest of the seam by starting to stitch exactly on top of where you left off when you attached the zipper. The Palmer/Pletsh method is to start ½” above (or about five stitches above) and about 1/8” or so toward the interior of the garment, but do not backstitch to avoid any pucker at the bottom of the zipper. The zipper was sewn at 1/2” or less, so aligning the fabric in your sewing machine for a 5/8” stitching line for the remainder of the seam gets you where you want to be. You can tie off the thread tail at the beginning of the seam after completing it, or simply sew with short stitches for the first ½” and revert to a regular stitch length for the remainder of the seam. This method works. Try it.

9. To strengthen the zipper, sew the tails of the tape to the seam allowances.

Now for the cool trick with the facing above the invisible zipper. This works on pants or skirts as well as dresses, but to cut down on confusion, the instructions here will refer to a neckline facing only.

1. Cut 5/8” off the center back edge of the back facing pieces. Sew the shoulder seams of the bodice together, and then sew the front and back facing pieces together at the shoulder. Press the seams open.

2. Align the center back raw edges of the garment and facing, right sides together.  Sew ¼” seam. Press open.

3. Pull the facings so that shoulder seams line up with garment shoulder seams. Attach facing at neck edge.

4. Press as sewn. clip curves and snip corners. If necessary, grade seam allowance. Understitch as close to zipper as possible. Note when understitching—facing must be flat, allowing the body of the garment to bunch up and allowing the seam allowance to spread at the clips. (Understitching clips closed defeats the purpose, but understitching with them open can help the neckline curve toward the body.)

5. Turn the facing to the inside of the garment, using a point turner to smooth out corners and press, favoring around the neck edge.  You’re done! Doesn’t everything look nice and smooth?

Remember to bring an example of one of the zipper insertion methods, either in a sample or incorporated in a garment, to the February meeting.

2 thoughts on “Invisible Zipper and Facing Homework Helper

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