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How to Install Zippers in Sheer Garments

Hide them or flaunt them—it’s your choice
Threads, Issue #209 June/July 2020

Zippers and garments made of sheer fabrics seem at odds with each other. We need to get in and out of our clothing, yet we don’t want to break up a delicate sheer panel with an obvious zipper.

I’ll share two ways to deal with this challenge. The first is to camouflage the zipper and its corresponding seam allowances. The other is to highlight the zipper as a design statement. This calls for purchasing a decorative zipper and incorporating it into the overall garment design. Both methods require planning and an unconventional approach to the zipper installation, but each can be the perfect finishing touch to a special garment.

Camouflage an invisible zipper

In sheer fabrics, an invisible zipper’s tape and the fabric’s seam allowances may show on the garment’s right side. To hide them, cover them with fabric that matches the wearer’s skin tone. The example on p. 61 shows a lace panel, but the same method works for other sheers; for solid sheers, you won’t need to match motifs.

Dye China Silk to match

China silk is ideal for covering the zipper seam allowances, but it can be difficult to find a color that is a perfect match to the wearer’s skin tone. Instant coffee crystals are suitable for dyeing white or natural-colored silk. Follow these steps, and make several tests on 3-inch fabric squares, recording the amount of coffee used and the time spent in the dye bath to achieve the desired skin tone.


  • Instant espresso coffee crystals
  • Table salt
  • White vinegar
  • 100 percent china silk, natural color or prepared for dyeing
  • Large saucepan or pot (cooking pots are fine, as the recipe uses only edible ingredients)

Dye method

Dissolve the coffee crystals and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt in 1 cup…

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