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Concealed zippers

moira | Posted in General Discussion on

Last night I spent a while sewing a concealed zipper into a bridesmaid dress which has a seam under the bust. I baste the seam, place the zip on the pressed open seam and sew near the edges, then undo the basting, open the zip and sew using the concealed zip foot. It’s never a problem to get the zip in, but often that crossways seam slips just a few mm in the final stitching process. Any techniques out there for making sure the seam stays exactly in line once that final stitching of the zip has been done?


  1. Josefly | | #1

    This is sometimes tricky, with certain fabrics more than others. Marking the zipper tape before you begin with horizontal lines where the crossing seamline will be helps to place both sides of the zipper correctly. I usually leave the basting in while doing the machine stitching, to hold it firmly in place, even though it's sometimes a hassle to pick out the basting thread after stitching. Also, you may want to start your basting at that seamline, and work up to the top, then start again at the seamline to baste down to the bottom. There are also 2-sided tapes which can be used to hold the zipper securely in place while stitching. Also, making sure to stitch in the same direction (i.e., top to bottom) on both sides of the zipper is important, but I think that is a requirement anyway with invisible zippers. I think there's a video tip on installing invisible zippers listed under Tips & Tricks on this forum, and there was an article in Threads in the last couple of years on the subject, I believe, suggesting a technique using regular zipper feet instead of the plastic ones, which makes it easier to see what you're doing.

  2. User avater
    DonMcCunn | | #2

    The best procedure I have found is to hand baste the zipper in place. It will keep the zipper exactly over the seam. I hand baste the zipper as close to the teeth as I can. As I am putting in a hand basting stitch I turn the garment over so I can see the good side and verify each hand basting stitch is straddling the seam exactly. It just takes a minute or two to hand baste. Then you can focus on guiding the fabric so the stitching that will hold the zipper is where you want it.

    Hand baste, hand baste, hand baste! Did I say hand baste?

    Don McCunn

    1. moira | | #3

      I like the idea of marking the zip, Josefly, and I get your message about hand basting Don! I'll try those. I don't know how you can leave the machine basting of the seam in while sewing the final rows, as the zip has to be open for that. Or do you mean the edge stitching?

      1. Josefly | | #4

        Oh, I wondered what you meant about removing the basting - you're talking about the basting closing the seamline! Silly me, I was thinking you had basted the zipper in place, machine stitched on the seam allowances to hold it in place, then removed it before stitching close to the zipper teeth, and I thought why would she do that? Yes, of course the seam has to be open to insert the invisible zipper. So I was talking about hand-basting both sides of the zipper in, as Don suggested, and leaving that in until the zipper is completely sewn in. The marking helps because when the zipper is open, it's hard to align the two sides visually. Sorry for the confusion.

        Edited 7/17/2007 2:28 pm ET by Josefly

      2. User avater
        DonMcCunn | | #5

        Moira,I will admit the final rows are a problem. I have tried several approaches. The problem is if you leave the zip closed, then the stitching has to go wider around the zip.On the other hand, I have left the top unsewn then taken the basting out and sewn the zipper with seams that match the rest. But when you do this the zipper closing device, don't know the proper name, sticks out of the finished garment.So my preference is to leave the basting in and the zipper closed and make the top stitches wider so the closing device remains more concealed.Don't know the perfect answer.Hope this helps.Best,
        Don McCunn

        1. Josefly | | #6

          Don, are you saying you can sew in an invisible zipper with it closed? Have I confused "concealed zipper" with "invisible zipper?"

          Edited 7/19/2007 9:06 pm ET by Josefly

          1. User avater
            DonMcCunn | | #7

            Sorry for the confusion. I've been sewing different zippers in so many different ways for different applications, I can't remember the last time I tried doing a concealed zipper. Basically I like the invisible zipper even when you are not sewing it as a concealed zipper because of the size and construction of the slider.Best,
            Don McCunn

          2. Josefly | | #8

            That's interesting...never thought to use an invisible zipper in a standard zipper application. That would have the advantage, in a lapped application, of the zipper pull-tab being hidden? I was also interested in your solution for the standard zipper - sewing wider, around the slider, at the top of the zipper, so that it remains covered when the zipper's closed. I've tried the method where a longer zipper than required is used, inserting so that the excess protrudes at the top of the zipper placket, then, once sewn, the slider is pulled down, and the excess zipper is cut off even with the top of the placket. That way the slider is completely out of the way while the stitching is being done and it makes for nice straight stitching, but the zipper slide does sort of stick out, depending on how big it is, especially in a centered application instead of a lapped one.

          3. moira | | #9

            The concealed zip I was putting into a dress today worked a treat. I sewed one side, and then pinned and stitched the other just at the crossways seam and a little above and below the seam, checked it - and happily it was correct - and then sewed the top and bottom. Perfection.

          4. Josefly | | #10

            I'm so glad it worked out for you. I just yesterday went back and re-read the Threads article on installing invisible zippers, and that article had a tip on just your problem: matching the horizontal intersecting seam. It suggested almost exactly what you've done; stitching the two sides of the zipper in place at the intersecting seams first, then stitching in the rest of the zipper above and below the intersecting seams. I'm probably not describing this clearly, so I suggest reading the article itself.

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