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1940’s Tea Dress Sewalong No. 7: Conquering the Invisible Zip
Hello lovely sewalongers!
How is your dress coming along? Hands up who’s got their sleeves in! If you have then you’re ready to move on. So here we go: it’s zip time.
The first thing we’re going to do is finish the raw edges on the centre back seam. Doing this now is much easier than trying to do it once the zip is inserted. If you are using an overlocker make sure you don’t trim away any of the fabric as this will spell trouble for your 1.5cm seam allowance, and could make the dress too tight.
Now that that’s done we can start getting to grips with the zip. Invisible zips have a reputation for being tricky – and it’s one we don’t think they deserve. They’re actually very simple to put in, you just have to take care.
Invisible zips are different from normal zips because the teeth are hidden on the underside of the tape. Before you start sewing it’s a good idea to carefully uncurl the teeth away from the tape slightly, using an iron. This will make it easier when you come to sewing as it will allow the needle to get closer to the teeth. Make sure your iron is set on synthetic, or low, for this part – you do not want to melt the zip!
Once that’s done let’s pin the zip in place. Open the zip up and line up the top of the tape with the top of the dress, right sides together, making sure the teeth are 1.5cm away from the edge of the centre back seam. Pin it in all the way down.
At this stage, before we start sewing using the invisible zip foot, you might like to tack the zip to the dress. You can do this by hand, or as we have done, on the machine using stitch length 4/5. This just stops it from wriggling around and being a pest when you’re trying to get your head round the next part.
Now, attach your invisible zip foot to your machine and make sure your stitch length is back to 2.5. We’re going to sew the left hand side first, so starting at the neckline make sure you’re sewing the zip with the teeth travelling through the left hand groove on the underneath of the foot. Backstitch at the beginning and then sew down the length of the zip, stopping and backstitching when you get to the zip pull.
The invisible zip foot should do all the work for you, as long as you uncurl the teeth away from the tape as they’re going under the foot at the beginning. And that’s one side in!
Here’s a little trick for helping to get that waistline seam matching up on both sides of the zip… With only one side inserted, close the zip up and, on the unsewn side, snip a tiny notch into the zip tape, exactly at the mark at which it meets the waistline seam on the sewn side. Then match this notch to the waistline on the unsewn side, and pin in place before tacking it down.
Then, again starting at the neckline, sew the zip in, stitching towards the hem using the invisible zip foot. This time the zip teeth need to be going through the right hand groove.
When you have sewn as far down as you can and backstitched, remove the invisible zip foot and replace it with a standard straight stitch foot. Pin the rest of the centre back seam up and, keeping the 1.5cm seam allowance, starting a few centimetres below the end of the zip, sew down towards the hem.
There will now be a very impractical gap at the bottom of the zip, which we need to attend to.
Swap your presser foot to a standard zip foot, as this will allow you to get right up close to the zip teeth with your stitching. With the zip teeth still closed, and with the hem pointing away from you, join these two lines of stitching together. Backstitch at the beginning and end.
No more gaps, and ta da! – the zip is now fully in!
Press the bottom of the centre back seam open and then stand back and marvel at what you have just done. The invisible zip is conquered! And you have a dress that you can properly try on without needing to be pinned in. (So what are you waiting for??)
We now only have the neckline facing and hem to worry about which means that by this time next week your dress could be finished! Ooh, where are you planning to wear it first?
We hope these instructions have been helpful but if you’re still completely flumoxed we’re on hand to help. Get in touch via our Facebook page or on Twitter where you can find us at @SewOverIt.