How To Sew a Concealed Zip

IMG_2152This is the first of two Concealed Zip Tutorials I’ve done for you. this one deals with how to inert the zip itself and then the second describes how to finish everything off with a neat facing.

Concealed, or invisible zips are found in a lot of commercially produced garments and are just that – concealed; all you should see is the zip pull. The big difference with putting in this type of zip as opposed to an ordinary dress zip, is that unlike an ordinary zip, which is inserted into a gap in the seam, the concealed zip is inserted first and then the seam stitched afterwards.

Now it is possible to sew a concealed zip with an ordinary zip foot but to get the best results you will need a special concealed zip foot for your machine. They are not too expensive and really worth getting.

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The concealed zip foot helps to roll out the coil of the zip teeth so the needle fits through the central hole and gets in nice and close to the zip teeth in the groove.

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There are two grooves underneath that sit over the coil of the zip. If you’re sewing the right hand side of the zip you should have the coil of the zip sitting in the right hand groove and vice versa for the left hand side of the zip. The little ‘nose’ of the foot should be sitting inside the coil just on the zip tape to help guide the foot down the zip.

There should be no zip tape visible from the right side after the zip has been sewn in. 

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You will need:

A concealed zip, a concealed zip foot and an ordinary zip foot.

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A Bit of Prep

If you have a light-weight fabric, to prevent the stitching puckering when you sew in the zip you can attach a thin strip of light weight iron on interfacing over each side of the seam allowance so the strip just covers the stitching line and this will help to keep the fabric stable as you sew in the zip.

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As with most zips it is better to neaten the seam allowances first. 

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Lay the zip along the seam line with the zip head just below the top seam allowance. Measure down the seam allowance, usually 1cm or 1.5cm and make sure the top of the plastic teeth are just below this.

It’s really important to get this right on both sides of the zip now as you could end up with a lopsided zip at the end. 

Measure down and mark where the bottom of the zip opening will be. You won’t be able to stitch right to the end of the zip so the zip will need to be at least 2cm longer than the opening. 

Top Tip

Prepare the zip by opening it and gently rolling the zip teeth back. Press with a warm iron and no steam. This just helps flatten the zip coil slightly and enables the needle to get in closer to the zip coil. 

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Place the zip face down on the right hand side of the garment so the edge of the zip tape is parallel to the raw edges of the seam allowance and the zip teeth are on the stitching line. Pin in place. 

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Open the zip and make sure the right hand coil of zip sits under the right hand groove on the concealed zip foot. 

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Make sure the nose of the foot is sitting on the zip tape and you’ll make sure you’re sewing down the correct side.

Top Tip

To help to hold everything in place use three fingers to hold the zip tape in place and two fingers to roll back the zip coil. Just move each finger as you get to it with the machine foot.

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Backstitch to start and sew down the zip gently rolling back the zip coil as you go. Sew down until you are level with the mark for the zip opening, or as far as you can go before hitting the zip head. 

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Close the zip and line it up along the other side of the garment with left hand side of the zip tape parallel to the seam allowance. Make sure to match up the top edges so the top edge of the zip is level.

Stitch down the left side of the zip this time with the zip coil in the left hand groove. 

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Both ends of stitching to secure the zip should finish at the same level. 

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Change to a normal zip foot with the needle to the right of the foot. Swing the needle further over to the right if you can, as that will make it easier to get in close to the zip rows of stitching.

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The needle has been moved over to the right so it’s level with the leading front edge of the foot. this means you can get in nice and close to the end of the zip.

Pin the rest of the seam making sure the zip tail is up between the seam allowances out of the way. 

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Make sure you pull up the tails of the zip tape out of the way.

From about 10cm below the zip, sew up towards the stitching securing the zip. To get a better finish sew a couple of stitches just past the end of the zip seams instead of trying to meet the other line of sewing.

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The row of sewing coming up to meet the zip should just run parallel for a couple of stitches.

Press the seam open from the wrong side, then flip everything over and give it a good steam from the right side. 

Concealed Zip 11b

As there can be a lot of stress placed on the bottom of a zip sew the last 2cm of zip tape to the seam allowances only. This will secure the base of the zip and take the pressure off of the stitching holding the zip in place.  

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Do the same to the other side of the zip tape to make sure to keep it nice and secure.

This is the basic way to sew in a concealed zip. You can then finish off the top edge by adding a facing or neatening with a binding or even incorporating it into another seam if it’s a side zip.

I prefer to use a facing and we have a tutorial to show you how to do just that with a professional machine finish.

Do let me know how you get on as I know zips can be a bit off putting for people, but this really is a very straightforward way of sewing a zip.

Happy Sewing!

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