6.02.2011

Invisible Zipper Tutorial - Fully Lined Dress

When I decided to try a shift dress, Simplicity 2584, I knew the yellow and white Lisette fabric I had in my stash would be perfect. However, as a cotton poplin with a white background, I felt it would be a bit sheer, especially in the bright summer sun of New Orleans where I intended to first wear it. So, instead of using the recommended facings, I decided to fully line the dress with a cotton/poly sheermist batiste.

However, I'd never sewn a dress with a full lining before and was not sure how to attach the invisible zipper so it would look clean from the inside and out. I perused the internet with no luck so, I decided to go for it and figure it out along the way.  Here are the steps I used to attach my invisible zipper and dress lining. Hopefully, they'll save someone else a bit of frustration.




Outer fabric shoulder seam, pressed open and faux-serged with an overcast stitch.
To ensure everything went together smoothly, and to allow alterations as needed, I left the full 5/8" seam allowances and overcasted each edge.
Lining with stitching lines pinned over fabric
In order to replace the facings, I began the outer fabric as normal and repeated the process using the batiste to create an identical lining. I then pinned the lining to the fabric, right sides together, over yoke and transfered the yoke facing stitching lines to the lining fabric. Proceed as you would to attach the facing. In order to have the needed flexability to attach the zipper to the fabric and lining, sew only the neckline (as instructed) and the armholes.

**Do not sew the center back seam or the side seams before attaching the zipper.**

For this particular pattern, I recommend sewing the neckline first, turning it outside and pressing, and then turning it inside to sew the armholes. This neckline is a bit difficult to turn so, leaving the arms open allows greater access while pressing.


Zipper pinned at the 5/8" line
To begin the zipper attachment, move the lining fabric out of the way and pin the zipper, right sides together, to the outer fabric. Line the teeth along the seam allowance.


Using an invisible zipper foot (this one came with my machine), baste the zipper to the garment, stitching very close to the inside of the teeth.


Pin lining (right sides together) to the outer fabric over zipper, matching raw edges.

Stitching at 5/8" through all layers

Stitch along the basting line on the wrong side of the outer fabric. Make sure you use the opposite side of the invisible zipper foot and stitch on the raw edge side of the zipper teeth.


Half completed zipper
Turn garment right side out to check zipper. If you have trouble turning the fabric, close the zipper. Reopen before proceeding.


Lay the garment out to ensure fabric is not twisted.


Repeat on other side. Note the position of the fabric to prevent twisting.
To keep fabric organized, flip the finished side onto the unfinished side, right sides together. Then, pull the unfinished lining from under the outer fabric and proceed as above.

You should now have a completed invisible zipper, enclosed between the outer fabric and lining (see introduction photo). Congratulations!!



To continue the dress, separate the lining from the outer fabric at the side seam allowances. Matching raw edges, pin the outer fabric back to the outer fabric front, right sides together, and continue on the lining. Then, sew one long seam down the side of outer fabric and lining. Press seams open and serge or overcast down the length. This way, when you turn the garment right side out, the seam allowances will be neatly tucked between the layers, offering a professional look from the inside and out.  Sew the center back seam as normal.  For the hem, I recommend cutting 1" off the finished length of the lining and then fold toward outer fabric. This will prevent the lining from peaking out. Hem the outer layer as instructed.

Now, turn the garment right side out and admire your work! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask!

53 comments:

  1. Interesting tutorial. I always want to know how others install an invisible zipper with lining. Thanks for sharing.. Looks very neat!

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  2. How far top the neckline do you place the zipper? Do you turn the edge of the zipper under? Is the zipper pull at the top of the neckline when completed, or did you need a hook and eye to close the very top?

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  3. Hello visitor! Thanks for stopping by! Personally, I prefer to cut the top of the zipper off and place the very edge at the seamline, without the use of hook-and-eyes. However, you could place the zipper about 1/2" down from the seamline to allow room for one.

    I hope you stop by again to say how yours worked out!

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  4. Oh my goodness, I have been looking for this information everywhere! None of my sewing books explain this technique, and there are no other clear tutorials online anywhere! Thank you so much - as soon as I try it out I'll let you know how it went. Hooray!

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  5. Hi Liz! I'm so pleased you've found my post and think it will be useful! I can't wait to hear how it worked for you!

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  6. Hi Jennifer! I have been looking for ways to deal with lining/invisible zip, so I was excited to come across your post. My problem is that I'm dealing with a lined bodice (attached to unlined skirt). I don't think I can pick apart the side seams without undoing hours of work on the armscye. Would your technique work if the side seams were already sewn? I'm thinking maybe not, as there is no way to turn the fabric rightside out again...if that makes sense. Any thoughts would be very helpful!

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  7. Hi Susie! I certainly understand your not wanting to undo all of your hard work. Unfortunately, I do not have pictures to share but, in fact, I have since used this technique on two dresses which required the side seams to be sewn first. You have to be careful when reversing your garment to sew each part of the zipper but, it can be done. You won't be able to lay it out flat as the pictures above show however, you can still turn each side to give you access to the seam allowances. I highly recommend basting the zipper at each step and turning it right side out to make sure it is going together correctly. Good luck and please let me know how it turns out!

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  8. Wow thanks Jennifer...! I too have also been hunting for this for ages!!! Brilliant tutorial and it is so easy to follow! I have only ever put a normal zip into a lining of a dress which is easy - but currently have 30 GCSE pupils doing their projects and around 18 of them are doing concealed zips!! This is a HUGE help... thank you! =o) (easy for them to follow too!!!) Xx

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    1. Thank you!! I'm so pleased that you find the tutorial helpful and easy to use!! :-) I'm quite flattered that you're using it in your class and I do hope all of your students' projects are successful! x

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  9. Great tutorial. I have started lining all of the dresses I make (I like knowing that when the sun shows brightly I don't have to worry about anyone seeing thru my dress), and will reference this again. Thanks!

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    1. Hi, Michelle! I'm so glad you've found my tutorial helpful! I know exactly what you mean about that revealing sun! I find a nice, lightweight lawn or batiste works best to provide modesty without adding excess warmth. I hope you'll share some of your dresses when you stop by again!

      Thanks! x

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  10. This is what i've been looking for and asking all my sewing friends but no one had a clue. I had someone make my daughters prom dress and long story short, I had to un-pick it and create a whole new bodice for it. This is a learning experience for me and your tutorial will definetly help. Cant wait to get home and put the zipper in. I hope I don't mess it up since her prom is in two days!!

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    1. Hi, Theresa! Thank you! I'm so glad you think my tutorial will be helpful. If you have any questions as you're going along, feel free to email me at msjennyhomemaker at gmail dot com. I do try to check it regularly and will be more than happy to answer any questions that may come up. Good luck with the dress!!

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  11. Thanks so much for your tutorial which I closely followed today when adding an invisible zipper to the lined dress I made from New Look 6968.
    Do you keep separate the part of the lining below the zipper or continue attaching it to the center back side seams of the outside fabric?
    Thanks again.

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  12. Hi, Arlene! I'm so glad you found this post useful! I love what everyone is making with New Look 6968. It's such a classic, chic pattern. I do hope you'll share yours!

    For below the zipper, I sew the outer fabric and lining separate from each other, as normal, and press the seams open. I have found it is easiest when you leave the lining unstitched for 2-3" below the zipper, and I've seen $300 dresses this way but, it is possible to sew them both shut.

    Please let me know how it works out for you! Happy sewing! x

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  13. Another person here, that has been looking and looking for these instructions. I am making the Sewaholic Cambie dress and have my lining and my dress all completed ready to install the invisable zip. I just can't work out her insturctions after gazing at the tutorial for about two hours. In desperation I googled hoe to do it and here I am. I've had enough trying to get my head around this for today, so will attempt it again in the morning with your instructions at the ready. Thanks for posting this.
    Sharon

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    1. Hi, Sharon! I'm sorry to hear you've had so much trouble with your Cambie (very cute dress, btw). I do hope you find my instructions helpful. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to email me! And please, do stop by and share your finished dress :-)

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  14. I am in the process of making a satin dress with a chiffon overlay. I have been trying to figure out hwo to insert the invisible zip. I will give it a go tomorrow:)

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    1. By the way, my name is Lucy not Anonymous:)

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    2. It's lovely to meet you, Lucy! Your dress sounds wonderful! I just love chiffon overlays. I hope the zipper goes in nicely for you. I'd love it if you'd stop by again to share the final garment! :-)

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  15. you just (hopefully) saved my dress!

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  16. Hi!

    Greetings from Pakistan! I'm going to try your tutorial and would be grateful if you could answer a few questions. Firstly, do you need to finish the top of the zipper in any way? The top part that connects to the neckline.. I just did a trial run, and since mine wasn't so neat, a lill zipper was showing.
    Hope that's clear. Many thanks!

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    1. Hi, Bina! I usually cut off the top part of the zipper but, others sometimes allow the extra at the top to fold over. To secure it, I would understitch it to the lining. Another option would be to line up the top of the tape with the neckline seam, rather than the teeth. Make sure you start your stitches at the end of the tape to secure the whole piece to the dress. This would leave a gap of roughly 5/8". You could then finish with a hook-and-eye.

      I hope this helps! If you still need help or have any other questions, don't hesitate to ask! If you'd prefer, my email is msjennyhomemaker at gmail dot com.

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    2. Wow, thanks so much for the instant reply! :) I like the idea of folding over the top.. That way even if a little shows, it won't be unfinished. By the way, I was planning to start a small business of childrens' formal dresses, and the first specimen is under construction :P I'll share when it's completed, hopefully :)

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    3. You're welcome - I'm glad you found it helpful! You're new business sounds exciting :-) I can't wait to see your samples!!

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  17. Nice blog, thanks for teaching us how to make dresses.

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  18. Why don't patterns use this method, ive had to unpick all my side seams just to put the zip in! But it does look way more professional, thanks for the walk through!

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  19. Thanks so much Jennifer, the best I found!! I did have to hand stitch the top of the lining to the zipper though, but that is probably my sewing machine's fault :)! I mentioned your tutorial here: http://missaliceismaking.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/summer-look4-look-dete4.html
    I hope that is ok with you.

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    1. I'm so glad you found the tutorial helpful! You did a wonderful job on your zipper and the dress overall- adorable!

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  20. You, my dear, are a LIFESAVER!! I've been doing exactly the same thing that caused you to write this post in the first place.
    I'm a self taught self-seamstress/pattern designer, and I've designed and made a dress to wear to my brother's wedding in a few days and I've hit the snag of putting in the invisible zip without destroying the hours of work with fiddly chiffon, satin, beading and handstitching I've already put into it!
    Thank you so much for putting it in such a straightforward, easy to follow way... and for saving me from tearing all my poor hair out :)

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  21. Chiffon, beading... judging by the list, your dress is going to be lovely!! I'm so glad to hear you like the post and I do hope the method works out for you. I'd love to see a photo of the finished dress :)

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  22. I have searched the internet to find out how to do this! I am so glad i have come across your post. I feel less nervous about putting in my zipper for my final year collection and will be saving your website to my favourites :)

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  23. I'm so pleased it worked well for you! And wow, your dress is really beautiful!! I love it!! Amazing job :)

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  24. I'm so glad you think the instructions will help. There's nothing to be nervous about - I'm sure you'll nail it! Good luck on your final collection :) I'd love to see photos!

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  29. I am making a summer dress for my soon to be DIL that needed a lining. I want to use an invisible zipper but couldn't figure out to do it with a lining. You have saved the day with your tutorial. Thanks again.

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  30. Thank you, thank you for posting this valuable tutorial! I searched all over and couldn't find all the exact info I needed for invisible zippers with linings in a fitted bodice and FINALLY I found your post. Perfect. :)

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  31. Thank you for a great tutorial. I have now successfully put in an invisible zip and it looks great! :)

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  32. That's fantastic, Naomi! I'm so glad it helped :)

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  33. I'm so pleased you found the tutorial useful, Melanie! :)

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  34. What a nice thing to do! I'm so glad I was able to help :)

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  36. Yes! It worked. I was having so much trouble working out how to do an invisible zip but this tutorial was just what I needed and everything is going really well. First time doing a fully lined dress with the added complexity of melding 2 patterns together and I've been making it up as I go along

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  37. I love Frankenpatterns! A bit trying some times but, they often yield the best results. I'm so glad my post was helpful to you and I do hope you'll share a link to your dress :)

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  38. You made this very simple! Thanks so much...45 years of sewing and I fine-tune things daily!!! Will seek your help in the future my dear!

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  39. I'm not sure if this has been asked, but is there a way to do this while still fully enclosing the armholes in a sleeveless bodice? I can't wrap my head around it! Thank you for this perfect tutorial, so incredibly helpful!

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  40. Hi, Sarah! Yes, you can definitely have enclosed armholes with this method. However, how easy it is to do depends on how wide your shoulder seam/ strap is and how delicate your fabric is. In the pictured dress, I sewed the neckline, pressed, sewed the armholes, then turned the dress to press. To do this, you'll pull the whole garment through one of the shoulders. You'll need to do this slowly if your fabric is delicate but, I've done it on straps as small as 1". Then, insert the zip as shown. I hope that helps! Please don't hesitate to ask if you have more questions. :-)

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  41. Hi, Debbie! I'm flattered you found my post helpful! I love how much we can all learn from each other in the sewing community and I'm glad to be a part of it :-)

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