How to sew an invisible zipper using Wonder tape for sewing
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Let me show you the fastest and easiest way to insert an invisible zip that eliminates the need for pins and basting. You don’t need to fumble with pins, baste the zipper or press the zipper teeth flat before starting.
This technique will help you to eliminate common problems and get professional results that you will be proud to show off.
What is an Invisible Zipper?
The invisible zipper differs from the regular one in that only the slider is visible from the right side of the garment, and the zipper teeth and the tape are hidden from view underneath the fabric. It gives the impression that there is no zipper at all in the seam where the zipper is sewn. That’s why they call the zipper “invisible” or “hidden” or “concealed”. The seams look nice and neat because the edges of the fabric are held together tightly (of course, if the zipper is sewn properly).
But still, when choosing an invisible zipper in a store, try to pick it up in a color close to the color of your fabric. Firstly, the slider will be visible on the right side of the garment, and, secondly, the wrong side of the garment should also look perfect!
Invisible zippers can be of different qualities and lengths. Some of them are very soft and the tape is almost translucent. I like to use this type for very lightweight fabric like silk chiffon, silk charmeuse, and silk shantung. The other type is thicker, less transparent and made from heavier fabric. This type of invisible zippers is good for medium or heavy weight fabric.
The teeth of invisible zippers are always made from plastic (no metal here) and they are not designed for heavy loads. The teeth on the reverse side of the zipper are bent, forming a groove for stitching.
Invisible zippers come in different lengths. But in any case, the zipper should be longer than the seam opening by at least 1 in (2 cm).
Wonder tape for sewing invisible zippers
Invisible zipper success starts with using some helpful tools and notions.
I like to use a double sided adhesive tape that secures the zipper during stitching. The brand of tape I use is Wonder Tape but I have seen it under other names also ( Peel’n Stick, for example ). I have only used Wonder tape which can be sewn through and does not gum up my needle; I have not tested the others. See how to use the Wonder tape in videos below.
How to use an invisible zipper foot for inserting an invisible zip
It’s more convenient to sew an invisible zipper with a special presser foot. You can use a regular zipper foot that comes with your sewing machine, but there are special presser feet for invisible zippers which you can buy separately. I prefer to use them – it’s really much faster and easier.
The foot has a special channel which moves the zipper teeth out of the needle’s way and allows the stitch to be placed close to the zipper teeth easily. It will keep the distance between the stitch and the zipper teeth constant. The invisible zipper foot gives you more control to stitch very close to the zipper teeth, and the stitching line turns out equal and accurate.
The design of the foot also prevents from stitching over the teeth by mistake, which is an added bonus.
Invisible zipper feet can have a different design and be made of metal and plastic.
Sewing an invisible zipper step by step
I am going to show you how to attach a zipper to a skirt that is in the process of being made.
The first step is to finish the raw edges where the zipper will be placed. I will use a serger for this, but you can also use the overlock stitches of your sewing machine ( zigzag, if none other is available ). If you use the sewing machine you will have of course to trim the fabric by hand. I have a Janome serger which despite not being very expensive is a real workhorse and has not yet failed me.
The invisible zipper is sewn into the center back seams of the skirt with fully open seams.
I am going to use a zipper of the same color as the skirt. The zipper is longer than necessary, but I will trim it later. In order for the zipper to be stitched exactly along the seam line, it is necessary to determine the spacing between the edge of the zipper tape and the edge of center back seam allowances.
For this I am marking the stitch location on both sides, also the length of the zipper opening. The seam allowances are ⅝ inch for zipper insertion. I have to make sure that the seam allowances are uniform throughout the zipper opening.
Now I am going to use the double sided adhesive tape (Wonder tape) that will secure the zipper during stitching.
Open the zipper and position it right side down on the fabric. Align the teeth with the seamline ( it’s ⅝ in). First, I will attach the zipper temporarily with one pin in one point and mark the place where the zipper tape ends (about ¼ in). Then I will set the adhesive tape as close to that mark as possible, keeping it parallel to the fabric edge.
I place the Wonder tape on the other side of the seam at the same distance from the material’s edge as the first side. I did not find it necessary to mark the distance here, it is quite easy to place the second strip of tape since the two strips are close to each other.
After that I remove the paper from the tape on one side, uncovering the second adhesive side.
The zipper is open and is placed so the slider stop is about 5/8 inch from the waist seams; it will be trimmed later. Align the zipper tape nicely onto the area where you will make the invisible zipper stitches.
The edge of the zipper ( lengthwise ) is aligned with the edge of the adhesive strip. I press the zipper tape with my fingers to make it stick to the tape. No basting stitch is necessary once this is done, the Wonder Tape is really wonderful! Also, mark the place where the stitching of the zipper will end.
Now let’s use the invisible zipper foot.
Align the zipper teeth next to the presser foot so the stitches will be right next to the zipper’s teeth at the optimum point along the zipper. Stitch slowly, because you need to make sure the zipper is not moving on the fabric. Since the stitch is not long, I find it is better to spend 10 extra seconds now than to have to rip it later.
Don’t use backstitching at the end of the stitch – it’s not good with this foot.
Secure the end of the stitch manually with a knot. As you can see, I have stitched a little bit too long and I have to take apart a couple of stitches first. The end of the stitch has to be at the mark that I made before.
Prepare the other side of the skirt by removing the paper from the adhesive tape, exposing the adhesive side. Close the zipper in preparation of the second stitch. I found from experience that it’s absolutely necessary to have the zipper closed when establishing its position.
Attach the second side of the zipper to the skirt. This is a very important step, because now I am determining the final look of the finished product. As I said before I do this final placement with the zipper closed. I fold the second side of the skirt at the marked line and align the two sides properly, using previously drawn marks. In my case, I already have a mark from the skirt design where the yokes were sewn to the skirt.
And the second mark is the one that I made when I marked the zipper stitch end. I make sure that the two sides align properly and that there is no space between them along the whole length. Then I press the zipper with my fingers to the adhesive tape. Beware: this is not a very strong bond. It is strong enough to work, but it can easily be taken apart. After I made sure the zipper is glued to the fabric I open it past the stitch end line.
Now I sew the second part of the zipper as shown before. It works best if you sew the zipper in the same direction on both sides of the zipper. It is best done from top to bottom. In that way , you will have no puckering of the zipper as you do when sewing from top to bottom and then from bottom to top.
The next step is to finish the rest of the skirt center back seam. I find it works best if I leave the bottom completely open until I am ready to finish it off.
Attach your regular zipper foot to your sewing machine. The zipper is already in place and all stitches from now on will not touch it, so I have to make sure when I pin the skirt that the zipper is folded outside of the area where the seam will be done. Then I mark the end of the back seam.
This will prevent any puckering at the end of the zipper. A very simple trick, but it is extremely effective. But you have to use the regular zipper foot to do it properly.
And the last, very important step: pressing the finished seams. One final remark: I ironed while the temporary lines from the marking pen were still visible, and the heat has set them permanently. So don’t make this mistake, choose proper marking sewing tools for your fabric.
If you prefer a video tutorial, here is the link to my YouTube video.
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