Sewing Blog

Install a Truly Invisible Zipper: Pattern Match With Glue Basting

Installing an invisible zipper in your project is a simple way to get a professional finish, but what if you could make the zipper seam disappear, too? Take a few simple steps to match the pattern across your zipper opening and it becomes almost invisible as well. It's easier than you think! 

Follow these simple steps (and grab your glue stick!) to get a perfect pattern match across your zipper opening.

Matching fabric across a zipper openingThe thought of using a regular school glue stick to baste fabric might surprise you, but it is one of my most-used sewing tools! The best glue stick I have found is Elmer's X-treme School Glue Stick. A regular strength glue stick works well too, though the bond is not as strong. As long as the glue is applied with a thin, even stroke and is fully dry before sewing, it does not leave residue on your machine needle.

I am using a simple sleeveless bodice with a center-back zipper in this tutorial. You can also use this tutorial to match fabric across any straight zipper opening. It could be on a skirt, dress back, side zipper or even a throw pillow cover.

Preparing your fabric

This tutorial augments the instructions you have in your sewing pattern. You may need extra yardage to match your fabric. You can also find a general tutorial on how to install an invisible zipper in the Craftsy blog post “Sewing an Invisible Zipper in 10 Easy Steps.”

Step 1:

Place and cut the left pattern piece. Keep in mind, you will need enough fabric elsewhere in your yardage to be able to cut a matching piece for the right side. Note: Trace, then cut, the pattern piece for a more accurate match.

Place and cut the left pattern pieceStep 2: 

Cut out the left pattern piece. Draw the seam allowance line (on the right side of the fabric) and press it under along the seam line. 

Left pattern piece with seam allowance lineStep 3:

Place the left pattern piece on your uncut fabric, paying attention to grain lines. Use the folded zipper edge to find the matching area for the right pattern piece.

Place the left pattern piece on your uncut fabricStep 4: 

Place the right pattern piece so the seam allowance is under the left piece and zipper seam line is matched up. Cut out the right pattern piece. 

Place the right pattern piece so the seam allowance is under the left pieceStep 5: 

Draw the seam allowance line (on the right side of the fabric) and press it under along the seam line. Lay the folded zipper seam line edges together to check that both sides of the zipper seam match along the folded edge. Adjust if necessary.

Draw the seam allowance line and press it under along the seam lineSewing the invisible zipper

Step 6: 

Unzip your zipper and press the zipper tape coils open gently. Line up the edge of the left zipper teeth with the marked seam line on the left pattern piece. Glue, hand or machine baste your zipper in place between the dots marked from your pattern piece.

Unzip your zipper and press the zipper tape coils openStep 7: 

Stitch the basted zipper as close to the coils as possible using a zipper foot or an invisible zipper foot. 

Stitch the basted zipperStep 8:

Zip up the zipper and press the seam gently to flatten the fold beside the zipper coils. Place the right folded edge up against the left side zipper seam. Check to make sure the left seam and folded right edges match. If not, re-press the right fold until they match.

This step took me about 5 minutes of pressing and re-pressing to get a perfect match. In the end my final fold was about 1/16" different than the original fold — about the width of the tailor's chalk seam allowance line I drew.

Zip up the zipper and press the seamHere is where your glue stick comes in handy!

Step 9:

With the zipper still closed, use a glue stick to apply glue onto the unsewn zipper tape. Press the folded seam allowance onto the zipper tape, matching the fabric pattern across the zipper opening. This is easiest if glue basted in small increments — about 2" at a time — until the fabric is basted to the entire zipper edge. (If the glue does not hold right away or dry quickly, press it gently with a medium-heat iron to dry it faster and get a secure hold.)

Matching fabric across a zipper openingStep 10:

Once the entire zipper edge is secure, open the zipper. Re-press the right seam allowance flat and the coils open.

Open the zipperStep 11: 

Stitch the basted zipper as close to the coils as possible using a zipper foot or an invisible zipper foot. 

Stitch the basted zipperStep 12:

Zip up the zipper, press gently to flatten the seams and check your matching pattern. It if is not close enough, remove your stitching and try again. If the zipper tape/coils are showing you may need to stitch the seam again, closer to the zipper coils.

Check your matching patternEnjoy your perfectly matching zipper! Now you can finish the rest of your project according to the pattern.instructions.

What is your favorite place to use an invisible zipper?

Mastering in Minutes: Zippers

Intimidated by zippers? Don’t be!

Craftsy expert Callie Works-Leary takes you step by step through 3 zipper insertions so you can properly prepare the seam, place the zipper and stitch it for a professional appearance. Get the Tutorial

9 Comments

Pat

Your instructions are exceptionally well written and well illustrated. Fabulous job!!!

Reply
Sherri Sylvester

Thanks so very much Pat! I really appreciate it! 🙂

Reply
Tina

Sherri, this is a great tutorial which I will refer to in the future. Have you tried cutting you backs out as single layer layout, tracing the center back cut line (using tracing paper slipped between the pattern and fabric) before removing the pattern? I am wondering if this will work; it seems like it should?

Reply
Sherri Sylvester

Hi Tina! I’m so glad you like it! You could definitely trace the center back cut line that way. You can cut the pieces side by side if you want to install a regular non-pattern-matched invisible zipper. For this tutorial the pieces must be cut separately so the pattern matches across the seamline. The separate cuts allow room for the seam allowance. Hope that helps!

Reply
Miss J

This is a great tutorial thanks.
Will there be another post covering pattern matching across lapped zips?

Thanks!

Reply
Kathleen Hubbard

That is what this IS?, isnt it?

Reply
Anne

Thanks very much. Your tutorials are very helpful

Reply
Eva

Beautifully illustrated!! I love pattern matching. It is like some kind of puzzle or quiz like ” Can you spot the seam?” 🙂 Have you ever tried wondertape? I guess the principle is the same, but than it often is quite expensive. Thank you for the great tutorial.

Reply
Cynthia D.

WOW! Now I am not intimidated to try an invisible zipper! You make it seem so easy! Thank you for this step-by-step guide!

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Reply