Invisible zipper triumph

I’ve been procrastinating on the blouse project I mentioned in my last post. I’m working on a slightly modified version of one of the tops in the vintage pattern Simplicity 3963. Just a simple little shell. I’m really trying to expand my sewing skills, so I decided I’d use this project to help conquer my fear of zippers. The last zipper I remember installing was in a pencil skirt I made about 7 years ago. Before that… might have been a dress I made in high school once summer when I was visiting my grandma. Clearly, I haven’t had a lot of practice with zippers.

I’ve been picking the brain of my friend Heidi all week about zippers. She is a class A (as well as classy) seamstress and always has a good answer for my elementary questions. I read up a lot online about invisible zippers, which is what I decided I wanted to install in this top. It seemed daunting but I was ready to go for it. Having basted both seams and pinned the first side of the zipper in place, and after psyching myself up for the task, I sat down at my sewing machine only to discover that what I thought was an invisible zipper foot was a buttonhole foot. (I have sewn buttonholes recently, so I have no idea what I was thinking.) Drat.

Heidi assured me that if I were careful, I could still use my regular zipper foot to sew in an invisible zipper. I initially thought that sounded scarier than I was willing to attempt, but two days later and I was getting antsy. Goodness knows I’m used to having a million projects going at any given moment, but this one has been taking up the entire dining room table and damnit, it’s hot here. I could use another sleeveless shirt.

So for about the fifth time I read through these instructions for inserting an invisible zipper and then used my Google fu for one more attempt to find a tutorial to help elucidate the process. Now, I’m not usually a big fan of video tutorials. In fact if you want the truth, I find it rather annoying that that days, half the time I want something written out I have to watch a video instead. But in this case, it ended up being this video that finally pulled everything together for me.

And I present you with my first invisible zipper.

And I’m completely happy with it! I didn’t even end up with a bubble or gap at the bottom, either. I’m not fussy about the inside of my garments at all, so when I realized that on one of the sides my stitches were a little far away from the zipper coils for a couple of inches, I simply went over that area again, closer. No one will ever see the original stitches, anyway.

So perhaps this is a drop in the bucket for the more experienced sewers out there, but this was a big triumph for me. Now I don’t have to be scared of patterns with zippers! (And I grudgingly admit… for all my worry, that was a lot less annoying than sewing umpteen buttonholes.)

But I know, I know, screw the zipper, you’re really wondering about that chicken fabric, aren’t you?

It’s a feedsack that I bought awhile back. Feedsacks are often very expensive for the (almost non-existent) yardage you get, and when they are inexpensive they’re often in poor condition. But I don’t mind minor flaws, so you can see the lightest bit of yellowing in a few spots on this one (and it actually shows up more in the photo than in person). I  just love the patterns on feedsacks so much that on a rare occasion it’s worth it to splurge a little for a great one. I definitely thought this qualified as a great one. Imagine a farmer’s wife in 1940 trying to get enough feedsacks in this fabric to make herself a dress!

I bought this one fully intact (i.e. it was still an actual sack) so I had to unzip the seams along the side. You can see the holes along the selvedge on the bottom right side. I opted to use bias tape around the neckline and armholes instead of facings (because I like the way it looks, and maybe more importantly because I hate facings, and not in a fear-of-the-unknown kind of a hate, more like a I-really-really-hate-facings kind of hate), so I have a little bit of this awesome fabric left. I need to come up with something really small for the leftovers. I might be able to cobble together enough for a contrasting collar or pockets on something.

Hopefully I’ll finish this over the weekend!

Filed: Sewing

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Golly, 4 Comments!

  • It turned out wonderfully and I LOVE the fabric!


  • Love those chickens! They remind me of of you, learning to walk, chasing the chickens around the “yard.” Did you make bias tape, or buy it? (Your mother did teach you to make bias tape, non?)


  • Thanks!

    And Ms. Vicki no indeed, you did NOT teach me to make my own bias tape. 😉


  • Nice job! I still haven’t mastered the invisible zipper, but I’m getting better with regular zippers. I even made a lapped zipper recently of which I was rather proud.

    That feed-sack material rules. I can’t wait to see the finished product.


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