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Hi, I was hoping someone could help me. I’m making a dress with a beautiful fabric. I have the zipper which is made to be invisible. My question is, when making the pattern, besides the seam allowances how many extra centimeters are supposed to be added (on the fabric) to allow for the zipper to be sewn on? The back is one piece, so I will have to put it on the side, correct? If so, please tell me how much extra fabric has to be allowed and wether it’s on just the front side part or the back side part? Or would it be better to make the back two pieces and leave the zipper on the back? I haven’t drafted the pattern yet, I’m just hoping to hear some tips on how to do this since it’s my first dress. Thank you!


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  • 20596winter_20fairy_large

    Feb 17, 2012, 06.39 PMby sewingfan1

    I’ll bet someone will be able to post you a link with a tutorial (or you might find one on this site if you type “invisible zipper” in the search box) but basically you need your normal seam allowance on both pieces of fabric. I’ve never added any extra for invisible zippers and I usually have 1.5cm allowances.

    I find the specialised invisible zipper foot great for sewing it in “invisibly” though you can use a normal zipper foot if you take it carefully and make sure you’ve unrolled the zipper coil properly before sewing as close to the teeth , without touching them, as possible. It’s easier if you’ve already basted the zipper in place too.

    The Burda mags always include a special tutorial for invisible zipper insertion among the instruction section if you have one of those at all.

    You would put it in the side if there’s no back opening and I guess it’d have to be sleeveless too (at least I’ve never seen a side zipper in a sleeved top but I may be wrong).


  • 20596winter_20fairy_large

    Feb 17, 2012, 06.45 PMby sewingfan1

    There’s definitely some tutorials on it on this webpage=in the Learning section. Here’s one of them that seems to have had thumbs up http://www.burdastyle.com/techniques/tuesday-technique-the-invisible-zipper

  • Patti_12-28-2011_large

    Feb 17, 2012, 07.10 PMby patti-r

    sewingfan1 brought up a great point it depends on what your making where the zipper is placed. Strapless are sometimes placed on the side for many and if it is for a dress with full bodice usually in center back.

    The seam allowance for the zipper is usually 5/8" or 1.5cm. (Same as allowance usually already used for most seams in your pattern if you have already done this no need to add extra.) I sometime use 3/4" if sewing a fabric that frays, then sometimes (not always) use overlocker to finish fabric edges.

    I am a little confused about whether you needed to also know about the pattern ease allowances when drafting a pattern? Here is an ease chart maybe useful when making a sloper into a pattern:http://butterick.mccall.com/ease-chart-pages-456.php

    Make a mock up muslin of your drafted pattern before cutting into your fashion fabric, Good Luck!!

    If the suggestions help let us know if not keep asking questions.

  • Missing

    Feb 18, 2012, 11.40 AMby ieltayib

    Thank you! Yes, your suggestions did help. I usually do leave 1.5 to 2cm seam allowance, but most of what I worked with involved stretchy lycra type fabrics, and I never really needed a zipper. This fabric however doesn’t have much stretch to it. It’s a strapless bodice dress, but I’m adding braids made from the same fabric over the shoulders. I prefer it tight so I’ll definately need a zipper to get the fit I want. Since the front and back involve draping, I suppose I will have to put it on the side. My sewing machine didn’t come with a zipper foot however, can it be sewn on using a regular foot? Or is it better to hand sew it on? Also has anyone tried to make the dress form from duct tape as the videos show on many sewing websites? Did it work out ok? I’m having the hardest time making adjustments on clothing I sew for myself!! L I’ll post a pic of the dress when I’m done. :)

  • Missing

    Feb 18, 2012, 11.42 AMby ieltayib

    Sewing fan, thanks for the link, it did help.

  • Patti_12-28-2011_large

    Feb 18, 2012, 03.12 PMby patti-r

    You need a zipper foot although regular zipper foot may work might be best to get the one for invisible zipper. You need to know the shank type of your machine this shows how to measure:


    Remember your machine from former post found just google: SunStar KM-250A zipper foot

    You could hand pick the zipper not hard looks great on fine fabric can be time consuming.

    Personally I use the regular zipper foot for all my machines, although they came with the invisible feet also find it works better for me.

    Never made the Homemade Dress Form but if you do a search many have, others may have more input.

    Member Kate’s Measurement Chart:http://www.diceyhome.free-online.co.uk/KatePages/Learning/Measuring/Taking-measurements.htm

    Cutting and Grading Chart: http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/4424/quick-reference-for-cut-and-spread-pattern-grading

    This is old kind of crude but may help a little on alterations:http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_c/c-228.html

  • 20596winter_20fairy_large

    Feb 18, 2012, 03.13 PMby sewingfan1

    I don’t think it would work with a normal zipper foot as you have to get the stitches so close to the teeth to make sure it’s invisible. You could baste it in place using a normal foot I guess or maybe with a zigzag foot and move the needle position from centre to left/right depending on which side of the zipper you’re working on . It might be fiddly trying to hand sew it as you’d have to be rolling open the coil as you sew, I’ve never tried it.

    If you have a sewing shop near you, or you’ve got a few days to spare while you wait for it to come through the post I’d say it’s definitely worth your buying a zipper foot (and an invisible zipper foot) as they’re so handy to have and only cost a couple of pounds or so. :-)

  • 20596winter_20fairy_large

    Feb 18, 2012, 03.17 PMby sewingfan1

    Re your other question, I haven’t made a duct tape dress form so can’t help there, it might be worth your posting that as a separate message as maybe someone will spot your question and answer more readily if that’s the heading of your post. You may only get people clicking on this post who have info on inserting zippers. I’m pretty sure I have seen posts on this site from people either asking whether they were any good or asking for help in making them.

  • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

    Feb 18, 2012, 07.05 PMby katexxxxxx

    If you want the dress to be tight fitting, DO NOT rely on the zipper to hold it closed or hold you in! make it fit and use either hooks and eyes or ‘corset tape’ to close the dress and take the strain, and the zipper over the top to cover it up if you need to.

  • Logo4957b_large

    Feb 19, 2012, 05.52 AMby jenss-1

    Hello, It may not be clear in the other comments but…you will need an “invisible zipper foot” to sew on the invisible zipper. A regular zipper foot will not allow the needle to get close enough to the teeth of the invisible zipper. It can still be sewn, but it will probably not look as neat or “invisible” as it could. Some zipper brands (like YKK) sell cheapo plastic feet and usually come with adapters to work with various machines. The invisible zipper foot has a channel on the bottom which the teeth of the zipper pass through during sewing. The plastic YKK foot that I have used also has little wheels in the front to help it move along (although I’m not sure if this actually aids in the process or not). Otherwise, look at a regular buttonhole foot—they sometimes have channels on the bottom that can work in a similar manner in a pinch.

    As for allowances, usually you don’t need to add anything (other than the regular seam allowance – in the U.S., usually this is 5/8"). The packaging on your zipper or the zipper foot instructions will let you know if you need to flatten ( iron out) the zipper in advance or not. Personally, I have found that the results are better when the zipper is ironed (using YKK brand).

    Also, if this is your first zipper – it can be helpful to baste it in by hand first. Good luck!

    1 Reply
  • Logo4957b_large

    Feb 19, 2012, 05.47 PMby jenss-1

    I suppose it depends upon the machine and experience level. I should have said that I use a circa 1985 Bernina. (My machine cannot use the newer Bernina invisible zip foot that I’ve heard others rave about.) I can see where a larger zipper foot would be good too. My own experiments with a regular (Bernina) zipper foot were not perfect and control could be a problem. It’s not a strong point for me, and so I tend to use slower and “beginner” methods to avoid a session with the seam ripper later – that’s just me! YKK recommends pressing the zip and I have found it easier to sew in the zip (with the cheapo plastic foot) when I have done this. I think the subtle guidelines on the zip are easier to see. Aging eyes maybe. YKK is often the easiest brand to find in NYC garment district (but not sure where in the US the questioner may be). Can all be confusing for a beginner though. That said, yes, there are different ways to do it—always great to read about alternative methods!

    2 Replies
    • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

      Feb 19, 2012, 11.25 PMby katexxxxxx

      She may not be in the USA at all! I’m in the UK…

      I have to say I haven’t noticed any difference in the make of zip. I’ve used YKK, Opti, and several other branded and non-branded zips, and never needed to press the zip.

      I will add that i get MUCH better results much more easily with that big Husqvarna foot than with the woosey little Bernina foot. It also helps to have a total of 26 needle positions!

      I can get good results on all zip types and makes with the Bernina: it’s just easier with the Husqvarna. The Husqvarna is a 1998 Lily 550. The Bernina is a 1005 of similar vintage. The 30 YO Husqvarna Optima 190 uses the same big zip foot as the newer one. I only have two needle position with that one, but I can still get the good results. I suppose it’s a matter of practice and preference, but it’s good for the less experienced to know there are alternatives. :)

    • Avatar_1_large

      Feb 23, 2012, 12.58 PMby Anne Wagenhauser

      I also have an old Bernina (1970), bought a generic invisible zip foot on ebay and got an “ankle” from the bernina shop. I get great results, never had to iron the zip. I do baste it in place first though. I think the zip foot was originally for a singer or brother and cost a whole £1.50!! bargain!

  • Logo4957b_large

    Feb 20, 2012, 04.10 PMby jenss-1

    26 needle positions – I’m impressed! My old Bernina only has 5, so that probably explains it…either too close or too far.

    1 Reply
    • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

      Feb 20, 2012, 05.04 PMby katexxxxxx

      I’m kinda spoiled with this machine! I bought it for the 10 different buttonhole styles, and stuff like this and the decorative stitches came as extras as far as I’m concerned.

  • Logo4957b_large

    Feb 21, 2012, 03.02 AMby jenss-1

    Okay, now I’’m really envious!

    1 Reply
    • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

      Feb 21, 2012, 10.12 AMby katexxxxxx


      Well, list for Lily was best part of £1100 when I got her in ‘98. But worth it! She’s still going strong, and my business partner recently scored a gently used one.

      I do also have about 20 other usable machines, from treadles and hand cranks on up, and three or four that are not in service. They need fixing or parts.

  • Missing

    Feb 22, 2012, 07.23 PMby ieltayib

    Just read the posts….. sorry for the delay in responding…. but you’re right…. I’m not in the US. I actually live in Syria. And being we are now currently in a war… I can’t even order anything online and expect it to arrive here. And leaving the house is almost impossible, much less going shopping in the larger cities…. So I’m stuck with the regular foot. L I guess if I can learn to sew a decent zipper on a regular machine foot, everything else will be a piece of cake. But I really enjoyed learning about the different machines and appendages you guys use, and hopefully when things settle down here, maybe I’ll order off the internet the things I need.

    2 Replies
    • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

      Feb 22, 2012, 09.20 PMby katexxxxxx

      Always remember that if you can’t get the result you want by machine, you have the Mk I Hand Sewing Needle to use… ;)

      Hugs and stuff and here’s hoping the war leaves you and yours alone and safe.

    • Logo4957b_large

      Feb 23, 2012, 03.33 PMby jenss-1

      ieltayib, I had peaked at your profile page and that is why I thought you were in the US. I’m so sorry that you are in this situation! Take care and be safe!

  • 20596winter_20fairy_large

    Feb 23, 2012, 09.05 AMby sewingfan1

    Hope all will be fine for you and yours! I’d post you one personally if I knew it’d get there safely and that it would fit your machine

  • Dsc08840_large

    Feb 23, 2012, 10.46 AMby Sabrina Wharton-Brown

    With regard to seam allowances, if you are using an invisible zip, the seam allowance should be half the width of the zip when the zip is closed.

    If you prefer to leave the seam allowances as they are, you can do so, then baste the seam and press it, cut the basting threads and then use the pressed fold as a guide for the coils of the zip. I made a tutorial of how to insert an invisible zip with an adjustable zipper foot on my blog:


    I hope that helps! Sabrina

  • Missing

    Feb 24, 2012, 05.56 PMby ieltayib

    Kate and Jenss: Thanks girls. I appreciate the concern. It’s pretty bad here, but I’m trying to keep my mind off things. That’s one of the reasons I started sewing…. it really helps me relax. 3 kids and with the schools closed half the time due to the problems, it’s hectic, but I try to sew whenever I can. Sewingfan: That’s soooo sweet of you! I can’t believe you’d do that for a stranger! Just goes to show you there is still some good in this world. I don’t think there is any mail coming into the country as of now, but I appreciate your offer. Thank you. Sabrina: Thanks for the link… I’ll check it out right now. The tutorials people are putting up on this site are wonderful and really helpful when you can actually see how’s it done, rather than just reading about it.

    • This is a question
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