How to Sew an Invisible Zipper

Scissors, tape measure, zipper, thread and needle next to thimble on wooden table.
Freestocker / Getty Images
Overview
  • Skill Level: Beginner

An invisible zipper is a zipper that is hidden within a seam. The only part that is seen is a slender zipper pull at the top. An invisible zipper is sewn in a different manner than other visible zippers. With an invisible zipper, you do not need to bother with topstitching on the finished zipper, but rather you install the zipper before the seam it is installed in is sewn.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Iron and ironing board
  • Sewing machine
  • Invisible (or concealed) zipper foot for your sewing machine

Materials

  • An invisible zipper that is a close color match to the fabric you are using
  • Coordinating thread
  • The item the zipper will be sewn into before the seam is sewn

Instructions

  1. Prepare the Zipper for Placement

    Read the instructions that accompany your invisible zipper and zipper foot. Most steps are the same.

    • Open the zipper.
    • Adjust your iron setting to match the zipper manufacturer's instructions, usually on the nylon setting.
    • Thoroughly press the zipper tape by laying the open zipper, pull side down on the ironing board. Use the point of the iron to get under the coils and iron the zipper tape flat.
    • If needed, press the fabric edges where the zipper will be sewn into the seam.
    A photo showing how to press the zipper tape flat to sew in an invisible zipper.
    Press the Zipper Tape Flat. The Spruce / Debbie Colgrove
  2. Prep the First Side of the Zipper

    With the zipper still open and the zipper tape flat, sew the first side as follows:

    • Lay the zipper face down (zipper pull side down) on the right side of the fabric as shown.
    • Determine what seam allowance is to be used on this seam (most garment patterns use a 5/8" seam allowance) and mark it with a pin if needed.
    • Align the zipper coil with the desired seamline. The outer edge of the zipper tape will be towards the raw edge of the fabric piece as shown below and the top edge of the tape should align either with the top of the piece (i.e. for a dress) or where the seam will end (i.e for a pillow where the zipper is shorter than the side where it is to be installed).
    • Pin the zipper tape in place on the first side only. To check that the placement is correct, you can measure the distance from the edge of the fabric to the zipper coil. Your goal is for the seam allowance to stay consistent with the pattern instructions all along the length of the zipper.
    • If you are not comfortable removing pins as you sew, take the time to hand baste the zipper tape into position.
    A photo showing the details of preparing the first side of an invisible zipper.
    Preparing to Sew the First Side of an Invisible Zipper. The Spruce / Debbie Colgrove
  3. Sew the First Side

    • Refer to your sewing machine manual to attach the invisible zipper foot.
    • Place the pinned side of the zipper under the presser foot, with the needle just to the right of the zipper coil (the coil should fit into the groove on the underside of the presser foot). Using the hand wheel, gently bring the sewing machine needle down to confirm that your needle will clear the presser foot.
    • Sew the entire length of the zipper, removing the pins as you come to them, without sewing over them. Backstitch at the end of the zipper (when you reach the pull) to lock the seam.
    A close up photo of sewing an invisible zipper with an invisible zipper foot
    At the Sewing Machine, Sewing an Invisible Zipper. The Spruce / Debbie Colgrove
  4. Sew the Second Side

    On the other side, you will basically repeat the same steps as the first side of the zipper.

    • Lay the zipper (pull side down) on the right side of the fabric edge that will create the finished seam.
    • Measure and pin in place just as you did for the other side.
    • Return to the sewing machine and sew the second side of the zipper tape, the same way as the first side.

    Important to note: If you have a seam that will intersect the seam that holds the invisible zipper (for example, the waistline of a dress), be sure to match the seams when pinning/basting.

    A photo showing how to prepare to sew the last side of an invisible zipper
    Preparing the Second Side of the Invisible Zipper. The Spruce / Debbie Colgrove
  5. Sew the Remaining Seam

    Your invisible zipper is sewn in, but now you have to close the seam. 

    • Close the zipper.
    • Match top edges of the zipper and the seam allowances where the zipper was sewn, as you would align matching seams.
    • Pin or baste the matched seams in place.
    • Attach the regular zipper foot on your sewing machine.
    • Place the fabric under the presser foot and align the needle with the stitching at the bottom of the invisible zipper.
    • Sew the seam line until you clear the invisible zipper.
    • Place a regular foot on your sewing machine and finish the seam.
    a photo showing how to line up the seam at the bottom of an invisible zipper
    Sewing the Remaining Seam After Sewing an Invisible Zipper. The Spruce / Debbie Colgrove
  6. Sew a Seam Finish

    Choose a seam finish to complete your zipper installation.

    Using the seam finish you have chosen, sew the seam allowances of the entire seam, beneath the zipper tape and below (and above, if applicable) the zipper to prevent fraying threads that can jam in a zipper and weaken your seam. 

    A photo showing a zig zag seam finish on the seam allowance of an invisible zipper
    A Zigzag Seam Finish Being Sewn on the Edge of the Seam Allowance. The Spruce / Debbie Colgrove