Make a Dress Series II - with Transcript - Part Five

part 1part 2part 3part 4 • part 5 • part 6part 7part 8series index

Part Five - How to Sew in an Invisible Zip

How to Make a Dress

Using my Free Pattern - The Pinafore

Add a Lining


Make a Dress - A Second Series.

I'm featuring my Free Pinafore Pattern again but this time I am showing how to add a lining. This is part 5. Adding the concealed zip.

The back opening is ready for the zip. I always buy the longest zip and cut off the surplus. This is a concealed or often called an invisible zip.

It is a modern zip and I can't really understand why anyone would want to use the old fashioned type, excepting of course for fly openings and decorative zips. The concealed zip is much the easiest to sew and much nicer in appearance.

You want the zip to extend 7 or 8 inches below the waist line, perhaps longer in the largest sizes. Mark the point clearly - all your stitching will end here. With a dress that has a waist, a most important consideration is to have the waist seam strictly in alignment. Many shop bought dresses get this wrong.

This time I am going to sew the zip straight in without pinning or basting. If you are unsure about this, watch my original series of Make a Dress where I take a little more time with inserting the zip.

A concealed zip is always stitched open. With right sides together, that is the right side of the zip is facing down, stitch the zip tape to the dress seam allowance.

At the machine, align the zip tape with the top of the seam, a little lower if you intend to add a hook and eye at the neck opening.

I'm using a zipper foot here but you could use a regular foot. Use a long stitch, you are only securing the zip in position, like hand basting but much more stable. Take your time and keep the tape an equal distance from the raw edge. If you find it difficult to keep the zip straight then by all means baste it in first.

I'm going to stop at my chalk mark and take a few stitches in reverse. The second run is the real stitching. I'm using my concealed zipper foot. Again, check out my original video for more details.

Such a clever invention - it rolls the teeth out of the way so that the needle can get really close to the zip. I find it helps to spread the teeth flat as they enter the groove of the foot. This fabric is a little slippery so I am taking time to keep my garment straight. Again finishing precisely on the chalk mark.

So the first side of the zip is done and if it wasn't for the waist seam I would stitch the second side without pinning as well. As I have already said, there is nothing worse than the site of seams not matched up, so we need to take a little care. So we are going to do the zip up so that we can match the seam.

Let's do this from the wrong side. So pin securely at the waist line and just continue just along the bodice seam.

Right, we can turn through to the right side again to check our alignment. Then open the zip for stitching. We are ready to get the second side machines.

So again stitch the securing row using the zipper foot. Always be careful that your needle is set to the side when using this foot. I'm sure we have all broken needles by forgetting this.

So the needle is on the side of the raw edge. Again a long stitch is fine. Take pins out as they approach the foot. So continue past the waist line, down to the chalk mark and no further.

Then again swap the feet and do the line of stitching that matters. The teeth will travel down the other channel this time. Don't forget to move your needle back to the centre for this foot.

So that's done and the waistline is nicely lined up - worth the extra effort. You can hardly see the zip - when it is pressed it is going to look extremely nice.

The next job is to finish the rest of the back seam and the vent. So turning the dress inside out we are now going to stitch the seam below the zip. We need to stitch the part of the seam below the zip opening.

To do this we need to get as close as possible to the zip here so that the stitching line flows from the zip to the seam without lumps and bumps.

So we are going to make use of the zipper foot again. We can change to the other foot to complete the stitching around the back vent.

We will stitch in this direction towards the end of the zip. I have pinned the seam ready for machining. So keeping an eye on the zip stitching, we are aiming at a continuation of the machining.

So stitch slowly up to where the zip stitching starts. When that's done, we can change back to the conventional foot and stitch the rest of the seam to the hem, swivelling with the needle down at the corners.

At the overlocker, I am neatening the rest of the seam. Making sure we don't chop off anything important get the seam securely under the foot and overlock the seam. Zigzagging works just as well.

We are neatening the seam allowances together as the vent is being pressed in one direction. We needed to clip into the seam allowance here, as above this point is pressed open and below is pressed to one side.

Back at the table. I am going to get the vent pleat pressed. I'll measure it. We could have tailor tacked all the way down here but I do have the snip in the hem line to indicate where the vent it folded. So press the vent and all the way up to the zip.

We can cut off the surplus zip but leave about 2" below the back opening. We then stitch the ends to the seam allowance to hold them in place - you can do it by hand but I usually machine it. It just stops the ends from flapping about.

Then, for a good finish, a light press from the right side. You can do this on an ironing board. Perfect, just remove the tailors tack.

That is our back zip finished and pressed. One final job before we move on to making up the lining. In order to keep this nice crisp pleat under control and retain a nice shape we will machine stitch along here. Get your skirt nicely flat then pin the pleat into position. With your hand between the layers pin carefully across the seam line. It's easier to stitch this seam from the wrong side following the previous machine stitching.

If you don't have a free arm machine you will need to turn the dress right side out and with the zip open get inside the dress to machine this line of stitching.

Coming next, Making the Lining.

I go into even greater detail of inserting the concealed zip in my first Make a Dress series - you can link to that episode here. If you would like to gain another zip skill then sewing the Fly Zip in Jeans has to be the next step. I think it is one of the hardest sewing jobs. Join as a Full Member and make yourself a pair of stunning jeans along with me.

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