Elsie Sewalong: Inserting the Invisible Zip

Sew Over It Elsie Dress Sewalong:

We thought we’d bring you a new invisible zip insertion method for the Elsie Dress Sewalong. Our sample sewer LJ (sometimes referred to very affectionately as “other Lisa”) learned this method at university and it’s how she inserts all her invisible zips. There is a little bit of hand tacking so it takes a tiny bit longer, but the beautiful results are worth it. If you struggle getting the waist seam to match when you insert zips, give this method a go!

Not at this stage yet? Check out all our Elsie Dress Sewalong posts to catch up.

Sew Over It Elsie Dress Sewalong:

1. To start with we’re going to temporarily close the top of the centre back seam. Pin the centre back seam, paying very special attention to aligning the waist seams. Then using a long stitch length on your sewing machine, tack the centre back seam closed just where the zip will be inserted (approximately 22″ from the neckline towards the hem). Leave the rest of the seam unsewn. Use the same 1.5cm seam allowance as you normally would.

Sew Over It Elsie Dress Sewalong:

2. Press the seam allowance open along the part of the seam you have tacked closed. Leave the remainder of the seam unpressed.

Sew Over It Elsie Dress Sewalong:

3. On the wrong side of the dress, lay the zip onto the centre of the seam, so that the teeth are visible to you. Line up the centre of the zip exactly with the centre of the seam, and make sure the top of the zip (where the teeth begin) is 1.5cm from the top of the neckline.

Sew Over It Elsie Dress Sewalong:

4. Starting at the neckline, pin the zip to the dress all the way down, just past the zip pull. Then once pinned, tack it in place by hand on both sides of the zip tape, ensuring that it is secure. Only stitch through the seam allowance here – not the whole dress. Your hand tacking stitches should not be visible from the outside.

Sew Over It Elsie Dress Sewalong:

5. Once the zip is secured with the tacking stitches, it’s time to undo the centre back seam. Working from the right side, use a stitch ripper to carefully unpick the seam.

Sew Over It Elsie Dress Sewalong:

The centre back should now only be held together by the zip.

Sew Over It Elsie Dress Sewalong:

6. With the zip opened up, it’s time to stitch it in properly. Attach an invisible zip foot to your sewing machine, and stitch the zip in place down both sides as far as you can go. Make sure you’ve set your machine back to a standard stitch length of 2.5mm.

Sew Over It Elsie Dress Sewalong:

7. Once both sides are stitched, close the zip and marvel at your perfectly lined up waist seam!

Sew Over It Elsie Dress Sewalong:
8. To finish, pin the remainder of the centre back seam, from the bottom of the zip to the hem edge. Ensure the area at the bottom of the zip is nice and smooth, in order to avoid any puckering. Then, starting a few centimetres below the end of the zip, stitch the centre back seam down to the hem, using your standard sewing machine foot.

Sew Over It Elsie Dress Sewalong:

9. Now there will only be a little part of the seam which isn’t stitched, just below the end of the zip. Switch to a standard zip foot this time, and stitch the gap closed. The zip foot will allow you to get nice and close to the zip, but it might also help to adjust the position of your needle a little bit too. It can be tricky to get this bit perfect, but as long as there are no puckers it should sit nice and smooth on the outside.

10. Press the seam allowances below the zip open, before pressing again from the right side.

Sew Over It Elsie Dress Sewalong:

And there you have it! A beautifully inserted zip with a waist seam lined up to perfection!

Is this your zip insertion method of choice? If you have any other go-to techniques we’d love to hear them. Just leave us a comment plus any questions below! We’ll be back very soon when we’ll be stitching in the facing and lining to the bodice for a stunning finish.

7 thoughts on “Elsie Sewalong: Inserting the Invisible Zip”

  1. Yustin says:

    Hi! If I want to attach an invisible zipper along the princess line, should I do it now or wait until the facing and lining attached?

    1. Alex says:

      This isn’t something we’d thought of doing! But now that you mention it it could be a great option for breastfeeding! You’d need to insert it before you sew up the princess seams on the bodice – so at this stage you’d need to unpick the seam. Then you’d want to leave the same princess seam open on the lining, and handstitch it to the zip tape once it’s inserted – as you would do a regular centre back zip. Hope that helps!

  2. Carole says:

    Just tried this on a skirt I was making,. It’s a brilliant method – I usually manage to get the zip twisted and have to unpick and on dresses to get the waist seam level. Ok, it was a bit more work but it worked first time. This will be my new favourite method. Thank you so much!!!

    1. Alex says:

      That’s so great to hear Carole! It’s my new favourite method too!

  3. Laura Hall says:

    This is the only way I actually know to insert a zip. I’ve often wondered when my luck will run out and I can’t use this method and will have to buy an invisible zip foot!

  4. Sophia McAndrew says:

    Hi Sew Over It 🙂

    I’ve just bought this pattern and I’m so excited to get started.

    I was wondering – would you think it’s possible to add a puffed sleeve to the bodice? I have a puffed sleeve pattern but not sure if it will work.



    1. Alex - Sew Over It says:

      You would need to redraw the curve of the armhole, as it’s designed to be sleeveless. But if you’re confident with a bit of pattern hacking I don’t see why not!

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