Invisible Zipper in Pants

A few months ago, we published a blog post with step-by-step instructions for inserting a lapped zipper in Eureka! Pants that Fit.  Being equal opportunity sewists, this month we are featuring step-by-step instructions for inserting an invisible zipper into your Eureka! Pants.*  An invisible zipper is an elegant finish to dressier pants.  Invisible zippers are preferred for a faced waist finish (as opposed to waist band).  It is essential to have an Invisible Zipper Foot (preferably one designed for your machine) for this application.

A few years ago, Sarah Veblen wrote up a very thorough description of this method to include on our website Pants Help page; you can still download or print out our Guide to Zipper Application to refer to as you sew.  Sarah recommends working with a zipper that is at least 3” longer than your finished zipper length.  After you have attached the waist finish to your pants, you will cut off the excess zipper tape that extends beyond the waist seam.  Make sure you have the zipper tab below the waist seam when you attach the waistband or facing!

In my sample photos, I have used a zipper that is a different color than the pant fabric so it’s easy to see; typically, I choose a zipper as close to the fabric’s color as possible.   Before you get to inserting the zipper, fuse a strip of interfacing along the right and left back opening and clean finish the edges of the opening if desired with a serger or zigzag stitch.  Stop sewing the pants crotch seam a few inches below the point where you want your zipper to stop; do not backstitch.

  1. Put the invisible zipper foot on your machine. Beginning with the right pant back and the zipper unzipped, pin the right side of the zipper to the right side of the garment positioning the zipper teeth at the 5/8” seam line.  I find it helpful to lightly chalk in the seam line to guide me.

    Zipper tape pinned to right back.

    Zipper tape pinned to right back.

  2. Uncurl the zipper teeth near the waist with your fingers and lower the foot so the coil sits inside the guide channel in the zipper foot. Starting at the waist, stitch to the bottom of the zipper ending with backstitches.

    Invisible zipper foot positioned to sew.

    Invisible zipper foot positioned to sew.

  3. Close the zipper and make a very small clip in the left side of the zipper tape level with the edge of the pant back. Unzip halfway, align the clip with the top of the left pant back and pin a few inches of the zipper tape at the 5/8” seam line.
    Clipping left tape to mark top edge of pants.

    Clipping left tape to mark top edge of pants.

    Align clip with left pant back and pin a few inches.

    Align clip with left pant back and pin a few inches.

  4. Re-zip and check from the right side to make sure the top edges of the pants are even when zipped.  Adjust if needed.

    Check to see that top edges of pants are aligned before sewing left tape.

    Check to see that top edges of pants are aligned before sewing left tape.

  5. Unzip the zipper and finish pinning to left pant back. Stitch the left side of zipper the same way you did the right.
  6. Close the zipper and check again to make sure the zipper is not visible from the right side. If you can see the zipper tape, you probably need to re-stitch closer to the zipper teeth by moving the needle position one or two ticks.  Be careful to roll the coil out of the way so you don’t catch the teeth.
  7. Change to the machine’s regular zipper foot to close the portion of the crotch seam that you left open below the zipper bottom.
  8. Working on the wrong side, stick a pin through the crotch seam at the point where the stitches attaching the zipper end. Pull the loose end of the zipper tape away so you can bring the pin up through the seam allowances, angling the pin away from the base of the zipper.

    Inserting pin at bottom of zipper.

    Inserting pin at bottom of zipper.

  9. Adjust needle position as needed to finish the seam line of the crotch curve, stitching on top of previous stitches for about 1” and ending one or two stitches away from the pin marking the base of the zipper. Leave long thread tails when you remove pants from the machine.

    Sewing crotch seam below zipper.

    Sewing crotch seam below zipper.

  10. Use a hand needle to securely sew the final stitch or two below the zipper, ending with both thread tails on one side of the work so you can tie off with a square knot.  Clip thread tails to 1/2″.

    Sew the last few stitches closed by hand, then knot and clip thread tails.

    Sew the last few stitches closed by hand, then knot and clip thread tails.

  11. Secure the loose ends of the zipper tape by stitching them to the right and left seam allowances below the base of the zipper; be careful to catch only the seam allowance, not the pants back.
    Sewing end of zipper tape to seam allowance.

    Sewing end of zipper tape to seam allowance.

    Inside view of completed zipper.

    Inside view of completed zipper.

I close with a photo of the finished pants so you can see how the invisible zipper sits in a faced waist.  Add a tab with hook and eye behind the zipper; it makes it easier to zip up your pants and helps to hold them closed.  Directions for adding a tab are included in the Eureka! Pants construction directions.

Finished pant back with invisible zipper closed.

Finished pant back with invisible zipper closed.

Inside view of finished pants with lining, faced waist and tab.

Inside view of finished pants with lining, faced waist and tab.

If you find invisible zippers challenging, I encourage you to do a couple of practice runs on scrap fabric, just like the samples here.  If you have any tricks for inserting invisible zippers, please share them with our community by commenting here or on Facebook.

Happy Sewing!  Carrie

*If you are looking for an opportunity to develop or refine your own Eureka! Pants that Fit pattern, consider registering for this Eureka! Pants Workshop Feb. 16-17 at Capital Quilts in Gaithersburg, MD.

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