Zips + Lycra = Anxiety

Zippers can feel super intimidating to beginner sewers and season sewers!, however with practice they’re actually not as hard as you think and you will be super proud of yourself and your efforts when you nail it ... well I was any way.

Technically invisible zipper are easier than other zips . When you add one, there’s no machine stitching visible from the right side of the project. Everything is done behind the scenes, and are totally hidden within the seam allowances.

Saying this I have been avoiding zips for years! The whole time I’ve been sewing with Lycra I have never used an invisible zipper! However, there is no time like the present to expand my skill and get out of my comfort zone.

Tips for Invisible zippers

  • Choose a zipper that is a close match to the Lycra you are using.

  • Always go for a zipper that is a little longer in length than what you are sewing. If you cannot find a zip the right size in the right colour, get a longer one and cut off the excess

  • Zips should be sewn in the when the pattern pieces are separate and still flat.

  • You sew invisible zips on the right sides of the Lycra

  • Don’t stretch the Lycra when attaching it to the zip

  • An invisible zipper foot (sometimes referred to as concealed zipper foot) makes the installation really quick and simple. If you don’t have an invisible zipper foot, it is still possible to use a standard zipper foot which comes with most sewing machines. I myself will be using the standard zipper foot, as this is my first time sewing and invisible zip with Lycra.

1. Interface the zipper opening. Fuse a strip of knit interfacing, cut on the cross-grain, to the wrong side of the zipper opening seam allowance. Extend it a little below the opening. I used an iron on fusing.

2. Sew the garment seam. Where the bottom of the zip will be sew 2 – 4 cm below the zipper opening to the hem. I used a my machine stretch stitch for this seam rather than overlocking it, so you can open the seam allowances later if needed.

3. Baste the zipper into the garment. Open the zipper. With right sides together, I started my pinning at the top of the Lycra and then worked down making sure the zip stayed even. Then I machine-baste one side of the zip to the garment seam allowance, stopping at zipper’s bottom stop, using a straight stitch on a longer length. The excess zipper length remains unsewn. Repeat for the second zipper tape.

(I know the zip is the wrong colour, however I have used this zip so you can easily see the process)

4. Permanently sew the zipper. First, close the basted zipper to be sure it is smooth. If there are ripples, unstitch and rebaste it, easing the fabric slightly as you sew.

Once you’re satisfied with the basted zipper, upzip it, and permanently sew it to the garment. Sew as close to the teeth of the zip just using you straight stitch on a medium length. Especially with Lycra you need your stitching super close to the teeth. This is because when the leotard is on the body the Lycra will stretch around the body and will show the tape of the zip if you have sewn close enough.

This is the start of a journey to create a Costume that has been swimming around in our head for years. However, now I have the time to really experiment with a couple ideas. Over the next couple of weeks we will be showing you different parts of the Costume and then the final product.