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Cali sewalong: setting the zip

Let’s demystify the process of putting in a zip. Once you’ve done it and seen how it works, you’ll never again avoid a pattern because you have to set in a zip!

Different zip feet

This is what aregular zip foot and an invisible zip foot look like side by side. (The one labelled E is a regular zip foot.) The invisible zip foot has two grooves on the underside which guide the zip teeth and keep them out of the way while sewing. This makes it much easier to get a line of stitches nice and close to the edge of the zip teeth which gives it that neat, invisible look!

Invisible and regular zip feet

Underside of the invisible zip foot

Positioning the zip

Place your zip face down onto the left hand edge of the back opening. Pin in place. Since we will be sewing from the top edge in a downward direction, it is easiest to angle your pins upward so you can remove them easily while you sew.

Pin the zip on the left-hand side

Sewing with different feet

If you are using an invisible zip foot, this is what it will look like when sewing this side. You can see that the zip teeth are tucked away in the groove of the foot.

Sewing the zip with an invisible foot

If you use a regular zip foot, this is what it will look like. You need to coax the zip teeth to lie away from the foot. It’s a bit more work to sew straight and manually prevent the teeth from curling in at the same time.

Sewing the zip with a regular foot

Attaching the zip

Now that you’ve attached one side of the zip to the dress, flip the zip tape under the opening on the left hand side.

Sew the left-hand side
Flip the left-hand zip tape under

Now this leaves you free to place the right hand side of the zip face down onto the right hand side of the opening.

As the second picture shows, it can look a bit twisty at the bottom. That’s okay, don’t let it scare you off!

Pin the right-hand side in place

Don't worry if the lower end looks a bit twisted

For invisible zip foot users, sew from the top of the zip down in the same way as before. Your zip teeth will now be sitting in the right hand groove of the invisible zip foot and the needle will be sewing to the left hand side.

The only trick with using a regular zipper foot is that you have to sew the other way around – from the bottom towards the top otherwise the foot gets in the way of the zip. Get as close as possible to the bottom of the zip and sew towards the top.

Now you have a lovely invisible zip!

Set invisible zip

Close the seam below your zip by sewing from the lower hem edge up to join the seam at the bottom of the zip.

With the neckline facing flipped outward, neatly tuck in the zip tapes that are still sticking out at the top.

Tuck the zip tapes

Fold the facing back to the inside, lining it up alongside the zip.

Fold the facing over

Slip stitch the facing in place by hand along the zip tapes.

Slip stitch the facing in place

All done!

Nice job! During the week, we'll finish the up the hem!

Remember, you can share your progress with us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook using the hashtags #calisewalong #calidress and #afternoonpatterns

Running behind? Catch up with what happened last time when we joined the skirt and the bodice.