Skip to content

Simple Sew Brigitte dress Sewalong. 7: Insert the zip

May 16, 2014

Today we are going to insert the zip into the centre back seam of your dress, and when we’ve done that, you’re almost finished!

You should have a concealed zip for this dress.  If you bought a regular zip then you will need to insert your zip in a different way, and I found a good tutorial with a video too here.  If you bought a regular zip and you want to do a lapped zip, rather than a centred zip, then you might want to check out this tutorial instead.

When I sew concealed zips, I don’t use pins or glue or basting stitches, nor do I have a special concealed zipper foot.  I just use my regular zipper foot.  The first thing I do is press the zipper so that the zipper teeth are no longer curled inwards, because I need to be able to stitch as close as possible to the zipper teeth.  Below you can see I have pressed one side of the zip and not the other (the top is pressed, the bottom is not) – this is to show you the difference.  You need to press both sides of the zip prior to insertion.

Press the zipper teeth out so you can stitch closer to them when inserting the zip

Press the zipper teeth out so you can stitch closer to them when inserting the zip

Unzip the zip, then line up the top of one side of your zip with the top of the corresponding back dress piece.  I line up the very top of the zipper teeth with the neckline, which means the zipper tape itself extends beyond the top of the neckline.  That’s fine: it means you can fold it down inside your facing later, and there won’t be any need for a hook and eye at the top of your zip.  Put your zipper foot on your machine, and anchor your zip by inserting the needle at the very top of your neckline (not the facing), as close to the zipper teeth as possible.  So at this point, mine looked like this:

Zipper tape lined up and needle anchoring everything in place at the top, ready to sew downwards

Zipper tape lined up and needle anchoring everything in place at the top, ready to sew downwards

Stitch down the length of the zip as far as you can go before the pull starts to get in the way.  As I said before, I don’t pin or baste, I just hold it in place as I sew down, but you may prefer to do it differently.  Backstitch at the bottom, then remove the fabric, swap your zipper foot to the other side, and sew the other side of the zipper to the other back dress piece in the same way.

Once both sides of your zipper have been sewn to the dress, you can sew the remainder of the seam below the zipper tape.  I keep my zipper foot on for this, and, pulling the bottom end of the zipper as far out of the way as possible, I begin to sew the centre back seam, overlapping slightly with the end of the zipper as shown below:

Stitch the remainder of the centre back seam, starting a bit above the zipper tape sewing

Stitch the remainder of the centre back seam, starting a bit above the zipper tape sewing

Sew at 5/8″ all the way down, then press your seam open.  You will still have a bit of zipper tape extending beyond the top of your dress, but now that you have inserted the zipper, you can tuck that into the facing and slipstitch the facing in place on the inside of the dress.  This helps keep the facing in place, and of course tidies up the end of your zipper.

The inside - zipper tape tucked into the facing and the facing slipstitched down to the zipper tape

The inside – zipper tape tucked into the facing and the facing slipstitched down to the zipper tape

This is how your concealed zip should look from the outside:

Concealed zip

Concealed zip

We only have one more stage left: hem your dress!  We’ll be doing that on Sunday, so see you then.

Just in case my tutorial made absolutely no sense to you, you could try following the tutorial on Colette’s website here – explained by professionals! 🙂

  1. May 17, 2014 10:15 pm

    I am sooooo grateful to you for this. Well, I’m grateful for the whole sewalong but I’m simply amazed at my zip. I’m sewing my 2nd ever dress; the first one being in school so I can’t remember how to do it! I’ve inserted sleeves for the first time ever – easy peasy with your help – and now this was my first concealed zip and, sorry for boasting but it is perfect!! I can hardly believe it and it’s all down to YOU!! I’m so happy I could do it with a normal zipper foot, and it’s actually concealed. So THANK YOU!! I couldn’t have made this dress just by following the very basic instructions provided with the pattern!
    Because you’re so amazing, I think I can ask you how to do something… with the dress now almost done I have tried it on and found that it’s too big at the front for me (small bust!). What can I do to take some fabric out of the bust area, to make it fit a smaller bust better?! Thanks in advance…. I know it might be a pain now that it’s all sewn together but I’m willing to try because I’ve put a lot of effort into this, so I’d like to wear it!
    Beth x

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 19, 2014 1:34 pm

      Hello! Congratulations on inserting your zip so successfully. Glad I could help. Re: the fit at the front…if you try your dress in inside out and stand in front of a mirror with some pins to hand, you can try pinning out the excess fabric until it looks right. Then, very carefully remove the dress, trying not to stab yourself with the pins in the process. Use some tailor’s chalk or washable marker and mark onto your fabric where you have pinned (this will be on the wrong side of the fabric if you did this with the dress on inside out). Sew where you have marked, taking in the excess. Hope that helps! Good luck!

      • May 19, 2014 10:19 pm

        Thanks so much for taking the time to reply. I will be trying my best with this tomorrow! 🙂

  2. LucieA permalink
    June 15, 2014 6:51 pm

    Fab fab instructions. I am so pleased with my zip and my sleeves but could really do with a bit of assistance with the fit. I have soooooo much spare fabric at the back across my shoulders. I am quite petite but if can’t think I’m this much smaller than the average person! I know I should probably have done a dummy run but I didn’t so wondered if you know of a technique for addressing this. If I have to take it apart I not sure I would know how to adapt the pattern. Any ideas? Thank you. Your instructions are so brilliant and helpful I thought you might be able to point me in the right direction.

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      June 16, 2014 11:31 am

      Hello! It’s hard to know what to suggest without seeing it, but my advice would be to put the garment on inside out, and pin out all of the excess fabric. It would be ideal if someone else could do this for you! You might be able to take out the excess fabric by extending the back darts upwards, or perhaps by taking it out of the centre back seam. I guess it depends where the excess fabric is hanging. If you change anything at the neckline, you’ll need to change your facing to match. Good luck!

      • LucieA permalink
        June 16, 2014 2:29 pm

        Thank you for your response. I’ll give it a go and let you know how I get on. Thanks

  3. August 5, 2017 9:47 am

    Wow thank you I’ve always had trouble with putting in zips not any more

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      August 5, 2017 10:14 am

      Glad to help! 😊

  4. Polly permalink
    October 22, 2017 5:49 pm

    Thank you Tabatha for this helpful tutorial. Quick question…when you are ready sew the remainder of the seam, do you begin on the stitches(at the end of the zip) or next to the stitches?

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      October 23, 2017 7:34 am

      Hi, I usually start a little above where the stitches end, as close as possible to the zipper stitching. I keep the zipper foot on for this. Hope that helps! 😊


  1. Love Sewing Magazine: Simple Sew Brigitte dress Sewalong | Thread Carefully
  2. My Brigitte Dress | After Dark Sewing
  3. I Can Sew a Rainbow | After Dark Sewing

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: