Today is the big day! It's time to put in the invisible zipper...
Before we start, let me tell you that if you have a pattern and the invisible zipper is installed AFTER sewing the side seams (i.e. joining the front & back), if it's possible, and it usually is, don't wait that long to put in the zipper. Put it in once you've finished the back, but before attaching the front and back together. There will just be a lot less fabric to have to work around.
Here we go!
1. Sew E to F
a) Place E RST with F. Match up the CB edges of the pieces, and then pin them together working from the CB out to the sides. For these pieces, it's important to start at the CB and work outward. Everything will look nicer and the zipper will be easier to work with if the CB is as straight as possible.
b) Sew E & F together. Again, begin at the CB and stitch out to the sides.
You might notice in the pictures going forward that I forgot to finish this seam! I got ahead of myself while taking the pictures, so I went back and used Fray Check along the fabric edges. Not ideal, but it works.
2. Topstitch E
a) From the RS, press E away from F, so the E/F seam is pressed to the E side.
b) Topstitch the seam on the E side.
Most people who use the seam binding like to put it on after the seams are sewn together. I think the idea is that the seam stabilizes the edges, which makes it easier to sew on the narrow binding strips. I was going to use binding to try it out, but opted for the faster interface/zigzag because I started to run out of time to take pictures and didn't have the patience for working with the binding.
3. Sew CB Seam
a) Place the back pieces RST and match up the E/F seams. For the best results, move the E/F seam of the piece that will be on top when you are sewing up about one stitch length above the E/F seam you are matching it to underneath.
When the presser foot gets to a thicker area like this seam, it tends to push the top piece and then the seams end up being slightly off. By placing the top seam slightly ahead, the presser foot will push it up onto the seam underneath, and they'll end up even.
b) Mark the CB seam 11.5" (29cm) down from the top. This section of the seam just needs to be a couple inches longer than the zipper tape, so sometimes I just lay the zipper along the seam (like in the photo), and use it as the guide.
c) Lengthen your stitch to the longest basting stitch you have, and sew (don't backstitch here) down from the top to the 11.5" (29cm) mark. At the mark, backstitch a few stitches, and then return to your regular stitch length.
d) Sew the rest of the CB seam.
4. Install the Zipper
A couple points before we sew the zipper:
Clip any loose threads as you go so they don't get caught in the zipper.
The Dritz tape mentioned in this post, or hand basting, can be used instead of pins for these steps. Pin the zipper in place going only through the allowance.
The zipper can be installed using either an invisible zipper foot or a regular zipper foot. The invisible zipper foot has grooves that hold the teeth out of the way so you to stitch right next to the teeth without sewing over them. If you are using a regular zipper foot, push the teeth over slightly and sew in the fold next to the zipper teeth. The idea is to sew very close to the teeth, but not sew over them.
Sew as far down the zipper as you can, which will not be the entire length. Either zipper foot will only allow you to go so far before running into the zip pull. That's fine, we'll close the small gap in the seam at the end.
a) Press the CB seam open flat. If the tops of the E pieces are uneven, go ahead and trim them so they match.
b) Remove the basting stitches down to the 11.5" (29cm) mark. If you're not a fan of the seam ripper, you can cut every 4th or 5th stitch instead. Then gently pull the seam open and remove the stray threads. Make a loop of tape and use the sticky side to pick up the threads.
c) Place the zipper face down with the top stops of the zipper 1" (2.5cm) below the top edge if you are using a hook & eye, or 0.75" (2cm) below the top if you aren't planning to use a hook & eye.
d) Line up the teeth of the zipper with the pressed crease.
e) Pin the zipper at the bottom right corner to hold it in place.
f) Unzip the zipper and finish pinning the right side of the zipper.
g) Stitch the right side of the zipper. As you sew down the zipper, the invisible zipper foot will push the teeth down flat (they are curled upward) as they pass through the groove in the foot.
h) Close the zipper and pin the bottom left corner. Make sure the bottom left end is directly across from the bottom right end and the seam below is flat and smooth.
i) Unzip the zipper, match the zipper teeth to the crease, and pin the rest of the left side.
j) Stitch the left side of the zipper.
k) With the regular zipper foot attached, stitch the small gap in the CB seam closed.
Fold the two halves of the back together, and sew up from the existing CB seam stitching to meet the stitches holding the zipper in place. Pull the zipper end out of the way, and try to meet the zipper stitching as closely as possible (within 1/8") so there isn't a bump in the seam at the bottom of the zipper. If it isn't possible to get the last few stitches to meet closely, these last 3-4 stitches can be stitched by hand.
l) Stitch the bottom ends of the zipper to the allowance on each side.
Alright, the zipper is installed and about 3/4s of the work is done!
Skirt Sew Along Schedule
1/2/15 - taking measurements
1/3/15 - shopping list
1/9/15 - preparing the pattern pieces & making fit adjustments
1/10/15 - cut pieces
1/11/15 - seam finishes
1/15/15 - sew skirt front
1/16/15 - sew back, install invisible zipper
1/17/15 - sew front to back, fit adjustments
1/18/15 - finish waist, hem
1/23/15 - bonus post - making a fully lined skirt