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Writing for Threads Mag - Couture sewing - Concealing the top of an invisible zip

Updated: Feb 20

A while ago I made a 60s inspired mother of the groom silk dupion dress. The design was very simple, but it threw up a few challenges.

The whole dress is underlined with silk organza and lined with silk habotai.

I needed a row of buttons down the back purely as a design feature, however the dress needed a zip. I could have put it in the side seam, but the neck opening was only just large enough to get on without opening, so I needed to put it in the back. I worked out how to add preformed elastic bridal loops as well as the zip.

The neck band fastened with a rouleau loop, but the zip pull interfered with the next button.

Having solved the problem by hiding the zip pull inside the neck band I wrote to Threads Magazine with a proposal for an article. I received the standard automatic response thanking me and explaining it might be a while before hearing if my idea will be commissioned as it would be circulated to all their editors. Knowing the caliber of Threads contributors, Claire Shaeffer, Kathryn Brenne, Sandra Betzina, Kenneth D King, I certainly wasn't holding my breath!

Move on about 6 months and imagine opening my emails to find one from Carol Fresia, Senior Technical Editor at Threads Magazine! Could I write a 2 page spread?

My first thought was ' I can't remember how I did it'!

However; as a writer passionate about developing and passing on garment making techniques this was the opportunity I couldn't turn down.

It was an interesting experience and very different from working with UK magazines. They do all their own photography and have colour themes for each magazine. I chose a fabric and had to make 6 samples to show each stage of the process.

I received some very complimentary emails and was overwhelmed to be asked to send my bio and profile pic. I'd been chosen as one of four featured contributors for the September issue which has arrived in the UK this week.

They even included me as their Instagram story!

Here's the article with my original photos. One of the great things about writing for Threads is they do their own graphics which meant I had to send multiple samples for them to photograph and add the captions.

Sewing Saves/Concealed Zipper

One of the best developments in garment making has been the invisible zipper. I was making a 60s inspired mother of the groom dress in a wonderful raw silk and my client wanted a back zipper, but also a row of tiny self-covered buttons. I experimented with bridal button loops and discovered that not only did the zip pull show it got in the way of the button loops. A side zipper would solve the problem, but this would have potentially meant pulling the dress on over hair and makeup! Here is my solution.


Before inserting the zip add ¾" to the top edge either side of the back seam. This needs to extend for approximately 1½" either side of the centre back.


Use your preferred method for inserting an invisible zipper. The top of the zipper must be approximately ¼" below the top of the fabric, meaning the bottom of the pull is still just above the garment stitching line and the zipper stop are below the top edge.  

Preparing the neck band. Choose an interfacing suitable to your main fabric, I'm using silk organza as it's appropriate to my fabric and I can also hand stitch into it without compromising the main cloth. Sew in interfacing adds strength and stability without changing the outer characteristics of the cloth.

This is an edge to edge finish so I've added a rouleau loop to the right back adding a second row of stitches so the ends don't roll out.

Treat both bands in the same way. Fold the ⅝" seam allowance, at the band centre back, to the right side.


Stitch along the stitching line of the lower edge across the double layer. Secure the stitch at the folded edge and extend the line past the end of the seam allowance to act as stay stitching.


Snip to the stay stitching ⅝” from the centre back, trim the seam allowance, and clip the corner. Turn to the outside and baste the fold.


Herringbone stitch the seam allowances to the interfacing.

Put the bands onto the main fabric right sides together, the folded edge level with the zipper and the edges together.


Stitch the bands to the garment starting and stopping accurately at the end of the double layer.


Secure the stitching at this point. Trim the allowances as shown in the picture. I've folded back the corner of the band and stitched it to ensure it doesn't fray in wear.


Press the band away from the body of the garment with the seam allowances against the band. Trim the zipper tape level with the top edge of the fabric, but don't cut off the zipper stops!


Open the zipper tape about 1/8" either side of centre so it doesn't show when fastened.


Secure the top of the zipper and fabric extension by herringbone stitching to the interfacing, taking care this doesn't show on the outside.

Now I'm going to share a different technique I developed on the sleeves of the dress.

First of all, I don't like making covered buttons and buckles. My go to solution is Harlequin They use your own fabric to create all sorts of accessories at great prices and with such professional results really quickly.

The problem I had was the shank buttons wouldn't sit flat as a decorative feature on the sleeves. Here's my solution.

The sleeves were marked with thread tracing where I wanted the buttons to be. It's worth noting that I'd never use any colour on silk, white or other expensive fabric. Even coloured thread can leave fibres that are impossible to remove.

I worked machine made eyelets exactly where the buttons would be. I could have done them by hand, but the only person who'd ever see them was me!

The button shanks were pushed through the eyelets and hand stitched in place using a fine John James between needle and Gutermann silk thread. The stitches were worked through the eyelet. Silk Thread is available from Sew Essential

The buttons sit really flat against the fabric.

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