June 12, 2016

Upton sewalong day 6: Insert zip and finish back seam

Update 2/1/2021: An updated Upton Sewalong is available here.

Today is the trickiest step of the Upton Dress, but don’t worry, we’ll go through it slowly, and I can answer any questions you leave below!

Before we start, finish the dress back center seam on either side, which will be much easier than finishing after the zip goes in (of course, I managed to forget in this sewalong! Just pretend it’s serged….).

Start by laying out your dress back on a table, right side up, and pull the lining out of the way. You should have left an inch of the neckline unsewn – if you didn’t, use your seam ripper to separate the back neckline and lining now.


Use a warm (not hot) iron to press the zip teeth slightly open – this will help you get a close seam when you insert the zip.

Open the zip and lay it on top of the dress back, right sides together: the zip will be face down, and the zip teeth will be facing to the left. Using an invisible or regular zip foot, sew the zip to the dress back.


Now the second side is the tricky bit as we want to get the waistband to line up exactly. The best way to do this is to first close the zip, and mark the height of the waistband across the zip with chalk.


Now, open the zip, flip it over, and place on the other side of the dress back. Make sure the zip isn’t twisted – that’s super easy to do! Pin and gently do it up to check it’s OK. Now, pin the zip to the waistband using the chalk marks as a guide. Sew the zip just at this waistband section using a long basting stitch, and then do the zip up to see if it’s matching well at the waistband. If it isn’t, re-do. If it is, then now sew the entire second zip side.


Now we’re going to finish the seam below the zip. With zip closed, pin the back pieces from the bottom of the zip to the hem, right sides together. Sew the seam, starting just above and to the left of where the zip stitching ended (it’s easiest to do this with the zip foot on your machine) so it overlaps a little. Press back seam open.


And here’s your dress with the zip inserted.


Next up, we’ll be attaching the lining. Do you have any questions today? The first time inserting an invisible zip can be confusing, but once you’ve done it once it becomes straightforward!

8 thoughts on “Upton sewalong day 6: Insert zip and finish back seam

  1. Lisa Roberts says:


    I have been sewing for thirty years and I have to make the upton dress, I love the dress however, I want to make it with sleeves. I can figure out how to line the entire bodice including the sleeves. When using patterns from the big four I have had success with adding a sleeve to something sleeveless if I use the same pattern company.

    Which of the other dress patterns do you think I should buy to use the sleeve for the upton dress or are you going to be doing the upton with sleeves anytime soon?

    I love your patterns and am happy to buy two to support you. I can also add the sleeves and send you a picture of the finished dress if you would like.

    Thank you for your help with this.

    Be well

    Lisa Roberts

    1. Jenny says:

      Hi Lisa – this is my only woven pattern so far, so I don’t have any woven sleeves to swap in. More importantly, sleeveless and sleeved bodices are drafted differently, so if you do want to add a sleeve you’ll need to redraft the bodice too (mostly changing the shape and curve of the armscye and the shoulders). Therefore if you do really want a dress with sleeves you’re probably better off using a pattern that’s already designed that way.

      1. Lisa Roberts says:

        Thank you so much for your reply, good luck with the business

  2. Ellen says:

    Hoping a long-sleeved dress is in the works!

    I’m almost done with my first Upton in solid red linen/rayon, and have run into a couple of small issues. I moved the darts down an inch, and shortened the waistline darts accordingly. Somehow in doing that, the front side seam ended up ~ 3/4 inch shorter than the back. I added a gusset under the arm to make the side seams work, but then it seemed the arm hole was a little too open–so I took that in at the top of the side seams. Any idea what I might have failed to account for?

    The second issue I suspect is also related to dart adjustments: the front waist ended up an inch wider than expected. I’m not quite sure why–the waist darts didn’t change appreciably. I adjusted by making the skirt seams narrower, and it worked out just right–but was a little odd. Any ideas on what the cause of that might have been?

    Lovely pattern that has otherwise gone together like a dream. Not sure if it’ll end up being flattering or not, but a fun project.

    Unrelated: I am writing this wearing one of five Concord T shirts I have made so far. More solid knits arrive tomorrow. Thank you for the summer wardrobe!

    1. Hi Ellen – I’m not sure I’m going to be able to help much, as it sounds like the problems came up with the adjustments you made – as it is, the bodice and skirts meet up at the waist. You might want to try doing the adjustments again from scratch and see if that works.

      1. Ellen says:

        Thanks, Jenny–I’m sure that’s the case, and will try again. But next time I’ll double-check that the side lengths are what they should be. Appreciate your excellent work on behalf of all of us with curves!

    2. Liz M says:

      Did you put the waistband on upside down? The wider edge is the top.

      1. Nope, it’s the right way up 🙂

Let me know what you think!