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How to Fix a Broken Zipper In Four Simple Steps


Mending your own clothes is a skill that seems to have gone the way of the dodo bird..

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Rather, we look like the dodo birds for throwing away otherwise perfectly good articles of clothing.

I have seen so many nice shirts tossed out for missing a couple of buttons and countless pairs of bluejeans make their way to the local Goodwill, just because they have a busted zipper.

Honestly I’m completely at fault in doing this myself…

Just in case: If you need to conquer a crisis larger than a broken zipper

It’s a shame to admit it but, I don’t wear expensive jeans and more often than not I will let a pair of jeans sit at the back of the closet and eventually throw them away, just because I couldn’t be bothered to fix them…

The more I think about it, the more it makes me sad and upset that that is the “normal way of thinking”  replace something broken with something new instead of just spending the time to fix it…

Luckily I found this nifty article that shows exactly how to replace a broken zipper in Four easy steps… I never realized how simple it could be!

Take a look and see for yourself.

You will need:

  • A pair of pliers
  • Scissors
  • Thick thread – This is thicker than regular sewing thread, often used for buttons.
  • Needle

First step: Remove the bumper.

Remove the metal bumper at the bottom of the zipper with a pair of pliers.

With a little bit of muscle, you can do it.

Zip the zipper all the way down to the bottom, stopping just below the last of the teeth.

Don’t pull it off completely.

Next Step: Arrange the teeth.

Using your fingers, rearrange the teeth of the zipper so that one side isn’t bunched up. Straighten them out. Slowly zip up the zipper halfway, paying careful attention to whether or not the teeth are not locking together.

Next Step: Once they are straight, let’s stitch it up.

Using a needle and thread, sew around the place where the metal stopper was. The idea is to replace it with thread. Sew around and around the bottom of the zipper until you have about six stitches in place. Use more stitches if you need to. Tie off in a knot on the backside of the zipper.

Next Step: zip it up.

Pull your zipper all the way to the top. It shouldn’t catch anymore. If you zipper gets misaligned again one day, just remove the stitching with a seam ripper (or any razor blade should work) and repeat this simple fix.

Click here to view the original article.

Now while knowing how to sew isn’t going to save you from things like hurricanes, riots, or terrorist attacks, it will help you get quite a bit more mileage out of your clothing.

This alone will save you a ton of money in the long run, and when TSHTF and the store’s aren’t open it will keep you fully clothed!

Now I just need to teach myself how to sew on a patch, and how to fix holes in the back pockets… that’s my biggest problem area . :)

What other skills like this, or even something as simple as how to properly sew a button, would you consider a “lost art?”


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  • Mark says:

    Thanks Joe. Wish I had known this, thought of it, years ago, thinking of all the jeans I threw away. Makes me feel dumb now :-/

    • Linda Guyan says:

      I knew the concept from somewhere in my youth but I’d never seen it done and wouldn’t try anything since lining up the teeth seemed impossible for me. Thanks from the bottom of my heart for the instructions and the pictures. I now believe that I could fix any zipper that comes my way. Because what is really hard is to replace a broken zipper especially when the zipper is unaccessible due to lining, pockets etc. Usually I would just take it to the shoe repair store or a dry cleaners who hire very good seamstresses. Cost thought. Another hint if you really want the zipper replaced remember that their might be a need to buy 2 zippers to make them match. I always would buy my own replacement zippers so I could guarantee the quality. Kind of like buying Sears Craftsman. You will care if you don’t.

  • Jane says:

    Ok. This will probably work — for the few occasions where a simple misalignment of the teeth is the only problem. It’s an oversimplification to think that all zipper problems can be solved in this way. Many times, one or more teeth actually get torn out of the zipper tape–making this method unusable. In that instance, a complete replacement of the zipper would be required. Another common problem with zippers is the loss of the pull tab. I’ve used twisted wire or a small key ring on jackets to solve that problem.

    Get a good sewing guide that includes repair techniques. [Reader’s Digest puts one out, or used to.] I recommend practicing on something damaged, that’s in your closet now, so you know what to do in a real difficulty. Also, you would need to have replacement zippers available for the times when a simple fix won’t solve the real problem.

  • texastwin827 says:

    I agree with Jane. This method is a temporary method and does not fit every situation. I am the last in my family that knows how to sew so I have my teenaged granddaughters give me their old jeans that are not donate-able and then I remove the zipper for use in a pair, when they break one.

    I do the same thing with shirts that are not suitable for donating. I remove all of the buttons for use on another shirt. If you lose a button, at the worst, you can always remove the remaining original buttons and replace them with ones that have come off another shirt.

    Also, while an old fashioned treadle machine would be ideal, any electric sewing machine can be operated manually (not fun) and it makes more secure stitches than hand sewing a garment would.

    Anyone with young children should visit garage sales and look for large sized clothing (shirts, dresses, jeans) because most times there is enough fabric in large sized clothing to make clothes for children, especially since they grow out of theirs so fast.

    • Lucille Gherardini says:

      Excellent wish Ihad thought of that, will remember in the future. I do save buttons, that comes from my Granmother.

  • texastwin827 says:

    For non experienced sewing, I would suggest buying 1 EACH of shirt, pants & dress patterns for family members. Also perhaps a coat pattern. There are “Easy to Sew” patterns for novices and most patterns, today, have multiple sizes included so, for children, that is ideal as it covers their growth spurts.

  • Cynthia says:

    Zipper Fix: Another method(2)of fixing a broken zipper is to “lace” back together. This method was used long ago before the zipper came along. There are two ways to complete.#1-Use a single hole punch or utility/survival knife to punch holes along the very edge(in about 1/4″ of original zipper & 1/4″ apart. Use a heavy boot lace/shoe string. Lace up just like a boot or shoe.#2-The broken zipper can be removed,carefully, so the fold of original zipper is in tack. Align fabric/jeans in place, overlapping, then punch holes(thru both layers),repeat steps from #1.Then lace up like a boot/shoe. Works great with anything that needs a closure;bags, shirts, etc. Keep Carpet thread & carpet needle in fix-it container(I use an empty prescrition bottle),this needle is a heavy half-moon shape for easy sewing & the thread is very thick with water guard to prevent decay/shredding. Hope this helps as an alternative method.

  • MI Patriot says:

    Unfortunately this will only work for metal zippers. The cheap nylon ones are made of a spiral of plastic. If you try to fix them like this, you will end up with a long thin strip of kinked plastic.

    Jane, if your zipper teeth are broken you can fix it too. It’s not foolproof or pretty, but in a pinch it would work. Take a pair of pliers and pull off the broken teeth. You leave your zipper zipped up and take your heavy thread. (I’ve used dental floss). You sew around the zipper just above the broken teeth. You are essentially making a thread version of the little metal piece that holds your zipper together at the bottom. Make sure it’s big enough to keep your zipper from going over it. You will still be able to use your zipper.

    Bobby pins and safety pins also work great for emergency zipper pulls.

  • Rita says:

    was a seamstress for a while and yes, this is the right way….if you can get to the back of the metal stop and carefully pry up the metal prongs (use a metal nailfile) and then pull the metal stop out….then after fixing the zipper teeth and slide you can replace the stop and fold back the metal prongs, if the metal prongs on the other side of the stop are not too weak or break off !! Have repaired a number of zippers this way. You can always use the needle and thread if this fails. This might save some time and sewing!

  • Lucille Gherardini says:

    It seems in the market today very few zippers are metal. I have two all most new good winter jackets and the plastic pull tabs quit working. Replacing the zippers not sure if they are worth it.

  • Chuck says:

    A shoe repair shop in town also does zipper repair. That won’t help you in a life altering situation, but check shoe repair shops in your town. You can salvage an expensive jacket if you find a shoe repair shop that fixes zippers. I have heard that some sporting goods shops also fix zippers so that you don’t have to throw that expensive tent away just because the zipper went south. Other than, perhaps, REI, I don’t think major chains stores do that kind of work, but large independent stores may.

  • Debbie says:

    I learned how to sew and use a sewing machine when I was eight years old. Being petite for all my life, my sewing skills came in handy many times. In addition, I’ve been able to teach the skills to others, even if it’s only teaching them how to sew on buttons or darn socks. Westerners are sure a spoiled lot. This ‘use and then replace’ mentality in our society is most definitely a problem that may contribute to whipping up panic in people when there are no more ‘replacements’ to purchase. ‘Better learn some handy skills now!

  • MARKWW says:

    Velcro Make then zip apart

  • JCBParodi says:

    Also should probably cover how easily the fly can be converted from zip to buttons at some point… especially as it allows the decided advantage of being quieter.

  • HobartHomemaker says:

    I had a zipper on my son’s dress pants that was beyond repair. It was a cheap, flimsy plastic zipper. I cut off the teeth of the zipper and as much of the zipper fabric as I could without compromising the pants’ material, then I took the front section of material from the left pocket (about 1 1/2″ x the length of the pocket) and sewed the top and each of the sides, turned it right side out and added two button holes. Then I sewed it just inside the zipper flap (on the top, bottom and inside edge – leaving the outer edge free for easy buttoning) and added two buttons. They are now button-up pants, but look the same as a zipper would. This was the only option for me as the zipper was beyond repair and I do not love sewing zippers. [His left pocket is now very narrow, but he doesn’t really use his dress pants pockets for anything anyway. :)]

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