replacing zippers

I've had a few requests to create tutorials for basic sewing repairs. The most frequent request is about how to replace a zipper. I will admit upfront that I am not fantastically good at this. My zipper replacements have been adequate (mostly), but not tremendously pretty. It is one of those things where taking the time pays off in aesthetics, and if you notice how many of my tutorials are based around doing something quick quick, you'll know that time is not where my wealth is.

Zipper replacement is extremely intimidating to us novice stitchers. I would of never even tried it except that the sewing test I took as a prerequist to my brief stint as an actual real live professional seamstress in training (no, not that kind, thank you pratchett readers), was to replace a jean's zipper (talk about being in over one's head). I did learn what how the pros do it (and passed the test too). Let me tell you, it is not difficult. But it does take time. And a seam ripper.

Sorry, no whizzy photos in bad lighting for this one. You've seen zippers (hint: look down). Are you ready to learn professional seamstress craft secrets of zipper replacement?

Okay: First, use a seam ripper (or a razor blade) to remove the stitching holding on the broken zipper. As you are removing the stitches, take note of how the zipper was sewn in (or take a picture with a camera if there is something particularly interesting or odd about it).

Second, sew in the replacement zipper in the exact same location as the broke one using the holes from the removed thread as a guide. That's it.

There really is no mystic to replacing zippers, it's mostly just a puzzle - fitting the new piece in so that all the edges align. Time, and a seam ripper, are your greatest assets. And maybe a glass of wine.

Good luck.


  1. Your introduction to the tut had me thinking it was going to be this long tedious process. I'm relieved it isnt!

    Lucky enough for me, I haven't had to replace a zipper... yet! Thanks!

  2. Thanks for the tute! I placed a link to your blog on mine! I helped make an apron tank from another tutorial of yours,Thanks!

  3. Zippers stink!!! I've never put in a zipper right the first time and I've been sewing for 25 years. Or maybe it's me that stinks lol.

    This winter, I've replaced 3 parka zippers and one loooonnng snowsuit zipper. It's a valuable skill, replacing zippers, but you're right: it takes time and patience.

  4. I actually had to do this in my hubby's work jumpsuit-boy was that intimidating! But I did it, and the $7 zipper was much cheaper than the $150 uniform!!

  5. I just found your blog and i have to say I LOVE IT you have given me so much to go off of. I just recently decided to start making my daughters clothes and this site has helped me out so much thanks and I look forward to seeing what else you come up with.

  6. Well, talk about taking the mystery out of it! Thanks for the tute. Now I might actually have the guts to try it. I often find that my fear of zippers will cause me to pass on an item instead of trying to fix it but now I guess I don't have that excuse anymore. The timing is perfect because we just got the cutest hand me down jacket for my daughter just to find that the zipper was broken. She was very unhappy that I couldn't just fix it. Now I will have a chance to try my new merging skill. Thanks again!

  7. The other secret: buy a good quality zipper. Like YKK. If you look in your jeans, pants etc. that's the favorite brand of good manufacturers.

  8. I've nominated you for a Kreativ Blogger award. You can collect it from my blog, http://sewchristine.blogspot.com/