Why is it that when you go to the store or as you shop online, you can NEVER find the zipper you need? I find time and time again that they are either way too short or way too long. The “perfect” ones are all gone. Well let me show you how make any zipper perfect for your project. Learn how to shorten a zipper the right way, and trust me its not too hard. Hooray for the perfect zipper! (cue happy dance).
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Before we get started you might want to read everything about zippers. It is such a great resource teaching about the differences in zippers and can help you find the right zipper type and weight for your project.
There are three main types of zippers. Coil, Molded Plastic and Metal. I will be showing ways to shorten all three of them.
There are 2 main ways to shorten a zipper. You can cut through the teeth or remove the teeth.
Cutting the Teeth Method:
This method is by far the easiest and least time-consuming. It can be used on coiled and molded plastic zippers. I wouldn’t suggest this with metal teethed zippers. When sewing the metal the zipper there is a very good chance your needle will hit one of those metal teeth and break. The coil and plastic zippers can be sewn through without as much fear of the needle breaking. I still go slow when sewing over the teeth just in case.
Too LONG zipper
Scissors (not your fabric ones)
Needle and thread
Measure for what size zipper you need or consult the pattern. Most of the time when a patterns calls for a 7 inch zipper, that measurement is from the top stopper to the bottom stopper. So you will need to add some length to the bottom.
Mark your measurement onto the zipper, and mark one inch below that. The extra one inch should suffice for most projects.
You will now make a new stopper for the zipper. Grab your thread and tie a knot on one end. Then with the zipper closed, we are going to be stitching around the teeth, at the bottom to create the new stopper. Stitch around the teeth at your first mark. I like to go around 8 to 10 times. I like to be safe rather than sorry. So go around a couple of more times. In most cases, you will not see this stopper.
Cut the zipper at the bottom mark.
That’s it! Now you can use the zipper as you would normally.
Want to see this method in action? Watch the video tutorial below:
Removing the Teeth Method:
When removing metal teeth, you do not want to cut them. First, it will destroy your scissors. Second, you will break your needle when sewing through it. So just don’t do it. Taking the teeth off might seem daunting but it is not as hard as it seems. You will be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is when you have the right tools. This method can also be used with molded plastic zippers also.
Too LONG Zipper
Zipper Pliers or Wire cutters
Needle Nose Pliers
(Optional) Needle and Thread
Just like before, we will measure what size zipper you need or look at the pattern. Instead of cutting off the bottom we will be removing the teeth from the top.
Add your markings onto the zipper. Remember we are removing length from the top so make sure you mark it on the top of the zipper. Then mark one inch above that so we know how many teeth to take off.
This is the fun part. We will be prying the teeth off. The easiest way is to use zipper pliers. They are designed to open the teeth as you squeeze the pliers. They are fairly inexpensive and good to have on hand. If you don’t have access to zipper pliers then grab some wire cutters or just use some needle-nose pliers.
I mainly use my wire cutters. I try and slice each tooth off in the middle then use the needle nose pliers to take it off. Be careful they will go flying. You will not need the teeth anymore so they can be thrown away. The top stopper of the zipper will be reused so try and be careful and don’t throw it away.
One note that is VERY important. You will want to remove the same amount of teeth from each side and at the same place. I removed 10 teeth on each side.
Now if we left the zipper how it is right now when you go to close the zipper the pull will come right off. To ensure that doesn’t happen we will add our existing top stopper back on or you can create a new one. I like to use the existing top stop because I think it looks more professional. But if you destroyed it then we can make a new one.
I just open it up and then place it back onto the zipper at the top of my teeth and squeeze it as tight as possible. You can give it a few hits with a hammer as well.
You can also make one using thread. Just like before where we created the bottom stop, we will create the top stoppers. We will be wrapping the tape with thread on each side of the teeth.
Now cut the zipper at the top mark. You are finished!
Knowing how to shorten a zipper can and will help you in so many ways. You can buy long zippers or even rolls of zippers at a fraction of the cost and just cut and shorten them as you need them. Or if you find a good sale on zippers by the longest ones and then when you need them just shorten them to the desired length. It’s a win-win situation. If you purchase extra zipper pulls you can even turn long zippers into two or three short zippers.