Sewing Basics: How to Fix a Zipper
We’re getting slightly more technical in this next installment of our Sewing Basics series, but put aside your fear! Taking the time to learn how to fix a zipper properly is a no brainer. Not only will it save you time, money and frustration in the long run, as well as keeping your clothes from unnecessarily heading to the landfill, it will make you feel like a superhuman in the process.
All of us know the frustration of trying to force, bully and coerce a stubborn zipper back into its correct place because it’s one of the most common things to go wrong with a garment. Next time this happens, just take a deep breath, set the garment to one side and at the next chance you get follow the instructions below.
Gather your materials.
To fix a zipper you will need a zip, an unpicker or small scissors, pins, thread, a sewing machine with a zipper foot (or a needle to do it by hand).
Find a matching zipper.
The best place to look is online – Ebay usually has a good selection – or in-store at a fabric shop. Consider the length, size and chunkiness of the zip when making your choice, and we would recommend choosing a YKK zip if you can. There are also loads of colour options to match or contrast colour to your garment.
Unpick the stitching.
Using your unpicker or small scissors, cut and pull out the stitching that is holding your broken zip in place. Be careful not to damage the fabric it is sewn into as you’ll be working on the same spot again to put in your new zipper.
Test the zipper position.
Ensure you have the correct size of zipper for the job by placing your new zipper in place on your garment. Make sure it lines up perfectly and is facing the correct side. Now pin the zipper in place using a few pins.
Prepare your sewing method.
If you’re fixing your zipper with a machine, attach the zipper foot to your sewing machine. This is a very thin sewing foot that helps guide you as close to the zipper as possible. Thread the machine with the correct matching or contrasting colour thread of your choice.
If you’re choosing to sew the zip by hand, simply thread the needle with your coloured thread of choice. If you need a refresher on how to do this properly, check out our How to Sew a Button tutorial.
Begin mending the zipper.
To start, stitch down the side of the zipper that is already pinned. Make sure to use double stitching or reinforce where you begin to stitch and at the end of the stitch line. Once the first side is attached, check that it is secure and perfectly in place before moving on.
Attach the other side of the zipper.
As you did with the first side, place the other side of your new zipper in place on your garment. Again making sure it lines up perfectly and is facing the correct side. Pin the zipper in place using a few pins.
Stitch down the side of the zipper that is pinned. Make sure to use double stitching or reinforce where you begin to stitch and at the end of the stitch line.
Check you’ve fixed the zipper properly.
The best way to ensure you’ve attached the new zip well is to test it. Do the zipper up to make sure it all lines up and works properly. If the sides are uneven, you’ll have to unpick the zipper and start again.
Finish the repair.
Complete your repair by cutting away any loose threads and enjoy your handiwork!
The Clothes Doctor is an award-winning online clothing maintenance service, operating nationwide with offices and workshops in London and Cornwall. Their mission is to keep as many pieces of your favourite clothing out of landfill as possible by offering a unique and easy-to-use service. Simply order online, they'll collect your clothing, alter or fix it and then they'll deliver it back to you. They never use any unnecessary packaging and your mending is guaranteed for six months.