Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wednesday Sewing - Replacing Zippers

My niece, Big C, bought a really cute sundress before Easter - and by the middle of May, the zipper was broken.  Zippers break for lots of reasons, poor manufacturing, poor sewing, trying to zip up too tight clothing, plastic parts breaking, ... this time it looked like the teeth weren't hooked in securely and a zipper's not going to stay on track if teeth go missing.  Whatever the reason, you can save a lot of money by replacing the zipper yourself.  It's not usually hard, just a little time consuming!

1.  Before you do anything, take a picture of what the piece of clothing looks like with the old zipper in.  This will save you great grief when you forget how closely the old one was sewn in, what was done with the top tape ends, what type of top stitching was done on the old zipper - countless little details that are easy to miss when you first look at it.  And it'll really save you if something comes up and you have a day or two gap between starting the repair job and getting back to it!

2.  Begin by removing the old zipper.

You may need to undo some of the sewing around the top of the zipper - any facings, seams, etc.  There was a sort of waistband at the top of this zipper.  The extra tape at the top of the zipper had been folded over and sewn in between the waistband and its facing, so I had to open it up to remove the old zipper and to put the new zipper in the same way.

3.  You never know what you'll find when you get that old zipper out!  This time, I found the fabric had been trimmed so close to the zipper at the bottom right that it was a miracle the zipper hadn't given way there.  That would've left Big C walking around with a gaping hole - not a good place for that!  I applied iron on fabric stabilizer right over the whole area.  This dress is made from denim, so I used a heavy stabilizer.  If your garment is made from lighter fabric, you'll want to use a lighter stabilizer or iron-on interfacing.

4.  Pin the new zipper in place.

5.  Baste it in.

6.  Top sew with your zipper foot.  If your new zipper is a little longer than the old zipper, most of the time you can leave it.  If it shows under the garment or the zipper is a lot longer, you'll need to trim it off.  Before cutting the zipper, hand sew around the teeth, above where you're going to cut but below where it shows, a lot of times.  This zipper was about 2 inches longer than the original, but looked fine leaving it - I'm also hoping it'll block the hole if that weak area gives out!

Put all the stitching you removed back in - the facings, etc.  In this case, I folded over the zipper tape tops and tucked them in between the waistband and the waistband facing and sewed it back up like it was before.

And enjoy your garment's second life!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

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