Sewing Guide: How to Fix a Zipper

Christine Boles provides a sewing guide with step-by-step instructions on how to fix a broken zipper.

| May/June 1975

  • 033-082-01
    Don't fly off the handle if your fly gives you fits. This guide will tell you all you need to keep things together.

  • 033-082-01

While looking through MOTHER EARTH NEWS the other day — and being amazed at the variety of information that passes through her pages — I realized that I too have a skill that should be shared. It's a humble accomplishment, but one that few people seem to know: zipper repair.

Inevitably, it's the zipper do your favorite pair of pants that pulls apart . . .  and even if you have some sewing skill, you probably dread the thought of replacing the device. (It always seems harder to fit a new closure into an already-put-together opening than it is to make the trousers in the first place.) One option is to sew buttons on the underside of the fly and make buttonholes on the overlapping flap — but if you like zippers better, don't, for heaven's sake, banish the garment to the ragbag. The damaged fastener may well be fixable.

The usual problem is that the zipper head has pulled off one side of the teeth and ceased to connect the gap. Well, all is not lost. Turn the pants inside out and look at the lower end of the fastening. You'll probably see two, three, or four metal prongs or a metal rectangle (depending on which side the fitting was put in from). This is the stop, which keeps the head of the zipper from, scooting off the track at the bottom.

With pliers (needle-nosed are the easiest to use), pry open the prongs and remove the stop. Don't lose it! There may be stitching across the zipper tapes instead of, or in addition to, the metal barrier. In that case, take out enough of the thread to free the inside and lower edges of the cloth tabs.

The next step is to slip the head off the zipper. If the device will move only upward, unsew just the edges of the garment's waistband to permit removal of the slider from the top.

A look at the zipper's head will show you that either the top or the bottom — but not both — is divided into two holes, and that a pull-tab is mounted on the front. With the double-holed end up, and the tab raised and facing the front of the pants, ease the end of the left tape into the left hole on the slider. Then, keeping the head below all of the zipper's teeth, work the right tape into the right hole. This is the hardest part of the business and calls for a lot of dexterity and maneuvering on occasion. In case the bits of cloth are frayed, you can help matters by trimming or wetting them. Be patient and keep trying.

10/4/2014 3:26:47 PM

My purse has a zipper where about 1 1/2 inches of the nylon teeth on the zipper have come detached from the zipper tape. Other that delicately resewing each tooth back on, do you have a solution? Also, if the resewn teeth works, how to get the zipper pull back on when both ends of the zipper are sewn into the purse? I have checked with a local shoe/zipper repair place and they charge about $45 to put in a new zipper. Have you a solution for me? Perhaps a new purse is the answer...

Doug Moorhouse
7/8/2008 7:32:10 PM

We have invented a new zipper slider that repairs zippers without tools. Go to to see it work.

Doug Moorhouse
7/8/2008 7:30:36 PM

We have invented a new zipper slider that repairs zippers without tools. go to to see it work

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