Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tutorial: Fixing the Length of a Zipper

In my New Year's Resolutions, I decided that this year I am going to make a dent in this:
Oh yeah, that is a pile of 50 zippers that my friend bought me for $1.
48 of the zippers work, and they come in a huge variety of colors.

The problem is that not every zipper is the right color or length for the project I am completing. But that isn't a problem, because there is a way to lengthen or shorten any zipper to fit your project! I am going to show you both ways today.

Note: There are other great ways to lengthen and shorten a zipper.
I am just showing you what I do!

How to Lengthen a Zipper
beware - this is involves some math and planning!
Recently, I was making a zippered clutch (I will be showing you a tutorial on it soon). The length of my fabric was 10.5", but my zipper was only 7.5". I really wanted to use a yellow zipper from the pile. So, I decided to add tabs on either side of my zipper.

When I was sewing this clutch together, I was using a 0.25" seam allowance. This means that the the length of my finished clutch would be 10". That means that I needed to add a total of 2.5" of tabs to my 7.5" zipper to equal 10".
2.5 + 7.5 = 10
A tab goes on either side of the zipper. So the finished size of each tab (because I want each of my tabs to be the same size) is 1.25". In order to have finished edges, I took this number times four. 1.25" x 4 = 5". So I need each tab to be cut 5" long by 1" (because that is the width of the zipper).

I then ironed the tab in half - hamburger style.

I opened it up and brought each edge in to the center crease. I ironed these flat.

I re-ironed the tab in half, so the raw edges are on the inside.

Now, attach the tabs to each end of the zipper. I pinned the tabs on either end so that the folded edges are closest to the zipper. The width of the fabric (in this case, 1") should be the same width as the zipper.

I sewed as close to the zipper as I could (about 1/8") with coordinating thread. After trimming the threads, the length of the zipper with the tabs is 10". Perfect for the clutch I am making.

Note: Your zipper is still the same length, but the tabs allow for you to use the zipper if a larger one is required for your project. Make sure that this is appropriate for your project.

How to Shorten a Zipper
relax - this method takes less math!
Sometimes the zipper you want to use is too long for the project you are sewing.
In this case, we can shorten the zipper to be the right size.

First off, figure out how long you want the zipper to be.
For ease, let's say that we want the zipper to be a finished size of 10".

I make sure the zipper is closed and measure from the top of the pull and make a mark 10" down (I used a piece of tape - where the side closest to the zipper pull is where I want my zipper to end). This is where we want the end of the zipper to be.

Using my sewing machine, I zig-zag back and forth over the zipper right where I made the mark several times.

After I trim the threads, I use scissors and cut the zipper just after the new 'end' (about 1/2" down). I used regular scissors (and not my fabric scissors) because I didn't want them to get dull from cutting through the plastic or metal of the zipper.
So, does anyone else have a lot of zippers that they are going to be using this year? What projects do you have planned?

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  1. I just like the pile of brightly colored zippers. It might make it hard to do something with them when I think they look so pretty. But, I think you will be teaching me how to sew this summer!

  2. Yes, I will! Especially if you come in March - we will have lots of time to sew. Think of what project you want to do!

  3. I am visiting from TT&J.  I totally pinned this post to my Pinterest board.  I am new to sewing zippers and know this will help with the process.  Thx for sharing. 

  4. This is a great post. I just pinned this for future reference. I too have a pile of zippers & am excited that there's more possibilities for them than I originally thought. 

  5. Thanks for sharing. I'm pinning this one...

  6. ButtercreamSewingMachineJanuary 15, 2012 at 11:24 AM

    I would love to hear what projects you complete with yours! I have a few things in mind, but I have more zippers than ideas right now :).

  7. 50 (48) zippers for $1! What a deal! :) Nice tips too, thanks for sharing!

  8. I love all the colorful zippers.. The tips are so easy to follow..
    Thanks for linking up at friday fun party

  9. I have a whole pile of zippers I got for $0.25 each, too! I'm trying to make my way through some of them right now!

    Amanda Rose

  10. How would you shorten a separating zipper?