It happens to almost everyone: a zipper slider catches, the teeth split apart, and suddenly it no longer zips. Don't give up on your bag or garment! You can usually fix the zipper with a few simple steps!
First, to get a zipper moving in a way that the teeth line up, sometimes all you need is to rub the teeth with graphite (from a pencil) or some dish detergent. Try these first before you jump into the steps below.
If the zipper is still not working, you'll need a few basic tools and supplies to set things right again.
- Needlenose pliers and/or a small flathead screwdriver
- Heavy-duty hand sewing needle
- Heavy-duty sewing thread
You can use this method to repair nylon or metal zippers, so pick up that broken zipper from the mending pile and get started!
01 of 07
Remove the Zipper Stop
In order to get the slider back on track, you need to remove the stopper. If you need to replace the slider with one from a zipper repair kit, you'll still start with this step.
The stopper is at the base of the zipper when it is unzipped and it's what stops the slider from coming off. Examine the stopper to see how you'll need to remove it. Be sure that the slider is out of the way for now.
02 of 07
Pry the Stopper Off the Zipper
Use needlenose pliers or a flathead screwdriver to carefully pry open the prongs on the back of the stopper. You don't need to worry about ruining the stopper because you won't need it again, but you should take care of your fingers!
Once the prongs are opened up you can pull the stopper off.
03 of 07
Adjust the Slider and Rearrange the Teeth
Bring the slider all the way down to where the stopper was, but don't let it come off entirely. When it's in this position, there's a little more flexibility with the position of the teeth.
Smooth out the teeth so the zipper is aligned again. On nylon zippers, you may be able to move one side through the slider, even when the slider is farther away from the end.
If the slider comes off the end entirely, it can be tricky to get it back on without opening a seam, so it takes more involved steps.
04 of 07
Test the Zipper
Once the zipper teeth seem to be aligned, check to see if it zips properly. Pull the zipper slowly and watch to see that it's zipping. Then, zip it all the way to the other end to make sure that the ends line up.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Sew a New Zipper Stop
Thread your needle with doubled thread, knotted at the end.
Matching thread (both in color and fiber) is best because you'll barely notice the repair, but you can also use a coordinating color. For metal zippers, it's important to use strong, heavy-duty thread, as the sewn stopper is likely to take a lot of wear.
With the zipper partially zipped, bring the needle and thread up on one side of the zipper end where the stopper was.
Take the needle down the other side of the zipper and back out on the side where you started. This makes one stitch across the zipper end.
Repeat this step to make more stitches, staggering them slightly so it makes a small rectangle of stitches covering the zipper.
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Finishing the Zipper Repair
Add enough stitches to make the new stopper feel secure and look smooth like satin stitch.
End by going back down through the zipper. Unzip it enough to work on the underside of the zipper. Tie a strong knot close to the fabric and secure the thread under the stitches. Snip the end of the thread.
07 of 07
Use Your Newly Repaired Zipper
Your bag or garment is once again ready to use! By working with matching thread and taking care to keep your stitches neat, most people will never even know that the zipper was ever broken.
And if the zipper splits again, it's easy to snip the stitches and fix it in the same way.
Once you've learned this simple fix, you'll look at the tired items in your wardrobe and around your house in a whole new way. Try these other mending tips to keep items looking their best!