If you have a pair of jeans with a broken zipper that is beyond repair, don’t get rid of them. With some intermediate sewing skills and about an hour of your time, you can replace that zipper with a brand new one. The key is to find a replacement zipper that’s roughly the same size, color, and style as the one you’re replacing, though you can make minor adjustments if necessary. Then, it’s just a matter of carefully taking out the old zipper and sewing in the new one using the following steps.
Equipment / Tools
- Seam ripper
- Sewing machine
- Jeans with broken zipper
- New clothing zipper
Remove the Broken Zipper
Most jeans have topstitching that is almost impossible to duplicate. So it is usually best to avoid removing the topstitching. Instead, use a seam ripper to remove the broken zipper by taking out just the stitches that are holding the zipper in place. Cut the tape of the zipper at joining seams.
Size the New Zipper
While it's ideal to purchase a new zipper that's a close fit to what you already had, it's rare to find a clothing zipper in the exact same length. So you'll likely have to alter the zipper to make it work. Align the tops of the broken zipper and the new zipper, and mark the end of the old zipper teeth on the new zipper.
Bar Tack the New Zipper
Bar tack the new zipper at the mark you just made. Create a bar tack using the zigzag function on your sewing machine. Reduce the stitch length and widen the width of your zigzag to clear the zipper teeth. Stitch repeatedly to create a very strong stopping point for the zipper pull. Then, cut the zipper just below the bar tack.
Baste or Pin the First Side
Fold the top of the zipper tape to the back of the zipper. Then, insert the zipper tape into the opening between the layers of fabric right where the old zipper was. Baste or pin it in place.
Sew the First Side With Your Zipper Foot
Use your sewing machine's zipper foot with the foot set to hold the tape in place to sew the first side of the zipper. Stitch as close to the bottom of the zipper as possible.
Baste or Pin the Other Side
Straighten the waistband of the jeans. Then, place the other side of the zipper tape in position, right where you removed the old zipper. Fold the top of the zipper tape to the front side of the zipper. Pin or baste the tape in place.
Hand-Sew the Other Side
With a sharp sewing needle start hand-sewing the other side, hiding the knot under the zipper tape where it is folded. Bring the needle through, catching only one layer of the fabric, so your stitches will not be seen on the outside of the garment.
Backstitch to Keep the Zipper in Place
Use a backstitch to hold the zipper in place. A backstitch is created by bringing the needle into the fabric behind the previous stitch. Remember only to stitch through one layer of the fabric. Use tight, even stitches. This will make the zipper more durable.
Bar Tack the End by Hand for a Strong Anchor
Bar tack the end of the zipper to create a sturdy hold. This area of the zipper will experience a lot of pulling, so it must have a strong anchor. Once this is complete, your zipper should be in place and ready for the next time you wear your jeans.