How to shorten metal open ended zipper….

Very specific and what you could call “niche” post today. But I cannot be the only one to hit this obstacle so I’m sharing.  On a recent project  I hit a bit of a snag with this metal open ended zipper. (Who am I kidding. I hit a snag on EVERY project. Occupational hazard for a refashioner!) It was about an inch longer than I needed it to be. I’ve marked with chalk where I wanted the stoppers to be…Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

 

Shortening a standard closed and plastic zipper is pretty straightforward.  With this zip though, I couldn’t shorten from the bottom. (Damn). That’s where the fittings are that make this an open ended zipper. It’s chunky and the design I had in mind called for the the zip stops (at the top of the zip) to still be visible on the finished garment.  So simply sewing thread stoppers wasn’t going to cut it.  (double damn).Shorten a metal open ended zipper

In some cases the fabric that encloses the end of the zipper at the top is sufficient to act as a stopper in itself. But in this instance that was not the case either….I couldn’t order another zip as the length I needed was not standard; and in any case, I much prefer to use what I have if I can. (Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn). So, in short (pun intended), I needed to shorten the zip from the top instead…

So if you ever find yourself in a similar position, here’s how to shorten an open ended metal zipper…Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

I needed to move this little sucker (above) down to where that chalk mark is. And this is one chunky metal zipper, so there was some serious brute force involved in this.

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

Before doing anything,  unzip the zip about halfway down and create some makeshift stoppers with pins. If you’re anything like me you may inadvertently pull the zip pull straight off the top after you’ve removed the stoppers. Yes I have done that. After the zip was sewn into a garment. (Face palm).

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

You’ll need some jewellery pliers and side cutters for this…

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

Using the side cutters, and starting with the zipper tooth in front of your chalk mark, snip the end of the zip tooth off… then cut away as much of the rest of it as you can…

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

Then use the pliers to wiggle and remove what’s left…

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

Remove 5 or 6 teeth in this way, on both sides of the zip….

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

Cut away the excess zipper tape…

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

You’re left with these zipper stops on the parts you cut away. Now you CAN buy zipper repair kits like these. And there will be replacement zipper stops included in those. If those meet your needs you can skip the next couple of steps. But  I didn’t have time to order and wait for a kit to arrive (I was on a deadline and everything is right down to the wire right now). Plus, you know, that “working with what I have” thing in me!

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

This was by far the trickiest step. It’s on there pretty firmly so this is where the brute force part comes in. Use the pliers (A second pair comes in handy if you have them) to wiggle/lever/coax the zipper stop off the zipper tape. Not shown in this pic, but I found cutting away the zipper tape as close to the stopper as possible, and then fraying it, aided the process of loosening it’s grip a little. As did swearing.

shorten a metal zipper - makery.uk

Eventually you’ll get the little sucker off. Open it up slightly (2 sets of pliers again)…

shorten a metal zipper - makery.uk

Slide it onto the zipper tape in the position of the first tooth you removed and use the pliers to clamp it firmly in place. (Repeat for both sides of the zip)

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

Ta dah!

So yeah! Random I know. But someone, someday, is going to find this useful. You’re welcome 😉

 

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33 Comments

  1. Sarah January 30, 2017

    Yes, it’s niche – but having hoarded many zips of varying lengths (never the length actually required) also totally what I was looking for…

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie January 30, 2017

      Yessssss! ✊

      Reply
  2. Michelle January 30, 2017

    Thaaaank you!!! I could hug you right now…I’ve had a jacket pattern that I’ve wanted to make but couldn’t find the right sized zips. So no excuses now!!

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie January 30, 2017

      And this is why we blog, lol!! I shall consider myself hugged!! You’re welcome 😉

      Reply
  3. Susan in NH January 30, 2017

    You are brilliant, tenacious and everything that is wonderful in a strong-willed woman of the 21st Century. Thank you for your blog, your wisdom and most of all sharing with the universe. I do so enjoy your postings!

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie January 30, 2017

      Wowzers Susan! I didn’t expect a comment like that on a post about zips, lol! But thank you! You just made my day. I seriously love our sewing community!

      Reply
  4. Sammy January 30, 2017

    Extraordinary! I was just doing this very thing this morning and didn’t know how I was going to proceed. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie January 30, 2017

      What are the odds on that?!!! 😀

      Reply
  5. Sam January 30, 2017

    I had to do this recently. You’re right, it needs some serious brute force but is extremely satisfying.

    Reply
  6. Ellen January 30, 2017

    This is going to be earmarked for me. I never knew how to do this. Love to hear that swearing helps others as much as it does me. Thank you!😏

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie January 30, 2017

      Swearing cures most things I find 😏

      Reply
  7. Chris Griffin January 31, 2017

    This looks much better than my hand tacking topstitching thread where I need the zipper to stop!!! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie February 9, 2017

      I think the hand tacking is fine on a skirt or trouser zipper say….where the base of the zipper is hidden…but on this project the ends are on view so yeah….much better in that instance!

      Reply
  8. Nicole January 31, 2017

    Great post! I’ve done this before and you are so right about the brute force!
    http://www.theartyologist.com

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie February 9, 2017

      Hurts your hands doesn’t it?!!!

      Reply
  9. wendi February 1, 2017

    Yeah! I have a sweater that I’m knitting that I wanted to put a zipper like this one into and I’ve looked and they’re either too short or too long…now I can buy the long one and fix it!
    Thank you!!!

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie February 9, 2017

      You’re super welcome Wendi!

      Reply
  10. Anne February 1, 2017

    Thank you for showing how to do that! I’ve got a Craft Gossip post scheduled for this evening that features your zipper tutorial: http://sewing.craftgossip.com/?p=91515 –Anne

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie February 9, 2017

      Thank you so much Anne!

      Reply
  11. Michele February 2, 2017

    This is the information I needed but my zipper isn’t metal, it is a heavy duty plastic… I’m thinking that I can do something similar. Do you have any experience with that or do you think it might work? I was thinking that I would install a new metal zipper stop.

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie February 9, 2017

      I’d go down the metal zipper stop route personally. Opinion rather than experience!

      Reply
  12. Brenda Farmer February 2, 2017

    Genius. Thank you so much.

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie February 9, 2017

      Welcome 🙂

      Reply
  13. Geja Aldenkamp February 3, 2017

    I’m so happy you shared this with photo’s … I’ve seen the suggestion in some Burda’s but never thought it was acctually possible! Thanks!

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie February 9, 2017

      So glad it’s useful!

      Reply
  14. Kimbersew February 6, 2017

    Yes, indeed. Well said. I have also learned that it is a good idea to leave one zipper tooth beyond the new zipper-stop just in case an enthusiastic zipping would slide the stop up. Enthusiasm can be a good teacher. thanks for your blog!

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie February 9, 2017

      THAT is an EXCELLENT idea! Thank you!

      Reply
  15. Mariah McPherson February 8, 2017

    Thanks for posting this! I have never dared to shorten a metal zipper, but now I might have the courage! I will definitely bookmark this one.

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie February 9, 2017

      You’re welcome!

      Reply
  16. Donna F February 28, 2017

    I found you through another blog. I am happy I did. Thanks for these instructions. It will come handy when I can not find the correct size. I also enjoyed reading about your trip to Denmark.
    Happy Creating Donna from USA

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie March 1, 2017

      Ah thank you Donna….and welcome!

      Reply
  17. Rebecca May 1, 2017

    As in me, right now, having already cut the zipper, aghhh! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie July 4, 2017

      Yay! Knew it would help someone!

      Reply

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