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How to Shorten a Metal Zipper

Have a zipper that's too long for your project? You can shorten it in a few easy steps.

Posted in: Tutorials & Techniques • November 9, 2020

Have you ever found yourself needing a shorter zipper than you have on hand? In this video, Haley shares how to easily shorten a metal zipper. She'll show you how to measure, cut, remove necessary zipper teeth, and remove and reattach the zipper stops so you'll have a perfeclty sized zipper for your next project. Grab some pliers and let's get started!

Recommended Materials:

  • Pliers

  • Flathead Screwdriver

  • Seam Gauge

  • Marking Tool

Video Transcript

Hey it's Haley at Seamwork and today I'm going to show you how to shorten a metal zipper. Sometimes you're gonna find when you're sewing a pattern it requires a shorter zipper length than what comes standard. And when you're sewing with a plastic zipper it's really easy to just take your scissors and snip, but when it's a metal zipper you're gonna want to take just a couple extra steps to make sure you're not sewing over those metal teeth. This technique is super helpful when you're sewing jeans like the Tessa jeans behind me, or shorts like the Weston shorts. Before we jump in, let's take a look at the anatomy of a zipper.

A zipper's length is measured from zipper stop to zipper stop. Note that the additional zipper tape on the ends is not counted in the length. On the zipper there are the slider and the pull tab, the top stops which prevent the zipper and the pull from coming off, individual teeth which form the chain, the bottom stop which prevents the zipper from
separating, and then the tape which gets stitched into the garment. Unlike any
kind of plastic zipper which are usually shortened from the bottom, metal zippers are shortened from the top of the zipper.

Let's take a look at some of the tools we're gonna need today. For shortening a metal zipper you can get away with just using a pair of pliers but if you're gonna want to reattach the metal stops at the top, you'll also want a flathead screwdriver like this one here. Other tools you're going to need are some kind of measuring tool, I have a seam gauge here, and some sort of chalk or marking tool in a color that's going to show up on your zipper tape.

Measure up from the bottom zipper stop to your desired zipper length and mark the tape on both sides. These marks will indicate where you'll reattach the top stops. Then open up your zipper. On each side mark an additional half inch to an inch above your new zipper length. If you want, you can cut off the excess zipper at this point, just make sure not to zip up your zipper - there's nothing there to stop the pull at the top. Next carefully
use a flathead screwdriver to remove the top stops by prying them open. Set them aside in a safe place to be reattached later. Using your pliers, remove the excess teeth by pulling them off the tape.

It's okay if the zipper tape gets a little damaged here, it won't be seen at all once the garment is assembled. Once you've removed the necessary teeth, reattach the top stops. Place the stops close to the top teeth and crimp them closed with your pliers.

And there you have it - how to shorten a metal zipper. Pretty easy, right? If you liked this video make sure to like and subscribe and then go follow us on Instagram to stay up to date on all things Seamwork. If you have any burning zipper questions make sure to pop into the comments below. Thanks for joining me and happy sewing!

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