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How to replace a broken zipper

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Zipper on jeans
The topstitching on jeans is difficult to duplicate, so replacing a jean zipper is a little more complicated than on other garments. Leave the original topstitching and just work around it
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You can do it yourself!

A broken zipper on a jacket or a pair of pants doesn't mean the garment needs to be replaced. In fact, a broken zipper is so easy to fix that a trip to the tailor is unnecessary. Here are some instructions to help you do it yourself.

Required Materials

  • thread
  • needles
  • sewing scissors
  • sewing machine
  • stitch ripper
  • replacement zipper of same length
  • straight pins

Replacing a Zipper on Soft Material

This first set of instructions is for replacing a zipper on an article of clothing that is made from a soft material such as linen or nylon. The second set of instructions teaches you how to replace zippers on stronger material, such as denim.

1 With the stitch ripper, carefully pull out the stitches securing the damaged zipper. Pay attention to the original stitching and try and copy the pattern when you attach the new zipper. This will make sure that the new zipper is as secure as the old one was.

2 Remove the old zipper and pull off any loose ends. Inspect the seams to ensure there's no damage to the material of the garment that needs to be repaired.

3 Following the directions on the new zipper package, place the new zipper on the garment. Pin it in place, making sure it's straight.

4 The next step in replacing a broken zipper is to stitch the new zipper into place, following the stitching pattern of the old zipper. Do this with a sewing machine with a zipper foot.

5 Make the final topstitching on the outside of the material, either by sewing machine or by hand.

Replace a Broken Zipper on Jeans

The topstitching on jeans is difficult to duplicate, so replacing a jean zipper is a little more complicated than on other garments. The best thing to do is to leave the original topstitching and just work around it.

1 Make sure to purchase a zipper the same length as the old one, otherwise the material around the zipper will pull and bulge. If you can't find a zipper of the same length, alter the new zipper by aligning it with the new one and making a mark on the new zipper where the old zipper ends.

    • Use your sewing machine to make a crisscross stitch at the mark (also called a bar tack).
    • Reduce the stitch length and widen the width of the crisscross stitch to clear the teeth of the new zipper.
    • Stitch tightly to make a very strong and secure stopping point.
    • Cut the zipper just below the crisscross stitch.

2 Put the new zipper in place. Pin securely.

3 Use your zipper foot to sew the zipper securely into place. Stitch as close to the bottom of the zipper as possible. Stitch the other side.

4 Hand stitch through one layer of material for extra security.

5 Crisscross (bar stitch) across the end of the zipper to provide another strong ending point. This area of the zipper will be pulled and stretched and needs to be strongly affixed.

Replacing a broken zipper isn't as difficult as it seems. You only need a few tools and easy to follow instructions to give your clothes a fresh new look and an extended stay in your closet. Happy sewing!

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