DIY Your Metal Zips

03-newzipHow’s everyone’s Ziggi coming along? Hopefully everyone has survived the zippered pocket construction and are ready finish your moto! As we move on to front assembly of the jacket, you may have found that purchasing an appropriately sized zipper difficult. So, what do you do when you can’t find what you want? You could always take to internet (some online retailers will cut to size the zipper length you need) or you could DIY it! I know what your thinking, metal zippers look impossible to shorten yourself, but when you have the right tool, it takes just minutes to fix!

03-nippersThe first thing you need is a pair of Nipper Pliers (sometimes they also called End Nippers) – which is pictured on the left. Often times you can purchase these nippers online from zipper stores (around $20), but they are typically much more expensive than finding them at your local home store (or if you husband has an extensive tool chest, chances are you already have them!) – I found mine as a set with several other pliers for around $10.

03-zippatternNow determine the length you want your finished zipper to be. I placed my zipper on the “Front Main” pattern piece along the “Left Zip” marking. Make sure that the bottom, zipper stop is even with at the hash mark on the bottom edge of the pattern. Keep the zipper along the pattern edge and make a mark on the zipper tape to indicate the top, hash mark of the pattern (The pattern notes that the zipper runs along the marks. However, if you want your jacket to look like the illustration on the front, you will need to measure from the top hash mark to the bottom hem). You could also use a ruler to adjust to the size called for in the pattern (20, 21, or 22″ depending on the pattern size you are making). However, I found that while my pattern calls for a 20″ zipper, the length needed is actually slightly less than what is noted in the materials section of the pattern (when I measure from the bottom hem to the top hash mark, it is slightly larger than the 20″). Why does this happen? If you notice, there are several size ranges listed for one size zipper (for example a 20″ zipper is needed for sizes 4-12) – since patterns are adjusted both length and width slightly, it only stands to reason that there will be a few variances within that range.

03-nipactionThe mark you just made on your zipper tape will be your new zipper stop. Unzip your zipper past this point and begin removing the metal teeth, starting at the mark you made. The nipper pliers will ‘grab’ the metal teeth so all you need to do is pull straight forward and they will pop off – there should be no need to twist to remove them so you don’t need to worry about damaging the zipper tape. Continue removing the metal teeth on both sides of the tape about 1″ above your mark.

03-zipstopIf you are able to find “zipper stops” in the notions isle your store, go ahead and apply them at the mark you made on your zipper tape. If not, you need to do what I do and remove them from the zipper tap and reattach them. I found that a standard set of pliers work much better than the nippers and pulling them off. Once removed, you will probably have to pry the stop open slightly so that it will easily fit onto the new zipper tape location easily. Once on, use your (standard) pliers to crimp it back into place. Voila! Your new zip is ready for action!

Note: You can see my new zipper is at the top of this post – I left the teeth on the top edge just to show you how I made mine, but be sure to snip off the tape where you stopped removing metal teeth before you start sewing.

03-splitringEDITED TO ADD: My husband pointed out that he has a nifty tool that is PERFECT for removing (and prying apart) the zipper stops: Split Ring Pliers! These pliers have a ‘wedge’ at the top that will easily open up the zipper stop so it can be removed from the tape. This also opens up the stop enough so you’re able to to re-attach it to the zipper tape at it’s new location without having to pry it apart with another tool (then use pliers to squeeze the stop so it doesn’t fall out of position). Split ring pliers can be found at your local home store, online, and in fishing stores!