Often a zipper breaks before a jacket has worn out. Save that jacket for another season by simply replacing the broken zipper. Four simple steps will keep your jacket in service.
Step 1: Remove the old zipper
Removing the old zipper is actually the most difficult part of the entire process. If you have great patience and excellent eyesight, you may accomplish this step with a standard seam ripper. If you would like to do things quickly and professionally, use the tool of a professional alterations specialist: a single-edged razor blade, available at your local drugstore. Simply ease a corner of the blade between the jacket fabric and the zipper, then ease the blade along. The stitches will come apart quickly, freeing the zipper from the jacket. A compromise between the standard seam ripper and the razor blade is the surgical seam ripper. This handy tool has a handle and an extra sharp blade to catch even the most stubborn stitches.
Step 2: Purchase the correct replacement zipper
Zippers come in many varieties: invisible, metal, polyester coil, and separating. Most jackets have a separating zipper, which opens at the bottom. Ski jackets may have a two-way separating zipper. Take the broken zipper to the fabric store with you and get a new zipper of the same type and length.
Step 3: Baste zipper to jacket
Use straight pins or washable glue stick to baste the new zipper in place. Turn under the top edge of the zipper tape so that the zipper stop is at the top edge of the jacket. Make sure the bottom edge of the zipper does not extend below the edge of the jacket. Slippery or puffy fabrics might require some basting stitches to help hold the zipper in place for the final stitching.
Step 4: Final stitching
Using a sharp new sewing machine needle of the correct size for your fabric (a heavy-duty size 16 jeans needle in most cases) and a zipper foot, machine topstitch the zipper in place. Use thread that matches the thread in the rest of the jacket’s topstitching. Jeans thread is available for denim jackets. Stitch at a slow but steady speed to avoid skipped stitches. Fasten ends of stitching by backstitching at top and bottom edges. Cut loose threads. Try the zipper to be sure it works and is secure.
Finally, enjoy your jacket. You saved money and helped the environment by repairing instead of discarding.