A broken zipper can be extremely frustrating when it’s part of an otherwise perfectly good piece of clothing or luggage. Because of all the use a zipper gets, it’s easy (and quite common) for something to go wrong.
Whether it’s a jammed zipper on your favorite jacket or a zipper that has completely fallen apart on your favorite duffel bag, it’s fixable. Take a look at some of the suggestions below on how to fix a broken zipper:
As soon as you feel that the zipper might be stuck, stop zipping. Trying to force it any further when it’s already stuck will only result in a bigger problem. Chances are, the zipper has come off of its track or has some of the surrounding material stuck in the way.
The quick (and lucky) fix for this is to slowly back the zipper down, removing the fabric from it along the way. If it’s off the track, back it up until it gets to the bottom of the track and realign it from there, if this little quick fix doesn’t do the trick, follow the steps below actually to repair the zipper.
Materials & supplies
Here’s a list of what you’ll need to fix your zipper:
- Sewing needle and thread
- Needle-nose pliers
- Replacement zipper (only required if the actual zipper is broken)
- Safety pin
- Sewing machine (optional, you could stick with the basic needle and thread)
Replacing the zipper pull
If the pull tab on the end of the zipper is broken, but the zipper itself works fine, it’s a relatively easy fix. Attach a safety pin in place of where the tab used to be and zip it up to make sure the zipping mechanism still works.
Clamp-on a replacement zipper tab with your needle-nose pliers or use whatever else you’d like to get the job done. If you don’t have access to another zipper pull tab, you can get away with keeping the safety pin there or using a piece of wire – it won’t look as good, but it will serve its purpose.
Fixing misaligned zipper tracks
If the zipper tracks are misaligned to the point where you can’t back the zipper out, you’ve got some work to do. First, you’ll need to remove the stitching from the end of the zipper stop – where the zipper typically starts before it gets zipped up.
After you remove the stop, you can pull off the actual zipper. Next, untangle the zipper tracks by hand and then proceed to realign them, one track-tooth at a time. Once they’re realigned, put the zipper back into place and re-set up the zipper stop. If you can’t get the stop back on, you’ll need to sew in a few knots of thread as a replacement.
Replacing the entire zipper
If zipper as the whole is beyond repair, you’ll need to replace everything. This means getting a new zipper track and zipper and removing the old one entirely. First, you need to cut out the stitching around the zipper tracks and eliminate them.
Next, sew in a new track with a sewing machine to save some time; if you don’t have one, you’re stuck sewing it back in by hand with the classic needle and thread. Put the new zipper onto the tracks and add an original stopper in at the top. Confirm everything is working, and you’re back in business. Read our other beautiful article on how to fix a screen door.