Last-Minute Emergency! This Is How To Fix A Zipper On Jeans

If you know how to fix a zipper on a bag, then you’re halfway there. Have you ever chucked a perfectly functional pair of denims because the zipper gave out? If yes, then we’ve got some news for you. You can avoid the hefty fees attached to zipper replacement and save your jeans by fixing the zipper yourself!

Jeans with open zipper on a wooden background

Before you have visions of being knee-deep in needles and thread – relax. Zipper replacement is quite manageable – even with elementary sewing skills. How? That’s simple – you can go through our zipper repair tutorial and become a DIY zipper-fixing pro in no time.

The most common zipper problems on jeans

Before getting on with how you can go about fixing your jeans zipper, let’s take a moment to talk about the more common zipper problems the worldwide jeans-wearing population can face. 

More often than not, you’re likely to run into one of three zipper issues meddling with your favourite jeans:

  • Missing/broken zipper tooth
  • Split zipper
  • Broken pull

But, no matter the problem you’re facing, we’ve compiled a one-size-fits-all (excuse the pun) material list to help you get started. Here’s what our magical supply list contains:

  • Zipper repair replacement kit
  • Flathead screwdriver with a narrow tip (small)
  • Seam ripper
  • One pair of pliers
  • Sewing machine (or needle and thread for hand sewing if you prefer)
  • Safety pin or keyring
  • Zipper stops (top and bottom)
  • Hairspray
  • Wax or Grease
  • Scissors
  • Pins 
  • Graphite Marker 
  • New zipper

How to fix a zipper on jeans in simple steps

Alrighty, it’s time to get your hands busy with our step-by-step zipper guide. Our article includes solutions for all three zipper problems highlighted above – each with separate headings. So, all you have to do is scroll down to the relevant section and begin!

Broken zipper tooth solution

You can repair broken teeth right at the top of the zipper (or bottom of the zipper) without a problem. However, wonky teeth in the middle will need replacing the entire zipper of your pair of jeans. Here’s what the damaged zipper teeth solution requires:

Broken blue jean zipper fixed with safety pin

Step 1

Move the zipper slider right to the end of the zip. Next, join the other side of the zipper into the bottom of the slider by angling it a little. This step can be a little tricky and may require you to use the screwdriver to push the edge of the zipper into the slider. 

Step 2

Once the sides are comfortably within the slider, gently pull the tab to get the zipper going. If there’s a bit of resistance, try rubbing some wax on it and wiggle the tab to ensure the zipper interlocks correctly. Close the zipper to the top and push the tab down to lock the zipper in place. 

Step 3

Next, free the back of the zipper by cutting the tack holding the placket layers together with a ripper. Grab a zipper bottom stop from your replacement kit. If you’re not sure of the size of the stop, measure the teeth across while the zipper is closed and get a corresponding stop. 

Step 4

Place the new stop between the old stop and the space where the teeth are missing and push gently to make the prongs of the stop come out on the other side. 

Step 5

Turn the jeans over to ensure the prongs have pierced the material correctly and ensure the angle of the stop is a sharp 90 degrees (perpendicular to the zipper). 

Step 6

Use the pliers to crimp the prongs into place and secure the new stop. Next, use the sewing machine to replace the stitching pulled out in step three. You can also hand stitch the material if machine sewing hacks aren’t your style. 

Step 7

Check to see if the zipper is working fine and the stitches are sturdy. That’s about it – you’re done fixing the broken teeth on your zipper. 

Split Zipper (zipper that separates) solution

Like with the missing teeth problem, you can only repair a split zipper if the teeth or slider are pulled off near the top of the zipper. If the tabs around the zipper’s bottom come off the tape or if the teeth are pulled off the middle – your zipper will need a complete replacement. With that in mind, here’s how you can fix a split zipper:

Split zipper

Step 1

Pull out the stop at the zipper’s top (on the side with the square tab at the bottom). Once the stop is off, remove the slider. Generally, the space between the slider is affected when it does not work the way it should. Check to see if that’s the case with your slider. If the gap between the zipper slide isn’t straight – you’ll need a new one. 

Step 2

Refer to the old slider when buying a new one to get the right size. If there are markings or numbers at the back – it’s best to take the slider with you to the fabric store and find a suitable match. If you don’t see any separate sliders, buy a zipper with a matching slider and use that. 

Step 3

Once you’ve gotten your new slider, it’s time to place it on the zipper of your jeans. Starting from the side with the square tab at the bottom, angle and wiggle the new slider so that the edge of the zipper tape fits in perfectly. If you feel the need, employ the narrow tip screwdriver to get this done. 

Step 4

Once the edge of the tape is inside the slider as it should be, pull the tab up and down to see if the zip is working as it should and if the zipper’s teeth are interlocking without splitting. If the zipper is still splitting, you’ve likely selected the wrong-sized slider. That means you’ll have to find one that fits appropriately.

Step 5

If the zipper is working, use pliers to place the stops on top of the zip again. A zipper needs to have stops in both the top and the bottom to work as they ensure the slicer doesn’t pop free during laundry. 

Defective zipper pull solution

A zipper pull helps give you more leverage in sliding your zipper up and down. Pulls are either made of a metal or fabric loop and are attached directly to the slider. That’s precisely why operating a zipper without a pull is such a bother. A wonky pull is generally the result of missing top stops. Unlike the other solutions, you can tackle a broken pull in two ways:

  1. Replace the entire slider 
  2. Or swap the old pull with a temporary solution, such as a key ring or safety pin

Here’s how to do it:

Hand is using sewing machine sew zipper on jeans

Step 1

To replace the slider of your jeans, you’re going to have to open the zipper’s bottom. Inserting the slider from the top is impossible because you don’t zip your jeans shut from up to down. Start by cutting the stitches holding the placket layers together (turn the fabric to discover this) with a seam ripper

Step 2

Next, use the pliers to pull off the stops at the zipper’s end. Take your new slider and affix it to the zipper tape by making sure each side of the zipper goes into the slider the way it usually does. Because you’re working with the fabric turned over – remember to place the slider with its tab facing down instead of you. 

Step 3

Holding both sides of the zipper‘s bottom firmly, pull on the slider towards the top. Don’t do this step too quickly, or the slider will just come off the top again. Once near the top, push the tab to secure the slider in its place. 

Step 4

Place a stop against the last tooth of the zipper, insert it through to the back, and crimp the prongs to hold the stop secure.

Step 5

Next, add the top stops above the very first tooth of the zipper on either side to keep the slider on the tape from coming off. Crimp the stops in place with pliers and make sure they latch on tight. 

Step 6

Restitch the area you opened via the ripper with backstitches or a sewing machine. And, you’re done!

How to replace a zipper on jeans

If you’ve been waiting for instructions on how to sew or replace a zipper on jeans – don’t worry; we’ve got you covered in this section. Scroll down to discover how to affix a replacement zipper on your favourite pair of pants

Materials and tools for fix zipper on jeans

Step 1

Your favourite jeans, like most pants, will have topstitching – that’s exceedingly difficult to replicate. So it’s best to leave the areas with topstitching alone. And instead, work on the stitches holding the zipper in place with a ripper. You may also have to cut the tape of the zipper situated at the joining seams

Step 2

Even if you find an entire zipper that matches your old one perfectly, you’re going to have to trim it to the length required. To do so, place both the zips side-by-side (with the tops aligning) and mark the size the new zipper needs to be. 

Step 3

Next, bar tack the zipper at the mark you’ve just made with the zig-zag function on your machine. You may need to adjust the stitch length to keep the stitches free of the zipper’s teeth. Repeat the stitches until you’re sure there’s a strong stopping point for the pull. Once you’re done, trim off the excess tape right below the bar tack you’ve created. 

Step 4

To insert the zipper in place on the fabric, you’ll need to fold the top of the tape and pin it in place. Then proceed to stitch as close to the zipper’s bottom as you can manage with the stitching machine’s zipper foot in place to hold the zip tape steady.

Step 5

Arrange the waistband of the jeans properly to place the other side of the zipper in position. Repeat the folding process and pin the tape in place. 

Step 6

Start hand sewing the other side of the zip tape with an adequate needle. You can hide the thread knot underneath the fold. Also, ensure to stitch through only one fabric layer so that the stitches aren’t visible on the front of the jeans. Use backstitching for this step for a sturdy hold. 

Step 7

Create a bar tack at the zipper’s end for a strong anchor. Once you’re done with the tacking, zip up the tape using the pull to ensure everything is working like it should. 

Step 8

Say goodbye to broken or separated zipper woes. With your wonky old zipper gone, your jeans are ready to be worn with your favourite t-shirt!

Jeans in grey background

Our how-to-fix-a-broken zipper guide is at its end, and we’re hoping you’re much more confident about handling any kind of zipper problem on your own. The next time the zipper on your favourite pants gives you trouble, don’t think about throwing it away. Instead, refer to our guide, stock up on the required supplies, and get to work. You’ll have yours working the way it should in no time. 

 

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