Fixing a zipper when you’ve pulled off the pull

Have you ever gotten moving too quickly, or got distracted, and hastily zipped up a project zipper, only to realize your mistake as the pull came off in your hand? I have. In the past, I’ve just put the pull back on the top. But that means the pull is upside-down compared to how it was originally, and almost always ends up with an unfortunate gap right at the bottom. (My refashioned boots sadly suffer from this problem, zipping down instead of up and having a small inconsistency at the heel.) So how do you fix it? Easy. Throw it away and get another one!

…Just kidding, obviously. We don’t throw stuff away around here. We use stuff until it disintegrates.

What you really do is make the bottom of the zipper the new top, and vice versa. Just flip the whole zipper around and attach it that way.

But what if you need the zipper to open at the top? It can’t if it has that little metal (or plastic) piece holding it together, right? Easy again. Just take some pliers, gently remove the little piece, and re-attach it at the top (which will from now on be the bottom!)

Pictures make everything easier, so here’s the process on a salvaged jean fly zipper:

(Jeans, by the way, that I had in middle school. They were jeans, then shorts, then a skirt after the crotch ripped, then in the scrap pile until finally I stole the zipper and used the tattered remnants as a patch on a doll. We don’t throw stuff away around here.)

2013-03-24 16.16.03

Locate the metal/plastic brad at the bottom and remove with needlenose pliers. (Pretend the zipper pull isn’t already on there…)

This is what the brad looks like removed; two prongs on one side, one on the other.

This is what the brad looks like removed; two prongs on one side, one on the other. (Which I realize is hard to see from this picture, sorry!) DO NOT drop it, or it’s incredibly hard to find again. Ask me how I know.

Bend the prongs straight with the pliers

Bend the prongs straight with the pliers, and take a really blurry picture because you’re scared of dropping it again and just want to get it safely back on the zipper.

Carefully slide the zipper pull onto the edge you just removed the brad from, wider part first.

Carefully slide the zipper pull back onto the zipper, wider part first. You will see that it’s now upside-down (zipping the opposite direction it did before).

Press into the right side of the zipper, so the prongs stick through the back.

On the same edge you slipped the pull on, press the brad into the right side of the zipper, so the prongs stick through the back.

Re-bend the prongs with pliers so the brad doesn't pull free.

Re-bend the prongs with pliers so the brad doesn’t pull free. And you’re all done. Just be careful not to accidentally pull the zipper pull off the new top edge!

I hope these pictures help, and that you don’t panic when you accidentally “ruin” a zipper that way ever again.

What am I making? A plaid wool/poly skirt. Am I too old for a pleated plaid skirt? Well, I’m 23 and wouldn’t be caught dead in a short skirt in high school, when it was more age-appropriate. But now I can get away with making it shorter than I would for a teenager, so that’s a plus.

It was a pleasant surprise for myself, actually; I am posting from my parents’ house, where I found, neatly cut out and partially sewn together, all of the pieces of the plaid skirt except for the waistband and fly pieces. I have a bad/good habit of trying to tackle projects that are too ambitious for me, and sometimes that leads to half-cut projects carefully pinned together for my future self to complete.

P.S. I know it’s been quite a while since my last post about reevaluating some things. No refashion Fridays, even. My apologies! The interim has contained much-needed spring-break-style vacations, two new clients, losing one client, toilets backing up, multiple bikes failing, camera going missing, camera found and batteries going missing (today’s post is all tablet camera), realizing that it’s really hard to sew detailed things without owning an iron or a dress form, making multiple stupidly ugly garments, trying to figure out freelancing taxes, client meetings, getting stuck in writing, taking care of my sister recovering from tonsil surgery, making a friend who was killed later that night in a motorcyle accident and badly spraining my ankle. …I’m exhausted just reading that back to myself. I hope everyone will forgive me, and I’ll try to keep a little better to my (self-imposed and therefore arbitrary) scheduling. No promises, though.


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