Guide to Zippers

on September 23 | in Sewing + Quilting Tips, Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 38 Comments

Jennie from Zip It Zipper Supply understands zippers and offers an amazing variety of zippers in her shop. Today she shares information so you can choose the very best zipper for your project. Jennie covers different types of zippers, how to properly measure a zipper, the parts of a zipper, an easy way to shorten a zipper and some helpful zipper tips.

From Jennie: There are so many different types of zippers out there it may be a little difficult to decide which zippers will work best for your projects. Here is a little bit of information on the different types of zippers, how to properly measure a zipper, the parts of a zipper, and an easy way to shorten a zipper.

Zipper Types:

Coil Zippers are the most common type of zippers. They used to be made from nylon and are still commonly referred to as nylon coil zippers even though now they are typically made from polyester. Coil zippers are lightweight, heat resistant, and rustproof.

Invisible Zippers are most often used in dresses and skirts. The coil on an invisible zipper is located on the back side of the zipper and will not be visible from the front of a garment after the zipper has been installed. Invisible zippers are usually coil zippers with a tear drop pull.

Separating Zippers are designed so the two sides of the tape are able to come apart completely after the zipper has been installed. Separating zippers use a box and pin mechanism. They are most commonly found on coats and sweatshirts. They are also called open-ended zippers.

Metal Zippers have two lines of metal teeth that have been molded and placed on either side of the tape at regular intervals. The teeth can be made from aluminum, nickel, or brass. They are most commonly found on jeans.

Plastic Molded Zippers are the same as metal zippers except the teeth have been molded out of plastic.

There are three major parts to every zipper. The tape, the slider, and the teeth. When the two sides of teeth are joined it creates the chain. Separating zippers also have a retainer box, insertion pin, and reinforcement film.

How to Measure a Zipper:
Zippers are measured from metal to metal. When measuring a closed bottom zipper start at the top stop and measure down to the bottom stop. When measuring a separating zipper measure from the top stop to the bottom of the retainer box. The extra tape is not counted when measuring a zipper.

The zipper in the picture is a closed bottom coil zipper. Notice how it is considered a 6 inch zipper even though the entire piece measures 7 1/2 inches.

The numbers in a zipper’s title refer to the width of the chain. For example a #3 zipper will have a chain that measures 3mm and a #5 zipper’s chain will measure 5mm. If you look closely at the back of a zipper slider you should be able to see this number.

Zippers come in a variety of lengths but there still may be times when you would like to shorten a zipper. An easy way to do this is by stitching over the coils a few times where you want the new stop to be.

Cut off the end of the zipper approximately 1/2″ -1″ below your newly sewn stop. Any regular scissors will cut through the nylon coil easily. Whether you shorten the zipper from the top or from the bottom will depend on what the zipper is being sewn into. When sewing a zipper into the waistband of pants or a skirt zippers should be shortened from the top. Shorten from the bottom for pockets and necklines.

A Few Tips on Zipper Care:

  • Always launder with the zipper closed.
  • When ironing be sure to cover zipper with fabric. Also be sure to have the zipper closed and the slider fixed in place.
  • Use a little liquid soap to help free a stuck zipper.

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38 Responses to Guide to Zippers

  1. Stace says:

    Such an informative tutorial! I’ve ordered from your shop in the past and love it. 🙂

  2. Keyka says:

    Wow, I love this post! Thank you for all the great info on zippers.

  3. Thank you for because of this spectacular post. i am invariably near to the show up out for content material and was fortunate to uncover you on yahoo i am going to absolutely be back nonetheless again againg to establish what other spectacular content material you post.

  4. Karrie says:

    Wow, I learned a lot! Thanks for the walkthrough!!

  5. Wow! I’ve never really given much thought to my zippers, but this is super helpful!

  6. Katie says:

    Hello, I’m looking for double sided zippers. Where is a good place to purchase them? Thanks! 🙂

  7. Mary says:

    Jennie is great. I have ordered from her multiple times!

  8. Runa says:

    Have just started making projects with zips and this is so helpful. Thanks so much for this tute!

  9. Rochelle says:

    Thank you Thank you!! I need all the zipper help that I can get!!

  10. margie says:

    thank you so much. So helpful!

  11. I’m starting to gain confidence with zippers! Thanks for the info.

    I’d like a tutorial on inserting and invisible zip on a pillow.

  12. Sara says:

    Thank you for all the information! Now I know what the zipper numbers are all about. Anybody know of a tutorial out there explaining how to shorten a zipper from the top for say a pant fly? It is probably very obvious but I just can’t seem to visualize it. Thanks!

  13. Trina says:

    Lovely! I always need zippers for my projects, will need to check out your shop. Great info, beautifully presented.

  14. Christine says:

    Thanks for the great tutorial.

  15. katieska says:

    Good info! And good source for loads o zippers — I’ll never buy single, overpriced zips at my local store again. Would much rather give my business to her than to the morose, unhelpful and unfriendly folk at the store (sorry to say).

  16. shannon says:

    What a great and helpful post! Zippers often seem so daunting. Would love a follow-up to this–maybe tutorials–on how to insert these different types of zippers and on different types of projects! 🙂

    Thank you for the great information!

  17. I’d sure love this much detail as far as inserting a zipper goes! I’ve done it once and was less than thrilled with the resulting mess I made. Thanks for all the other (much appreciated) info!

  18. Anna says:

    My absolute favorite zipper friend! 🙂

  19. Julie says:

    I’ve been meaning to try sewing with a zipper for a while, and have recently come across a couple of cute zippered pouches to start on. Was still hesitant to give it a try until this. I get it! Thanks for the details & demystification of zippers!! Zippered pouches, here I come. 🙂

  20. Great info. Thanks for sharing this.

  21. alisha says:

    Great info! And I love the colorful zippers!

  22. Valerie says:

    Fun post!

  23. Rebecca says:

    Love the rainbow of zippers in the pics!

  24. Marcia W. says:

    Thanks for the to-the-point article.

  25. Mary Margaret says:

    Helpful and concise! Thank you!

  26. Sally says:

    Fantastic post!

  27. Agnes S. says:

    Thanks for the quick and informative info!

  28. Kiki says:

    Thank you so much for sharing all of the zipper information! Great stuff!

  29. Kristin says:

    So helpful…I am feeling the need for my own rainbow of zippers!

  30. Anita says:

    Thank you for a great and informative post.

  31. Sade says:

    A very informative post.

  32. starjumper says:

    i <3 zipit zippers! i have a whole box at home of a rainbow of different sizes and colors!

  33. Thanks – this is good info. And, I love the rainbow pictures!

  34. Elizabeth says:

    Wow! I don’t really use a lot of zippers in my sewing but this was a great article. Now that I know more about them, I’m tempted to try some zipper projects!

  35. this was a great walk through on zippers!

  36. Mary says:

    Awesome article Jennie! Thanks for the great info!

  37. molly says:

    I love her shop! Great selection; amazing prices; fantastic service.

  38. upstatelisa says:

    A lot of info! I would like to know how to sew in zippers that open both ways.

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