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.