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Shortening a Molded Separating Zipper

Sunshine | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

My new parka came with a one-way separating zipper, which I don’t like, especially when sitting in the car.  I prefer to unzip the bottom to give myself some room when sitting.  I bought a YKK Vislon ActiveWear 2-way separating zipper that is ~ 3 inches longer than the jacket can accomodate.  I will leave the bottom of the zipper as is, and thought I would shorten it from the top.  The present jacket zipper is folded over at the top and has metal teeth.  Should I do the same with this one, with its molded plastic teeth??? Or cut off the teeth at the top, leaving the zipper tape as wide as possible, and putting some Fray-Blok along the tape edge before folding it over??  It doesn’t look like I can move the top stops down to the new ends.   Any other ideas that will work better??? 

Thanks in advance!


  1. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #1

    You can stitch new stops at the top end by machine, or if you check the notions department, you can often find new stops in metal that you pinch onto zippers.  Just check them against the zipper size.  You can cut off the teeth above that and fray check or seal the tape before you fold it back.    Cathy

    1. sewslow67 | | #2

      I also have a two-way zipper on a winter jacket, but it got stuck the other day and I couldn't get out ...so I had to pull hard to open it up and the little zipper deal popped off ...and now it won't zip.  I've got the zipper "deal" (whatever it's called) but have no idea how to get it back on.  I tried to run it on the bottom, above the other zipper deal (that is smaller) but it won't go on.

      Any thoughts on how to fix it?  I really, really don't want to have to remove the broken one and install a new zipper on this jacket.  Ugh!

      1. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #3

        If I understand you correctly, the zipper pull came off?  The thingy that you pull up and down to open and close the zipper with?  And it was the one on the bottom, that opens the bottom of the zipper up?   

        You need to get the zipper all the way open, and the remaining zipper pull all the way to the bottom of the zipper in order to get this fixed.  As much of a pain as this is, you will have to wiggle the thing to the bottom.  Then you have to separate the slot of the pull gently with a screwdriver just enough to get it over the end of the zipper and back into place.  Remember that it will be upside down to the top one.  Then pinch it gently closed with a pair of pliers.  Do the same with the other side.  Do not force it too hard as the metal is very brittle.  It does not take much to ease the end of the slot apart enough to slip it back on the zipper.  Sometimes it is easier to slip it between two teeth of the zipper as they are smaller.  You just bend and twist the zipper to separate the teeth to slip the pull back on.  I hope this is clear enough.  Cathy

        1. sewslow67 | | #4

          Thank you, Cathy; yes, it was the zipper pull that came off, but I'm not sure which one it was, i.e. the bottom one or the tip one, i.e. the one that pulls up, or the one that opens from the top down (both seem to go both ways).  It was the larger one that came off, and I don't remember if that one was the very bottom one or the one on top of it.  Crumb!

          I've got a pair of needle nose pliers, so I'll use those to work on this thing.  What a mess.  I sure hope I don't have to reinstall the zipper.  I've mended DH stuff for months now, and would really like to concentrate on some new clothes for myself.  I sure do need them.  I worked for so many years, that most all of my clothes are "power dressing" suits, silk blouses etc.; nothing I'd want to wear around the house, and I'm tired of wearing the same jeans and turtlenecks.

          I want to make some pretty (washable) dresses, skirts, easy fitting pull-on pants (you know, those ones that look feminine) with some pretty ...and stylish tops.  And yes ...I'd like to make some new jewelry to go with everything.  I love making jewelry, too!  Anyway ...on to that bloody zipper.  I hope to get that fixed before noon

          1. krichmond | | #5


            Regarding your 2-way zipper.  The pull, or slider,  that fell off your jacket sounds like it was the bottom one.  The top slider looks like a regular zipper slider, but the bottom one is kid of boxy-looking. 

            Examine the bottom of the zipper tape (both sides) very carefully.  The insertions (I call them 'fingers' because they get poked into slots) look very similar, but one should have a tiny square of plastic at the bottom of it.  That little bit of plastic is all that keeps the sliders from falling off, so hopefully yours hasn't worn out or broken off.

            Remove the remaining slider by running it to the top of the zipper tape (you may have to remove a zipper stop - if it's plastic, you can gently 'crush' it off with pliers, or 'bite' it off with c-shaped pliers.  Just take care to not damage the tape.

            Insert the larger boxy slider (rounded edges down) onto the tape and run it all the way down.  If it falls off, your zipper finger stop is irreversibly damaged and you might be looking at (groan) replacing the zipper entirely.  If it stays in place nicely, insert the remaining slider (straight end down) until it meets the first slider at the bottom,  They should butt together quite nicely.  Insert the opposing zipper finger into the two sliders and check to see if the zipper zips.  Occasionally, the slider might get a little 'warped' from rough handling and refuse to zip smoothly.   If all seems to be fine, make a replacement zipper stop at the top by hand sewing a few stitches (or replace with a metal stop if you can find one in the right size - often they can be salvaged off metal zippers).

            I hope this helps, but if you have any questions, feel free to contact me.


            Best regards,


          2. sewslow67 | | #6

            What a terrific explanation; thank you!  I am up in the middle of the night because it was one of those rare times when I couldn't sleep, but I will try your recommendation when we return from our weekend trip (which will be in a couple of days).  In the meantime, thank you again for taking the time to share this information.  I hope I didn't damage it because, as you said, I would then have to replace it ...and yes ...groan!

            Edited 12/5/2008 4:17 am by sewslow67

          3. sewslow67 | | #8

            I'm just reporting back to tell you (and Cathy ...for sure) that I got it fixed.  Between the two of you, I finally "got it", and it is all fixed now.  I am so grateful that I don't have to install a new zipper, either.  The pull that came off was the top one, the one that closes the jacket, but I had to removed the bottom one before I could fix it.

            It works great again, so I just need to be careful not to get it off track again.  Thanks so much for your help and thanks to you, Cathy, as your explanation got me off on the right track as well.

          4. User avater
            Jacque9104 | | #10

            If worst comes to worst and you have to replace the zipper, consider this:  Carefully cut the teeth off the broken zipper, leaving as much of the tape as possible.  Stitch your new zipper to the old tape.  This means you would not have to open the seam and restitch it which might help if the fabric is heavy and thick or leather.  This will add a bit in the measurement around, but sometimes that's good!


          5. Ralphetta | | #11

            Hey!That's a great idea. I'll file that away in my brain.

          6. KharminJ | | #12

            Excellent suggestion, Jacque! It exactly solves a problem I've been trying to "phrase as a question" for youse-guys! My DH has a wonderfully warm (purr!) down coat with a two-way zipper that doesn't zip anymore, too. It's horribly worn and torn, and I've been patching on it for years, but didn't want to spring for the small fortune/massive aggravation to replace the zipper! (penny-wise and pound-foolish? maybe ...)"Outside the box" thinking comes through again! Thanks! Kharmin

          7. moira | | #13

            This is a smart idea! Often a zipper has gone in an old but comfy sweat top or suchlike, and it doesn't warrant the time it would take to rip out seams etc to replace. I'd a client recently who wasn't too happy that it had taken me an hour to do just this, even though I only billed her for half the hourly rate. I wish I'd had your idea before that!

            Edited 12/8/2008 4:54 pm ET by moira

          8. sewslow67 | | #14

            Wow ...this is brilliant; what a great idea.  For now, the fix is working great, but if it fails, I will try this.  And ...I will keep your idea in my idea file.  Thanks so much for sharing it with all of us.  I'm sure it will be used by many.

            Happy Sewing!

          9. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #9

            I like your fixit much better than mine!  wish I had thought of doing it that way.  Thank you!  Cathy

        2. sewslow67 | | #7

          As it turned out, it was the one at the top ...the one that closed the jacket from bottom to top.  Read on for an explanation ...

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