Zipper Repair

I have a windbreaker that I bought a few years ago at Sears. The zipper had problems fairly early on, getting stuck so badly one time that I broke the pull tab off and had to replace the ring that held it on with a piece I cut off of a safety pin. That held for a while, but lately it has been hard to get aligned correctly and when I tried to zip the jacket, the teeth didn’t engage and the zipper would get stuck. Last Friday no matter how often I tried to get it to be aligned correctly, the jacket just wouldn’t zip.

It is kind of late in the season to find a new jacket. I hoped there was some way I could repair the zipper, but I didn’t look into it until Sunday evening. I found an about.com article saying how easy it is to replace the slider. They said the slider should have a number on the back of it indicating the size (I looked on the back of mine it said YBS 5, so I figured it was a size 5). Then all you have to do is go to a fabric store and find another slider the same size and, if they don’t have the right color, choose one a little darker. Then you remove the zipper stop at the top of the zipper you have, which is just a bent piece of metal that clamps onto the cloth of the zipper. I was able to pry off the stop pretty easily and slide the old slider right off the top end. Maybe this really would be simple!

So Monday night I went to a fabric store and asked about zipper parts. They showed me a wall of different parts, but only a few were zipper parts. They had some individual sliders for $1.79 but they were the wrong size. Then they had a collection of at least 10 different size slides in a “zipper repair kit” and I could see a couple that looked like the right size and color, but the kit was $14.99. They said maybe it would be easier just to have a seamstress take off the old zipper and sew in a new one, but I was thinking there is no way anyone would do that for less than $14.99. But an alteration shop might have loose sliders they could sell to me pretty cheaply.

I thought this is the perfect kind of cheap thing I should be able to get from China, shipped directly to me, like some of the different flashlight and electronics I have been ordering lately. I started doing research online and didn’t find any place like that. Wikipedia says the first zipper was manufactured in 1913 and the largest zipper factory in the world is owned by the Japanese company YKK and located in Macon, Georgia, with 900 employees. I did find that it is important not just to get the right size but to find out if the zipper has teeth or coils. Mine has teeth. One place had a number 5 slider for only 79 cents, but when I put it in my cart, they wanted $4.50 in shipping. I didn’t want that. I checked some other jackets I had, but some of them had plastic zippers with a top stop fused into place. I don’t know if you could easily replace that kind of slider.

So the next night I went to Walmart to see if they had parts. They had an awful lot of kinds of buttons, but no zipper parts. However they did sell entire zippers, including one for jackets that also had a number 5 on the back of the slider. The whole zipper was $2.79, so I got it. It is shiny gold instead of a dark metal color like my original. And I couldn’t pry those zipper stops off of the replacement for anything, so I just cut the zipper in between two of the teeth to get the slider off (I didn’t need that zipper anyway). It slid right onto my jacket’s zipper. I slid it all the way to the bottom, lined up the bottom insertion pin in to the retainer box (Wikipedia terms) and it zipped up easier than it ever has before. Done!

5 thoughts on “Zipper Repair

  1. Thanks! I came across your article when I was looking up zipper repair kits…I don’t know how long it would have taken me to think of buying a cheap zipper to get the slider! My little nieces jacket will now last until she outgrows it!

  2. I’m sure you are the only person in the world who would go to that much trouble to replace a zipper part. Good heavens! But, it seems you have made a new friend. How did she see your blog?

  3. You’d be surprised how many people search for zipper repairs and find this page. In fact “zipper” is the top word people use in search engines to find this blog.

    I’m glad people find it useful.

  4. I just checked the logs and variations of phrases with the word zipper repair rank really high coming to Mac5. Flashlight models, barbie, and rat trap racer are also up there.

  5. Here’s another idea. I bought one of those $14.95 packs of assorted zipper pulls. A retainer box means the zipper only opens and closes one way each. Try putting a similar pull upside down over the bottom end of the zipper. If it is difficult then force it. If not then install it and put a stop of some kind at the end so it doesn’t come off… i.e. build up of thread, rivet, etc. If this works you then have a zipper that opens and closes from either direction. It worked on a camo coat I have. I forced the pull on upside down with a pair of needle nose pliers. Now it opens from top or bottom. Nothing ventured nothing gained.

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