|All About Zippers
These are the little metal, plastic, or nylon pieces that come together to form the chain when
the zipper is zipped (for more on zipper teeth, see further down).
This is what forms when the zipper teeth are joined.
This is the y-shaped channel that runs up and down the length of the zipper. It’s what joins or
disengages the teeth. The slider has a way of locking itself to stay in place.
The pull tab
This is the tiny handle that’s used to move the slider up and down the length of the zipper.
Present at both ends of a zipper, these are pieces that block the slider from slipping off the end
of the zipper.
The Insertion pin
Present on a separating zipper, it’s the end piece that’s inserted into a retaining box to join the
two sides of the zipper together.
The Retaining box
This is a type of zipper stop on a separating zipper. The retaining box receives an insertion pin to
join the two sides of the zipper together so it can be zipped.
Zipper teeth materials
Individual pieces of metal, such as brass, nickel, or aluminum, make up the teeth of this zipper.
This creates a strong zipper that’s often used in jeans and work clothes. The drawback to
metal is that it can corrode.
Individual pieces of molded plastic make up the teeth of this zipper. Plastic zippers are also
strong and durable.
A continuous coil of nylon or polyester make up the “teeth” of this zipper. Each coil loop acts as
a “tooth.” It’s more flexible than metal or plastic zippers, making it a good choice for curved
areas. Coil zippers are generally lighter in weight than metal teeth zippers, are smoother, are
“self-fixing,” and don’t jam.
Basic Zipper types
This type of zipper is closed at one end. It’s usually sewn into an area that’s covered by a
placket so the zipper won’t show.
This type of zipper is also closed at one end. However, the zipper teeth are located behind the
tape so they won’t show when sewn into a seam. This kind of zipper is often used in dresses
This type of zipper is sewn into seams that will open completely, such as the front of a jacket.
The two sides of the zipper separate completely when unzipped.
Choosing a zipper
The smaller the number, the smaller the teeth.
Zippers are also available in many lengths. The length of a zipper will be indicated on its
package. Zippers can also be purchased by the yard, allowing you to make your own custom
When choosing a zipper, choose a color that matches or compliments your fabric. Also consider
the weight of your fabric and how durable your zipper needs to be. The back of your pattern
will indicate the zipper length you need. But when in doubt, purchase a zipper longer than you
think you'll need. You can always shorten the zipper before sewing it into your item (see below).
How to Shorten a zipper
create a new stop by sewing a bar tack across the teeth of the zipper where you want the
slider to stop. Cut the zipper off about a half an inch below this bar tack.
If the zipper is to be placed into a garment with a waistband, it can be shortened from the top.
Sew the zipper in as you normally would. The waistband will automatically create the new stop.
All you have to do is cut off the extra tape. Just make sure to unzip the zipper first so the slider
is below your cutting line.
Preshrink your zipper prior to sewing. Either machine-wash and dry it, placing it in a lingerie
bag so it won’t get lost, or submerge it in warm water for a few minutes and let it air-dry.
Use a zipper foot to sew in zipper. The design of this pressure foot will allow you to sew close to
the zipper teeth.
To reduce wear and tear on a zipper, close all zippers in your garments and bags before
|We love zippers because they provide a fast,
strong, and smooth closure for our garments and
bags. We can position them to be virtually
invisible or install bold, decorative ones meant to
be noticed. Zippers come in a variety of types,
colors, and lengths to suit every purpose.
The parts of a zipper
This is the woven fabric part of the zipper
that holds the zipper teeth. It’s what’s
stitched into a seam to anchor the zipper in