Replace Zipper in Your Favorite Jeans
To replace a zipper in a pair of jeans looks very challenging. If you take it step by step, though, you will get the hang of it. It will definitely take a little practice. The directions are involved and since the steps are numerous, I have divided them into four separate charts:
A Note About Terms I've Used ...
- Ripping Out the Old Zipper
- Installing New Zipper Left
- Installing New Zipper Right
- Topstitching Jeans
I've made some assumptions in labeling the different parts of the zipper area.
First of all, the flap that is between the zipper tape and the front fabric of the jeans is the fly extension. I assume the pants you are sewing have the fly extension located on the left side, as you're wearing them. We'll call that the top zipper half. It has the buttonhole
The other part will then be called the bottom zipper half. It is on the right side. It has the button
sewn at the waistband.
One last note. If your zipper size is not available, buy the zipper longer than you need. I'll show you how to make it fit!
Here's What You'll Need ...
|Scissors||Zipper Foot||Jean Thread||Heavy Duty Jean Zipper|
Chart One: Rip Out the Broken Zipper
|STEP ONE: OBSERVEAs always, check out the zipper and how it has been inserted in your garment. Take some digital pictures so you have something to refer back to. Begin by removing the stitches that attach the waistband to the pants.|
Rip out about 3"of stitching where the waistband meets the pants. You'll remove all the stitches along that fly extension that holds the zipper in place.
|STEP THREERip out the remaining topstitching that connects that fly extension to the jeans front. If you turn the jeans right side out, you'll see it is the double row of topstitching, including two bar tacks.|
|STEP FOURUse caution around the bar tacks that you have to remove. Turn the jeans inside out and remove the stitches from the inside if you need to. Then pick the loose threads from the front.|
The inside of the jeans should now look like this. The topstitching is gone and the waistband is separated from the pants front
|STEP SIXRemove the stitches where the bottom zipper is attached to the jeans. There is only one line of stitching here, unless the under side is serged. If so, remove the serging too. The zipper is now free.|
Chart Two: Replace Zipper Right
|STEP SEVENLine up the base of the zipper with the bottom of the opening. You may have to cut part of the zipper tape, as I have here. Pin in place through top, zipper and extension that is underneath.|
Sometimes you can see, on the extension,the ridges left by the previous zipper. Try to line up the teeth of the new zipper with these indentations.
|STEP NINE:Align zipper from beginning of opening to waistband. It is sandwiched between the extension on the bottom and the jean front on the top. Estimate where you will have to cut, if necessary.|
Cut the zipper so that a little bit of it will slip under the waistband opening. Use regular scissors, but be careful to cut between the teeth.
Here is a close up of the newly shortened zipper. I've left about 3/4" extra to be hidden in the waistband.
|STEP TWELVE:Stick the excess zipper in between the waistband layers. Adjust the zipper so that only the teeth are peeking out from the pants front. Check that the extension is flat and smoothed into place. Pin.|
|STEP THIRTEEN:Since the machine is going from waistband to crotch, be certain that the area is lying flat. Otherwise, you'll get a bubble at the end. Use as many pins as necessary to secure.|
|STEP FOURTEEN:Here is what it looks like on the inside of the jeans. The stitching on the extension may look a little off line, but it is fine, as long as the right side looks good.|
Here is the right side after stitching
|STEP SIXTEEN:Now stitch the waistband back into place. Using the zipper foot, put your needle in the left position and stitch in the line left by the old seam. Use care going over the zipper teeth. You may have to walk your machine over this area using the hand wheel.|
Here is the finished right side. Clip the threads close to the seam.
Chart Three: Replace Zipper Left
Chart Four: Topstitching
|STEP THIRTY ONE:Once the extension and the zipper is flat and aligned properly, you can topstitch the waistband seam. Again, be careful when your needle sews over the teeth. You may need to walk it along using your hand wheel.|
|STEP THIRTY TWO:Here you see the inside ot the waistband. This shows that I had to walk my machine over that zipper tooth, making a slightly longer stitch. It is hardly noticeable.|
|STEP THIRTY THREE:|
Here is the outside of the waistband. See how that bigger stitch doesn't really show?
|STEP THIRTY FOUR:With zipper open and sewing through all thicknesses, stitch a line of topstitching parallel to the opening, ending at the waistband. Do this agian, a scant ¼" from the first line.|
|STEP THIRTY FIVE:Close the zipper. Examine the jeans for the mark left behind when you removed the original stitches. Stitch this curve twice. Join your stitches when they reach the two straight lines. Backstitch here.|
|STEP THIRTY SIX:Now add your bar tacks. One goes at the base of the zipper opening. The other goes here, where your two lines of stitches met. Use a medium zigzag with stitches very close together.|
|STEP THIRTY SEVEN:Here is what the finished bottom should look like. Your curved stitches might not be right in the same spot as those you have removed. Don't worry if they are not exact.|
|STEP THIRTY EIGHT:|
Here is the finished product! The two rows of stitches should be evenly spaced, bartacks are clean and uniform and everything lies flat.
|STEP THIRTY NINE:|
And this is the inside of the crotch area. The extensions are also flat. The zipper is quite secure.
Whew. That is a very involved set of instructions. Steps 21,22 and 23 are confusing, I'll admit. But I promise once you get the hang of it, replacing a zipper will take you much less time than it did for me to write these directions! Depending on the time it take to rip out the old one, I can usually do this alteration in less than 30 minutes.
So give it a try. You can't really mess it up. The worst you can do is sew the opening shut. Then what? Just rip it out and start over.
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