Friday, November 19, 2010

Replacing a Zipper in a coat/jacket

Here you can see a perfectly good jacket. The problem is, the zipper is broken! Replacing a zipper is really not difficult, but it is tedious and takes considerable time. If your coat/jacket is nice, and/or you love it, it is more than worth the trouble to replace the zipper.

Here is the zipper I ordered over the internet here. This company is wonderful. They have everything and excellent customer service!

A closer look at the invoice:

The zipper I purchased cost $6.03 including the shipping, and so for a nice coat, you can see that this would really be worthwhile.

Now, don't be afraid. Breath. Relax. Here we go.

FIRST ~ set your sewing machine to its longest stitch length. Sew a line of stitching along the jacket opening, far enough in from the edge that you do NOT catch in the existing zipper. This is to hold everything together nicely and make the reassembly easier. Do this on both sides of the jacket.

Here I am doing the same thing on the other side:

SECOND ~ take your little seam ripper and do (carefully and don't stab yourself) whatever it takes to remove the broken zipper:

Here I've gone a little farther in the process:

Here I am removing some stitching from the surface:

And here is what it looks like with the zipper removed. Now you will see the wisdom of doing that basting line of stitches so the jacket doesn't blow up and get all weird.

THIRD ~ carefully remove all the bits of loose thread:

FOURTH ~ Thread a sturdy hand sewing needle with a doubled thread and run it through some beeswax so it will be less likely to tangle while you are sewing. Rosin will work instead of the beeswax, too, or if you have neither, find a piece of candle or even hand soap to use!

FIFTH ~ I hope you took the time to observe how the old zipper was positioned. You are going to unzip the new zipper, and one side at a time, you will put the new zipper in, and pin it in place and then hand baste it in place:

See? Here is one side basted together:

And here is the other side:

Oh, yes, and it is very helpful to have a fuzzy cat walking around under your work table at this point:

SIXTH ~ Before you sew the zipper in with your machine, zip up the jacket to make sure it is going to work!

SEVENTH ~ Now, simply, using a normal stitch length, sew along the same line where the old zipper was sewn in like this:

Make sure to replace any seams or stitching you have removed:

Be sure to remove any basting stitches. On this one, there was the nice little tab on the old zipper, so I just transferred it to the new one:

That's all you need to do! Even if it doesn't turn out perfectly, it is better than throwing away a perfectly good coat.

Please feel free to ask questions if I can help.


  1. You did a good job, thanks for the tutorial.

  2. I had to do this a few days before you posted this. (I knew I should have asked you how!) I ended up cutting off the old zipper & just sewing the new one on behind it. I guess it worked. Coat was the same color, too, lol.

  3. Monica, I've done it that way for a zipped sweatshirt before. If the zipper is not between layers of fabric, sometimes that is the best approach. :)

  4. I see. Yes, yes. By removing the defective zipper, then, replacing it with a new like, kind and quality zipper, the garment could be worn again as the manufacturer intended.

    Excellent notion, Mumzy. I will thank you for not criticizing my run-on sentence.

  5. YAY! So glad I found this! I have a coat with a broken zipper, but one of my lovely spawn walked off with my machine's zipper foot - now I know I can fix it without one! Thank you!!

  6. That's wonderful and you're welcome!

  7. Thank you so much for posting the site where you brought the zippers. I live in NY.. so I am going to visit the store Tomorrow. I was just about to throw out my $110 Jacket.. Thanks Once again

  8. How wonderful! Good luck to you. It is very disappointing when the zipper fails on a perfectly good garment. Let me know how it turns out!

  9. This will save me from buying several new coats for my children this year. Just in time too, as we've had our first snowfall this week!

  10. I'm so glad for you, Sal-my-gal!

  11. THANK YOU so much for this tutorial! I'm very much a do-it-yourself-er, but my friend had told me how terribly hard it was to replace a separating zipper. I kept looking at my son's broken zipper and thinking it didn't look TOO bad - and then I found your tutorial. I just finished putting in his new zipper - it works perfectly, thanks to you!!! I'm going to blog about this and link back to you just as soon as I take some photos (and maybe wash the coat first - ahem).

    Just one question: I did the basting just as you recommended, but I'm wondering if I could pin the zipper in? I must not be a very steady/good baster, because at one point, I had to snip the basting to readjust the zipper when I was sewing. It all came out beautifully and working perfectly.

  12. I'm so glad it worked out! Actually, I think your idea of using safety pins is brilliant! That would save So Much Time. There might be applications where it wouldn't work so well, i.e. where the basting would need to be very close to where you sew, and the pins might get in the way. Thank you for sharing!

    1. I am replacing a zipper in a marching band raincoat. I have tried multiple times to install, but the zipper keeps bunching up. Any suggestions?

    2. I guess I never answered your question. I am wondering if the problem was the nature of the fabric of the raincoat. I've never run into that problem. Were you ever able to work it out?

  13. This is so much more than i needed!!! but will all come in use thanks!!I am a china tour lover,You can learn more: luxury China tours | China tour operator | Tibet Travel

  14. Love the fuzzy cat!

  15. I really wish I would l have found your zipper tutorial before I removed the old zipper from the jacket I am working on. I'm having a hard time sandwiching the new zipper in between the inner lining and outer fabric. Thank you so much for sharing your zipper knowledge!

    1. I'm so glad this is helpful. That IS too bad that you didn't find this sooner. I learned to do this the hard way, and I gather you did you! I hope your zipper turns out alright. Thank you for commenting. :)


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