Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Customizing zipper length

Both my parents were related to fabrics before they retired. My father was a machine knitter (no, he didn't knit for pleasure, if you ask; and he used huge industrial knitting machine which he had to operate standing.) and my mother was a seamstress of tailor-made trousers. I always think if I had more younger siblings and if I were not good with my studies, I would have picked up my mother's skills and become a seamstress myself. I didn't, but I had been around fabrics-related tools and stuff enough to know a thing or two. Like customizing the length of a zipper. Actually, I was so sure I could do it myself that the idea of ordering a customized length zipper didn't even cross my mind. I just chose the length longer but closest to what I need. Then I discovered I had a problem last night.

What happened was I ordered a molded plastic zipper. What's wrong with that? With plastic zipper teeth, they are extremely difficult to detach from the zipper without breaking. What is more important is the top stoppers, which I need to reattach to a new position. I thought I was doomed when I suddenly caught sight of an old handbag which I am not using anymore. It has been hanging around for ages and I always think I would throw it away next time I do spring cleaning. I felt so grateful to my being a packrat at that point ... I need the zipper from that old bag:


Sure you can buy these top stoppers, but you have to order at least 25! So, you need a little tool called long nose plier to get them out of the old zipper. Remember you have to be really gentle in handling these metal stoppers, otherwise, you would break them. Then, mark the desired length on your new zipper and pluck the teeth out of the way using the plier (having strong arms certainly helps here!), making space for the top stoppers, which you gently fasten them to position:


When both sides of the zippers are adjusted to the desired new length, you just cut along the dotted lines and you have a customized length zipper:


So lesson learned this time: Don't throw away old zippers, especially metal ones.

11 comments:

Kaitie Tee said...

Thanks for the zipper tips! I'll have to keep this in mind when I put a zipper in my Ribby Cardi.

erin said...

The last time I was putting a zipper into my son's cardigan, I was wondering what to do if the zipper length was not exactly right. In the end, I bought a slightly shorter length so that it does not zip all the way up, if need be. I thought that was better than having a zipper that was too long. It is quite difficult to find separating zippers in shops here.

Laura.Y said...

wow, so many things since the last I was free to busybody..:) Cute brooch, love Ella too. Can't wait to see the jacket all done. Thanks for the zipper tut, interesting. I didn't know there were so many varieties out there.

joy said...

I don't know why you were nervous about it in the first place. You were born with silver pliers in your mouth. A natural with the zipper, you are! Excellent job!

candsmom said...

Happy New Year, Agnes! I had no idea that so much was involved with installing or customizing a zipper. I was already intimidated about the idea of knitting anything with a zipper, but now I'm REALLY scared of it! Thanks for the great tutorial and the heads-up on plastic zippers. I always learn so much from your blog! Take care and I'll be back soon to catch up with all the posts I've missed. :-)

katie said...

Impressive! I am halfway through the first ball of yarn on a sweater that will need a zipper, and I am already getting a bit nervous about putting it in. :)

Debi said...

Thanks for the great tutorial Agnes! But for me, I'll stick with custom zips from zipperstop.com :)

I can't wait to see your FO, I love that sweater!!

Mimi said...

I have no clues about zippers that I even forgot the lenght issue. Nice of you to share your knowledge with us!

dianne said...

beautiful sweater, as always:) thanks for zipper tips.

Lolly said...

Great post, Agnes- so helpful! I need to remember this! ;)

Peggy said...

Using something old to make something new... it's awesome!