how to: shorten a zipper

Don’t you hate it when you need a zipper and you don’t have the right size? Unfortunately, if all the zippers you have on hand are too short I’m afraid there’s no hope — but if you have a zipper that’s too long, there’s a really easy fix. Here’s how to shorten a zipper!

1. Take your too-long zipper and figure out what length you need it to be. Measure from Point A (the top of the zipper, where the pull stops), to Point B (the point at the bottom where your finished zipper seam will end). So – if your zipper seam will be 6″ long, you want the distance between Points A and B to be 6″. Go about 1″ past Point B and mark that spot with a pin.

2. Using a zig zag stitch that’s shorter than normal length (about .5-1mm), sew across the zipper tape at the point you marked with the pin, going right over the zipper. (Yes, you can sew across a zipper with your machine – no problem!) Backstitch and sew back over the seam once or twice, so that the seam is nice and solid.

Normally you’d use a thread color that matches your zipper, but I’m using a contrasting color here so you can see what’s what.

3. Cut the zipper tape about 1″ past the seam you sewed.

And that’s it! Your shorty zipper is done. The stitches will act as just like the original metal stopper did on the bottom of the zipper – you can’t zip past the stitches.

Gratuitous finger-pointing photo, just because I thought my nail polish was pretty cute with the colors in this shot.

To put your zipper into action, check out my video below and learn how to make a zippered throw pillow!

Sewing in a Straight Line by Brett Bara – How to Sew the Easiest Zippered Throw Pillow from Rarebit Productions on Vimeo.

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  • Jen

    I really like your blog! I wish I would have seen this yesterday. I decided to make a skirt, and it called for a 7 inch zipper but the store only had a 9 inch in the right color. I ended up making the opening big enough for the 9 inch, but now that I see how easy it is to shorten the zipper…oh well. I will try this next time! Thanks for sharing!

  • Shanley

    just broke two needles trying this method. I must be doing something wrong!! help!

  • Debbie

    Really a nice clear tutorial. You really did a nice job. I search the tutorial and I can’t under stand the color choices they use. The yellow thread on the red zipper was excellent. I’m disabled and even I know in real life sewing you use colors that match in your project, but when teach different colors are a useful tool. So again you did a really nice jobe with this . I hope I can find more of your tutorials. I need to insert a zipper in a purse I want to sew.

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