Learn the different types of zippers, how to measure a zipper properly, a useful tip for shortening a zipper, and what makes up a zipper.
There are all sorts of different kinds of zippers available to the home sewer which may make things tricky when deciding on what is suited best for what you are trying to achieve.
Different types of zippers:
Metal Zippers These are typically found on jeans. They have two lines of metal teeth (commonly nickel, brass or aluminium) that are moulded and placed at regular intervals on both sides of the tape.
Coil Zippers One of the most common zippers. Commonly still known as “nylon coil zippers” although most are now made from polyester. These are heat resistant, don’t rust and are very light.
Invisible Zippers Very common in skirts and dresses. The coil is found on the backside of the zipper and won’t show from the front of the garment. These are typically coil zippers with a teardrop pull.
Plastic Moulded Zippers Essentially the same as a metal zipper but the teeth are moulded from plastic.
Separating Zippers Also known as open-ended zippers and are typically found on sweatshirts and jackets. These zippers are able to come apart completely and use a box and pin mechanism.
The numbers that are found in a zipper’s title are referring to the width of the chain. If you have a #4 zipper, the chain will measure 4mm, a #6 will be 6mm and so on. This number is often located on the back of a zipper slider.
How do you measure a zipper? When you measure a zipper you start at the top stop and measure down to the bottom stop. If the zipper is open-ended, you measure from the top stop to the bottom of the retainer box. Any excess tape does not get counted when you measure a zipper.
There are multitudes of lengths that zippers can be purchased in, but sometimes you might find that you need to shorten a zip to get it just right or to make use of a long zip that you have lying around. A simple way to do this is by stitching over the coils a few times where you need the stop to be.
Cut off the end of the zipper at least one to two centimetres below the new stop that you stitched. A decent pair of scissors should cut through the nylon coil with ease.
One last tip, keep in mind the end use of your garment when selecting the right zipper, for example if you were replacing a zip on a pair of overalls that were going to be used by a welder in a workshop, a plastic zip would definitely not be suitable.
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