Replace a Coat or Jacket Zipper
There are so many ways to sew things and get great end results... Anyway - this is the technique my Home Ec teacher would have approved of for replacing a jacket zipper.
There are not a lot of steps, but it does involve a fair amount of time to complete this.
Remove the Old Zipper
- Get comfortable, the first step is going to take some time.
- (With two people working non-stop, except for when I stopped to snap this photo, this took two pairs of hands a full hour, so if you're working alone, expect it to take at least two hours.)
- Make sure you have good lighting and get out your seam ripper.
- Pick an end of the zipper, and also pick a side, and begin cutting every other thread that holds the zipper.
- The jacket in my images had a zipper held in by four rows of stitching, which is fairly common for a lined jacket or coat. (Those are my helper's hands, I got to be behind the camera for a few minutes.)
- Keep removing the stitches until the zipper is loose and you can see inside the lining of the jacket (as shown in the image.)
- Pick off ALL the loose thread ends - there will be a lot and they will probably be hard to get hold of to pull out of the zipper placket's fabric.
- If you can't get a grip on the thread ends, you can use tweezers to grab them and them out of the material.
|Cutting a single thread with seam ripper|
How to Install the New Coat or Jacket Zipper
- Position the new zipper in the open-out zipper placket.
- If you prefer to use pins, pin the zipper in place.
- Be aware that some types of fabric will show permanent pin holes if you use pins, so check before you stick pins in your coat.
- If you prefer to just jump in and start sewing, set your sewing machine to its longest stitch with thread in a color that contrasts the garment's fabric so it will be easy to see, and slowly baste the zipper into the placket.
|Sewing Machine Basting|
|Close-Up of Contrasting Basting Thread|
- Finish basting the zipper in place, then test the jacket's zipper to make sure it works properly and lines up correctly.
- If anything is a touch "off" - like the zipper not working smoothly or if it looks crooked - pull out the basting and set the zipper again.
- It can be a little bit of a hassle, but it is MUCH easier to remove basting stitches than regular stitches.
- If everything is good, pull out about three inches of basting stitches, set the machine up with the proper thread and set it to a normal stitch length, then sew about an inch, trying to hit the original stitching line closest to the zipper teeth, from the original zipper.
- Remove about three more inches of basting stitches, then sew about three inches.
- It's a little harder to remove the basting stitches with the jacket placed in the machine like this, but it is the fastest way to do this.
- Keep going three inches at a time until you have stitched the length of the zipper in place.
- Stitch the second row of top-stitching along the zipper, about 1/4-inch in, or on top of the original stitching line - if you can see the original stitch line.
- Repeat these steps on the other side of the zipper.
|Remove Basting Thread|
Trim off thread ends and test the zipper one more time to make sure it works properly, then give yourself a big pat on the back, because you just replaced a jacket or coat zipper the traditional way.
|Completed Jacket Zipper Replacement|
Are You Considering Starting a Sewing or Alteration Business?
Tips on Pricing Jacket Zipper Replacement
I mentioned the time involved a couple times in this article for a reason - if you enjoy sewing and are considering taking in alterations for a business, you are going to need to know how long things take so you can set your prices.
For example, if you are going to give someone a price on changing a jacket zipper, expect a minimum of $5 for the zipper cost (usually more) plus 2.5 hours at however much you want to make per hour - let's say $10 per hour or $25 labor, which is cheap for a skilled task like this - (remember, it's okay to charge what you are worth - if everyone could do this, they wouldn't bring their stuff to you - match your pricing to your skill level - if your skill level warrants more than $10 per hour, charge more) so anyway - when you add the zipper cost to the labor $5 + $25 = $30 - that's $30 you need to charge for this job if you want to make any money.
That might sounds like a lot of money for a jacket zipper replacement, since there are places you can buy a new coat for less than that, but it is ultimately up to the customer to decide if his or her jacket is worth the investment.