Before we look at shortening a zipper, let us look at zippers in general:

Zipper Terms

Coil Zipper -  A more flexible and smoother running than molded teeth zipper. Use #5 for jackets and smaller sizes   for other clothing. Use #10 for foul weather gear and heavy jackets. 4.5 or 5 for slip covers

Molded Teeth Zipper - Stronger and more abrasion resistant than coil zipper. However, molded teeth zipper is not as flexible as coil zipper. Use #5 for most clothing and slipcovers. Use #10 for boat canvas, sleeping bags and heavy jackets. 

Tooth Size - The distance across the teeth or coils measured in millimeters (mm). 

Continuous Zipper Tape - A length of zipper, either coil or tooth style, sold by the foot. Allows you to customize your own zippers. At least one end must be sewn closed. You cannot make a separating zipper with zipper tape.

Separating Zipper - Zippers that allow the two sides to come completely apart and easily place back together.      Used in jackets and robes. Larger sizes are used on sailcovers, bimini tops and enclosures. Available in both coil and molded teeth. See diagram below, right.














Two Way Separating Zipper - Has pulls top and bottom so you can open the zipper from either end. However, it only separates into two parts  at the bottom. Used in ski jackets and foul weather gear, to give you room for movement. 

Stamped Zipper - Metal Teeth clamped onto the tape. 

Zipper Pull - The slider on the zipper.

Single Pull - A pull with one handle.

Double Pull - A pull with two handles, one on each side. Used often on boat canvas or tents, so that the zipper can be opened/closed from either inside or outside.

Reversible Pull - A pull with one handle that slides to either side. Most often seen on reversible jackets.

Non Locking Pull - A pull that  slides easily and has no internal locking mechanism to hold it in place.  

Locking Pull -  A pull that has an internal locking mechanism to hold the pull in place. Most often seen on trousers.

Closed Bottom Zipper - A zipper that has one stop across the bottom and a stop on each side at the top.

Invisible Zipper - When sewn into a garment, it cannot be seen on the right side of the fabric. 

Shortening a Closed Bottom Zipper

To determine whether to shorten at the top or bottom of the zipper, depends on the location of the zipper, on the garment and the look you are trying to achieve.




Normally for a pants or skirt zipper that goes into a waistband, the zipper is shortened from the top. When it is shortened in this manner, you will not have a gap between the zipper and the waistline, giving you a nice finished look. The waistband becomes the top stops for the zipper. Be sure to bring the pull down past the cutting line towards the bottom stop, before cutting off the zipper, because the pull cannot be re-installed. See below.






For necklines and pockets, the zipper is normally shortened at the bottom leaving the upper stops intact to give you a professional finished look. Sew the zipper in place and bar tack across the zipper at the desired length and then cut off one inch below the bar tack. Be sure the zipper pull is above the bar tack. See diagram at Right.









Separating zippers are always shortened at the top - the opposite end from the separating mechanism. A new stop needs to be installed on both sides of the zipper tape. This can be accomplished by finishing the top of the zipper within a neck facing of a shirt or jacket, by wrapping fabric over the last few upper teeth of the zipper tape or crimping on a new stop.  You can backtack over the teeth (doesn't look real nice). Most of the time I try to bring the shortened tape into a facing or seam. This yields the most professional look.








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