#MenditMay: Replacing a jeans zipper

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So I have this pair of jeans.  I made them myself.  They have some fine features, such as flour bag pocket interiors and contrast pocket inserts (with leaves on them!) and a beautiful button.  They have their flaws, one of which is that even though I pre-shrunk the fabric, they shrank more after I made them.  But currently the defect that means they do not get worn is the fact that the zipper will not stay up.

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It only took ten minutes to rip the zipper out.  My mother used to call her seam ripper a ‘quickunpick’.  I think it might have been a brand reference that no longer has currency.  But it’s accurate!  All seams involving the zipper ripped out, top stitching out to release the fly facing, bar tacks out, the waistband ripped out to release the zipper and create some room for manoevre when the new one goes in.  I selected a zipper from the stash, a vintage blue zipper much longer than the one I removed.  It doesn’t matter, because you can just stitch to create a new zipper stop and then cut the unwanted zipper tape and teeth off (provided they are plastic and not metal–ouch). Next step: put a stout needle into your machine, preferably a jeans needle.  I forgot, and snapped the needle I had been using for finer fabrics part way through this process. A zipper foot will make this easier but is not essential.

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The first step is to stitch the zipper face down onto the fly facing but not the jeans front.  The fly facing is attached to the front opening.  You need to stitch the zipper to the facing and NOT to the jeans front.  Here you can see I have pinned the zipper in position: tacking first is another option.  I have chosen my stitching line using the marks left from the previous stitches.

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Here, you see that seam and the new zipper stop stitched across the end of the zipper!

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The next step is to sew the zipper to the other side of the pants opening, with the fly shield (a whole separate piece of fabric that sits between the zipper and your body) pinned out of the way.  Check that everything lies flat before you stitch.  A zipper foot is your friend, if you are equipped with one!

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Once that’s done, you can align the fly shield, pin or tack it in position and stitch over that seam again with the fly shield included in the seam.  In the picture above, both steps are complete, and you can see the fly shield extending past the left half of the zipper towards centre front and the zipper stitched to the fly facing on the right.  I have tucked the ends of the zipper and the raw edges of the jeans fronts up into the waistband and re stitched them too.

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Now it is time to get that fly shield out of the way and top stitch that line you can see to the right of the foot in the image above.  I followed the previous stitching line this time, but usually I draw the curve on a sticker, cut it out and stick it in position, then top stitch with the zipper foot just outside the edge, a trick from a pattern or book I have used at some stage.  Finally, flip the fly shield into the position it would be in when the jeans are in use, and bar tack at the base of the zipper near the mid seam and then over on the right to hold the fly shield in place in its intended final position.  If in doubt, consult a commercial pair of jeans and decide where to bar tack. When I say ‘bar tack’, I do what I’d do if I was sewing on a button with the machine,  zig zag on the spot a few stitches.

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Yeah, I know.  They look just the same.  But now the zip will stay up, and both of us know this is a big difference! What are you doing in #MenditMay?




Filed under Sewing

10 responses to “#MenditMay: Replacing a jeans zipper

  1. I am bowing to your effort. Maybe i should tackle the zip in the ‘as new’ 3/4 length jeans I got at the op shop, because, the zip won’t stay up!


    • To be honest, Leonie, I was surprised to find this job less difficult than I had assumed (it has had a long wait). I am sure that making a pair of pants recently helped me. A zipper that won’t stay up really is a serious problem, no matter where the pants come from! There are things I prefer not to share in public…. and this is the fix that will mean you really will get to wear those duds. Power to your needles!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So far, I’m just wearing a longer t-shirt LOL
    But might have to think about repairing mine.


  3. My mother called her seam ripper a quickunpick too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Susan

    I cannot believe all your hidden talents! Seriously! I have to get David Coffins Trousers book for men and women to get my hand held 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is so kind of you, but really… you could reverse engineer this for yourself. Or use any sewing pattern that has a fly facing in the pattern. DPC is not a beginner kind of work. You might prefer Sandra Betzina or one of the other very down to earth authors who put more emphasis on doing the job efficiently and well, and a bit less on what sets couture apart from ready to wear (DPC). DPC will offer multiple ways to tackle the same issue though, so if that appeals to you by all means buy his book!


  5. Susan

    You are right fo course! I do have his shirt book and of course I always go for the most difficult……….like how to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear……


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