Learn how easy it is to shorten a zipper in this beginner friendly sewing tutorial from Hooked on Sewing!
Have you ever found yourself sewing a project or following a pattern that requires a zipper, only to find your zipper is too long? Well, if you haven’t experienced that yet, trust me, there will come a day!
I actually buy my nylon zippers in longer lengths than required by a pattern because I know I’m going to shorten the zipper anyway or maybe add some zipper tabs. Plus, I’d rather have a “longer than needed” zipper on hand than one that is too short!
Why do I have or buy long zippers? Because I buy them when they are on sale. In fact, I recently bought zippers on sale for $0.99 each. They were $0.99 whether I bought a 10″ or 22″ zipper, so I opted for the longest size in each color I bought.
When to Use a Shortened Zipper
I use shortened zippers a lot when I am sewing pouches, bags, pillow covers, purses, and more.
You can use a shortened zipper in any sewing project or pattern EXCEPT for when the pattern calls for a separating zipper or a metal zipper.
In fact, it’s really helpful to purchase a separating zipper at the size stated in the pattern. You can shorten separating zippers, but you shorten them from the top and not the bottom – just the opposite of shortening a nylon zipper.
Then for zippers with metal teeth, they are more difficult to shorten because you actually have to remove zipper teeth. But, we will cover both of these in a separate tutorial.
How to Use a Shortened Zipper
You can use a shortened zipper instead of a full size zipper with just about any sewing project. Just follow the below steps to shorten the zipper as desired, and then sew into your project as you would any zipper.
Learn how to shorten a zipper that is too long. Shortening zippers is something you will do time and again.
- matching thread
- fabric marking pen
- tape measure
- sewing machine
- sewing needle
Step One: Measure Zipper
The way to properly measure a zipper, is to measure from the top of the Top Stop down the zipper tape towards the Bottom Stop.
For example, say you have a 14” zipper that you need to shorten to 10”. You will place your tape measure at the top of the Top Stop and measure down 10”. Use your fabric marking pen to mark the zipper.
Step Two: Stitch New Zipper Stop
Next, you will stitch across the zipper teeth where you have marked the zipper. What I mean by across, is that you will insert you needle with thread on one side of the zipper teeth, and come down on the other side of the zipper teeth. In essence, you are creating a thread bar or stop for your zipper.
You can stitch the new stop by hand using a needle and thread or by using your sewing machine.
Step Three: Trim the Zipper
Next you will trim the bottom of the zipper. With a pair of old or crafting scissors, cut across the zipper about 1/2" from the new Zipper Bottom Stop. Make sure you are NOT using your good fabric scissors.
Your shortened zipper is ready to use!
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Shorten a Zipper Guide
You can download this free Guide on Shortening a Zipper and Sewing Zipper Tabs. This is a 17 page PDF that you can download and print. I like to three-hole punch the guides and store them in a 3-ring binder for easy reference.
Simply complete the below form to have the Zipper Guide delivered straight to your email inbox:
More Sewing Tutorials
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on How to Shorten a Zipper. You will find plenty of beginner-friendly sewing tutorials, tips, and patterns right here on Hooked on Sewing.
If you’re new to sewing, be sure to follow along with my Learn to Sew series.
You’ll also find plenty of zipper tutorials, like:
And patterns that include zippers, like: