Friday, October 26, 2012

My favorite jeans!!

What do you do when the zipper breaks on your favorite jeans??  With the price of replacing the jeans so high, I just replace the zipper.  "Just" you say??  Yes, it's actually pretty easy. 

Here's how.
First measure the length of the zipper from the bottom stop to the top, where it goes under the waistband.  Get a jean style zipper this length or longer.  You can find them at JoAnn's or Walmart or many other sewing stores, or online at  That's where I used to get zippers when I did alterations and tailoring for the local dry cleaners.  I still have some (luckily).  I usually get one a little longer and trim the zipper tape to fit. 

Second, carefully use a seam ripper to remove the old, broken zipper.  Be careful not to cut the denim.  Usually, once I get about an inch out, I stick my finger in the space and yank the zipper away from the denim.  It breaks the thread and gets it out quickly.  Just be careful. 

You will probably have to cut the tape out below the bottom stop, since the bartacks on the bottom of the fly will be a challenge to remove and replace.  Just get out as much as you can, and carefully remove the tops from the waistband. 

Thread your machine with a good thread that matches the jeans (not the gold topstitch thread) and use a size 14 or Denim needle.  I use Aurifil thread (40 or 50wt) and a Schmetz Jeans needle.  Place your zipper foot on the ankle. 

Place the new zipper into position.  Make sure the bottom stop is as far down as it can go.  I usually pull one side of the zipper tape below the fly tab, and trim the zipper tape on the other side, so it can lay flat.  Pin it in place and make sure it's flat and close to where the original was.  I usually pin in the side that's between the sectioned part of the fly, not the part with the topstitching on the front.  Carefully push the top of the zipper underneath the waist band.  I trim the tape, as needed, and use a stiletto (awl) to push it in.. 

Line up your zipper foot so that it is away from the teeth, and stitch in this section as far as you can go.  Stitch from the top, and in my case, this is the left side.  If you can move your needle closer to the edge of the teeth, do so.  When you get to the bottom, stitch as far as you can.  Usually I angle this, because I want to make sure the bottom of the zipper doesn't pull out of the fly.  Back stitch here, too.  Stitch across the waistband area to close it and catch the top of the zipper in place.  Be careful sewing near the teeth.  I usually hand crank in this area, to make sure I don't break the needle.  Also, you will need to slide the zipper pull down when you begin, and back up when you finish.  Just put the needle down into the fabrc, and carefully jiggle the pull until it's behind the foot (close the zipper), and continue sewing. 

Close the button and make sure the closed zipper lays flat.  Pin it to the front of the jeans, from the zipper side.  Push the bottom tape down as far as it will go, and push the top of the zipper into the waistband area, trimming as needed.  Check to make sure it's flat, and pin carefully. 
From the zipper side, stitch the tape in place.  Go as far as you can, moving the zipper pull as needed, and backstitching at the top and bottom.  You won't be on the golden thread topstitched part here, so matching thread in the bobbin is important.  Again, stitch the top section into the waistband, and you should also be able to stitch the bottom tape area on to the fly section. 

Finally, Make sure the zipper opens and closes easily, and check again to see if it's flat. 

You just saved yourself at least $10 at the tailors, or so much more at your favorite store to replace your jeans! 

And, with most sewing challenges, it gets easier as you do them.  Let me know if you have any questions.  It's similar in trousers, too, although the fabric is easier to sew, and you don't need such a heavy weight zipper.  Have fun saving money, and getting some more wear out of your favorites!