How to shorten a zipper

We sell a multitude of quality zippers but what happens if the zipper you have isn't the right length? No problem! Shortening a zipper is simple. 

How to shorten a separating zipper with metal teeth

Before you start there are a couple of tools you'll need. You'll need a pair of needle nose pliers, a pair of flat nose pliers, plus a marking tool.

tools for shortening a zipper

Next use your marking tool and mark on the zipper tape where you need to shorten your zipper too. We will be shortening from the TOP of the zipper. 

mark the zipper tape to shorten a zipper

Starting at the mark you just made we will be pulling off teeth from the zipper tape. First move the zipper pull down past the mark you made. Grab the zipper tape close to the teeth with the flat nose pliers. Hold on to the zipper tooth you want to remove with the needle nose pliers. Make sure you are not grabbing any of the zipper tape. Now pull the needle nose pliers sharply away from the zipper tape while holding on tight to the zipper tape with your flat nose pliers. 

pull the teeth off of a zipper

The first tooth is the most awkward to remove. Carry on pulling off teeth until you have a gap of at least 1/2' above your marking.

shorten a zipper

Now repeat for the other side of the zipper tape.

shorten both sides of the zipper

Now it's time to tackle removing and moving the zipper stoppers. I used the flat nose pliers to hold onto the zipper stop and a small flat head screwdriver to get between the two sides of the stopper and open it up slightly. Be care to not open the stopper too wide, if you do it can weaken it and cause it to snap in two.

removing the zipper stop

Now take the stopper you've removed and move it down to its new position at the marking you made earlier. Use the flat nose pliers to crimp it closed onto the zipper tape.

crimp the zipper top into place

Repeat for the other zipper stop. 

If you have difficulty with this step you can hand stitch a series of looped stitches around the edge of the zipper tape to simulate a metal stop instead. 

It is possible to purchase replacement zipper stops so if shortening zippers is something you want to be able to do often this could be a good option to get a professional looking finish. 

Repeat for both side of the zipper

Now the only thing left to do is trim the zipper tape above the new zipper stops. Make sure to leave at least 1/2" of zipper tape above the zipper stop.

Shortened zipper

 And there you go! A shortened zipper that is the perfect length for your project!

How to shorten a separating zipper with nylon teeth

To shorten a separating zipper with nylon teeth you can follow a very similar process to shortening a separating zipper with metal teeth. 

Pull out the teeth above your marking with a flat note plier and needle nose plier. This time you might find that the tooth breaks or only partially comes away. Take a pair of wire snips and clip away at what remains of the tooth until it completely falls apart. 

If the zipper stop is also nylon you will not be able to remove it and reuse it. Instead use a series of stitches to create a new stop in the new position. We used a contrasting thread on our example to make it easy to see but matching the thread will make the stop nearly invisible. 

shorten a nylon separating zipper

How to shorten an invisible zipper

To shorten an invisible zipper mark where you want your zipper to finish using a marking tool. The open end of the zipper is the top, we will be shortening from the bottom of the zipper.

Before you start you will need your invisible zipper, a lighter, a marking tool, a ruler and a pair of scissors:

tools for shortening an invisible zipper

Mark where the zipper to should stop and then mark another line approximately 5/8" below that marking.

shorten an invisible zipper

Cut off the zipper at the second marking.

shorten an invisible zipper

Now snip of the zipper teeth just above your cut. Remove approximately 3/8" of zipper teeth.

trim off invisible zipper teeth

Now take a lighter and carefully melt the ends of the tape and the end of the zipper teeth. You might want to bend back the zipper tape out of the way when you melt the zipper teeth so you don't accidentally burn the tape too (like I did in this example!). You can skip this step if the ends of your zipper are going to be sewn into a seam or otherwise covered. 

melt ends of zipper tape and zipper teeth

Now stitch over your first marking line either with a series of hand stitches (as I did) or with a bar tack or series of back and forth stitches on your sewing machine. Use a matching thread for an invisible stopper (we used contrast so it's easy to see). 

hand stitch new zipper stop

And that's it! Your invisible zipper is now the perfect length. 

shortened invisible zipper

How to shorten a non-separating zipper

To shorten a regular non-separating zipper you can use the same process as shortening an invisible zipper. 

We also like this video tutorial from Professor Pincushion:

Any questions about shortening zippers? Just leave them in the comments below!

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