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How to Shorten a Zipper with Metal Teeth

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It never fails, the zipper I want is either much too short, or much too long. For this tutorial, we will be taking a zipper with metal teeth and shortening it to the appropriate size. There is a way to shorten a zipper with metal teeth, and it is wayyy easier than you might think!

How to shorten a zipper with metal teeth

How to Shorten a Zipper

I am a self-proclaimed Cardigan Queen. I have a collection of men’s, women’s, and children’s cardigan patterns to back up that claim, and I take my title of “Cardi-Queen” very seriously. In fact, I have TWO new cardigan patterns in testing! As such, it was inevitable that I run across a zipper with metal teeth that was not the right length to match said cardigan. Never fear! Let’s shorten that zipper right up!

To Shorten a Zipper with Metal Teeth You will Need…

Zipper with metal teeth (slightly longer than intended opening)
Needle nose pliers
Wire cutters
Tailor’s chalk (or my preferred method, sewing needles)

First things first! ALWAYS buy a zipper longer than your intended use, even if only by a couple of inches. You can always shorten a zipper, but you can never make it longer.

1. Lay out cardigan (or purse, bag, etc) and decide exactly how long said zipper should be.

How to make a zipper the right length

2. Mark this spot either with tailor’s chalk or sewing pins.

How to make a zipper shorter

3. Unzip the zipper so that the pull is not affected by you removing the teeth.

Shorten a zipper

4. Using your wire cutters, remove the metal teeth from just BELOW your line/pin, and for the next 1” or so.

shorten zipper metal teeth tutorial

5. Carefully remove the stoppers on the top of the zipper. I find that it helps to cut the fabric very close to the stop and then pry it loose.

How to alter the length of a zipper

6. Use the edge of your wire cutters, or a butter knife etc, and very carefully open up the stoppers just enough so that you can reattach them to the zipper fabric. This might be tricky at first. You’ll want to place them just above the “new” top teeth as pictured.

Tips for shortening a zipper with metal teeth

7. Trim the excess fabric as close as you like (I trimmed it further still), and very carefully use a lighter to barely melt the ends… just enough to keep the fabric from unraveling.

Zipper shortening tutorial

That’s it! You are now ready to attach that zipper to your crocheted or knitted piece. If you need a tutorial for adding a zipper to a crocheted cardigan, I have a written AND video tutorial for you, which you can find here. You’ll need it! 😉

Zipper shortening tutorial

Stay tuned for my NEW pattern release! It is pretty freakin’ awesome and I am so in LOVE with this design! I think you will be, too!

How to Shorten a Zipper with Metal Teeth

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