How to Shorten a Zipper

Learn how to shorten a zipper before sewing it into a project. This is great for plastic zippers, coiled zippers, and invisible zippers.

I have a good stash of zippers, but I rarely have the exact size I need for my project or pattern. The zippers are almost always too long. When I’m buying zippers without a specific project in mind, I buy them too long on purpose.

You can always shorten a zipper, but you cannot make a zipper longer. Let me show you how to quickly and easily shorten a zipper!

How to Shorten a Zipper

What is a Zipper?

A zipper is two strips of fabric tape with interlocking metal or plastic teeth that are closed or open with a metal or plastic pull or slide. It’s used to fasten clothing and bags.

In this tutorial I use the words “teeth” meaning the interlocking projecting metal or plastic teeth, “zipper tape” meaning the two strips of fabric along each side, and “pull” meaning the slide that connects or disconnects the teeth.

Is it better to shorten a zipper from the top or the bottom?

Actually, it depends. Some zippers, like a separating zipper can only be shortened from the top. If you cut off the bottom you lose the functionality of the zipper and can’t put the slider onto the zipper anymore.

Zippers like coiled zippers, plastics zippers, and invisible zippers can be shortened from the top or the bottom, but I find it easier to shorten them from the bottom and that’s what I show in this tutorial.

Jean zippers with metal teeth and pulls can be shortened from the top or the bottom, but you need a zipper repair kit to be able to replace the zipper teeth, pull, and stops.

zippers

Do you love to sew? Try one of these sewing projects:

lots of zippers

How to Shorten a Zipper

In this tutorial I show you how to shorten an invisible zipper and a coiled zipper. The coiled zipper is the exact same method as a plastic zipper.

two zippers to shorten

How to Shorten a Coiled Zipper or Plastic Zipper

Measure your zipper to see how long it is. Figure out how much shorter it needs to be. Measure up from the bottom how much to shorten the zipper. This is the line to mark the new end of the zipper.

Mark 1/2 inch below to mark the cut line.

mark new end of zipper and 1/2 inch below

Sew multiple lines perpendicular to the zipper across the new bottom. Make sure it starts in the middle of the zipper tape on one side and goes across the zipper teeth to the other middle of the zipper tape.

I used a pink stitching, but it doesn’t show up as well in the photo as I thought it would.

sew across new end of zipper

Cut through the zipper across the cut line.

cut along cut line

Pull the zipper pull down to the stitches to see if it holds. If it does, you finished!

zipper pull can't be pulled through stitches

How to Shorten an Invisible Zipper

Measure your zipper to see how long it is. Figure out how much shorter it needs to be. Measure up from the bottom how much to shorten the zipper. This is the line to mark the new end of the zipper.

Mark 1/2 inch below to mark the cut line.

mark new end of zipper and 1/2 inch below

Sew multiple lines perpendicular to the zipper across the new bottom. Make sure it starts in the middle of the zipper tape on one side and goes across the zipper teeth to the other middle of the zipper tape.

I used a pink stitching on this black zipper.

sew across new end of zipper

Cut through the zipper across the cut line.

cut along cut line

Pull the zipper pull down to the stitches to see if it holds. If it does, you finished!

zipper pull can't be pulled through stitches

If you make something using this sewing project, I’d love to see! Please share it on social media with the hashtag #heatherhandmade and tag me!

How to Shorten a Zipper

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