Zippers are only available in certain lengths and tape colors, which may stifle your designs. Some fabric stores will cut your zipper down to size for you, if you know exactly how long you want it while at the store. You can find most colors of zippers in 22″ lengths, but not-say-10.5″. If the zipper you have is too long, shortening a metal tooth zipper is actually easy, all you need is an Awl and a set of medium sized needle nosed pliers. You can purchase zipper pliers here if you are shortening quite a few zippers.
Measure how long you want the zipper to be. Mark the length with pins or with a chalk pencil on the wrong side of the zipper tape.
You will need to remove the Top Stops and replace them so that your Zipper Pull doesn’t slide off the Tape.
To Remove the Top Stops: Remove a few of the teeth starting at the top stop so you can cut the tape without damaging your scissors. Use medium sized needle nosed pliers or Zipper Pliers. Hold the tape firmly, grab one tooth tightly with the pliers and yank. Off it will come.
Removing the Top Stops is the most difficult part, but still fairly easy. Cut the tape off as much as possible on the top and bottom, hold the remaining tape with pliers and insert an awl into the curved part of the stop. Once it’s secure, push the awl in farther to pry the ends apart. The tape should come out as it opens. You’ll need the stop to be open far enough to go back onto the tape again. Remove both Stops.
Replacing the Top Stop: Use medium sized needle nosed pliers or Zipper Pliers. Hold the tape firmly, grab one tooth tightly with the pliers and yank. Off it will come. Remove enough teeth so that you have about 3/4″ of ‘naked’ tape without teeth.
Cut the excess tape off. Put your top stop close to the top tooth and crimp tightly with your pliers. Repeat on the other side. You can use glue, fray check, or melt the cut ends of the tape to stop them from fraying. Ta-da! Now you can have perfectly sized zippers to use in anything!
~Happy Zipping, Amy Delicious
Tip: Don’t throw the extra zipper tape away, use it as a piping in seams for a decorative look!
Save the teeth for the Zipper Tooth Fairy! Maybe you’ll get a nickel.