Jacket Zipper Replacement

I love this jacket. I was devastated when I put it on, zipped it, and the zipper pull came clean off, leaving me stuck in the jacket for a while. I mean, I love the jacket, but I don't want to live in it.

Fortunately, I now understand how zippers work. I was able to ascertain that this was in fact a locking zipper (why there's a locking zipper on this jacket, I have no idea), which is why I couldn't get out of it for some time. After I figured out that it was a locking zipper, I was able to take my seam ripper and disengage the locking mechanism to Houdini my way out of it.

So then there's the problem...favorite jacket now essentially broken. Good thing I know how to sew in zippers!

If you've been faced with this problem, don't throw it away! You can replace it!


Replacement zipper (separating)

Seam ripper

Zipper foot

Sewing machine

Hemostat (optional but very helpful)

Here's how:

First, take pictures of the jacket (or coat, or whatever) so that you can remember how it all looked before you start ripping it apart.

Next, get a seam ripper and start pulling stitches. This took some time...I cozied up next to the fireplace and got to work. I took my time because I didn't want to accidentally rip the fabric. I literally pulled each stitch one by one.

This jacket had some serious bar tacking at the top and bottom of the zipper, which is a good thing in that it secures it, but it's a real bitch to pull out. The bottoms were especially difficult because they were fleece on both sides with matching thread, which made it impossible to see the stitches. My hemostat came in very handy to grab threads and pull them out without damaging the fleece or the other fabric. And, using it makes me feel like I missed my calling as a surgeon #bonus.

This jacket had topstitching down both sides of the zipper as well as stitching underneath to bind the liner and outer to the zipper. So, that's a lot of stitches to pull. Plus, I noticed that the pockets were basted into the stitches to hold them in place, so that was something to note for reassembly.

Once you have the stitches out, pull the bad zipper out. Make sure to get any little bits of thread cleared away, otherwise they may catch when you sew in the new zipper. The hard part is over.

You'll need a separating zipper, and be sure to measure the original zipper to ensure you get the right length replacement zipper. The original zipper on this jacket was a molded plastic zipper, but I am replacing it with a coil zipper. Mine is a 24" zipper. If you can't find one that's the right size, go longer and adjust at the top of the zipper.

Now it's time to place the zipper and put it all back together. To do this correctly, one should technically pull the jacket completely apart (separate the lining from the outer), to be able to put the zipper in the correct way as it was originally done. This would mean sewing the zipper back in with the zipper facing down on the outer layer and placing the liner laying on top, making a zipper sandwich, then turning it right side out and closing it up at the bottom or top hem. But, I'm just going to halfass this and topstitch it back in, doing my best to follow the original stitch lines.

I separated the zipper and sandwiched it between the outer and liner, turning in any hems and making sure to keep both layers out of the way of the zipper teeth, you don't want to get it sewn in only to find that the teeth catch on the fabric and finding new and exciting ways to get stuck inside your jacket!

And there we have it. A perfectly functional zipper on my favorite jacket!

My bartacking at the top is not as good as the original but hey, it'll work!