Wednesday, 21 May 2014

How to change a zip slider and pull - tutorial

I didn't manage a post for Handmade Monday last week.....having got distracted by the lovely weather!

But I did promise a tutorial in how to jazz up your zippers. So - better late than never - here it is.

Ever since I started making handmade bags I have been constantly looking for ways to improve them and make them more professional looking. One of the easiest ways to add a bit of extra class to your handmade items is to change the zipper pull for something a little more interesting.

Most people who buy zips will recognise these....
 Nothing wrong with the zips, but I find the pulls a little bit - erm - standard, run-of-the-mill, whatever you want to call it! So when I discovered I could buy different bits for my zips (the ones below come as a complete slider and pull) I decided to try and turn them into these....
It's taken me a while to get the hang of it, but I've done enough now - and learned from mistakes - to be able to share a few tips.

So, here's what you'll need.

First, a replacement zipper slider and pull and some basic tools....
From left: zip, replacement pull, pliers, pinking shears
First, use the pinking shears to cut off the old slider and pull.
I use the pinking shears to try and get a cut which leaves one side of the zip very slightly longer than the other side - this makes it easier to seperate the zip when putting on the new slider.
Place the new slider over the end of the zip. Pull the zip slightly apart whilst pushing the slider along the zip (this is the bit where you really need 3 hands! - sorry, but I couldn't take a photograph and do the pulling the zip at the same time - I really needed 4 hands!).

 And, hey presto, that should be it!
 BUT...sometimes this happens.....OOPS!
....and the new slider doesn't quite do the job. I usually test my zip by opening and closing it about 10-20 times, just to make sure it isn't going to fail. But if this happens, don't panic - it's fixable! This is where the pliers come in. Very gently squeeze the bottom of the slider with the pliers, on both sides of the point at which it attaches to the pull (not too hard or it will stick!).
Check after each gentle squeeze on each side and the slider should get slightly tighter running along the zip. Once you can do you 10-20 checks without the closed section of the zip coming apart then you should be OK.

I don't know about you, but I think the new zipper pulls look far better than the originals and are now standard on all my hand made items?


  1. Thanks so much for the brilliant tutorial. I will be bookmarking this page. Your right they look so much better with the new slider.
    Ali xx

  2. Helen, brilliant as ever - thank you !
    I would like to add the suggestion that one might be lucky and find a really cool pull from an old garment or bag - I just cut them off. xxx

    1. Great idea to recycle the zipper pulls. There seems only a limited range of ones to buy, so reusing a really cool one is a fab idea!

  3. Oooo, I agree, the new pulls look very professional - thank you for sharing this great tutorial :)

  4. Well, they say you learn something new every day - and that's my new thing for today! I absolutely never knew the pulls could be replaced. Lovely and clear tutorial, too!

  5. Great idea, I had no idea you could do this:)

  6. Thanks for the tutorial. I didn't know you could do that.

  7. Brilliant thanks - and the new ones do look so much nicer.

  8. Its the little details that make all the difference and i completely agree that the new sliders make your bags look even more special :)

    Thank you for the clear instructions on how to do it! x

  9. I have a huge bag of upcycled vintage zips and, whilst I love them, the old style metal teeth can be too heavy for a small item. I would never of thought of swapping the old slider onto a newer (but still recycled) zipper. I wonder if vintage and new-ish zips have the same size teeth? Can't wait to try! Thanks for such a fantastic idea - Pure genius!

  10. I have a bag full of vintage upcycled zips which I love, but the weight of the metal teeth can make them too heavy for smaller projects. I am going to try putting the old slider onto newer (but still recycled!) zips. Your idea is genius - Thanks so much for such a super tutorial x

  11. The new sliders do look better than the original ones, thanks for sharing how to do it.

  12. Such a small change but what a big difference! Thanks for the tutorial x