We’d like to try to take a little of the mystery out of zippers.
Basically, zipper pulls are nothing short of hardware. If they are bent, warped, or old and tired, they just don’t do the job they were designed to do. You’ll see an example of this when your zipper separates after you have zipped up your garment thinking all is going to be hunky-dory. In this case, usually a simple adjustment with a hefty application of beeswax will take care of your problem.
If an adjustment is made on your zipper pull and your zipper is still separating, we should swap it out with a fresh pull. Most of the time we will have a pull that will be compatible. If we do, problem solved and your zipper will work as good new! Sometimes though, your zipper is of an odd size or brand which we cannot get parts for. In this case, a new zipper is necessary.
Which new zipper should you have installed? Great question. What zipper we install largely depends on what type of garment you have. Let’s break this down:
Formal/Casual Wear Dress: These usually have an invisible or conventional zipper. Invisible is a little less visible when the garment is zipped up. Conventional zippers have somewhat of a lip which will obscure the zipper. Both are good but personally, I prefer the invisible because they are easier for me to install and maneuver.
You may have to wait a week or two for a new pull or zipper for the Invisibles however. As of late, more and more gowns are coming in with #3 Invisible zippers which requires a special order.
If we just do a pull replacement, be patient with the color match. We have only 36 colors to choose from.
Jeans: You’ve got brass and locking brass pulls. Women’s are usually a size 4.5. Men’s a 5. But the majority of the zipper problems are missing teeth. If the teeth are missing at the top of the zipper, we can possibly put a brass stop there to stop the pull from coming off track. If it’s at the bottom, we can get it back on track and put a hardware stop there to prevent the zipper from “going to bad places”. Sometimes a stitch is necessary.
Pants: You’ve got the #3 conventional coil. Not sure why but it’s pretty obvious men try to put their pants on without clasping or buttoning first. A zipper likes to be close together before attempting to get it to work. That V-shape when zipping is a death sentence. If your zipper track is kinked or pulled apart, it’s time for a new zipper.
Jackets: You could have any of three types of zippers. Usually size #5. Let’s break these down in order of quality and durability:
Molded – By far the least durable but most common and colorific. If teeth are intact and the pin is sound, most times I can fix this while you wait.
Coil – If the coil is til intact, the pull usually requires a simple adjustment with my needle-nose pliers. Sometimes the coil has pulled away from the tape and this too can be fixed. If that doesn’t do it, then the next step is a new pull. If it’s a YKK zipper, we’re in business. If not, this might mean doom requiring an entire new zipper. A common area of damage is wear and tear on the pin at the bottom of the zipper. Sadly, this cannot be fixed so a new zipper is in order.
Brass or metal – You’ll have one of 3 types of metal. Antique Brass which is the most popular, Bright Brass, and Aluminum. I’m not a fan of the aluminum because it’s just darn soft. Because we’re working with individual teeth, they all have to be intact for repair. If they are, we again, focus on the pull. Sometimes a new pull and a liberal coat of beeswax are all that’s needed. For those hefty Carhartt jackets, we’ll pull out the stops by installing a chunky #8 or #10 zipper, and trust me, it’s going to outlast your coat. There’s also 2-way and reversible available but that’s for another chapter.
There’s more to the world of zippers such as exposed, or fancy black oxide, or water/air proof but this info addresses the most common issues. If yours is misbehaving, pop in anytime for a consultation with our renowned Zipper Master!