How to Shorten a Zipper Quickly & Easily in 4 Simple Steps

7 Materials
20 Minutes

While clothing manufacturers can get zippers in any length, zippers only come in limited sizes for people who sew at home. Sometimes, the only zippers you can get are too long and you have to shorten the zipper. If you want to know how to shorten a zipper yourself, this tutorial is for you.

In my previous tutorial, I demonstrated how to sew a sweater with a half zipper, so I decided to create this guide dedicated to this specific sewing skill.

I’ll show you how to shorten a zipper from the bottom and best of all, this technique can help you shorten a zipper to any length you need! This method works for both metal and nylon zippers so let’s get started with this how-to tutorial.

Tools and materials:

  • Zipper
  • Sewing machine
  • Needle and thread
  • Twill tape
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Pliers (only for metal zippers)
Measuring the new length of the zipper

1. Measure

Measure the length of the zipper to the length you need for your garment.

Marking the new length on the zipper with a pin

Place a pin to mark that spot on your zipper.

Sewing a new stopper for the zipper

2. Make a new stopper

Using your needle and thread, sew a new stopper at the mark.

Sewing back and forth stitches

You’ll need to sew at least 5 back and forth stitches and tie a good strong knot. Trim the excess thread.

Cutting the zipper to the new stopper

3. Cut the zipper

Cut the zipper leaving about 1 inch or up to 3 cm below the new stopper.

Pulling the zipper teeth out with pliers

If your zipper has metal teeth, grab your pliers. Carefully grip the metal teeth below the new stopper, get a good hold of them, squeeze, and pull the teeth out. Do this with caution and care! 

How to shorten a zipper

Do this to both sides of the zipper until the metal teeth are removed up to the stopper. You don’t need to do this with a nylon zipper.

Shorten a zipper from the bottom

4. Add a fabric stopper

Cut twill tape to this formula: equal to the width of your zipper + 0.5cm (or 0.2 inches) multiplied by 2. If you measure your zipper in inches, add the 0.2 inches. If you measure it in centimeters, add 0.5 cm.

Sewing the ends of the twill tape

Sew the ends of the twill tape with either a 0.2 inch or 0.5 cm seam allowance. 

How to easily shorten a zipper

Turn the stopper out so the seam allowance is on the inside. Trim any excess off and align the twill tape to the zipper end.

Sewing across the twill stopper

Sew the tape to the zipper, carefully sewing below the zipper teeth. Sew across the bottom and the top of the twill stopper.

Trimming the excess threads

Snip off any excess threads.

How to shorten a zipper tutorial

How to shorten a zipper

You’re done! I hope this tutorial on how to shorten a zipper helps you in all your sewing adventures! Let me know in the comments if you tried this method.

Suggested materials:
  • Zipper
  • Sewing machine
  • Needle and thread
See all materials

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