I often hear sewists lament that they’ve been afraid to try sewing pants because they’re just not sure how to shorten that darned metal zipper! Well, I’m here to tell you that a metal zipper should never stand between you and the project of your dreams because shortening those zippers is so simple.
On these Lander Pants, for example (see more Landers here and here), I used a metal pants zipper that was several inches longer than what I needed for the zip fly (I used the zip fly extension pack for the Landers). When it came time to sew on the waistband, I simply shortened the zipper from the top (to preserve the metal stop), removed the teeth from the seam allowance, and then proceeded to attach my waistband! Now I have a beautiful zip fly, no bulk from those pesky metal teeth, and no broken needles 🙂
Why Shorten From the Top?
You may be wondering why you have to shorten a metal zipper from the top, rather than the bottom like you would a plastic zipper. Well there are a few reasons that we shorten metal zippers from the top.
First, when you shorten a zipper from the bottom, you typically sew a clump of thread at the bottom to essentially make a new stop. This works just fine to replace a plastic stop on a plastic zipper. On a metal zipper, however, you really need to maintain the metal zipper stop. You have no good way to recreate that stop, and your metal pull will eventually shred a makeshift stop.
Second, you can sew over plastic teeth — not so with metal teeth! If your needle catches one of those suckers in your seam allowance, it’s bye-bye needle.
Finally, metal teeth in your waistband seam allowance add unnecessary and unsightly bulk to the front of your waistband. Ain’t nobody got time for that, not when it’s so easy to avoid.
How to Shorten a Metal Zipper
Shortening that zipper is easier than you may think! I did a photo tutorial on Instagram a few months ago, and I put all that information together in a video tutorial for you today:
See, I told you it was easy! For the verbal among us, here are the steps to shorten your own metal zipper:
- Installed zipper
- Safety Pin
- Needle-Nose Pliers
- Fabric Marker or Chalk
- Step 1: Secure your zipper stop in the down position with the safety pin.
- Step 2: Trim off the excess zipper from the top.
- Step 3: Mark your seam allowance.
- Step 4: Use the needle nose pliers to grip the metal teeth above your mark and pull out all the zipper teeth that are within your seam allowance. You may have to pull hard, but they will come out!
- Step 5: After you’ve pulled out all the teeth in your seam allowance, proceed to attach your waistband!