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How To Shorten Metal Zipper

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Unlike normal nylon zipper, you can’t cut and sew through the metal zipper to shorten the length. This is the tutorial on how to shorten metal zipper.

how to shorten metal zipper

A metal zipper has to be shortened by removing the excessive metal teeth so that you can cut the extra length before sewing to your project. With the correct length, you don’t have to worry that you might accidentally hit the metal teeth and break the needle when sewing across.

I wish I have all the colors and sizes of metal zippers stock in my craft room or….. I stay next to a zipper store. In reality, I am not and I only stock a few for some lengths (4″, 8″, 14″ & 18″) in some most popular colors (white, beige, brown & green). I used this method to shorten all my metal zipper sewing projects, like this, this, & this… and many more to come.

I hope after reading this tutorial, you won’t hesitate any more with sewing a metal zipper on your project. I do understand how horrifying to hear a “sprungggg…” sound come out from your sewing machine while you are still pressing the paddle and guiding the zipper through the feed dog and presser foot, then you found that your needle tip disappeared and the needle crooked… scary, right!!! I experienced it before, so I know how you feel about needle breakage on your sewing machine.

Happy Sewing!!!!

How To Shorten Metal Zipper

1. Metal zipper

1. Wire cutters or nippers
2. Pliers
3. Ruler
4. Pencil
5. Scissors or Pinking Shear

mark zipper length

Mark the new length on the zipper. For this instance, I want to reduce my 4″ metal zipper to 3″.

shorten metal zipper

Carefully remove the top stops from the zipper with a wire cutter. Use the cutter tip to slightly ply open the top stop then remove it from the zipper.
Remove the teeth from the zipper by pulling them out one by one after ply open.
You may use nippers to remove the top stops and a stretch of zipper’s teeth in 1 pull which is a lot faster than pulling one by one, but, this method has a tendency to spoil the top stops. Use that method only if you have a pair of new top stops to put back after shortening.

shorten metal zipper

Remove teeth until the marking or 1 tooth below the marking.

shorten metal zipper

Put back the top stops and use a pair of pliers to crimp it back onto the zipper.
The shorter length of the metal zipper is ready to be used for your next project.

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Gayle Sevy

Saturday 23rd of January 2021

Is there an advantage to using metal zipper rather than nylon zipper for coin purse/key holder?


Wednesday 15th of February 2017

Your work is super fantastic! Thank you so much to share your great tuttorial! I love it!


Sunday 20th of December 2015

I thank u so much for this post.I broke my needle yesterday when i attempted with metal zippers. I didnt know i had to remove thye metal teeth,. thanks again.i NEED TO FINISH MY CHRISTMAS PRESENTS SEWING TODAY. MERRY CHRISTMAS


Thursday 20th of August 2015

I use the wire cutter to first cut the top of the teeth off, then its much easier to separate the remaining 'legs' that crimp on the tape. Align the wire cutter parallel to the tape and the tops of the teeth, 90 degrees from what is shown in the second photo of the tutorial - as if you were using the cutter to open the closed zipper. Be careful not to cut the top edge of the tape. Cut one or two teeth at a time.


Wednesday 5th of August 2015

Thank you for the great tutorial! Just to let you know I shared it on my blog!