My foster daughter, ‘A’ came into care wearing a jacket with a broken zipper.  It would have been easy (much easier than replacing the zipper!) to simply buy her a new jacket and put the old one away until she returned home.  However, she cherished this jacket (her Grandma gave it to her), it fits perfectly, and it’s appropriate thickness for the current weather.

Here is the saga of my efforts to replace the zipper.


First, it was clear that the zipper slider (the part of the zipper that joins the teeth) was missing entirely.  So I went to Hancock Fabrics, and picked up a set of Zipper Slider replacements.  Their notions were 1/2 off, so I got the set for 7.99.  There are many sliders, so I offered to repair my friend’s boots as well.  We’ll attribute half the pack’s cost to this zipper replacement then (7.99/2=3.98).   When we got home, I broke open the package, found a reasonably sized slider, and then tried without success to put this slider on.  While struggling with the zipper, I noticed there was a tooth missing right above the bottom of the zipper.  So, the slider would fall off even if I did manage to get this on.  I’d need to replace the whole zipper. Time spent 30 minutes.

So I ran out to Hancocks, but they were already closed.  I then went to a Walmart which I knew had a sewing dept.  I found their zippers, but didn’t know the length.  So I had ‘A’ come over, and using an acrylic ruler from Walmart’s display, measured the zipper.  23 inches.  Ok,   There was 22 and 24, but not 23.  Hmmm. I decided it had to be the extra fabric at the top and bottom, and the 24″ one would probably fit perfectly (stop laughing).

We got home, and I pulled out the zipper, and lo and behold, the ZIP part is 24 inches.  I needed the 22 inch one! Oh, btw, 2.97 (so that’s 6.95 for those playing along with the home game). Time spent: 30 minutes.

The next day, I ran back to walmart. Forgot the OLD zipper, so I bought another 22″ zipper.  They didn’t have white or light blue, so I got black. It’ll look weird, but at this point I’m just hell bent on finishing this project.  Another 2.97.  Plus 1.00 for a seam ripper as the scissors weren’t doing a great job.  $10.92 is the running total at this point.  Another 30 minutes.

Taking the old zipper out took about 2 hours.  I made SEVERAL holes in the jacket with the seam ripper.  It’s sharp as a knife and it sliced right through the edge of the polyester fabric that comprised the outer shell of the jacket.  Hopefully ‘A’ has a growth spurt before we have to wash this jacket more than once or twice!20150302-190114.jpg

So I finally get the old zipper out, and pinned the new zipper in.


I then start looking for my Pfaff Creative 2144’s zipper foot.  Well, I don’t see one.  My old Singer has one.  And the other Pfaff definitely doesn’t have one.  Hmmm…so I put the old Singer to work, and start sewing.  It sounds a little off, but I keep going.  I realize I’m not getting a lot of forward momentum (this is the machine I replaced the feed dog gears on, so I attribute it to that), but then I FINALLY stop and look at my stitching.  There are literally wads of thread under the jacket.  This is a huge disaster.  I pull the jacket out, take out all the crappy stitches, and grab a scrap piece of fabric.  I sew a straight line.  WOW, terrible nests of thread underneath, even with two layers of cotton fabric.  I just tuned this machine a couple of months ago!  It dawns on me to look at the tension (after a while, I’m not that sharp).  It’s a ONE.  Doh.  I correct that, and try the cotton fabric again.  Stitching Looks great, top and bottom.  The jacket comes back, I restart, and same issue!!!  Nests in the bobbin thread!  I pull it all out AGAIN.  I take out the bobbin.  Don’t like the way it sounds.  But again, my test fabric is fine.  This is clearly to do with the heft of the jacket messing up the tension.  Total time spent wrestling with the sewing machine/zipper foot/tension: 2 hours, running total of time spent is like what? 5.5 hours at this point???20150302-204955.jpg

I get frustrated and call it a night.

The next day, on my lunch hour, I drive up to the adjacent state to buy a zipper foot for my 2144.  The store owner says, “Did you lose the one that came with it?”  I said I didn’t think it came with one.  He said it did…and showed me what it looks like.  Sure enough, I have that foot.  Didn’t realize it was a zipper foot though.  Grrr. Time spent 1hr 30 mins. (It’s a long drive from my work!)

When I got home from errands after work, I immediately went into the sewing room (poor doggies didn’t get to go potty), and sure enough, I had a zipper foot for the Pfaff.  After letting the dogs out, and getting ‘A’ into the bathtub, I started work on the zipper replacement once again.

Here I am with the proper foot. Am I using it right? I have no idea.



Here’s the wonky results:


And the full shot:


Took about half an hour slowly sewing both sides.  It looks…terrible.  Honestly, horrible.  I am ashamed for her to take it back to the grandmother or wherever she goes from here.  I’d rip it out and start over if it weren’t for the fact that the fabric is so freaking fragile.

So what are we up to? 7.5 hours and $11 to fix the zipper?  My hourly rate at work is…a lot…and that would be a crazy expensive jacket if I were to have just gone out and bought a replacement.  But make do and mend and recycle and upcycle and all that…I know, I know.  It’s a great skill to have to be able to replace a zipper.  Had it just been the $2.97 for the one zipper, and it only took about an hour, that would be a different story.  Maybe it gets easier.  I don’t know that I’ll find out come next time!


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