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Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Another type of sewing that is very frugal and actually saves money in the long run

My daughter came to me with a pair of favorite jeans whose zipper had come off one track. She bought these jeans a couple of summers ago at a garage sale for $1. They're still in good shape aside from the zipper. My daughter asked if there was a way to fix this zipper. I said I'd take a look and see what I could do. Fixing the zipper on my daughters jeans was added to my weekly to-do list.

I didn't think to take photos of this repair until I was done.
So, this isn't the same pair of jeans, but how the pair I fixed looked before.

So this morning was that moment to tackle the zipper. I unpicked the bar tack that is about 1 inch or so above the base of the zipper fly so I could take a closer look. This bar-tacking is what prevents the zipper from going too far down the zipper, which would put pressure on the zipper end. 

I had an idea of how I would go about it, but needed further information. I searched online and found a couple of tutorials. One tutorial suggested working from the top of the zipper. I suspected this would be the wrong way to go about repairing a jean zipper. Next I found this helpful video, with step-by-step instructions. I did a couple of things differently, but the end result was a repaired zipper. 

the clamped-in-place zipper stop

What I used for this repair:

needle nose pliers
locking pliers
needle and thread

Of the things I did my own way, I found working on the zipper with the jeans inside out easier than right side out. YMMV. I also carefully removed the brass zipper stop with needle nose pliers, keeping it in good enough shape to reuse. I used the pliers to gently bend the metal stop back into it's staple shape so I could reuse it. 

zipper fully functional once again

After restarting the zipper, I secured the saved zipper stop with locking pliers, clamping the zipper stop through folds of fabric beneath both tracks of the zipper. I smashed the stop on pretty solidly, and it's likely it can't be reused a second time. I restitched the tacking by hand instead of using my sewing machine. Hand-sewing just seemed easier than threading my machine and struggling to sew through several layers of heavy fabric. 

Not all repairs are worth the time and expense. Since this pair of jeans only cost my daughter $1, if I had needed to buy a new metal zipper, the repair might have cost $5 or more. She might be able to find a new-to-her pair of jeans at another garage sale for that price or less this summer, without the work of repairs. Of course, I could have scavenged a zipper from some worn out jeans, and that would be the frugal approach to replacing a zipper on second-hand jeans. 

I frequently repair hems, seams, missing buttons, tighten loose buttonholes, and sew up tiny holes in fabric. Those are small repairs that extend the life of a garment considerably. Other repairs aren't worth it. For example, if a garment was poorly made to begin (poor craftsmanship or cheap fabric/thread) and is already looking very worn. Those items I would scrap and repurpose the fabric and save the buttons. 

In the long run, knowing how to repair clothing is a huge money and time saver, as I don't need to go out and find a replacement for something I wear often. Mending is definitely a good use of my skills and resources.


  1. That kind of repair is beyond my limited skills. Impressed!

    1. Hi Kris,
      Truly, this repair was not that hard to do. If you lived near me, I'd show you how to do this and you'd see it wasn't that complicated.

  2. Not sure where my first comment went. Anyway, I have "repaired" broken zippers on jeans by sewing Velcro inside the opening which I usually have a little in my sewing supplies. It works pretty well, but doesn't look quite as good as the original zipper.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      That's a good solution. If it works, it works, right? I'll keep Velcro in mind if this zipper comes apart again.

  3. I have never been good at sewing an outfit but I have done a lot of mending and repair work especially when the kids were little and living at home. Well, even adult kids needed a thing or two repaired which I have done.

    My pressure foot for my sewing machine has become a problem. There is a broken wire in the electric cord on the part that powers the pressure foot but not on the part that controls the on/off of the sewing machine. I bought this machine at Walmart way back in the 1980s and it has given me a lot of years of good use. I searched around and found a sewing machine store that had old pressure foot from all kinds of old machines. The cost was much too high but after researching online, along with shipping charges, I couldn't find any better priced ones so I bought it from the store. I guess it's better than buying a new machine just for minimal repairs.

    1. Hi Alice,
      I'm glad you found a repair for your machine. If the machine has lasted this many years, it was likely well-made in the first place and a repair would keep it going for many more years, I'd think. And especially since you are only using the machine for occasional repairs. I think you made the smart choice.


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