I thought I would follow up my Cargo Duffle post with the zipper tutorial I promised. Especially since Kim asked for it – she wants to make a cargo duffle as well! This bag, by the way, performed beautifully on it’s maiden voyage via 3 differently sized airplanes. It is the perfect size to fit under the seat and leaves just enough space to rest your feet beside it. Letting you use whatever leg room you can get!
When I was buying supplies for the duffle cargo I was disappointed that I could not find a zipper that closed into the middle. Instead, all my local fabric shop had were zippers that met in the centre and opened at each end. I’ve been experimenting with zippers lately and have found that I am shortening a lot of them to fit my projects. So I thought, maybe I could flip the zipper slider around to open the zipper teeth in the opposite direction. I was pretty excited when it worked!
The only negative I can find to this process is that it won’t work on a metal zipper – at least not as far as I can tell. I was unwilling to pull my metal zipper apart because the teeth seem to be different on each side. If you take a look at the teeth on a plastic zipper (below) – they are symmetrical and will fit into the zipper slider in any direction – making the whole process of turning the slider around possible. I’d love to know if you’ve tried this and what your conclusions are.
What you need:
- plastic two way zipper
- craft scissors
- craft knife
- sewing machine
- small fabric scraps to match your project
- Cut 4 pieces of fabric wider than your zipper tape and long enough to reach from the end of the zipper to 1/2″ past where the teeth start. This length will be different for each end. You can also pick the longest length and make them both match.
- (7a) Place the pieces right sides facing at the edge of the teeth/bar tack.
- (7b) Stitch using a 1/2″ seam – be careful when stitching over the teeth. I usually turn the hand wheel and move the fabric around to avoid breaking my needle.
- (7c) Fold the fabric down over the end of the zipper and top stitch close to the folded edge of the fabric.
- (7d) Cut the edges from the fabric so it matches the width of the zipper tape.
All finished – now you can install it in your bag project!
Thank you so much for posting this tutorial! I just finished both sides of my cargo duffle and will soon be doing the zipper! Thanks again!
I’m glad Kim. Hope your bag turned/turns out great! 🙂
Thanks for posting the zipper info. I just converted mine using your experience and it works super well.
Hooray Tiger! So glad it worked for you 🙂
I did it! It worked so well! I had already sewn my zipper into my bag not realizing it was not the right configuration! This so saved me!
I’m so glad it worked out well Sarah!
Thank you for this tutorial, cant wait to try it! If I get a longer zipper so I can sew it into the sides, would 28″ be long enough or would you suggest 30″ to be safe? Thanks again!
I think that if you measure the zipper you are going to buy from the beginning to the end of the teeth portion and get one that is 27″+ you should be fine. (Not from end to end, just the teeth) That way you can center the teeth within the 26″ section Anna designates for the entire zipper. This should make the teeth reach from side to side so you can skip covering the ends. If you can’t measure it, I would buy a 30″, just to be sure. I don’t have one here or I’d measure it for you. Let me know if that doesn’t make sense!
It does make sense and I thank you! I figured I would go with the 30″ just to be safe. Im not able to measure in person. Thanks again!
Thank you sooooo much! I’m making a large travel bag that requires a 30″ purse zipper, but all I could find in that length at Joann’s were zillions of parka zippers. There were only a couple of short purse zippers. (Who are all of these people sewing parkas???) I googled “how to reverse a zipper pull” on my phone right there in the store and this tutorial popped up. I bought a long parka zipper and decided to try my luck with this. Well, I just followed all of your steps, and it totally worked! I’ll be using this trick again and again. Thank you so, so much. :0)
Hooray Lori, I’m so glad it worked for you! I was so happy to have figured it out myself. It’s a great pretty simple solution thankfully!
Genius! I ran across this tutorial on Pinterest. I’m thrilled with how easy it was to do! Thanks for sharing!
THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! I absolutely can’t WAIT to try this!!!! I was having the same problem not being able to find a long enough length of zipper – this is so exciting!!! I was debating buying by the yard zippers but let’s face it – I hate paying shipping and I LOVE coupons haha! So now I can have coupons without shipping galore!! Ahhh thank you!!
Hooray Charis! I’m SO glad for you! My favorite part of writing tutorials is when they help 🙂
Thanks so much for this tutorial. It was exactly what I was looking for! I have done this before, but it’s been a long time and I forgot how.
I’m glad you could use it Sue. I’ve had so much use out of this now that I sorted it out!
Thank you sooo much for this tutorial! I need to replace a 54″ zipper in a duffle bag and couldn’t find the right closure. I just ordered a 60″ and can’t wait to try your method.
So glad you can use it Marian! Let me know how it goes!
Oh, my goodness! Thank you so much-repairing a backpack zip for a friend, and so grateful for your how-to!
Hooray Holly! I’m so glad it helped! Thanks so much for letting me know 🙂
I used your instructions to change a different style of nylon coil separating zipper to a center closing zipper, and it worked like a dream. My only difference was that the bottom stop was metal, so I had to use a clipper tool from my beading tool kit. I wound up using that single tool to remove the nylon top stops as well. I would caution other sewists to wear safety glasses when removing these bits as they can fly anywhere, and we wouldn’t want an injury.
Good call on the safety glasses Ruthe! Since I mostly wear glasses I forget to let people know. Crazy things happen when parts are flying around. I’m glad the tutorial was useful to you!
Thank you, Sherri. I looked all over NYC and the Internet for a center closing dual zipper for weeks and could not find one. But then, I found your tutorial! Total success!!! Thank you thank you thank you. I’ve linked to your tutorial on my FB page.
Oh HOORAY Martha! I’m so glad. That was my problem as well. Lucky break that these zippers work in both directions! 🙂
This worked perfectly, thank you!
Interesting, good fix for double zipper. My problem, I do not like double zippers. I want to remove the bottom zipper and just use one zipper. How do I do that fix?
Hi Pam. If the zipper is a separated zip. Like the one in my photos, you should be able to follow the same process to remove the tabs – then remove one of the sliders to make it a single slider zip. Hope that helps!
Thank you for responding. I didn’t make myself clear enough. My problem is with a double zipper car coat. It is difficult to align both zippers. I would like to do away with the bottom zipper. The zipper is plastic, gun metal color. Where would I buy a bottom keeper, and would that make it work?
Oh, I see Pam. Hmmm… Unfortunately, that is something I am not familiar with. Could you remove the top zipper pull through the top of the coat and leave the bottom pull on with the keeper at the bottom of the coat so it would not fall off?
Thank you for posting the zipper conversion. I was going to give it a try, but is was very helpful to see how someone had done it . Worked great, moving on with the project.
Wonderful Ted! I’m glad it worked!
Thank you so much for posting this! You actually saved me some dollars.