Changing Your Clothes

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Zip It, The Finale: 5 Easy Steps to a DIY Zipper Pull!


In the short amount of time I spent getting ready this morning for my great DIY zipper pull experiment, I learned several things:

1. I have relatively few clothes with zippers.

2. The ones with zippers are almost all invisible zippers. (This is probably due to my preference when making clothes— I find invisible zippers the easiest to install.)

3. The pulls on invisible zippers vary considerably from those of regular zippers.

Why are these facts important? Well, if you look at the following 2 photos,  you’ll see that the available places where you can connect a new zipper pull are quite different:

Regular zipper

Example of a regular zipper. Note the nice, big, obvious hole in the zipper pull.

Invisible zipper

Example of invisible zipper. Unlike the regular zipper, the pull on this one doesn’t have a hole; the new zipper pull will have to attach to the horseshoe-shaped piece above the pull shown here.

Truthfully, I’m surprised that, even though I work closely enough with zippers to install them myself, I had never really noticed this basic difference. (It’s amazing what I learn when my objective is to show you how to do something!)

On to the tutorial! Today I’m going to make a new zipper pull to add to this teal dress with the invisible zipper.

Materials you’ll need:

1 lobster-claw clasp

1 pendant; I think it’s best not to go too big with this, since it will be adding weight to your garment (and frankly, I’m not sure how comfortable it would be to lean back against an oversized zipper pull).

1 jump ring; the one I used here is 7mm, but this will vary depending on the sizes of your clasp and pendant.

2 pliers; small ones are easier to use for this. I used 2 from my jewelry-making supplies, but you can use regular pliers.

Step 1: Test the clasp. The only possible place to attach a new pull on this invisible zipper is in that horseshoe-shaped part, so try your clasp first to make sure it will be easy to attach/detach from the zipper. I found this easier to do with the zipper open a little:

Test clasp for fit

Test clasp for fit into the horseshoe-shaped connector above the existing zipper pull.

Step 2: Lay out your parts. This is where you can experiment with combinations of various clasps and pendants. Here’s what I chose for this dress:

Trying combinations of clasps and pendants

Trying combinations of clasps and pendants; laying the parts out on the actual garment helps to get a sense of the proportional size of zipper pull to dress.

Step 3: Open your jump ring. This is done with the 2 pliers, by twisting the 2 ends of the ring in opposite directions. In this picture, you can see my right hand turning towards me, while my left hand is turning away.

Opening the jump ring

Opening the jump ring; twist the 2 ends of the ring in opposite directions, rather than simply pulling it apart from side to side (this can break the ring).

Step 4: Connect the clasp and pendant with the jump ring. Working from the back of the pendant, insert 1 end of the jump ring through the connector loop at the top of the pendant; the other end of the ring goes through the loop on the bottom of your clasp. Then, using the 2 pliers to hold the ends of the jump ring, twist them back together (reversing the process in Step 3) to close the ring.

Connecting the parts

Connecting the parts: Insert the ends of the jump ring through the connecting loops at the top of the pendant and bottom of the clasp; using pliers, close the jump ring by twisting the ends back together (reversing the Step 3 process).

A note here about the jump rings: I was concerned (still am, actually) that a jump ring by itself would not be a sturdy enough connector for a zipper pull, i.e. that in pulling on it to close the zipper, the jump ring might just open up. I was planning to use 2 jump rings as insurance, but after attaching the first ring, I realized that the hole at the top of this pendant is not big enough for 2 of these jump rings to fit. So I’m sticking with the one. For now.

Step 5: Attach your fab new zipper pull! (I trust you won’t need explicit directions to do this.)

Zipper pulls, before & after!

What a difference a pull makes…

Yes, I know the original zipper pull is still there, and kind of in the way of my new pull. I’m still debating about whether or not to remove it. If you look really closely at an invisible zipper like this, you’ll see that the top of the pull does look like you could pull it apart (like opening a jump ring) and remove it. However, since my new pull is detachable, i.e. I might just want to use it on a different garment from time to time, for now I’m letting the original pull coexist peacefully with the fancy new one. (Let’s just hope we’re not setting up another zipper-pull inferiority complex.)

Yes, but does it work?? Okay, about the fancy-new-zipper-pull stress test I promised you: When I tried the clasp on the invisible zipper to make sure it would fit (see Step 1 photo), I could immediately feel the difference it made in my hand— there’s more to hold onto, therefore easier to zip. And that was just with the clasp! So my initial thought was that if I just grab the clasp (not the pendant), the part getting the stress would be the zipper pull, not the jump ring. So I put on the dress (which, by the way, is not ever easy for me to zip single-handedly), and tried it. The results?

1: It was noticeably easier to find and grab onto the zipper pull, I think because I had the length of the pendant (added to the zipper pull) to guide me.

2. It was also easier than I expected to zip the dress just holding on to the clasp part of the pull.

And yes, I also tried it by pulling on the pendant, and it held together, but I am bound to say that it made me a little nervous (something you don’t want when trusting your clothes to stay on). I think I’m going to try making another one of these pulls, but with a different kind of ring, one less likely to fall apart under pressure.

The things I’m willing to do in the name of amazingly unscientific research…

Author: Colormusing

I'm a writer, color palette creator, and designer of fashion, lingerie, graphics, knitwear patterns, and yarn.

2 thoughts on “Zip It, The Finale: 5 Easy Steps to a DIY Zipper Pull!

  1. Pingback: Zip It, The Epilogue: Non-DIY Zipper Pulls! « Changing Your Clothes

  2. I love this idea and it’s so decorative too!

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