Today I would like to share about the most common alteration request during the fall through winter months. The zipper!! It stops functioning, gets caught and does not move smoothly until, in one brief moment, you tug just right and the whole thing is useless!!
The zipper is an amazing instrument used in clothing, camping gear, hunting gear and more. It has amazing technology that allows us to close to later reopen. When we think about it, it takes quite a bit of abuse when used daily.
Yet, what happens when it stops working, gets caught mid-way, the teeth pull away, the zipper pull breaks off, the slider pulls off, the items just doesn’t stay closed, etc. The dependency on the zipper results in frustration of the user as they discover their item can no serve them. The useful life has ended, or has it?
From early fall through the winter months, a seamstress who does zipper repairs and replacements, receives a variety of calls to remedy the situation. The caller is very hopeful that the cost to replace their zipper will result in saving them some money so they won’t need to replace the well-loved item.
How to determine the worth of the replacement is a personal choice. Using the example of replacing a zipper in a jacket, I will write on how to best determine the value of the replacement or repair. A full zipper replacement will start “around” $55 – $65, plus the cost of the zipper. Leather items will cost at least half again more. A zipper “repair” can cost $15 – $30, depending on the need.
The following are two definite clues that your zipper needs to be replaced:
- Are the teeth missing?
- Is the pin that the slider feeds through, missing or torn from the tape?
The following are items where your zipper might only need a little TLC:
- The zipper keeps getting stuck – this might need a little lubrication, so do not tug and force. For $2 I can provide with a lubrication stick designed for zippers. I apply this to all seasonal zippers, such as sleeping bags, tents, etc. at the beginning of the season as well as before putting them away for when camping season is over. Same for winter clothing.
- The zipper slider works, but once zipped up, the zipper comes apart. That is an easy fix that might cost you $5 – $10, if in fact there is no other issue causing this to happen. This is a result of one roughly tugging to one side when zipping up, or from many uses.
- The slider comes off. First, remember to save the slider, because sometimes it can be fixed, yet also provide the one who is replacing it the right size to use. This will cost approximately $15 – $20 to repair.
- The actual pull tab breaks off but the slider is still intact. If the hole in which the pull was attached has not broken through, this can also be fixed. Again, bring your current pull tab, as these can add $5 to your repair if yours is missing or can’t be used. Worth bringing in the event it can be used. This repair might cost you approximately $10 – $15.
- If the stoppers at the top of your zipper is missing so that your slider comes off each time you zip your coat up, you will only need new stoppers added. If the slider is still on your jacket, the cost will be approximately $5. If it is off, because you can’t get it on, just know it will be difficult for the one who is repairing as well and could cost you $15 – $20
As noted, save ALL parts that come loose or fall off if you have them. In the case of the zipper pull, yet you don’t bring the one you have that could have been re-used, you will not get a reduction in price when you bring it when you pick up your item.
Not all parts can be re-used, but when they can, it is helpful. But, the other reason I am sharing this information on this blog, is that many people call thinking that it will only cost a few dollars to fix or “maybe” $20 to replace. Replacing zippers is a tedious chore. One has to take your jacket apart, remove the old, possibly resize the new one, and when re-installed, it needs to line up so that the bottom and top of your jacket closely evenly across. Depending on the material, this might not always be achieved on the first attempt. Stronger thread is needed to be sure that the zipper stays in place, as well as proper sewing needles. With leather jackets, even while using needles designed for this purpose, I tend to break at least one needle during the replacement.
It is also important to note, that zippers do not come with guarantees to the seamstress who is repairing your jacket. If you leave and everything is in working order, yet you break it a week or two later, the cost to replace it a second time will have to be charged again.
I don’t do many zipper replacements anymore, due to the time involved, and the fact that they are not enjoyable. In addition, I have cut back my sewing hours so that I can spend more time consulting as well as my writing. Occasionally I will still replace them for those who understand the time involved and the potential cost, and only on quality garments where the cost is worth the expense. If a jacket arrives dirty, smelling of smoke or other fumes, they will be refused due to the potential risk to my own health.
You might find if you shop around that you can find someone to do the task less expensively than some of the pricing I have shared above. One thing to consider is, ask them how long have they been replacing and repairing zippers or if they are able to provide examples of their work. Or simply ask them a few questions to confirm you will be confident in their ability to do the work.
A customer needs to understand a few things about what goes into the price of a repair or replacement, is that a business should carry insurance, pay taxes, maintain their equipment, have supplies, pay for their time, and more. This is all part of doing business, but the costs still need to be covered by the consumer. Many seamstresses will have at least a small inventory of quality zippers; will need to drive into town or special order a replacement, which will add to your cost. You won’t save much, but by providing your own zipper will save you approximately $5 on the average jacket if they have one in stock.
Never value the service your seamstress provides on what you think it should cost, but rather on the value you will receive.
~ Putting Thread to Fabric ~