Zippers are one of the most common closures for handmade bags and purses. This type of closure keeps your contents safe and secure while allowing quick and easy access to the contents.
When you buy a zipper though, it usually comes with a basic pull-tab which usually has the brand name stamped into it. I don’t find these very attractive. However it’s really quite easy to change the zipper slider and use a more professional looking piece of hardware.
When replacing the zipper slider, it’s important to know that zippers come in different sizes because you need to know the size of the zipper so you can purchase the correct size slider.
The zippers that are most commonly used for handmade bags are polyester zippers because you can sew right over them, and the most common sizes used are #3 and #5.
#3 zippers are generally used on the inside of the bag because the coil is small and fine and isn’t rough on your hands when you put them inside the bag. You could also use them on the outside of the bag for smaller purses and bags.
#5 zippers are generally used on the outside of a bag because the coil is a little larger and the tape a little wider than the #3 zippers, so they can take more wear and tear.
How to Replace a Zipper Slider
A zipper slider is usually metal and includes the zipper tab and the slider.
Although everyone seems to have their own method for replacing sliders, this is my method which I find easy and it works every time.
When making a bag or purse, always use a zipper that is at least 3 or 4 inches longer than what you need so if a problem crops up, you have some extra zipper tape to work with. Open the zipper and cut off the end sections with the metal stops, at both ends of the zipper. Open the zipper and remove the zipper slide. Keep the two pieces of zipper tape and toss the rest away.
On the slider, one end is fat and rounded and the other end is narrower and squared off. Slide one end of the zipper tape through the hole in the rounded end of the slider. It should slide in quite easily. Allow the tape to extend approximately 1/2″ out the end of the slider.
With one hand, pinch the extended tape end and use your thumb to press up against the end of the slider. With the other hand, push the end of the other piece of tape into the opposite slider hole. This side of the tape is a little more difficult to work with, but you don’t have to push it all the way through and you’ll hear a slight click when the tape is in place.
Using one hand, pinch the tape extension between your fingers. With the other hand, pull the slider. If the second piece of tape was positioned correctly, the slider should easily move and close the zipper.
Trim the extension off the end of the tape and your zipper is ready to install.