Dependable, reliable, quality zippers are worth their weight in gold. They can make or break a garment or accessory.
When choosing the appropriate zipper for your particular project you will have to look at many factors like length of the seam, design and type of fabric.
Anatomy of a zipper
1. Teeth – This is the central part of a zipper- The track of the zipper which can be of plastic or metal. The zipper is opened or closed by using these teeth.
2. Tape – This is the fabric on either side of the zipper teeth. It is usually made of polyester. This is stitched to the fabric to attach the zipper
3. Pull and slider – This is the metal/plastic piece which opens and closes the zipper teeth by moving along the teeth track. The pull is used to move the slider
4. Stopper – this is the metal thing at the edge of the zipper teeth which stops the zipper teeth from separating fully. There are stoppers on top of the teeth and at the bottom
( For a separating zipper, instead of a bottom stopper there is a box and pin mechanism which closes the zipper and slides it open)
- Types of zippers
- 1. Closed-end zipper
- 2. Separating zippers
- 3. Two way separating zippers
- 4. Continuous zipper chain
- 5. Nylon coil zippers
- 6. Metal teeth zippers.
- 7. Molded plastic zippers
- 8. Pant Zippers
- 9. Invisible zippers
- 10. Bag zippers
- 11. Water repellant zippers
- 12. Lapped Zippers
- 13. Centered Zippers
- 14. Exposed zippers
- 15. Fly zippers.
Types of zippers
1. Closed-end zipper
Your ordinary zipper. Those zippers that do not separate at the bottom; have a stopper at the bottom end stopping the pull from going further and separating.
2. Separating zippers
This zipper has both ends open with one auto locking slider at the end- they have a lock (a box and pin mechanism) at the bottom which can be used to attach the zipper teeth. The separating nature of the zipper helps in ease in sitting, moving etc.
You can use this type of zippers on jackets, construction clothing, coats, sweatshirts, hoodies, blouses, vests where the whole two parts have to be opened. They usually come in long lengths. These zippers are also called open ended zippers.
3. Two way separating zippers
These are also called dual zippers, double zippers, or two-head zippers. They have two sliders/ pulls. When the zipper is installed, the bottom slider can move up the teeth of the zipper, unzipping the lower portion of the zipper.
The separating zippers are used on a seam which has to be fully opened. They are great when used in front open jackets. You also see them on luggages.
4. Continuous zipper chain
These are extra long zippers which you can cut in any length you want – they are as long as 100 – 300 plus inches long. The extra long zipper chains are used for tents, cushions , garment bags, mattress covers etc or anywhere that you want that needs longer than average zippers.
According to the type of material with which the zippers are made they are classified as follows
5. Nylon coil zippers
These are thin zippers made of plastic with polyester sides. They are very lightweight and are available as separating or closed or two way separating and in different lengths
6. Metal teeth zippers.
These come in many lengths and in many makes. The short zippers used on jeans have a shiny gold/brass finish. They are available in 4 -9-inch lengths. Then there are aluminum zippers. These are heavy-duty heavy gauge zippers. Nickel ones have a shiny silver finish and are more durable than aluminium ones. These are usually used for sewing on heavy weight fabrics.
7. Molded plastic zippers
These plastic zippers are also called parka zippers and look almost like metal zippers. These are used on jackets, Parkas, bath robes, coats, hoodies, sweaters, sportswear, fleece jackets etc. They look very attractive and at the same time are lightweight, heat-resistant and rust proof.
According to the use to which they are put to, the zippers are classified as
8. Pant Zippers
These are short nylon coil zippers (7″ usually); also called pants zippers in my part of the world – because this is the type of zippers used on a pant fly. They are made of plastic with polyester sides; can also have nickel teeth. You can use them on skirts, pillows, purses and blouse backs. There are special zippers in which the teeth is enameled to match the tape.
They usually have a stopper at the bottom to prevent them from getting separated. If you have a zipper in which you have cut out this stopper you will have to manually sew the zipper teeth together to prevent them from separating
Special extra-study brass zipper teeth ones are used for jeans, work pants etc.
9. Invisible zippers
This is a type of zipper which looks almost invisible when applied on a seam except for its small narrow pull. An invisible zipper foot is generally used. You can sew this with a zipper foot as well. You can use this on the back of dresses and the side seams of tight-fitting dresses, skirts, etc. and it will look almost as if there is no zipper there, just a seam.
10. Bag zippers
These zippers are coil zippers that have a non-lock slider/pull. These zippers do not separate at the bottom. These are available at lengths of 9 inches and 14 inches
11. Water repellant zippers
These are best for use on tents, outdoor gear, etc. These are sturdy weatherproof zippers that will survive all rough weather.
Other uses: For making backpack, sports bags etc. you need zippers that are extra long but non-separating. But for making tents, sleeping bags, boat covers, covers for vehicles you need extra long separating zippers. For sewing lightweight jackets Lightweight aluminum separating zipper with enameled teeth can be used. For heavy jackets brass zippers which are separating and has auto-locking sliders are used.
According to their application. You can find the tutorial to sew different types of zippers here.
12. Lapped Zippers
In this application, the zipper is covered with fabric (a placket or the opening itself) by the clever use of stitching in a particular way. It can be used as a side opening or center back opening in clothes. More about sewing lapped zippers can be found here.
13. Centered Zippers
In this application the zipper is stitched to a seam as it is – it is not concealed by any extra fabric.
14. Exposed zippers
Here the zipper is deliberately exposed – usually large teethed metal and plastic zippers are used for this. You can check out this post on exposed zippers for more details
15. Fly zippers.
The kind of zipper application used in front of pants. Check out this post on sewing a trouser fly zipper here.
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