15 Types of Zippers & a guide to different parts of a zipper

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

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

types of zippers

This zipper has both ends open with one slider – they have a lock (a box and pin mechanism) at the bottom which can be used to attach the zipper teeth.

zipper types

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

two way seperating 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. They are great when used in jackets. You also see them on luggage..

4 Continuous zipper chain

zipper anatomy and types

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.

types of 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.

7 Molded plastic zippers

zipper types

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. You can use them on skirts, pillows, purses and blouse backs.

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.

9 Invisible zippers

types of 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.

sew invisible zipper

10 Bag zippers

many types of 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..

According to their application. You can find the tutorial to sew different types of zippers here.

12 Lapped Zippers

sew lapped zipper

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

sew 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

exposed zipper

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.

Related posts :

fabric fasteners

Sewing tips and techniques ; Fashion styles ; Free stitching patterns.


14 thoughts on “15 Types of Zippers & a guide to different parts of a zipper”

  1. I am looking for a very short zipper. The fabric is 4″ while the metal zipper part is only 3″. Where might I find one that short? It was used on a pair of shorts. Thanks!

    1. Hi Julia
      In my experience you get to buy 7 inch zipper and longer. You shorten the zipper to the length you want – cut off the extra and attach the tab to keep the zipper opening up. Correct me if I am wrong.

  2. Hello.
    I need a 28″ grey two way RIGHT hand invisible zipper. Where can I get one or can I get one from you? The one on my NorthFace coat has a small tooth plastic or nylon tooth zipper. I think it is a #5 because it has a 5 on the back of the pulls. I’m thinking I might should go to a slightly bigger size, but not too huge. Can you please make a suggestion based on your expertise ?
    Thank you.

  3. Hi, Graham here from Christchurch New Zealand. I broke a zip in the top of my large backpack & am having difficulty finding one that does the same action. Namely – if you pull both pullers into the middle, which is the centre of the zip, the zip is then closed & a small padlock can secure them both. Pull both pullers apart & the zip opens.
    Does this type of zip have a name? Because I can’t find a similar one on ebay.
    Hope someone can advise or direct me.
    Thanks for this opportunity.
    Cheers – Graham.

    1. Hi
      Are you talking about the double slider zipper pulls with a continuous zipper – or something more complicated ? The double slider zipper pulls work like this – The sliders meet and they each have a projection and a hole and you can insert the shank of a lock, such as a padlock or combination(number) lock through these holes so that the sliders are locked together. You can get it on online shops like amazon.
      If this is not the right one, I hope some one else will enlighten.

  4. Jell-Audrey Alexander

    In this fast paced world of fashion today one can never say you have enough knowledge and skill to master any design thrown your way.I am thankful and grateful for the opportunity to receive more information to guide and help me through any challenge. Thank You.

  5. this information has really helped me in my studies as a college student who is willing to major in textile and design.i appreciate all effort that was done to put this simplified information together.
    MW 265.

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