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The Case of the Broken Handbag Zipper

Posted by Foxxy Lifestyle on

sassy with purseThe other day I had a zipper break on one of my handbags.  I went to zip it closed and while most of it closed, some of it was still separated.  I put a little oil on the zipper but that didn't work.  It seems like that made the partition even bigger.  I tried the old fashioned "zip it really fast".  After zipping it and unzipping it so fast I almost caught my fingers up in it I backed off.  I was frustrated but also just really sad because it was a beautiful bag and far too delicate to end up in the grubby hands of the shoe repair man.  And the way it split was right down the middle!  I immediately began to think of the grave yard of garments that I'd disposed of because of the zipper breaking and either not having the time to take it to be repaired or forgetting that I even took it for repair and never getting it back.  This bag was not going to end up like that!   

I considered going to my favorite shoe repair guys who are very nice and do great work in repairing my favorite 4 & 5 inch heels.  I was sure they had come across a broken zipper on a purse before, but I also felt quite sure that they would charge me an arm and a leg for something that would take them all of 5 minutes to repair.  So at 2 am and out of sheer curiosity I decided to investigate by going to one of my favorite and most reliable resources:  Google!  Low and behold there were tons of results on how to fix a split zipper!  The weird part was that as I read through the descriptions I noticed that most of the articles and demonstrations were from men who had split the zipper on the fly of their pants!  As I tried to take my mind off of the fact that this must really be a "thing" for men, I had to wonder why I could find very few women...Even the Q&A about purse zippers had answers from men who either manufactured handbags or had a repair shop.

I picked one of the top search results because it  had a video!  Even though I was sure I wouldn't be able to fix this myself, I still wanted to see how it was done before my shoe repair guy tried to convince me of the rocket science he would be performing that would justify paying almost as much as the bag was worth for his special services.  I noticed the video was only a few moments and breathed a sigh of relief.  Can I tell you that I really have such contempt for videos.  I've begun watching some tutorials and found that they weren't even for what they claimed to be.  Or there was a lot of time wasted with production like a musical intro, shout-outs, and even credits,I before they got to the main event.  I guess I am just one of those people who would rather read an article  with instructions in bullet points as opposed to watching someone's attempt to work their 15 minutes of fame into a tutorial.  Plus I have a very short attention span (which explains the irony that I lean more toward Vine and Instagram than YouTube).  To my shock the fix was extremely quick and easy and the only tool needed was a pair of pliers!  I still should not have tried to do it myself because I have a heavy hand so pay close attention to this:

  • Return the zipper head to the completely open or "start" position.  Make sure it is back as far as possible with no gaps or puckers
broken handbag zipper.
  • Insert open pliers on the top and bottom of the zipper head.  Press gently.  (Don't press too hard or you will end up like me with a broken zipper pull which is a whole different problem).
squeeze with pliers
  • Try the zipper.  In my case, it worked the first time.  Unfortunately when I tugged the zipper head broke off because I'd pressed too hard with the pliers. 
easy fix

**If it does not work the first time, that's ok.  This just means you did not apply enough pressure the first time, try again but remember not to press too hard.  You will not hear a clicking or have any audible indication that what you have done is sufficient.  The only way to know for sure is to try the zipper. 

Since the problem is that the sides of the zipper head are too open, you may want to apply pressure with the pliers on the sides of the zipper head instead of the top.  This way you don't risk breaking the delicate middle that holds the pulI.  You still want to be careful to not apply too much pressure since that would cause the zipper to get stuck in place & would then need to be pried off or replaced.

That's it!  As long as you don't apply too much pressure, you will be good to go!

In the event that you are like me, you will be spending a little bit more time on Google learning how to replace the zipper pull which apparently is a lot like rocket science on a handbag because of the way the zipper is embedded.  The great part is that I stumbled on some interesting prospective solutions including snap on zippers that only call for you to take off the old zipper pull and snap the new one on the track and go.  This method seemed to work only some of the time but only took about 15 seconds to fix and the kits on eBay were only about $2 for a set of 6.  Unfortunately I did not see a gold or brass option that would match my bag but I still ordered some to throw into my sewing kit because who knows when you may need one (may my favorite pair of trousers rest in peace). 

fiix a zipper


I also found some zipper repair kits complete with the matching stops.  With this method I'll have to take off the existing stops with pliers to get the broken zipper head off which looks a bit tedious.  But after that I can just throw the new one on, clamp the new stops in place and I will be all set.  This solution is going to take about 10 minutes since I am pretty good at sewing-and I decided to hand-sew so that I don't risk making matters worse.  Most of the time is going to be spent getting those stops off.  This is also going to look the best since I will be able to have basically the same type of brass zipper head and can use my existing pull!  The kit is full of various zippers and stops so it's good for more than one use, and only cost me about $5 online.  Cross your fingers for me!  Either way, at least I tried something different this time.  On top of that, I learned a lot and can pass it on to you...But who knows I may just pull this repair off! (Hopefully not literally)

zipper repair kit

...To Be Continued


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