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Unread 03-12-2013, 09:19 AM   #1
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how to shorten a zipper from the top ends?

hello! I'm doing a Kurloz Makara cosplay (Homestuck) and I've run into a slight problem.

reference for anyone who doesn't read Homestuck: http://th08.deviantart.net/fs70/PRE/...ry-d5fvm0n.png

anyway! I'm using a skeleton zentai suit that I found on Amazon and when I received it, I noticed a slight problem with the mask of the suit and the zipper. I didn't realize that the zipper would go all the way up to the top of the head/mask of the suit. I thought it would only end up going to maybe mid-neck. I was originally just going to cut the mask part off, but I can't exactly do that now because of the excess zipper.

I've seen a lot of tutorials for how to shorten a zipper and create a new stopper by just sewing the bottom of it with thick thread, but I'll be cutting from the top end of it. Could I do the same thing and just sew individual stoppers on each side of the track? I've never had this problem before, so I'm just not sure how to go about doing this without ruining the suit (I can't afford to make any mistakes).

I have a con to attend in less than a week and I don't have the time or funds to just take the zipper off and attach a new, shorter one, so any advice or instructions helps! :3 if there isn't an effective method for this issue, then I'll probably just cut the mask off and tuck the excess zipper inside of the suit, even though it will be uncomfortable.

also, I'm pretty bad at explaining things, I apologize for that. If anything sounds confusing or misleading, just let me know. I can also post some pictures if needed. uwu
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Unread 03-12-2013, 02:43 PM   #2
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I've only done this twice, but it's worked both times. The biggest problem with cutting off the top of a zipper is that if you don't have a stopper, the zipper... thing (I don't know the technical term, but the piece that actually zippers the teeth together) will come off and that's it for your zipper. What I did when I needed to shorten a zipper from the top was this:

Zip it up and mark where you want it to stop zipping, and then mark about an inch or two above that. Mark on both sides.

Unzip it the whole way. Keep that little zipper pull as far from where you're cutting as possible until we're done.

Cut your zipper a bit above where you want it to start zipping, using your marks (should be two on each side) as guidance to make sure it's nice and even. If you want (I did), very carefully trim the teeth off to just above the lower line. Very, very carefully snip them off from the chain of teeth at that point.

Use a hot glue gun and put a tiny dot of hot glue on the last 3 or so teeth to seal them together and to act as a new zipper stop. You may be able to use a whipstitch, but I've used hot glue.

Once the glue is cool, very slowly zip it up and make sure the new stop will keep the tab from coming off. If it seems to be slipping, abort immediately and try again. If not, you're good to go! Just remember to gently zip it up when you're putting it on, rough handling might knock off your new stops.
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Unread 03-12-2013, 03:09 PM   #3
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I've done it with a close-together machine zigzag stitch over the very top of the zipper, gone over a few times in order to build up some thread, and it seems to work, but if you don't build up enough thread, the zipper slider will get stuck in the threads. The hot glue method mentioned above would work fairly well, especially in conjunction with thread, since the glue would flow between the threads a bit and help keep the bead of glue on as well as prevent the zipper slider from getting caught or coming off entirely. A bit of Fabri-Tac over thread, if you have any, would do the same thing, and be less likely to come off like hot glue might, but hot glue would work just about as well and is probably something you have on hand.

I would certainly use a combination of either a very thick hand whipstitch (though this will take a while to build up enough thread) or a machine zigzag done in place along with the glue, though, since it would add extra security. I'm afraid that hot glue by itself, since it is going to be plastic sticking to plastic zipper teeth, might pull off too easily if you zip it too forcefully or accidentally yank off of the bead of glue some other way.
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Unread 03-12-2013, 03:28 PM   #4
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id do the stitch w fabric glue because if it gets too hot the hot glue can warp.
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Unread 03-12-2013, 05:08 PM   #5
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Agreed. Hot glue can warp and it also gets quite sticky after a while (No, seriously, trust me, we temporarily glued the lenses of my stormtrooper helmet in with hot glue, but a very warm Aussie day + sweating = glue leaking all over my face). It'll start gumming up the zipper and is so not worth it.
Whip stitching works just fine, and you can use a spot of fabric glue if you like, but it's not necessary as long as you've got enough stitching to block the zipper pull.
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Unread 03-12-2013, 08:09 PM   #6
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Whenever I need to shorten a zipper, from either end, I whipstitch around the teeth with either upholstery thread or button thread. Upholstery thread is thicker and sturdier than regular sewing thread. Quality button thread is the same thickness as upholstery thread, but it's also treated with an anti-fraying agent (often some kind of wax).

Knot your thread off really well and seal the knot so it won't unravel. You can use Fray Block, Fray Check, clear nail polish, or a dab of acrylic gel medium.

I personally wouldn't use hot glue. First, hot glue is bulkier, messier, and harder to control. Second, hot glue does NOT adhere to metal, so if the zipper has metal teeth, hot glue stoppers will probably jiggle off after getting hit by the zipper pull so many times.

Hot glue would probably adhere to polyester zipper teeth - it may even melt them. But for that matter, if your zipper teeth are plastic, you could just use a hot knife tool or something similar to melt the zipper teeth into slag with more precision.
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Last edited by Evil Bishounen : 03-12-2013 at 08:11 PM.
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Unread 03-13-2013, 02:43 PM   #7
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It doesn't adhere to metal, no, but it gets stuck in the fiddly bits between the teeth at the same time as sticking quite solidly to the zipper tape and doesn't come off. This makes it surprisingly solid, one of my hot glue zipper stops is years old and well used and has metal teeth.

However, I can see heat being a concern. I live in a cooler area where we can trust hot glue to stay solid, and so I forget that some places are hot enough to melt it (I went to college in one of these places and still forget it, since I tended to avoid summer at all costs). Upholstery thread finished with fabric glue does seem like the better option when taking that into account.

Last edited by harmonyisarine : 03-13-2013 at 02:57 PM.
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Unread 03-13-2013, 03:55 PM   #8
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I bought a black zentai suit for my Nightwing, and just cut the head out around the zipper. There's about a foot of "extra" zipper at the top now; I just tuck it down into the back where it's covered by the rest of the costume. The remaining zipper still puckers a little bit, but it's mostly hidden by the rest of the costume, and not distracting.

It's not an ideal solution, but it works for me. More important, I'm not worrying about the zipper popping apart.

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Unread 03-14-2013, 01:54 AM   #9
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The easiest way to do this would simply be to fold the zipper over and hem it like you would anything else, just make sure not to sew across the zipper teeth. If the zipper tape is folded over, the zipper slider won't be able to come off. You would probably want to cover the excess zipper with something to stop it from scratching your skin, though.
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Unread 03-19-2013, 11:56 PM   #10
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ahhh, thank you guys so much! I ended up just tucking the excess zipper into my suit, but I'll have to remember all of this next time I decide to wear it to a convention because tucking it was definitely uncomfortable.
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