Sewing tutorial

How To Replace A Zipper Tutorial

Do you have a purse, bag, or zippered pouch with a missing zipper pull and/or damaged zipper tape? Have you considered replacing that zipper instead of replacing your bag? It’s often less expensive to replace that zipper than to purchase an entirely new bag, purse or zippered pouch. This post is a how to replace a zipper tutorial.


  • replacement zipper
  • thread


  • seam ripper
  • measuring tape
  • scissors
  • sewing machine
  • zipper foot or narrow zipper foot
Step 1 Evaluate Your Bag

Evaluate the condition of your bag, purse, or pouch before you commit to replacing your zipper, It’s not worthwhile proceeding if the fabric is overly worn. For example, the pink lining of this floral zippered pouch had several holes in the it. The largest hole was over an inch across, and it wasn’t a worthwhile use of my time to repair the lining and replace the zipper.

How To Replace a Zipper - poor candidate. This inside out floral pouch showing hole in the pink lining
Poor candidate for zipper replacement

The fabric of the boxy, pink and black zippered pouch was in much better shape so replacing it’s zipper was worthwhile.

How To Replace a Zipper - Good Candidate this open black pouch with a pink lip pattern showing black interior and damaged zipper tape
Good candidate for zipper replacement
Step 2 Remove Old Zipper

Removing the old zipper is the most time consuming step of this process. A seam ripper is the best tool for the job. You may need to use a little bit of force, but be careful not to rip or tear the fabric of your bag. Play close attention to how the ends of the old zipper are finished so that you can replicate the finishing with your new zipper. If the ends of the zipper tape are finished with fabric strips (fabric zipper stops) you may either rip the stitches and re-use the same strips or you may fashion new strips for your new zipper. The ends of the zipper tape and the interior seams of the boxy zipper pouch were finished with folded grosgrain ribbon. I removed the ribbon carefully so that could reuse it.

You will also need a turning gap so there may be more seam ripping than anticipated. Bags and purses often have a turning gap along the bottom or side seam of the lining. If you can’t find the original turning gap, create a new one at either of these locations.

For the boxy zipper pouch, it was easy to completely separate the lining and exterior.

Aim to rip just enough of your bag, purse or pouch so that you have easy access to a flat area of fabric along either size of the zipper opening.

Step 3 Prepare New Zipper

Use the old zipper to determine the required length of the new zipper. Using the same quality of zipper is optional. I decided to replace the #3 nylon coil zipper in this black and pink pouch with a more robust #5 coil zipper.

Damaged #3 zipper (left) & new replacement #5 zipper (right) on a green background
Old #3 zipper (left) & new #5 zipper (right)
Step 4 Sew New Zipper

Open the zipper half way. Unfold the seam allowance along the bag’s exterior and place it face up on your workspace. Place the zipper coil side down with the edge of the zipper tape aligned along the edge of the seam allowance. Pin or baste in place.

Pin black and pink exterior & black zipper tape RST
Pin zipper to exterior with RST

Place the bag’s interior face up on the zipper and align the unfolded seam allowance along the zipper tape.

PInning layers together: black & pink exterior (top), black zipper tape (middle), & black interior (bottom)
Pin interior to zipper with WST

Pin then use either a zipper foot or a narrow zipper foot to sew with a 1/4” seam allowance. Turn the bag right side out and press along the zipper.

Pressing black zipper tape and pink and black exterior open (on a green background)
Press seam opem

Top stitch along the zipper ~ 1/8” from the edge of the fabric.

Top stitiching along black zipper tape and black and pink fabric
Top-stitch along zipper

Repeat for the other edge of the zipper tape and the other edges of the zipper opening.

Step 5 Re-assemble Bag

Turn your bag inside out (with the zipper open halfway) or turn the lining inside out as appropriate and sew the turning gap closed. Turn your bag right side out or push the lining back into place when you’re done.

That’s it! There are only five steps in this how to replace a zipper tutorial! Your bag, purse, or pouch is now fully functional again!

Here are some photos of my zippered pouch with a new zipper.

Black pouch with pink lips pattern with new black zipper (zipper halfway open)
Pouch after zipper replacement
Black pouch with pink lips pattern with new black zipper (zipper closed))
Pouch after zipper replacement (zipper closed)

Replacing a zipper is a great way to increase the longevity of your bag, purse or zippered pouch. A new zipper with a different color than the old zipper can change the look of your bag. Similarly, new fabric zipper stops can add a hint of color. Overall, it can be more cost effective to replace a zipper than buy a new bag.

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Pinterst Image for "Sewn By Tanya Sewing Tutorial: How To Replace A Zipper - Bag With A Broken Zipper... Don't Toss It.. Repair It" showing open black zippered pouch with pink lips pattern and black interior

Pinterest Image for "Sewn by Tanya Sewing Tutorial: How to Replace A Zipper" with before and after photos

Pinterest Image for "Sewn by Tanya Sewing Tutorial: How to Replace A Zipper" with before (damaged zipper with no pull) and after (replaced with a new larger zipper) photos

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