How to fix a zipper on jeans, replace the zip in a pair of jeans and keep the original top stitching

January 13, 2019

It’s January, a time of year for reflection, fresh starts and a tightening of the household budget for many. A perfect time of year for reviewing your wardrobe and making repairs. Today I am going to share with you how to fix a zipper on jeans, by replacing the zip, keeping all the original topstitching. Your jeans will look as new. It really is simple to change the zipper.

Does the zip need replacing in your favourite jeans? Learn how to easily replace the zipper, keeping all your original top stitching - your jeans will look new. #replacezipper #replacezip #jeansrepair

Does the zip need replacing in your favourite jeans? Learn how to easily replace the zipper, keeping all your original top stitching - your jeans will look new. #replacezipper #replacezip #jeansrepair


Are looking for ideas for what to do with your old jeans? Check out my 25+ craft ideas for old jeans

How to replace the zip in a pair of jeans


Start by unpicking the long sides of the zip, do not unpick any of the topstitching. Cut the top and bottom of the zipper and remove.

Compare the size of your new zip to the zip you have just removed. Trim the length of the zip if required. Hand sew tightly across the base of the zip to stop the zip coming off at the base.

Turn in the top of the zip fabric and hand stitch in place. In your jeans the top part of the zip would have originally been enclosed in the waistband, but we want to keep the original topstitching alone.

Looking at your jeans, one side of the zip will have two pieces of deni you can insert the zip between. Place one side of the new zip between the two layers of fabric, pin in place.

Stitch with your sewing machine, I recommend using a jeans needle, long stitch and zipper foot (alternatively you could use a quilting foot).

Place the other side of the zip on top of the back of the denim fabric.

Hand stitch this side in place with back stitch using a double thread for additional strength. Backstitch is used to imitate machine stitching. To backstitch start with one running stitch, bring the needle up for the next running stitch but instead of stitching forwards insert the needle into the front of the previous running stitch.


Be careful to only penetrate the first layer of the denim (there will be two) so it does not show on the front.

I am super delighted with this repair – the zip is replaced and all original topstitching remains in place, no-one will know about the repair. This is far easier than I first thought it would be, imagine how many pairs of jeans could be saved if people did this repair. If you are on a make do and mend purge, check out my sashiko patch to my son’s jeans or how about this fun felt repair to moth holes in a cardigan? Repairs do not have to be boring!


5 comments so far.

5 responses to “How to fix a zipper on jeans, replace the zip in a pair of jeans and keep the original top stitching”

  1. This is fantastic, Vicky! I have real problems with zippers, in that they’re always breaking in our clothes and bags, and I usually think it’s too much of a pain to unstich everything to sew a new one in. This tutorial will really come in handy for me! 🙂 Lisa

  2. I could have used this tutorial many times over the years, Vicky. Well done on working out how to replace the zip.

  3. Mary In Minnesota says:

    I need help with replacing a zipper in a $300 Columbia jacket! The jacket is actually 2 jackets in one and each one zips separate from the other. The inner jacket is a “spring/summer” jacket and it can zip to the outer jacket if one wants. (I do zip them together for winters here in Minnesota) The zipper that needs replacing is in the outer jacket, and it is very very long! (from bottom to neck I would guess it’s at least 24 inches or more). I can not see where it has been sewn in… it’s as if there is a fold of jacket material with the zipper sewn into the fold, but I don’t see any stitching. I love this jacket and really need it for winter months, as it’s the warmest jacket I’ve ever owned. And for me to dish out $300, is something that never ever happens in my life, as I just can not afford that type of expense. I normally buy on the cheap. If anyone can give me advice, send me to videos, or blogs showing how to replace this zipper, I will forever be grateful!

  4. Jeannie says:

    I always sew the zipper by hand onto the inside of the jacket, careful not to show stitches on the front of the jacket. Only you will know the zipper edges show on the inside. I’ve saved many expensive jackets this way. Good luck!

  5. Trudy L. says:

    Thank you!! I have replaced many zippers over the years and hated the process and was never totally happy with the results because of the top stitching issue. I’ve been garment sewing for 44 years and felt it was cheating if I didn’t take everything apart. So silly because nobody sees it anyway. The back stitching is the perfect solution!

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A passion for sewing, upcycling and caring for the environment - the perfect excuse to haunt charity shops for bargains!

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