How Much Do You Charge To Replace a Zipper?

sewing blog 1392

I get this question all the time.

The short answer: “It depends.”

The long answer:  “It depends, and here’s why….”

First, make sure the zipper needs replacing.

You wouldn’t believe how many customers I’ve had over the years,  who just need a new zipper tab (also called a pull).

So, ask a few key questions before you take on the job.

Otherwise, you schedule them in, they come over and you figure out that’s not what they needed.

It’s a waste of their time and yours.

If the zipper tab is broken, they can go to JoAnn’s and buy a new one.

Actually, they are sold in pairs.

The customer can do the replacement themselves.

They are very appreciative of your honesty, the fact that they didn’t have to replace a zipper (more costly than a tab)  and they’ll come back to you in the future and recommend you to others.

If your customer doesn’t want to replace the tab, you could do that for a small fee.

We have a canvas shop in town that will replace them for you for about a dollar.

They have all sorts of zipper tabs and parts and the tools to make the job easy.

But, let’s say that the customer really does need a new zipper….

Rule #1…always, always, have the customer go and buy the replacement zipper for you and bring it to you.

(Have I preached that lesson too many times?)

Two reasons why: first, they get what they like (You don’t have to guess) and second, you don’t have to spend that time shopping.

Now, are you sitting down?

For the most part, I don’t replace zippers anymore!

Yes, you heard me right.

Crazy, huh?

Generally, and I repeat, generally, they take more time than the customer wants to spend on the replacement.

I charge by the time it takes.

Replace a few zippers and keep track of the time it takes you.

You will learn that some are easier and faster to remove than others.

It’s the removal that takes the majority of your time.

If your customer wants to save money, you could have them take the old zipper out and you just charge them to put the new one in.

I’ve offered that many times.

A few of you use the scalpel type seam ripper, because you say that it is much faster than conventional ripping, but it is something I have not dared to try on my customers items.

Since I am used to sewing mostly bridal wear, I can’t risk a human error by accidentally slicing the fabric in the wrong place.

I use a regular seam ripper.

There are other things to consider as well.

Denim jeans zippers are only 7-9 inches in length, but getting the new one back in can be quite difficult on certain brands.

Your machine may not be sturdy enough to handle a thick section of the jeans or jacket.

Sometimes, it’s easier to put in a sleeping bag zipper, (unless it’s stuffed with goose down).

At any rate, the bottom line is….I charge by the hour no matter what I am sewing on.

Some zippers take longer than others, hence the expense.

That way, I am not undercharging.

If I charge a flat fee, I am not able to increase it if I run into a difficult zipper, fabric, or other challenge.

That being said, here is a post on how to replace a zipper on a jacket..the jacket pictured above.

Hope this helps!

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25 Responses

  1. I hate replacing zippers also, but I have found that if I do this job, they come back for other items. I do charge a specific price for zippers however, but it depends on where we live. I know that sounds bad, but a few places we’ve lived, people will bring me $300 pair of pants, this type of area can afford a higher price for a zipper replacement and if I charged less, they wouldn’t bring their stuff to me. Other places, Walmart is the main source of everything and they cannot afford a higher price. I don’t charge a different price for different costumers in the same area though – that’s just rude.
    I do give the customer the option to buy the zipper first, but have found that majority buy the wrong one and I have to get a different one anyway.
    I have found a place to buy zippers in bulk though and use these frequently and charge what a zipper would cost at the store. Devious, maybe, but if I’ve offered to have you buy the zipper and you didn’t want to take the time, I’ll charge for using my “stock”. And some of the zippers I get in bulk are often very fun and unique.

    I completely agree with you on the seam ripper with bridal – that would make me nervous too.

    I’m curious though – do you replace the snaps on these types of jackets also?

    • No need to replace the snaps plus, impossible…as you put in the new zipper, snip away a small amount of the tab to fit around the snap. You’ll still be able to catch the tab with at least one of your seams. Also, when this is necessary, most people are so thrilled with having their item back, they don’t mind a small “curve” in the sewing….they just think that you are “Magical” for being able to replace their zipper!!

    • Thanks for your comments, Blankenmom. You wrote about some particulars that I didn’t include. Can you all see why the pricing of zippers depends on many factors?! I agree with “anonymous” on one point…I don’t replace the snaps either, but I also don’t sew a curve around the snap. Usually, I don’t have that problem of running into snaps, but the jacket I will use in my next tutorial has snaps and I’ll show you what I do. The short answer, is that I may sew a new line (which may not match up to the old one, but after it is washed a few times, you most often times, won’t see the old line anymore, unless it’s a pretty worn jacket.) Yes, sometimes, people will pay any price to have you replace the zipper. I personally don’t have a stash of zippers because Murphy’s Law says I have all the wrong zippers. I just carefully explain the type and length of zipper I need to the customer and, so far, none have brought the wrong one to me….amazing, huh?!!!

  2. Your timing is impeccable! My husband just came to me with his old but favorite jacket & told me that the zipper on it is coming apart. I’m going to have to try to replace it, so I’m looking forward to your tutorial.

  3. I don’t charge a set price any more either. I do let them know after I look at an item how expensive it might be. Something that has one line of stitching on each side of the zipper comes out easily and is quick to do. I had one Columbia jacket that probably 5-8 rows of stitching holding it down and everything together; that one took a lot of time, but the young woman wanted to save her expensive jacket so she was happy to pay me for my time. She has since brought many things to me so the higher cost did not turn her away. If you don’t charge extra for a job that takes a long time, you’re cheating yourself and giving your customers a false idea of your worth to them.

    • Good point, I do give them a ballpark price, but you’re right, some jackets have zippers sewn in like Fort Knox with many rows of stitching. I’m glad your higher prices have not turned your customers away. For me, my customers don’t want to pay a higher price for a zipper, but they will on formal wear, business wear and bridal.

  4. Oh cool! I can’t wait to see how you get *around* the snaps! I’ve been replacing them – even bought a “do-hicky” to do it. I have a feeling your “shop” is more streamlined than mine. I need to learn from that.

    • See, you are good at bringing up good comments! Yes, you can buy a snap tool. How do you like yours? I have a friend who has one, but I think I only borrowed it once because i just haven’t had occasion to use it. Im not sure my “shop” is streamlined. Stuff is crammed in cupboards, baskets, and drawers. I am still looking for a pair of scissors I lost months ago. I love your pegboard. So organized!! Linda

  5. To tell you the truth, I’m not sure if it was worth the money or not yet? We moved right after I bought it and used it once, plus there’s a learning curve. I’m hoping to get some better use out of it at the next place. I’ll let you know if it does become a better investment. Right now though – it’s an excellent door stop! Hahaha!

    I do know that certain places charge seamstress’ and tailors for their service just to get snaps put on, so maybe I could make some money that way once I get the hang of it better?

    I love the pegboards too – it’s great for those of us with a touch of OCD and cramped quarters!

    You have your services paired down nicely to a few things though, where-as I tend to take what ever comes my way. Is that how you started out also or were you always adamant about the services you’d deliver?

  6. Oh My, I just finished replacing a zipper on a sweatshirt. I told the customer that it would be $25 and suggested he might like to just purchase a new sweatshirt. Nope he wanted the zipper replaced. On the other hand I had a customer ask to have a zipper replaced in a several hundred dollar parka and he balked at the price. Go figure. I too am looking forward to your tutorial, I always learn something new from you! Thanks!

  7. I used to work in the repair department at a camping goods store and over the two summers I worked there, lost count of how many tent zippers I replaced. We never took the old zippers out, just “zipped” them up as best we could to match seams to each other, drew across in several places with chalk and then cut the zippers out. This kept the tent fabric from stretching. We had one customer who called for a quote and balked at the $60 charge for the zipper replacement. She decided that she would save money and do it herself. We warned her that sometimes the nylon freaks out and stretches, but she sat down and carefully stitch ripped it all out. Her door grew by about 6″. Her husband was the one who brought the tent for us to fix her repair attempt and he ended up paying nearly double for the repair. Since that job, that’s how I replace the zipper in most coats as well. If I’m replacing a pants zipper, that’s totally different, but it’s amazing how well it works to just slice it out of the seam. One of my mom’s friends had to replace the zipper on her husband’s down “shovel the driveway” coat and it took her three or four hours when it could have taken her half an hour or less. If it was a really nice coat, I could see picking out all the seaming, but in my experience, the people who want a zipper replaced usually just love the coat a whole bunch and aren’t tha concerned with perfection.

    • Oh, wow, double the cost on the tent zipper! Yikes! I can see cutting the zipper out on a tent. Your idea of using the chalk to mark is very good. As far as the coats and jackets…I only get customers who want theirs to look good. I haven’t had any requests for “shoveling the driveway” jackets yet! Thanks for your comments. They are very helpful.

  8. I have been purchasing zippers/thread and other sewing products from http://www.WAWAK.com. The business is excellent to do business with. I use to run to JoAnn Fabrics to get zippers and then my store would not have the color or size I needed. WAWAK carries all colors and types of zippers at a very very reasonable prices. I order the zipper and figure in the $4.89 s/h charge and before the customer leaves I tell them the cost of purchasing the zipper. I do not make any money from the zipper cost except to round up or down to the nearest dollar because I do not like to deal with change. I have done enough zippers that I know just about how long it will take me. I do sometimes run into a zipper that may take a little bit longer, but I figure those are in the minority. I try to charge by the job as I like to take my time to do an excellent job. I probably am too much a perfectionist. I do not like turning a customer away due to high prices as they will come back again and refer others. As for WAWAK I order by phone or the internet and Fed EX delivers my order within two business days. It doesn’t waste my time or gas and car wear and tear to purchase a zipper. I do not ask my customers to purchase the zipper as I have found that most are clueless about what to purchase. Furthermore, I keep track of supplies I need to order and when I place the zipper order I order my supplies and let my customer pick up the s/h charge. WAWAK allows up to $100 of purchased items for that shipping charge which is very modest. Any orders over $100 ships free. Send for their free monthly catalog.

    • Linda, Thank you so much for this information! This is very helpful and informative…definitely another good perspective and our readers will appreciate your details. Thanks again!

    • I just ordered a jacket zipper from Wawak today! I always tell my customers I will get the right type (at the best price too). Can’t beat Wawak for selection of products and best prices and their service is the best. Check out their thread prices! ususally less than half what you pay at the store even when on sale. I love Gutterman thread. You can also order online if you want, and they are on facebook too.

      • Just the other day I had a customer who bought a very reduced pair of jeans for $9.00 and she didn’t realize the zipper teeth were missing. She was okay with replacing the jeans with a new zipper, but then I told her if I could get the slider back on and she didn’t mind my rigged way of fixing her zipper I would try my cheaper option first. If the zipper teeth are missing way at the very bottom then you can just open the stitching and slide on the slider and restitch right above where the teeth are missing. Most people in business probably realize that, but in this case the teeth were missing about 1 inch from the top. I told my customer if I could manage to get the slider on from the top where the teeth were missing I could place a stitch or in my case I replaced the top of the zipper right at the point where the teeth were missing with a metal stop. Even though the zipper did not zip right up to the waistband it worked because when buttoned one could not tell if the zipper was zipped to the waistband. I charged her $6.00 and she had a nice expensive pair of jeans for $15.00.

  9. I see where the article mentioned zipper sliders that no longer work correctly and will cause the zipper to separate. I have had some luck with this procedure. This could be just a temporary fix. I am not certain how long this fix will last, but very carefully take pliers and ever so slightly (you can’t even tell if you are crimping in the zipper pull, crimp the zipper slider edges together. Too much and the slider will not move up and down. What I have discovered that over time the side openings on the slider will pull apart slightly and thus the zipper teeth do not come together. Try this first and if you can’t fix the problem then replacement is the next best option.

    I don’t know about other readers but I save all my zippers and sliders I remove from the jackets. Sometimes I may need a shorter zipper and I can reuse the zipper if it seems to be in good condition thus offering my customer a savings of not purchasing a new zipper. I save used sliders that will work for a customer who has lost or broken their slider. I can easily fix the slider problem in a matter of minutes and replace it with a used one if I have one. Of course I let the customer know it is used and I charge them a very modest cost of $5.00 or if I replace the slider with a new one I charge $6.00. The customers are excited that I was able to save their garment and at such a modest cost rather than having to spend a much heftier price to replace the zipper. The customer realizes you are an honest business person and not out to nickle and dime them.

  10. Village idiots all unite! Yep, that’s what we all are. A dying breed. I tell my Mother all the time that I don’t know if I should hug her neck or kick her behind. She made me who I am today. The only one , it seems, that is willing to do what we do…..I had a lady call me and say that her husband’s favorite 2 pair of hunting coveralls needed zippers. Yes. I did tell her to buy the zippers. Yes, she did, and she was good. You know, those suckers are really made well. I had them ripped out, using a regular seam ripper, and replaced by the next day. Stayed up until 1:00 am, since hunting season down here was coming back in. I charged her 15.00 each to do them. I figure my time roughly by the hour, and charge $10.00 per hour. ‘Don’t really know if that is a good or bad price. Should I have charged her more? those metal zippers wound up being stitched 3 times per side. (yea.)

    • Hi Debbie, glad it all worked out for you and you had her buy the zippers. Off hand, I would say that you didn’t charge enough! Call around your area next time you are going to do an alteration and just see what others charge. Then you’ll have a good idea what you should charge. I am amazed you did this so close to Christmas. You are very generous. Merry Christmas to you and your family!
      Linda

  11. I’ve just had to replace a zipper on a canvas bag by hand… ouch. I have three sewing machines, one for average work, one commercial zigzag and one heavy duty upholstery. I wasn’t able to disassemble the canvas duffle bag enough so I could sew in the new zipper, without damaging this original piece. So I had to hand sew the darn thing. It looks great, but how much should I charge? It took me over four hours just to sew it. Advice? Thanks. :)

    • Yeah, that’s a tough question. If you’ve been doing alterations, or any service job, for any length of time, you run across this problem. Did you give th ecustomer a price before he/she left? If so, you need to honor that price. If not, perhaps, you could charge somewhere between what you would normally charge to replace that zipper and what it actually cost. Explain to your customer what happened and tell them you are meeting them halfway. The other option is to just charge what you normally do and write off the rest. In the end, it’s your call and you have to do what makes you feel best about when all is said and done.

      • Thanks so much for your response. I never usually talk about how much I’ll charge for a job until I see it for myself. No matter how similar they are, there is always something I have to do that is different for each item I’m presented. Like when a mechanic has to do work on your car; they give you an estimate, and after looking at it, they call before moving forward with a new estimate, so that the customer is aware and approves to go ahead. This customer is avid about always bringing work to me, so I will definitely charge a reasonable price, despite me having to hand sew. I’d rather keep repeat work than risk losing it over a higher price.

  12. guys can u told me how can i change the zipper teeth color
    like as i have a zip in antique brass but i want the in nickle color

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