A quick guide to zippers
In this quick zip guide, I will be focusing on the types of zips that are great for bags and accessory making.
The slider is the formal name for the plastic or metal piece that moves up and down the zipper to open or close the bag.
This is the central part of the zipper. The teeth allow the zipper to open and close by intertwining or separating.
Top Stops & Bottom Stops
At the ends of each side of teeth, there are stopper pieces, called top stops or bottom stops, that stop the slider from coming off the zip.
The tape is the fabric section of the zip.
Types of Zipper
There are 6 main types of zippers - closed-end, open-end, invisible, two-way head to head, and two-way bottom to bottom and, continuous. For bag and accessories making we will mainly use-
Your common zipper. These single head zippers do not separate at the bottom due to having a fixed stopper at the bottom end. Commonly used for - pouch/purse/bag openings, zip pockets.
These zippers are usually bought and sold by the meter or yard and do not have a beginning or an endpoint (no top or bottom zipper stops). Other than there is a huge amount of colours and styles available there are many benefits to using continuous zips.
The first is that you can cut the zip to any length you wish, meaning you don't have to buy lots of different lengths of zips or spend a lot of time sourcing the correct length required for your project.
Secondly, they are super affordable and very cost-efficient.
Lastly, you can choose from any number of fancy zipper heads that you can use instead of the boring rectangle ones. You will need to learn how to insert a slider onto a zip, which can be a little tricky to begin with so I have put together a short tutorial video to help you. Click here for my how to add a slider to a zipper.
I have used continuous zippers for nearly 10 years in my businesses and have never looked back. I 100% recommend them if you intend on using lots of zips.
Please note: All manufactures of zip and zip sliders measurements can vary so it is important to order samples to make sure that your zip and sliders work together before placing a big order.
Two-way head to head
These are double-headed zippers, where the zipper pulls face away from each other. They are designed so that both zippers can be used to open the top of the bag. These zips do not separate at the bottom or the top due to having a fixed stopper at both ends. Commonly used for - tote bags, duffel bags, handbags.
Two-way bottom to bottom
These are double-headed zippers where the zipper pulls facing each other, they are designed so that something can be opened or closed from either end. These zips do not separate at the bottom or the top due to having a fixed stopper at both ends. Commonly used for - portfolios, luggage.
Types of zipper Slider
There are many styles of sliders, from basic to fancy, and they are commonly made from plastic or metal. There are 5 main types of zippers slider: non-lock slider, auto-lock slider, pin-lock slider, double pull slider, key lock slider.
For bag and accessory making we will mainly use non-lock sliders because they are the easiest to use and we do not usually have any need for any locking technology, unless we were to make luggage or briefcases.
The number corresponds to the closed-teeth width in millimetres. for example, a size 5 zipper has teeth that measure 5 mm wide when the zipper is zipped. The larger the coil size the wider the fabric tape on either side of the teeth and the larger the zip slider. Please note that these measurements are not used by all manufactures and some do vary in size so it is always best to order samples.
#3 / No.3 / Size 3 = 3mm teeth
#5 / No.5 / Size 5 = 5mm teeth
#7 / No.7 / Size 7 = 7mm teeth
#10 / No.10 / Size 10 = 10mm teeth
Types of Zipper Teeth
The teeth allow the zipper to open and close by intertwining or separating. The 3 main types of zipper teeth are used in bag and accessory making are:
Nylon Coil Teeth Zipper
Zipper teeth that are made of nylon. These are the most common and affordable zip types. They are the easiest zips to use and they available in many colours and sizes including metallic, like I use in the Demi Boxy Bag.
Metal Teeth Zipper
Zipper teeth that are made of metal. These zips look great but they can be tricky to work with because you cannot sew through/over them like you can with nylon zippers. They are available in many sizes and finishes such as gold, silver, brass, etc.
Moulded Plastic Teeth Zipper
Zipper teeth that are made of plastic and are designed to fit perfectly together. This teeth style is common in backpacks, travel bags, and waterproof items.
I prefer to use continuous size 5 (#5) zipper with metallic coloured nylon teeth. As shown here in the Demi boxy bag