Update: October 19, 2020
This post is relevant no matter the year, no matter the economy, no matter the zipper!
You’ve come here because you’re wondering, “How much do I charge to replace a zipper?
I get this question all the time.
The short answer is: “It depends.”
The long answer: “It depends, and here’s why….”
First, there are several things to think about.
Number one: 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 slide (also called a pull). They think they need to replace the entire zipper because the slide has broken.
So, ask a few key questions while you have them on the phone before you take on the job.
Otherwise, you schedule them in, and you find out that they may not need a zipper replacement.
Then, you’ve wasted their time and yours.
If the zipper slide is broken, they can shop at their local fabric store, or online, and buy a new one.
The customer can do the replacement themselves and it saves them alot of money and you alot of time. But, if your customer doesn’t want to replace the slide themselves, you could do that for a small fee.
Stay with me here because this is an important concept….
Years ago, before they sold these slides in fabric stores or online, there was a local upholstery shop that made custom outdoor awnings and other items made from canvas and I would take the item in there for help. They had boxes of zipper slides. They also had tools to take off the heavy metal little bar at the top of the zipper. They would reach in their box, pull out an appropriate slide in the correct size and color and put it on for me. Then, they would replace that heavy metal bar and clamp it down. The whole process took about 90 seconds and they never charged me a dime. They just loved doing it for me. They loved having a small little interruption in their day because big heavy awnings can be cumbersome and I met some really neat people.
Why am I telling you this?
Because you might have a local shop that will do the same thing for you. Get creative and think of who and where might be of help to answer your dilemma. Apply that idea to your life, because there are always blessings to be found in the every day things of life! And you just might meet another friend along the way!
So, I went on a little rabbit trail there, but I hope it was helpful.
Now, back to the explanation…
I’ve found that my customers really appreciate the honesty and the fact that they didn’t have to replace an entire zipper (which is much more costly than replacing the slide). I find they’ll come back to you in the future for other alterations and they’ll recommend you to others. Win-win!
But, let’s say that the customer really does need a new zipper. Maybe the zipper is missing a few teeth or the zipper tape is worn out, or it just doesn’t zip and they’ve tried everything.
Rule #1…always, always, have the customer buy the replacement zipper for you and bring it to you.
There are two reasons:
First, they get to purchase what they like (you don’t have to guess) and
Second, you don’t have to spend that time shopping. Remember, time is money (or lost money).
Some of my sewist readers have said that they keep an inventory of zippers. You can certainly do that, but I have found that no matter my inventory, I don’t have the right color, length, and/or type that is needed, so I’d rather not store all those zippers myself.
Once you have decided that you’d like to replace the zipper, there are several things to consider.
First, is your sewing machine tough enough to handle the thickness of the jacket and/or jeans? Most are, but just test the garment and the zipper under your zipper foot and try stitching, carefully, to see how your machine handles the thickness.
Next, do you need a step by step guide to taking out the old zipper and adding the new?
If so, here is a post to click on: how to replace a zipper on a jacket.
And here is a post on: how to replace a jean or pant zipper.
Once you’ve agreed to replace the zipper, you’d like to know how much to charge your customer.
There are so many variations to zippers and zipper replacement that it is difficult to give you a flat rate without explaining my strategy to you. But typically, a zipper replacement can cost anywhere from $8-$75 (or more). Many of you have written and said that you are not sure if what you’re charging is appropriate.
Because there are many considerations and variations when setting your rate for doing all sorts of sewing and alterations, I’ve written a comprehensive e-book with all the details. I help you consider all the pricing scenarios and develop the perfect pricing strategy, no matter where you live in the world, no matter what the economy, and no matter when you are looking at this post. The strategy ensures that your customers are happy and you are making your most beneficial profit in a business you love, while working at home, or in a shop, or for a shop. I think you’ll agree that it pays for itself almost immediately!
It is packed full of every kind of pricing scenario you can think of, for any type of sewing business you have, whether you are creating garments, patterns, alterations or home decor.
I also want to mention that this blog is not otherwise monetized. There aren’t any affiliate links. I’ve been writing posts here for almost 12 years now to give you access to free content that I think is relevant and helpful to your personal and business sewing ventures. I feel like my 50+ years of sewing experience gives me a reliable voice in sewing expertise and efficiency that you don’t get on most other websites, and especially not for free. I believe that God gave me these gifts and talents for a reason and I wrote about that reason in this post entitled, “Celebrate With Me..it’s Free!” and it is a privilege to pass them on to you!
I think the The Pricing Strategies e-book will make all the difference… whether you run a business or you are trying to figure out how much to charge a family member or friend. I believe you will quickly gain confidence and it will help you become a sought after sewist in your sphere of influence.
To learn more about the Pricing e-book, click on this link below:
Pricing Strategies for Your Sewing or Alterations Business
And, if you’d like to know all the ins and outs of starting your own sewing business, check out this e-book:
A Jump Start Guide to Starting Your Own Sewing or Alteration Business
Many readers buy both, even if they are already in business.
I want you to succeed in your area of expertise and these books can make all the difference between just surviving….and thriving in business!
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?!!!
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.
Oh good! I’m hoping to finish it tomorrow! Look for the post soon.
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.
How much do you charge per hour for your years and years of experience and expertise in 2016¿
It depends. I would see what others are charging in your area and price accordingly.
That seems to be the answer I get everywhere, especially close to home. Still trying to find out what others charge per hour. Anyone else want to share?
People still seem to think seamstresses, not male tailors, should be getting $10/hour. Before taxes and expenses.
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
If you have a shoe repair shop in your area they will replace snaps at a very reasonable price. I do not even try to replace snaps or purchase one of those expensive snap gadgets as I don’t replace that many snaps to make it cost effective. I also have replaced zippers with snaps and I just cut the fabric away around the snap and one could then stitch around the material to hold the fabric in place or one could possibly use permanent fabric glue (be careful it doesn’t bleed through the fabric as it can’t be removed). This will hold the fabric In place. Then I just stitch the zipper in. I do not know if a shoe repair shop could remove those snaps and replace with new ones after the install, but that could be a possibility. The snap colors might not match though.
I also found that marine shops have snap machines they use for boat covers when they need repaired. They can do them for a few dollars each but I usually mark with a pen a dot for the exact placement since the extra time it takes for them to figure out the spacing is an inconvenience and they may charge extra.
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
Linda…I don’t know if you will see this as your comment was over eighteen months ago, but I just wanted to say thank you!!!!!! The zipper on my full-length Calvin Klein Dow coat hasn’t worked in over a year, thus letting cold air in between the snaps. I just did what you said and voila….just like new! Thank you, thank you, thank you.
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!
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.
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
I don’t know if you can change the color, but maybe one of my readers has an answer to that. We’ll wait and see if someone replies.
Hi Susan, thanks so much. I’m so happy to hear that it helped!
Here’s a thrift tip. I replace a lot of zippers, but I find the parts from those old computer bags. Not all of the glides will fit all zippers, but the pull tabs and jump rings are great. I find them at garage sales and sometimes in the garbage.
All these comments were posted so long ago, but I just came upon this thread looking around to see if I charged a fair price for replacing an invisible zipper in a lined formal gown. I hate replacing invisible ones but am glad I can. I end up doing handstitching in the preliminary work…but I’m a little OCD…haha. So…I charged her $30 stupid or fair?
It depends on how long it takes and how much you charge, but I wouldn’t charge less than that.
If you go to http://www.craftsy.com as they have great tutorials on sewing that you can purchase if desired. They usually offer sales on the price of the lesson so if you can wait to purchase the tutorial video do so. They also have some free sewing videos and it will give you an example of what to expect when purchasing these tutorials. They are very nicely done and easy to follow. They do have a free video tutorial on how to replace the different types of zippers that is excellent. In the video they do explain and demonstrate how to insert an invisible zipper. Since I saw a comment mentioning they hate installing invisible zippers I thought this tutorial might help them. I do not mind doing them and in most cases would rather put one of them in as I think they are easy to do once you understand the method. Hope this helps.
I think more than fair to the customer. You not only had to remove the zipper but the lining and resew that, too.
I just charged $35 to replace a zipper in a pair of scrubs. Yep it was nailed down like Ft Knox. I wondered if my price was fair or not.
gotta admire the well-made garment…even when it makes our job harder. 🙂
Yeah, that’s my minimum for an invisible zipper.
I live in Alabama- in a more rural area. Most of my alterations are on prom gowns and thankfully I don’t get many calls for zipper replacement.
It seems that every person here hates to replace zippers
The teeth are all out of aline and broke on my leather jacket whare can i get it relaced close to oakland calif?
You might try Googling for local alteration shops. They will,tell you if they can replace a zipper on leather or not.
I clicked the links you mentioned and was nit granted access
Hi Pat, I’m sorry I have been out of town for two weeks. Can you send your request to my email address, along with the exact problem and I will help you. I’m not sure which links you are talking about. Thank you so much, Linda TheSewingGarden@gmail.com
That’s something I never understood. If the item you have is quality, then pay a professional the right wage to get it done right the first time! I have an Army Gore-Tex parka that the military will only sell to active duty members currently. The parka is over 30 years old, but is in great condition. I’m definitely going to take it to a local business to have it done correctly.
Too many people are into “throwaway fashion” where they’ll buy a jacket for $100 every season because the quality isn’t there. I paid about $300 for my jacket back in ’91, and it has served me well.
Yes, I agree with you! The concept you are talking about is called “planned obsolescence.” For those who haven’t heard of that, it means that companies intentionally make goods that wear out quickly so that you have to buy another one again in the near future. This happens whether you are buying clothing, appliances, etc. We don’t have the same quality we had even a few decades ago, but I think that’s when it started happening in America. Thank you for your comment (and your service, if you served in our military.)