Zippers. We all use them. They have been around for over 100 years. Many claim the zipper to be an American invention because a patent for a “clasp locker” was originally granted in 1893 to American inventor, Whitcomb Judson, but his invention was clunky and often jammed. It was not received well at the 1893 World’s Trade Fair. Many people were working on alternate ideas to hook and eye closures, however, it was north of the 49th parallel, in 1913, that the patent for the modern zipper was granted to a Swedish- born Engineer named Gideon Sundbäch …Yet another reason to love Canada!
Over the last 3 years we have seen zippers rise up in status in fashion. No longer hidden under flaps the exposed zipper has become more than a functional clothing closure. It is regarded as an embellishment. Designers have not only been sewing zippers everywhere as if they were an appliqués, but even deconstructing it to create new adornments for clothing and accessories.
Today we see zippers used as jewellery – Glee’s Tina Chan was sporting an oversized zipper inspired necklace on the season’s premiere last week. In several stores, such as Claire’s, you can find plastic, zipper-inspired bracelets. Explore Esty and Pinterest and you will find many examples of Zipper jewellery – bracelets being the most popular form.
Being a creative gal I thought I would try my hand at making a few zipper bracelets and I know a certain 9 year girl who would happy to have some – let’s be honest, I wanted one too! So today I am going to walk you through the “how to” so you can also try your hand at it.
There are many ways you can make these bracelets. I will document two methods and give you tips for others. It will depend on your skill, tools available and personal taste. Here we go…
What You’ll Need:
*TIP* Wrap the zipper around your wrist when purchasing to gauge the size/length you need to fit your wrist. Use shorter zippers for kid’s bracelets.
- Spring-ring or lobster clasps
- Jump rings
- Clamps with a ring attached to finish the end of the zipper
- Super Glue (optional depending on method used)
- Scissors, lighter, pliers, small drill (optional)
The How To:
- For all zippers you must trim the excess fabric off. See below.
2. Next you will need a lighter to carefully melt/bond the edges of the zipper fabric to prevent fraying. The zipper is now ready to be finished on the “stop” end.
*TIP* If using a plastic zipper be careful to not hold the flame too long against the fabric in any one spot as you can melt/damage the zipper.
3. If you have a small drill, this is the easiest way to finish the end of the zipper. You can drill both metal and plastic zippers but I find drilling the plastic much easier. Using a drill bit bigger than the thickness of the wire in your jump ring, drill a hole through the centre of the zipper stop.
4. Using pliers, open the jump ring and feed it through the hole. Close the jump ring and add another smaller one. You will need 2 jump rings to ensure that your clasp will be in the proper position to attach to the other end of the bracelet.
5. Attach your clasp to the smaller jump ring. Open the clasp and attach/close on the hole in the zipper pull.
*TIP* Make sure your clasp is large enough to fit over the edge of the zipper pull allowing for easy opening and closing.
*TIP* Make sure you place your clasp in the right side up so you can easily open & close it… Yes. I got it wrong the first time… See Below.
Not using plastic zippers? Do not have a small drill?
- Follow steps 1 & 2.
- Use Clamps, which can be found in any crafting beading supply store under Jewellery Findings, to finish the “stop” end of the zipper. Try to find a clamp which will fit the end of your zipper. You may use glue to secure the clamps or pliers to close them. Your choice. It will depend in the particular findings you purchase how you secure them.
- Again you will need 2 jump rings to properly align the clasp with the hole in zipper pull.
- Follow step 5 above.
- Try wiring or stitching a button to the “stop” end of the zipper and make a wire loop which is attached to the button thru one of its holes. Attach the jump ring and clasp to the zipper pull and close the clasp over the loop on the button.
- Use a safety pin to close the bracelet. You could pin it to the stop end and close over the zipper pull hole.
- Want to add some flare? Add extra jump rings to the jump ring on the stop end and hang a few charms.
- Try using a longer zipper to make a wrap around bracelet or even a necklace.
The bracelets require very little time to make and the materials are inexpensive. I challenge you to take the basics I have shared here and make you own. There are many ways to personalize your bracelet. Surf the net for inspiration. I’d love to hear about your creations!
P.S. I am currently working on a few new zipper jewellery pieces so check back later for an update…
All Jewellery by Lyndsay Jenkinson
Photos by Lyndsay Jenkinson