No sew zipper repair

“Une réparation ingenius” (an ingenious repair)

Mondial Tissus, Tarbes: a fabric and haberdashery heaven we, in Ireland, can only dream of.
Mondial Tissus, Tarbes: a fabric and haberdashery heaven we, in Ireland, can only dream of.

We had to book a service for the car yesterday so, while in Tarbes (Midi-Pyrenees), I took the opportunity to visit one of my favourite shops, Mondial Tissus – the sort of sewist’s heaven that we, in Ireland, can only dream of. Housed in an industrial unit on a trading estate, a few kilometres west of the city, you’ll find a fabulous selection of dress and furnishing fabrics, sewing accessories and haberdashery, and – if your French is up to it – you can even book a sewing class.

I was there to choose some brushed cotton for a shirt I have promised my mum. But, since they had a 4 for the price of 2 sale on buttons, in addition to the ones I bought for her, I bought some for myself … and a shirt length of pretty printed cotton to go with them. Like you do.

But, as it turned out, the fabric wasn’t the highlight of my visit. Unusually, there was a queue at the checkout. The cashier was busily examining the zipper of a fleece jacket, brought in by another customer. The slider was caught and the zipper wouldn’t separate.

As we watched, the cashier took out a pair of sharp dressmaking shears and carefully prised off a couple of zipper teeth just below the slider, allowing her to remove it. Then she took a replacement slider – not quite the same colour as the original, but the same size – made a small snip in the top of one side of the zipper tape about 1cm below the stop, and slid the new slider onto the tape. The missing teeth at the bottom of the tape didn’t seem to impact on the function of the new slider, and the whole repair – and the similar repair of two other coats – was effected in about 5 minutes, save for closing the snipped tape with a couple of stitches.

Mondial Tissus, Tarbes. One of a chain of more than 70 stores throughout France. Well worth a visit.
Mondial Tissus, Tarbes. One of a chain of more than 70 stores throughout France. Well worth a visit.

Replacing a slider is a tried and trusted method of salvaging a favourite garment without changing the zipper, and zipper repair kits and decorative replacement sliders can be bought – or you might be able to cannabalise an old zipper from another garment. However, the usual (and neater) method of replacement is fiddly and involves different tools for removing and replacing the zipper stops. The repair I witnessed wasn’t the most professional, but it was quick and effective, and a useful trick to remember. The customer service ethic displayed by the cashier was exemplary and the customer will probably get years’ more use out of her three jackets.