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Tips to maintain zippers

Installing and maintaining various kinds of zippers can be easy. Here are a few tips:

Keep zipper teeth clean. Don't let dirt and lint build up in the teeth. If you accidentally catch fabric or threads when closing a zipper, remember that synthetic coils can be bent over, pinched and slightly twisted to free the threads. Then gently pull the slider down and up again.

Close zippers during laundering or dry cleaning and also when the garment isn't being worn.

Beeswax, zipper lubricant or no-stick cooking spray will help ease stiff zippers.

When pressing a zipper area, don't touch coils with the iron. Use a medium heat setting and cover with a press cloth to avoid an imprint.

To shorten a zipper at the bottom, whipstitch tightly across the teeth to form a stop.

If you need help with straight top-stitching, use a plastic zipper guide or transparent tape.

To avoid having to sew around a metal zipper tab, use a longer zipper that extends above the cut edge. Stitch the tape. Be sure to pull down the zipper tab after stitching, then cut off the excess.

Some sources for hard-to-find zipper sizes.

The Zipper Connection, Ironwood, Mich. (906) 932-6262, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays.

The Rain Shed, Corvallis, Ore., (541) 753-8900, 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Custom Zips, P.O. Box 1200, South Norwalk, CT 06856.