I had to learn how to replace a tent door zipper when the nylon zipper on my tent was broken. The teeth would not stay together when zipped; after zipping they would come apart with slight pressure. This was not only unpleasant because of the possibility of rain, wildlife could enter the tent and my cat could get out.
Instead of buying a new tent, I replaced the zipper with one that has metal teeth. These do not for falling apart easily.
You will need:
- · General sewing equipment
- · Zipper made for a tent or sleeping bag
- · Heavy duty thread
- · Hand needle or sewing machine needles rated for the thread and material
- · Sewing machine (opt.)
Measure The Existing Zipper
Measure the tent’s door zipper along the widest part of the zipper. Try to obtain the measurement with the door zipped closed; if not possible, do not worry.
Purchase a tent or sleeping bag zipper from a fabric store or online. Some manufacturer’s sell zippers by the foot; this can make repairing an older tent or one with a large door easier.
Metal teeth are more durable than nylon teeth. Care still must be taken to keep fabric such as clothing or rain flaps from becoming tangled. Lubricants made for metal zippers are widely available and make opening and closing the zipper easier.
Pin The New Zipper In Place
It is not necessary to remove the old zipper; this is a matter of appearances. I pin the new zipper along the outside of the seam first. Locate the fold of fabric around the edge of the existing zipper and tent fabric. It is next to the zipper. I pin the zipper to this fold; I’ll sew through this. The fold provides an incredibly strong anchor point.
The zipper should be open and one end of the zipper should be inside the tent at the end of the zipper’s path.
Pin the other side of the zipper to the other seam fold. Carefully close the zipper to ensure it works smoothly.
Sew The Door Zipper In Place
Use a sewing machine outfitted with a heavy-duty needle and heavy-duty thread. Regular sewing thread will not be strong enough for a tent door; strength for security is needed.
I use a thimble to protect my fingers and use a double thread through the hand needle. My choice of needle is a small upholstery needle. I will sew the zipper in place with approximately 10 stitches to the inch. Beeswax helps to keep the thread from tangling.
When hand sewing, it is not necessary to take the tent down. This repair can indeed be made while the tent is in use.
After sewing the zipper, anchor the zipper ends to the tent side and operate the zipper a few times. When everything works the way it is supposed to, the project is finished.
The zipper fabric is not waterproof; seam sealer or a spray with waterproofing will help keep rain out of the tent. Be sure to operate the zipper while the products are drying to ensure the teeth are not glued shut.
I kept my $31 tent operating long after most people would have discarded it. I have repaired the floor, rain fly and other items. Repairing a tent allows you to save money and camp in an enclosure you are familiar and comfortable with.
Source: The author of this article has over 40 years of experience in diverse subjects and skills such as DIY, home improvement and repair, crafting, designing, and building furniture, outdoor projects, RV’ing and more.