Zippers are the smoothest fasteners around, and they’re the quickest to do up. But they’re no fun if you can’t hold onto the tabs. Herewith, a few tools to make zippers glide with minimal fuss. Clothing is an obvious use for these, but any of them should work just as well on bags, pouches, and even shoes.
The circles on these ring zipper pulls (above, left) are easy to grab, and simple hooks click right onto the zipper tab. If it’s hard to grasp the ring, putting a finger — even a pinky — into the circle works, too. Check with the manufacturer to be sure, but these can probably be left on when doing laundry, though I’d wary of leaving them on anything that might snag. Active Forever carries these, but you may be able to find them at local crafts stores, too.
Case Logic makes this rubber zipper pull (right) — it’s called “oversized” on Amazon, but there’s no indication of what that really means. A rubbery texture is usually easier to hold onto than metal, and “oversized” may mean that this zipper pull is easier to find on clothing than smaller types — important if dexterity or limited vision are issues. Amazon says the clip is “key ring style” but it looks like a simple clip, rather than the most common split ring used for keys. That’s good — you’d want the simple clip if you plan to remove the pull for washing.
la petite, a notions company, sells this more elegant zipper pull (left) in goldtone and silvertone; it’s available at most fabric stores, and at other places where sewing notions are sold (WalMart, variety stores). Look in the button section. This one must be removed for washing or dry cleaning; you may find others in the same section that aren’t quite so finicky. This style is a good choice if an existing zipper pull just needs to be lengthened. Because it’s slim, though, it’s not really easy to hold if your fingers are uncooperative.
These pulls to the right are made of cord, and they’re probably the most user-friendly and least obtrusive of the lot — though, obviously, better suited to sports clothes than to silks. Installation is easy; just push the cord loop through the hole in the existing zipper pull, push the plastic end through the loop, and viola! The plastic tab is easy to hold onto, and the cord forms a loop for those who find it easier to hook a finger into the loop and pull the zipper that way. Amazon sells these; you can often find similar ones at sports recreation stores like EMS and REI, or where camping supplies are sold. I’ve used this kind for years; they’re light, comfortable and no problem in the laundry.
Another option is DIY: craft stores sell small hooks (look in the beading section, or where leather goods and lanyard kits are stocked), and plenty of beads and decorative charms to customize your own zipper pulls. Be cautious about tossing these into the laundry, though, unless you’ve tested them beforehand.
You might be able to find more elegant materials for DIY zipper pulls at department stores and some jewelry stores. A plain, non-moving, sterling charm should stand up to laundering just fine if coupled with a better quality hook. Not a bad gift idea, especially if it means that Mom or Dad can wear a favorite top again. (Yes, you can probably find a lot of Dad-friendly charms!)