HOW TO: Make A Hardcore Zipper Bracelet

It is kind of true that fat girls often have the best accessories.

Aug 9, 2012 at 6:00pm | Leave a comment

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The big one wraps twice around my wrist.

I’ve been fat since before I was particularly interested in clothes, so my fashion has always been shaped by what I (or, you know, my mom) could find available in my size. As an adult, there is definitely a large “fuck you” factor to the way I present myself, even when I’m wearing a pink argyle sweater. Perhaps this is childish. Perhaps I don't care.

The short version of this story is that, while I hate the saying, it is kind of true that fat girls often have the best accessories. I remember trips to the mall with friends in high school -- Claire's was my own personal Mecca, where I acquired so many dangly earrings, you would not even believe it.

Especially since I rarely wear earrings anymore.

Bracelets, though! Bracelets continue to be one of my favorite things, all "Sound of Music" style. I love cuffs and bangles and shiny things and beaded things. I load them up on my arm in the morning. And then, once I get to work, I take them all off because I cannot type with all that nonsense on my wrist.

This is why I have a wicker basket on my desk at work that is full of bracelets. And why my jewelry box at home, such as it is, always seems so empty and forlorn when I open it. Though, to be honest, that's also because I leave these things all over the house. My bracelets are in my various craft supply boxes. They're on the coffee table. They're on the gear shift of my car -- and on the gear shift of Ed's car.

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Load 'em up -- I even kept these on once I got to work.

While Pinterest is to blame for most of my "I can make that" jewelry moments, the blame for my latest bracelet obsession came courtesy of Tumblr. Oh, I saw it on my dash and I visited the Etsy store -- and then I found the tutorial.

Now, I like zippers. I love zippers. I get that zippers are not actually the greatest achievement of the 20th century -- especially since there were versions floating around in the late 1800s. But I still walk around looking at clothes and thinking if you liked it then you should have put an exposed zipper on it.

I'm just going to blame the whole goth thing for this obsession. Or maybe I should blame industrial bands? I don't know; I'll work out the cycle of responsibility for this later. Also, zippers continue to be a thing in fashion right now. It's like I'm being rewarded by the universe.

If, like me, you're giddy with the possibility of wearing a functional zipper that has absolutely no purpose other than being decorative, you will first need to visit your local craft supply store. I went to Joann's because it's the closest thing to my house since they closed the AC Moore, and I refuse to let Hobby Lobby be my guiding light. They've got way too much Jesus in that store for me to ever really feel comfortable there.

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I love wearing these half open.

In the sewing department of whatever store you visit, you should be able to find a display of zippers. These zippers will come in so many colors and styles that you might be tempted to simply swoon into the display unit. Don't do this -- the display units are usually on wheels for ease of moving them around. You'll only hurt yourself.

For your first attempt, I'd recommend a 7-inch jeans zipper. They come in several different colors, but make sure you get one that does NOT have metallic fabric. There's going to be fire later in this How To and, well, metallics tend to burst into flame in a bad way. I'd tell you how I know but this is already kind of long.

If you have a larger wrist, you should be able to find a 9-inch zipper. Or, hey, go all out and get any length that works for you. You can trim it down if necessary, and then sew a folded-over bit to act as a stop tab. Because we all long for closure.

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It's like double gloving except for how it totally isn't.

Because I can never leave well enough alone, I left the store with a 7-inch silver-toned zipper on blue fabric, a longer silver-toned zipper on black fabric, a brass zipper on metallic gold fabric, and a black plastic zipper on black and white polka-dotted fabric. Sometimes I have a hard time controlling my DIY impulses. It's a problem.

Once I managed to drag myself away from the zipper display and back to the relative safety of my couch, it was time for dinner. I have a standing rule: never operate power tools on an empty stomach. This includes the Dremel tool. Safety first. First-ish, at least. After dinner, I set my zippers up and started drilling.

This was where I first ran into trouble with the metallic fabric -- it melted faster than the Dremel could drill through the metal tab on the end. That zipper got put aside for the moment (along with the plastic one) and I continued with the other metal zippers. Success!

If you don't have a Dremel or any sort of drill with a small drill bit, you don't actually need to despair. Though drills are useful for lots of things. You can still do this. You just need to be willing to use a needle and thread. I do not recommend glue or epoxy at this point; instead, fold over the ends of the zipper, stitch them down into place, and sew a jump ring onto the fold. I promise, it's easy.

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I basically blame Alison for my recent obsession with gold, rose gold, and mixing metals.

Once you've got your hole (and, uh, maybe don't phrase it that way when you're describing the process to anyone else), you want to take some sharp scissors and trim off the fabric. Cut it away right up next to the metal teeth. Try to keep the edge fairly smooth but, hey, you're making a zipper bracelet. If it's a jagged edge, just call it punk rock. And maybe put a safety pin in it.

What you should be left with at this point is a strip of metal zipper with a hole in the tab end. Keep the zipper closed. Now it's time to use fire.

If you don't like fire (I'm totally hearing Beavis and Butthead in my head right now), you don't actually have to do this step. I'm not sure what will happen if you don't, but we thrive on adventure, right?

I got Ed to do this part because he has a Zippo lighter and a steady hand. He used the lighter to melt the edges of the trimmed fabric. This does not substantially reduce the amount of fabric left -- it really just cleans up the edges.

Also, I need you to remember: metal + fire = hot hot hot. (How you feeling? Hot! Hot! Hot!) Be careful. Not just when you are doing the actual melting but after, because it takes a little while for the zipper to cool off. Maybe go have a beverage. But maybe not an adult beverage until you're done DIYing it up. Drunken crafting is not always a good idea.

You do not need to set up cooling racks the way you do for cookies. Unless that makes you happy. In which case, I am not here to judge you.

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You can extend the zippers with extra jump rings if you are in between sizes.

Last step for this basic zipper bracelet -- use a jump ring to connect a bracelet clasp to that end tab of your zipper. By their powers combined, the clasp and the zipper pull work together -- form of: bracelet!

I used this method with a longer zipper to make a bracelet that wraps around my wrist twice. I'm such a fancy lady, right?

And then, because I can never just stop with what the tutorial tells me to do, I sewed down the long ends of the other zippers (on an angle) and used thread and crimp beads to attach clasps and more jump rings. Not only does this take advantage of how pretty zippers are these days, it means you can wear the zipper open.

Think of it as subversive commentary on the practicality of the zipper and how we take such marvels for granted. Ahem. Why, yes, I was an art major for a little while, why do you ask?

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All of my favorite pictures of Ed involve him wearing accessories I have made.