How To Repair The Zipper On A Backpack

How to fix the zipper on a backpack

So with school starting July 30th, and the shopping frenzy happening in Aisle 6 of school supplies, have you ever wondered how to repair the zipper on a backpack?

Oh good. Me too!!

There’s the obvious solution of just buying a zipper and replacing it. And I’ve done that. It’s not fun OR easy.

Then there’s my personal favorite…throw the backpack away and get a new one. After all it’s been used so much the zipper is broken…except…

“HELLO Sentimental! Sentimental, hellooo!”

Sentimental, as in, “Mom, I LOOOOVE this backpack AND it’s still soooo good. It’s the best backpack ever, in the history of ever. But the zipper is broken. Will you fix it?”

Scroll to the end of this post to read how to fix the zipper on a backpack.

But first, were backpacks a thing when you were a kid? We just carried our books in our arms. I thought backpacks were something that soldiers carried. And I’m not old. I’m only 29. ????Here are some of the things I learned by the time I turned 29, at least!

However, I remember spending hours hunched over mother’s sewing machine making rectangular shaped bags of all kinds, with zippers and pouches and pockets and flaps with buttons and button holes and buckles and long “over the shoulder” straps, all to carry my books. Every creation was my new personal favorite.

Mother said I could use some of her upholstery scraps to make what she called “satchels”. So, having visions of creatively designed “satchels” dancing in my head, underneath all my brown curls, I was happy to oblige and I used the fabric. I LOVED making “satchels”. I’m sure I was a silly sight hopping on the school bus, with my brown curls and my upholstery bag bulging with books, slung over my shoulder and all…no one did that.

Also, did your family say divan, instead of sofa? You know…emphasis on the duuh part of the word, as in duuuhhVAN.

“Go sit on the duuuhhVAN and rest a minute.”

I mean, I did grown up in Arkansas. I have no idea if that’s what other people in Arkansas said. I just called it what mother called it. She grew up in Oklahoma though. So there’s that.

But that’s what we said. Divan. Then we realized that it was more classy and proper to say “couch”. So we graduated to saying “couch”. That’s probably what rich people said, I suppose. The rich people in Arkansas!

Then along came sofa. SOFA!!!! Who knew that a divan could grow up and become a sofa?

I just loved it when the divan got all elegant and fancy with itself and started saying it was a sofa. A sofa just sounded so soft and cozy and comforting and like a great place to plop on a “perfectly beautifully humidly” hot summer day. You can read about some sofa plopping here.

And so I told Mother we should start saying sofa now too! No one said divan. Just like that we started saying sofa. Suddenly I felt elegant and fancy too! Elegant and fancy like the sofa!


Did you…did you, say divan or satchel?

Or has it always been a sofa and backpack for you and your family?

In case you’re still wondering, here are the handy dandy instructions for how to fix the zipper on a backpack.

How to fix the zipper on a backpack:

how to fix the zipper on a backpack

When I started working on this backpack zipper, it looked like this. And one of the zipper pulls had actually come completely off the zipper. It zipped and unzipped itself all at the same time. Isn’t that so amazing? Really, not so much!

how to fix the broken zipper on a backpack
  1. Using a seam ripper, I removed the stitching from the base of the zipper on each side of the backpack in order to get the zipper pull threaded back on the zipper.

NOTE: If your zipper pull has not come off the zipper you may be able to fix the problem by gently squeezing it with pliers. However, if it HAS come off then you will need to proceed with the steps below.

2. Looking at the pull that had come off the zipper, I could tell that the pull was flared open slightly due to a lot of use. Using needle nose pliers, I carefully squeezed it back into shape.

It is hard to show what this looks like, but if you are having trouble with a backpack zipper, the pull being out of shape is most likely the problem.

3. Once you examine the pull and look closely, you will be able to tell how to get it back into shape with the pliers.

4. Squeeze the pull gently with the pliers. The zipper pull is fragile, and it is easy to damage it and squeeze it closed to much.

5. After gently getting the pull back in shape with the pliers, thread the zipper pull back onto the zipper.

For me, this was the most difficult part. If you are prone to “using words of frustration” this might be where you would insert those.

I was tugging and pulling and thinking in my mind of how in the world I would explain how to do this part.

It did take effort to get the zipper pull threaded back on to the zipper. Take care to make sure that the pull is right side up on the zipper.

Once I had the zipper pull threaded back on the zipper, in this situation, I could never get the gap eased out by zipping back and forth, so I ultimately removed one of the pulls and adjusted the gap at the base before I sewed the stitching back at the base of the zipper.

6. Once the zipper is certain to hold closed, then secure each end of the zipper by sewing across the base of the zipper on each side of the backpack.

AND you’re done!

I would not put “how to fix the zipper on a backpack” in the easy repair category, unless the zipper pull is still on the zipper. Then it would just be a matter of gently squeezing the pull back together.

However, you will feel really accomplished with yourself at this point, for saving $14.88. And it’s always fun to hear her easy breezy teenage voice say, “Oh hey! You fixed my backpack!”


You can go sit on the sofa…or duuhVAN and relax for a minute.

Relax while you can because school starts next week!

And do you say satchel or backpack or divan or sofa? Asking for a friend!

P.S. Two definitions: (you’re welcome)


[ˈsaCHəl]NOUN a bag carried on the shoulder by a long strap and typically closed by a flap.synonyms:suitcase · case · valise · portmanteau · grip · overnight bag · overnighter · flight bag · traveling bag · Gladstone bag · carpet bag · backpack · rucksack · knapsack · [more]


[dəˈvan, ˈdīˌvan]NOUN a long low sofa without a back or arms, typically placed against a wall.synonyms:day bed · sofa bed · settee · sofa · couch · put-you-up · davenport · studio couch

And that’s how you repair the zipper on a backpack.

If this content was helpful to you, I’d absolutely love it if you’d leave a comment and let me know.


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  1. Of course we said satchel! And divan! And pallet! And supper! And lots of other fun words that make people wonder “where in the world are you from, anyway?” Ha!

    Sadly, I have given up most of those lovely colorful regional words… except supper! I still say “supper” for the evening meal. We have “dinner” mid-day on Sunday and “lunch” other days of the week.

    1. Oh Karla, I agree…TV programming and social media are blurring the lines for regional words for sure.

      1. How interesting all the words and meanings from different regions of the country.. So a divan is a bench from the definition given ! Not very comfy for living room relaxing.
        Yes, I have fixed zippers in jeans, suitcases, overnight bags, purses . or just about anything that has a zipper. Youth of today need to learn how to fix and repair thing !
        Sorry the Summer has passed so quickly and the school year is on!
        Have a wonderful evening.

        1. Yes, I agree. It is interesting that you can usually figure out a way to fix something if you try, Donnie.

    2. Haha! I knew a divan could grow up to become a sofa!! I love your instructions on how to replace a backpack zipper. Yes, the satchel grew up to become a backpack!

    1. Kathryn, I think it’s so wonderful that your daughters love to sew and are skilled with it. It’s interesting to me to see how people develop different interests.

  2. Pinning this for future use (I am sure we will have broken zippers). We used backpacks in school but when I was student teaching in 2003, the kids weren’t allowed them in the halls unless they were clear or see-through because they were concerned about school shootings. Seemed so foreign and weird that they couldn’t use them.

  3. I say sofa, but some of my family has said divan! We are also from the south, so maybe that’s why, lol
    Very informative! I am one of those, just throw it in the trash kinds of people, but I may have to try this the next time there is a broken zipper!

    1. Hope, I have wondered if Divan is a more southern term. I hope a zipper repair is successful for you!

  4. In Iowa it was a “Davenport ” then later a “Couch” . As for zippers… i enjoyed reading about you fixing them! ?

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