Ever needed a coloured zipper for a bag making project and not had one to hand? It's annoying isn't it?
That's why I was so excited to read that some people were colouring white zipper tape to get the colour the needed. It sounded too good to be true, so obviously I had to try it out. Here's how it went.
There are two easy ways to do this, either with a fabric marker pen, or with fabric paint.
Fabric Marker Pen
The first marker pen I tried was not very impressive, but it was also quite old.
Tip #1. Buy a new marker pen or don't bother.
Once I was armed with new pens the results were amazing. I was surprized to find out that the ink goes on very smoothly. I had expected blotchiness, but that wasn't the case.
The zippers were all definitely good enough to use in any project.
Once dry I tested them for durability with both water and alcohol, rubbing them with a cotton bud. There was very little transference and once dry you couldn't see where I had rubbed them.
The second method was fabric paint.
For my first experiment I mixed in a little water to help the paint flow more easily. This didn't really work very well and the end results were slightly blotchy.
Tip #2 use a dry, or almost dry brush.
The second time around I used a dry brush with a shaped tip. This made it very easy to get up close and personal with the zipper teeth, without colouring them,. Applying the paint with a dry brush gave a very satisfactory result for all colours except the dark blue which needed a second coat.
Again, once dry I tested them with alcohol and water for transference and got similar results to the marker pen.
So which technique is better?
There are advantages and disadvantages to both.
Both techniques gave really good results, with the marker pens just having a slight edge as the back of the zipper also looked really good. The colour seeps evenly through the fabric. If you are going to be able to see the back of the zipper, go with a marker pen or paint the back of the zipper as well.
Where the paint has the edge is that it is relatively much cheaper, will probably stay usable longer and you can mix the colours to really get an exact match to your fabric.
I am not sure how long the nibs of the marker pens would hold up.
Conclusion: This is really a hack, but it's a good one and I would be happy to use the zippers rather than wait to order some, if it was holding me up.
If you have time to plan ahead, it's probably easier and no more expensive to buy a commercially dyed zipper.
These were the paints that I used: