Stitching, other than Knitting and Crochet

While Michael and I were in India, my backpack gave up the ghost.  I’d been babying it for a while, as the zipper had some weak spots where the toggle would jump the track.  But I’d been making it work.  While we were shopping one day, Michael was putting our purchases in the backpack, and being rather rough with it.  I told him, “Be careful, the zipper is delicate.”

He said, “I’ve got it.”

A moment later, he yanked and it broke broke.

Try as we might, that zipper pull wasn’t going back on the track.  In desperation, we cut a hole in the fabric to strap it shut with a length of twine, and I struggled not to be mad at him the rest of the day.

When we got home, we had one gift card left from the wedding that we hadn’t used.  We decided this was going to be used to buy me a new backpack.  So I looked for a new backpack.

Now, it must be said.  I’ve had this backpack for eight years.  It’s been with me since the first day of college, and has carried two computers, books, projects, and more things than I can count.  It’s been to Sweden, across the United States, to India, Norway, and I’ve carried it 5 days out of 7 for the last eight years.  I haven’t had a seam split or a strap break or anything. (It’s one of the higher end models by Jansport).  It has a place to put my computer, with ample padding and a shock absorbing insert on the bottom in case I drop it (which I’ve done a lot).  A roomy main pocket, a headphone pocket that is perfect for a pair of in-progress socks, and plenty of other pockets.

When I looked online, nothing fit.  None of the backpacks I could find (even the ones out of my price-range) had adequate padding.  The shoulder straps were wonky.  I wasn’t looking for much, but nothing fit.  After hitting up multiple stores to look at backpacks in person, and searching online more than I cared to admit, it occurred to me that I might be happier if I just replaced the zipper myself.

So I went digging in my stash of zippers (as my grandmother threw nothing away, and this included clipping buttons and zippers out of everything). Miracle upon miracle, I found a jacket zipper that worked (it means that instead of zipping out from the middle, it zips out from the sides) and fit the hole.

Below follows the process of resurrecting the backpack, if you ever are interested in doing the same:

I unpicked the stitches to the zipper on one side.  On the other side (the part with the red zipper flap) the seam also
held the zipper flap, so I just sewed the new zipper flush to the old zipper.  This worked surprisingly well.
A simple running stitch made in super-tiny stitches worked really well.  I used a bright color for my eyes, and because
 when making repairs of this nature, I had no ability to hide the repair, so might as well make it a design feature, right?
New zipper lying flush to old zipper.
Patience is a virtue.  Halfway through I realized that I’d sewn the zipper in with a twist, had to unpick it and re-sew it.
The cats could not stop staring at me the whole time.  Thread, flicking and moving and
oh-so-pounce-able, and they got spritzed every time they tried to go for it.
Zipper nearly finished, working as it should.