After two years of moderate/heavy use my camera bag had lost some of it's zipper pulls, so I set out to make some replacements.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
What you'll need:
- String or Twine to be braided
- Zipper w/ missing pull
- Sugru (optional)
- Dextrous fingers
Step 2: Jute
First you'll need to get some twine. I used Natural Jute [4 ply - #72] - available at my local Hobby Lobby. Four dollars got me a 135 ft spool, far more than required for this project. Most importantly, it's about 3/16 of an inch wide, small enough to fit through the eye of my zipper tab.
Step 3: Cut the Twine
Cut two lengths of twine. Sixteen inches worked well for me, but this dimension will vary – dependent on the thickness of your twine, the tightness of the braid, and the desired length of the pull itself. Give yourself some extra if you're not sure of the length, it will come in handy when you do the over hand knot.
Step 4: Thread It Through and Tie
Thread the lengths of twine through the eye of the zipper tab, pulling until you reach the midpoint. Gather the strings evenly and tie a simple knot snugly on the zipper tab.
Step 5: Braiding
Now you have four twine lengths to braid. I did a simple alternating twist style, but any type of braid will work. The video below is annotated with instructions on how to do the braid.
Step 6: Triming
Finish your braid with an overhand knot. Trim excess twine.
Step 7: Sugru
As nice as the natural look of the jute is, I have my doubts about the long term durability, and it doesn't blend very well with the bag. I finished my zipper pulls with Sugru, an air-dry silicone rubber material. It comes in a variety of colors, the black blends quite well with the bag.
Note: Follow the directions on your Sugru packet to get the best results, and though sugru is classified as not-hazardous, they recommend that customers with sensitive skin wear gloves while working with the uncured product.
Step 8: Applying the Sugru
Here you can see what the zipper pull looks like before and after the Sugru was applied. The application process itself is fairly simple. Start by opening the sachet (British for packet?) and kneading the Sugru with your fingers to get it loosened up. Then work it into the twine as best you can, flexing and turning the pull every which way so as to get the best coverage possible. You have 30 minutes from when you first open the sachet, to when the Sugru begins to cure, so don't dawdle or open the packet before you're ready for it. The dry time varies dependent on how thickly you apply the Sugru, but 24 hours was more than long enough in my case. The resulting pull will be quite flexible. Plus there's the bonus that it will have taken on the properties of Sugru , namely that it will be water and UV resistant.
Step 9: And You're Done!
For the two rather large (nearly 4 inches long each) blue zipper pulls I used about 8 grams of Sugru, or two sachets. The black ones were a bit smaller, one sachet was sufficient for both.