Jean Zipper to Button-fly




About: The only time I open my mouth is to change feet

The zipper on my jeans went from problematic to straight-up broken. It started as just an errant zipper and ended with me trying to 'fix' things with a pair of pliers. The result was misaligned teeth and the mesh coming undone.

Instead of ripping the zipper seams and sewing in a new one I decided to modify these jeans to have a button-fly. This simple clothing mod took me less than 30 minutues to make and gave my jeans a new lease on life. The best part is that when the jeans are buttoned up like look just they did before, no one is the wiser!

Here's how I did it!

Step 1: Remove Old Zipper

I considered removing the seams that hold the zipper in, but realized I wouldn't be able to achieve the same stiching as the manufacturer and elected to just remove the exposed portion of the zipper ribbon. With a sharp blade both sides of the zipper was removed.

Step 2: Line Up and Sew Buttons

I used 2 bottons for my fly, but you might be able to get away with one (some womens or childrens jeans have a really short zipper). I lined up my buttons on teh inside flap in a location which would be concealed when the top flap is placed over. An opening will be made on the top flap in the next step.

Sew buttons onto bottom flap. When sewing do not sew buttons tight against the fabric, allowing a space between the underside of the button and fabric will allow your button to easy fit into the button holes. Here's a good technique for sewing on these kinds of buttons.

Make a few passes through the button and fabric with your needle and thread, then poke the needle up through the fabric but not the button. Wind the thread around the button several times, then sew through the windings you just made to secure the thread in place. Repeat for as many buttons as you have for your jeans.

Step 3: Button Holes

The upper flap of the jean fly is folded, making it a double layer of denim. Line up the location of your sewn buttons to the inside of the upper flap and then make a small incision on the inside of the upper flap, careful not to cut through the outer denim (which would be visible to the outside). Your opening should be slightly larger than the button diameter.

stitching openings
I chose to use a bright colour that would compliment and contrast with the jean denim.
Some sewing machines have a setting for button holes, here's how you do it without a sewing machine.
After creating your opening make a few stiches at each end of the opening, this will reinforce the button hole and prevent the fabric from tearing when the button is inserted.

Then, wind stitches along each edge, carefully tucking the fabric opening inside the opening as you stitch.

Step 4: Push Buttons

After stitching your button holes push your buttons through the openings and see how they feel. If the action is too loose you can make a few more stitches at either end of the opening to tighten up the fit.

Your newly modified jeans are now ready to wear. Looking sharp there, you savvy seamster!



  • Weaving Challenge

    Weaving Challenge
  • Paper Contest

    Paper Contest
  • Organization Contest

    Organization Contest

6 Discussions


11 months ago

Update on my pic above - I had to change the brass shank buttons to regular buttons would easily slip out. Didnt even add a shank to the regular ones and holds great,. Also, the second pair I did look much better, as I put the buttons and holes as close to the inside as possible and when closed the jeans look great no pulling like with zipper.


5 years ago on Introduction

Plastic buttons? Really? If your zipper breaks, replace it with something more durable like metal buttons.


6 years ago on Introduction

you just saved me from tossing out a favorite pair of jeans because of the zipper broke!!! Yay :)


7 years ago on Step 2

So an old trick we used as kids was we would run the thread through wax to coat it and make it stronger (we used cotton thread) It was great for buttons that were under a lot of stress (like button flys;-))


7 years ago on Introduction

Nice fix! I prefer button-fly jeans, but they're a bit hard to find these days.