Pack up your troubles…

“Pack up your troubles in an old kit bag…”

So today’s wee venture was to sort out my Dad’s old RAF kit bag. He was clearing a load of stuff out and asked if I wanted it to sell on eBay. I agreed, but once I’d taken a proper look at the Number 1 Dress Uniform and Great Coat, both with his Corporal insignia and the two crossed rifles to show his position as a rifleman (I got his eyesight if not his aim…), I realised I would be a fool to sell them. Call me a sentimentalist, but I believe these are the things to keep, rather than the myriad odd mugs, out-sized jumpers and invitation to a friend’s wedding from 17 years ago…

Anyhow. I gave the kit bag a good scrub up as it was a little worse for wear, and once dry, had to use WD40 sparingly on the zip to get it to ease. However, an unnoticed fault in the zip line made the zipper derail:

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One of the elements (teeth) of the zip had torn from its neighbour, tearing the canvas of the tape too

Well there was no way, a) I was throwing this baby out with the bath water or b) I was replacing the zip just yet, given the authenticity. So having watched a few YouTube videos on mending zippers (some better than others), I was ready to give it a try…

Sew (haha see what I did there?) (sorry, I’ll refrain…). So, firstly I re-attached the zipper by taking out the retaining box, and some of the teeth on the side which needed the slider to reattach. The latter was to create a little more room, as the zip had been sewn in tight to the seam on the bag:

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The retaining box and elements I took out to be able to get the slider back on

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Finally the twain met!

It was a bit of a struggle to get the slider back on and the elements to rejoin (if I’m being honest I started the job last night but had a bit of a diva strop as I couldn’t get it sorted, so decided it was best to walk away and come back to it in a better fettle). I didn’t want to tear the cotton tape nor the canvas of the bag, so after getting reinforcements in the form of blunt-ended pliers, to go literally hand-in-hand with the long-nosed pliers, I was able to prise the slider back on, but I needed to trim some of the frayed tape as it was bulking up within the slider, stopping the latter from moving further.

Once the two were reunited, I used a safety pin to stop the slider from sliding off the elements again, while the retaining box was no longer there to stop it, and focused on sorting out the dodgy element.

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Ahhh the humble safety pin! Thank you Walter Hunt (who knew he invented the Winchester Rifle forerunner too?)

I  carefully stitched reinforcing stitches on the zipper tape, before wrapping the thread around the two elements to bind them back together, each time sewing back into the tape. Then a few stitches between the two elements, to hopefully keep my thread away from the slider. Once this stage was done I made a test run carefully moving the slider up and past my work:


Woohoo! Initial success at least.

Okay. So in theory it was working. What I  needed to do now was reinforce/protect the thread. My first thought was to use superglue (invented  during the Vietnam War to glue soldiers back together (true story!)), but then I realised superglue is too rigid, and will crack rather than bend with movement of the canvas.

So I hovered between two options: Beeswax (I use this when fettling my set of Northumbrian Small Pipes) or using a pva-based glue. I decided on the latter for a longer lasting effect. I used an old stippling brush to try and get the glue to soak into the fabric of both cotton tape and sewing thread, to bond the two into one cohesive whole again.


Oh great, a cat with a habit…

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Right then. Let’s see if this works…

Ok then. Job done.

In the morning I will sew reinforcing thread at the end of the zip, by the retaining box, to make sure the zip can’t run off again. I will then attach the retaining box itself over my sewing (using my trusty pliers) mainly to look good, rather than to necessarily hold the two sides of tape together as it’s looking like a pretty awkward job otherwise, if I were just to rely on the reattached retaining box.

The bulk of the thread is currently causing the slider some resistance as it tries to run over it, so I may look at trying to compact that tomorrow, once the glue has dried and I have a better idea of the success or failure of my work.

Finally once I’ve got the zip functioning again (positive thought, see?!), I’m going to get an old cloth (or the paint brush  I used for the glue) and rub WD40 all over the metal parts of the zip to help clean, remove/expel the copper verdigris on the elements and hopefully create a smooth surface on which the slider can run.

I will report back.


About Hannah Wiggins

An ICT specialist, musician, landscape archaeologist, linguist and crochet enthusiast with over 40 years' life experience packed with constant adventure and learning. Articulate, dedicated and passionate in everything I do.
This entry was posted in DIY, Household, Mending, Recycling and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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