Blogging the alphabet ~ Z


The zip was first invented in 1913.

Selection of zips for sale

It is a fastening device consisting of parallel rows of metal, plastic, or nylon teeth on adjacent edges of an opening that are interlocked by a sliding tab. (Sounds very technical and more complicated than it is!)

On the long road to today, the zipper has passed through the hands of several dedicated inventors, none convinced the general public to accept the zipper as part of everyday costume. The magazine and fashion industry made the novel zipper the popular item it is today, but it happened nearly eighty years after the zipper’s first appearance.

Elias Howe, who invented the sewing machine received a patent in 1851 for an ‘Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure.’ Perhaps it was the success of the sewing machine, which caused Elias not to pursue marketing his clothing closure. As a result, Howe missed his chance to become the recognized ‘Father of the Zip.’

The design used today, based on interlocking teeth, was invented by Swedish born scientist Gideon Sundback in 1913 and patented as the “Hookless Fastener” and after more improvements patented in 1917 as the “Separable Fastener”.  One of its first customers was the US Army. It applied zippers to the clothing and gear of the troops of World War I;

From the slow beginnings, the zipper has found its way into everything from plastic pencil cases to sophisticated space suits and countless “fly” jokes. The zippers used today are little different to that of the Gideon Sundback design of 1917.

When you see YKK, you think of zippers, because they have manufactured zippers since 1934. The name YKK was first registered as a trademark in 1946. Over the years, the letters “YKK” were stamped onto the zippers’ pull tabs, and thus YKK became known as the Company’s trademark.

The inspiration for this post was the wonderful speccy and her tale of woe.  Perhaps a Zip Her would be the answer.

I wonder if I could……

10 thoughts on “Blogging the alphabet ~ Z

  1. Ursula

    Ah, now that’s more like it: Grannymar, of old, on a Tuesday. Right up my zipper.

    Sorry (for myself) to say that speccy’s predicament I have encountered many a time. Not least last week when I managed to lock myself into a tight denim skirt. And nip my skin at the waist. There was no give. None. I took the brutal approach. Just ripped the skirt at the seam. It’s now in the bin for its sin.

    I remember my girlfriends and I lying down to do up the zip of our (leather) jeans. It was the only way to decant yourself into the tightest of the tight. Doubled as a sort of chastity belt: Once in, there was no easy way out.


  2. Grannymar Post author

    Ursula – You seem to be very interested in craft work, I wonder if you ever blogged about your efforts.

  3. Ursula

    Grannymar, there is nothing to blog about. It’s all long in the past. Loved it. My mother didn’t. No needle craft or sewing for her. Not that that deterred me to knit myself dresses, even a long coat. I embroidery-stitched her a most intricate table cloth (age 9). A delicate lace shawl. My poor father left the house with a lovingly knitted yellow, of all colours, tie. Christmas presents. Yes, bring on the violins. Pass me a tissue.

    I suppose your Tuesday posts evoked a nostalgia in me. And you are a kindred spirit in that way.


  4. Rummuser

    Ah, zips! Apart from having sold them for decades, I can recall some hilarious moments with malfunctioning zips and unzipped trousers as well as some very frustrating moments too.

  5. wisewebwoman

    Remember the invisible zippers, GM, haven’t seen those in ages, very effective and they never broke and couldn’t be seen in the side of a skirt or the back of a dress. Picky to sew but worth it.
    Oh Maude be with the days, I used to sew so much, even hubby’s suits….

  6. Grannymar Post author

    Ramana – I would love to hear some of those stories.

    WWW – I have a few pairs of Capri style pants and they have those invisible zips. Very neat on the hips. The style I disliked most was when zips were inserted in ladies fitted dresses at the side, from bust to hip level. My school uniform was fitted and had a zip like that. On PE day my classmates really struggled to pull the uniform over their heads. ME? I flicked the wide over shoulder straps and the uniform fell to the floor with no need to open the zip! The other girls never forgave me. 😆

  7. Nick

    I’m just glad someone invented the zip and I wasn’t doomed to a life time of fiddling around with tiny buttons. Though buttons are much prettier of course.

    But shouldn’t this be part of your “Openings” series??

  8. Grannymar Post author

    Nick – I forgot all about using the photos for the Openings series. perhaps having zips deep in my sewing box, took me in the direction of ‘crafts’

  9. Grannymar Post author

    Famous Photographer – We women are particularly grateful to Gideon Sundback and those who went before him for their efforts in producing the zipper!


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