Learn how to make a zipper bracelet – a fantastic DIY fidget toy and travel activity for kids! You can find my list of travel activities for toddlers and kids or scroll down for this DIY version. This post contains affiliate links.
This past summer, our family traveled to Israel, where my husband grew up, to spend time with family.
We flew through Turkey, making it a very long trip.
That’s a 9-10 hour flight, and then another two, plus the stopover and airport time.
So we brought along lots of activities.
One of M’s favorite activities (M was almost six at the time) were these zipper buckle bracelets.
I’ve already featured a post on how to make a zipper bracelet here years ago, focusing on DIY zipper bracelets that are more jewelry-ish. I included an even better version in my book How to Make Jewelry Out of Anything.
Want to learn how to make jewelry out of anything? Get the book!
This one is very different because it’s meant more as a wearable fidget toy or a “fun” wearable, rather than bling. It’s actually a great project for boys too for that reason!
I made these for my boys, but slightly older kids- maybe age eight and up – can make them themselves.
But M loves wearing bracelets (he wears this zig zag friendship bracelet I made him all the time as you can see in some of the pictures). Since both zippers and buckles make fantastic fidgets, I decided those make great travel toys to bring along. And using just that keeps it compact.
Then I realized that if you have a few, you can connect them. You can make ropes, chains, weave them, and stack them.
And so, what was supposed to just be a simple project on how to make a zipper bracelet turned into a whole DIY fidget toy that’s great for travel.
We started these zipper buckle bracelets out clipped onto their backpacks as a chain. M switched between wearing them, playing with them, and having them on his backpack.
One thing was for certain: it was fantastic having an activity that they can pull out and put away at a second’s notice without having to scramble to close backpacks. And since we made them and knew we could easily make more (each one takes about five minutes to make) we didn’t mind losing them either!
What you need to make a fidget bracelet for kids:
Zipper bracelet instructions:
You can learn how to make a zipper bracelet by watching the video below. Or, scroll down for step-by-step photo instructions. There is a printable version at the end of this post.
How to make a zipper bracelet – photo instructions:
I used a very specific process to sew the buckles onto the zippers. Of course, you can do what you want. Once I did it once or twice, the process came in my sleep. I did it this way because it’s very secure and it looks nice.
1. Fold in the sides of the bottom of your zipper and hold it in place.
2. Slide it through one of the sides of your buckle and fold down, holding it in place.
3. Knot the end of your embroidery thread. Bring it from back to front on one side of your zipper (on the right of the teeth). Go through the folded over short end and the main body of your bracelet.
4. Bring it back around to the front, going through the other side of the zipper (to the left of the teeth)
You should have formed a single stitch in the front, going across the teeth. This is your securing stitch that holds everything in place so that you can work with it.
5. Now, wrap the thread around both the front and back parts of the zipper, holding down that folded over flap. Do this where your stitch is, about ten times, or whatever you think looks nice and is secure. Do it somewhat tight.
6. End your wrapping in the back, and slide your needle through the bundle from the top, out the bottom, back in the top and back out the bottom, holding your wrapped threads together.
7. Without cutting your thread, bring your needle from the back to the front through the zipper, at the point right at the bottom of the wrapped thread, on one side of your zipper teeth.
8. Bring it back to the back of the bracelet on top of the bundle on the same side of the zipper. Repeat with the other side. You’re basically forming a stitch over the bundle of wrapped thread on either side of the zipper teeth.
9. Knot your thread in the back, trim. Trim any extra zipper hanging in the back under your wrapped thread.
The front looks like this – isn’t it pretty? It’s rock solid too and can handle plenty of abuse.
10. Time to attach the other half of your buckle! Open your zipper partway and determine how big you want your bracelet to be.
11. If you were working with both halves of your buckle attached, detach them now and slide the second half up until the point where you want your bracelet to end.
12. Repeat the process of knotting, stitching, wrapping, stitching, and knotting on the other half.
13. You’ll probably have more to trim on this side but once you do, your zipper bracelets are complete!
Now you can wear and play! I hope you enjoyed learning how to make a zipper bracelet as a travel fidget toy! What’s your favorite process for making zipper bracelets? Comment below!