Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How to Sew a Pillow Cover with an Invisible Zipper

It is no secret adding new pillows is a simple and inexpensive way to update the look of any space. Pillows are available in every price range, a myriad of styles and are found in so many places it is easy to be tempted to just buy them. But why not make them instead! With just a simple sewing machine and basic skills, anyone can customize pillow covers to their décor.

Here is what I do when my outdated pillows need a face lift.

Sewing machine
Zipper foot for sewing machine
Pillow form
Cutting mat and rotary cutter
Ironing board

Cutting Your Fabric
If this fabric looks familiar, you probably recognize it
from Janell’s fabulous master bedroom upholstered headboard project

The first step to create a professional looking pillow is centering the fabric design to the middle of the pillow. This is especially important when using more than one pillow of the same fabric in the same room. Like curtains, all pillows made from the same fabric should be identical. If your fabric has a large pattern, pick your favorite element of the print to center on your pillow. This means unless you are using a solid or a fabric with a very small repeat, you will need more fabric than just twice the size of your pillow insert.

For each pillow cover you will use two pieces of fabric measuring the same size as your pillow insert – one for the front and one for the back. By cutting the fabric to the same size as the insert, you will create a pillow cover which fits perfectly – snug but not tight and loose but not messy.

For this example I used a 20 x 20 down/feather insert, making the center point for my pillow cover 10” on both sides.

Sewing the Invisible Zipper
Determine the size of your zipper based on the size of the bottom edge of your pillow cover. I leave 2” on either side of the zipper to make it easy to insert and remove the pillow form. For a 20” pillow I needed a 16” zipper. My local fabric store does not stock 16” zippers so I used a 20”– 22” zipper which will be cut to size later.

The first step to attaching an invisible zipper is ironing. When you take the zipper out of the package it will be wrinkled.

Open up the zipper and gently iron both sides.

A zipper is much easier to use and attach when it is straight.

Using one piece of fabric, right side up, align zipper edge with fabric edge of the bottom of your pillow and pin in place as shown below.

The zipper should start and end about 2” from each side edge and the coil should be ½” from the edge of the fabric.

Mark end of zipper with pin or pencil to denote where to stop sewing.

There are two options for sewing the zipper to the fabric. The first is a zipper foot which comes with most sewing machines.

The second is a plastic zipper foot made for sewing invisible zippers. These can be found near the zipper section in most stores which carry zippers.

I use the plastic zipper foot when I am making a non-welted (i.e. non-corded) pillow. The ridge on the foot guides the zipper coils smoothly without risk of sewing the zipper itself.

After the zipper has been sewn to one piece of fabric the next step is to attach it to the other piece of fabric. Begin by closing the zipper.

With right sides together match up sides and bottom edges of pillow cover. Pin the zipper in place.

Unzip the zipper.

Now repin the zipper with the coils ½” from the edge one pin at a time. I found this trick to be helpful in keeping my zipper in the correct place.

Attach zipper using zipper foot, being sure to stop once again 2” from side edge.

Close zipper to just past where you finished attaching it to the fabric.

Using a needle and thread, make several stitches to create a stop for the zipper.

Cut off excess zipper.

Unzip zipper. Align and pin all outside edges of pillow cover with right sides together.

Using the zipper foot which came with the sewing machine, sew around outside of pillow cover using a ½” seam allowance. Start and end slightly past the opening and closing points of the zipper.

Turn pillow cover right side out through zipper opening and insert pillow form.



Anita @ GoingALittleCoastal said...

That was a great tutorial! So, was your finished size then 19x19 after your seams? I like it when the insert fills out the cover well and I guess that is a good amount to do so. Thanks.

Angela said...

Enjoy your blog. I like it's name. I too have a red door home. I've seen a pretty apple green on a blog and thought about trying it but am really fond of the red. I have a dilemma. I also saw a recent blog post about a pretty new kitchen rug and now can't remember which blog it was. Did you do a post recently about a new kitchen rug? Thanks.

Boxwood Terrace said...

This is great! Thanks for the instructions. I've always wanted to learn how to make pillow covers with zippers. Now I just need to have my sewing machine repaired....

Red Door Home said...

Yes - The finished size of the pillow will be 1" small than the measurements of the pillow form. So in my case 19" x 19".

Red Door Home said...

Unfortunately it was not me posting about the new kitchen rug. Sorry I can't be of more help.

the 30 girl said...

Lovely tutorial! Thanks so much for sharing a novice sewer I've been making flap-fold pillow covers, but this has given me a new method! I'm such a visual learner and this is great!

Sonya@Beyond the Screen Door said...

You did a great job on this tutorial! Very clear and easy to understand. I feel like I'm lacking in the tutorial department. Maybe more practice is the key. Hmmm?
I've recently been thinking about using more zippers in my pillows. Thanks for the inspiration!

frugal farmhouse design said...

Wonderful tutorial, I love the way the pillow came out and the fabric choice. I noticed your vintage sewing machine that you have, very cool. Great post! Lori

Courtney {a thoughtful place} said...

Great tutorial. I have been wanting to make my own and probably would have "winged" it. Not now! Thank you. and the fabric choice is wonderful said...

Thanks so much for the great tutorial- I'll be linking.

Allie said...

Looks fab! Great detailed tutorial.
You should come link this up to my Making It With Allie party.

Laurie Jones said...

Thanks for the step by step from someone who has learning how to sew a pillow on her bucket list for far too long!

bsurrounded said...

Very easy to understand tutorial. I couldn't help but notice that ironing board cover. Where can I find one just like it?

bsurrounded said...

Where can I find that ironing board cover? Great tutorial too.

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