I used to be afraid of my sewing machine.
In fact, in an effort to avoid installing a zipper, I used hem tape on the first pillows I ever made, which didn’t last and they sat on my sofa with a bulging seam for way too long. I had to place them strategically so you couldn’t tell. (I can’t believe I’m admiting that!)
The point is, I too, was super intimidated by the idea of sewing a zipper.
After all, I’m pretty much self taught when it comes to sewing, but I also know that everything is figure-outable and I can now say that sewing a zipper isn’t scary, and my pillow covers can now be thrown in the wash again and again which is awesome because yucky things (like drool) tend to end up on the throw pillows around here.
So, today my friends, it is time to learn how to make a zippered pillow cover! Time to get over the fright and get a zippered pillow cover made once and for all!
There really is nothing to be afraid of. Trust me.
Being able to choose your own fabric and freshen up your space with new pillows is going to be something you will do again and again!
I’ve got 2 options for you…
To make it super easy for you, I’ve teamed up with my friends at Fabric.com to bring you the easy to follow tutorial in two forms.
To make a zippered pillow cover you can follow the step-by-step instructions with photos below or head down to the bottom of the post and watch the video!
This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my disclosure.
To make a zippered pillow cover you’ll need:
- Fabric: (You can buy amazing fabric online. Here are my 5 favorite online fabric sources.) It’s best to use a home decor fabric because it is a bit thicker and holds it’s shape nicely. You will need 2 pieces per pillow cut to the same dimensions as your pillow insert.
- A Pillow Insert: I like to use 18 inch pillows. I know that sounds big, but they look the best on a sofa. And if you want a high end look I suggest going with down pillow inserts.
- A Zipper: you want it to be about 3-4 inches shorter than the bottom edge of your pillow. This is where I buy my zippers.
- A sewing machine: This is my favorite (uncomplicated) machine for home decor projects.
- A zipper foot
- A coordinating thread, pins, scissors, and and iron.
- (optional) I highly recommend getting a self healing cutting mat and rotary cutter to make your cuts perfect. It will save you a ton of frustration and make your finished project perfect.
**The blue and white fabric I used for this particular pillow can be found here.
Want to add piping to your pillow cover?
Start with the steps in this post first.
Step 1: Cut your fabric
Cut 2 pieces of fabric, one for the front of the pillow and one for the back.
I like to cut my fabric to the exact dimensions of my pillow insert. This way when I have a 1/2 seam allowance, it fits the pillow form nice an snug. I’ve also found that the best way to get really clean edges is to use a rotary cutter and cutting mat. If you don’t have one, just mark your line with a pen and use scissors, but once you get addicted to making pillows, you will want to invest in a rotary cutter for sure!
Once your fabric is cut, lay your fabric out, pretty sides facing in, and decide which edge will be your bottom edge. STOP! Is your pattern going the direction you want it to on both pieces?
Step 2: Place your zipper
Lay your zipper along the bottom and mark where the zipper starts and stops by placing pins in the fabric. Don’t pin your zipper in place.
Step 3: Sew your bottom edge
Now you’re ready to sew your bottom edge. Here’s the trick to getting a straight zipper.
With a 1/2 inch seam allowance, you’ll sew a regular straight stitch from the edge to the pin, back stitching to start and stop your stitch. Do this on both sides.
Then, between the pins, you’ll do the widest stitch possible with your machine. For me this is the zig-zag stitch. Do not back stitch for this portion. You’re going to take this stitch out once your zipper is in place, so you want it to be easy to remove.
Step 4: Get ready to add the zipper
Iron the seam you just made open and place your zipper on the seam face down. (Yes there is one pillow in my house that has a backward zipper and it’s a really big pain to open. Live and learn right?)
Pin the zipper in place with a few pins and head over to your machine. Don’t be scared. You’ll be fine. 🙂
Step 5: Sew your zipper in place!!!
Ok. Deep breath. You can do this!
The first thing you need to do is to put your zipper foot on. Hold your zipper foot in your hand. Do you see how it almost looks like 1/2 of a regular foot? When you attach it to your machine, you’ll want the “missing side” closest to the zipper and sew down that side, then you’ll switch it and do the other side.
Ok. Ready. Be sure you are back to a regular straight stitch and start at the end of the zipper farthest away from the zipper handle sewing just like you would any other straight line, but keep as close to the zipper teeth as possible.
When you get to the zipper pull you won’t be able to keep going so stop just a little bit from it keeping your needle down in the fabric (if possible.) Lift your foot and carefully unzip the zipper past the foot, lower your foot and continue to the end of the zipper. Backstitch to end your stitch.
Now for the other side. Move your zipper back to the end, switch your zipper foot to the other side so that the “missing side” is closest to the zipper again, and follow the same steps again.
You did it! You just installed a zipper! Go YOU!
Now let’s finish up this bad boy so your husband has a nice new place to drool when he falls asleep on the couch! (Which never happens around here.) 🙂
Step 6: Undo your temporary stitch
With a seam ripper, carefully undo that long stitch that you made along the zipper.
Unzip your zipper at least half way before moving to the next step.
Step 7: Sew the remaining sides of your pillow cover.
Lay your pillow cover out again, good sides facing in, line up the remaining edges, and pin in place. (Make sure the zipper is unzipped at least half way.)
Go back to your machine, put your regular foot back on and sew the remaining edges with a 1/2 inch seam allowance, cutting across diagonally at the corners. (See the photo below)
To do this, stop with your needle in your fabric, lift your foot, turn your fabric, lower your foot, and continue. This is the best way to ever turn a corner of any kind when sewing.
When you’re done, cut off the corners about a 1/2 inch from the stitch you made. This will allow your pillows to have nice corners.
Final Step: Serge the edges (you don’t need a serger for this)
The whole point of having zippered pillow covers is that it makes it really easy to take them off and wash them. So if you plan to wash them, you will want to take the extra couple of minutes to finish the edges so that they last.
To do this you are going to serge the edges.
I don’t have a serger, so I simply use the zig-zag stitch and run my edges through my machine so that the needle goes through the fabric on one side and just barely misses the fabric on the outside. Line up the edge of the fabric with the middle of your foot so that your needle lands on and then off the fabric with each zig-zag stitch. (See the photo below.)
This will give your edges a finished look and keep them from fraying.
Alright! Now turn your zippered pillow cover right side out and get a pillow in there!
Wasn’t as scary as you thought now was it?
How to Make a Zippered Pillow Cover