July 20, 2016

Pillow with a Zipper Tutorial

Hello fabric loving friends! Today I'm sharing the pillow I made with my second round of Sweet Tea fabric, an upcoming line for Hoffman Fabrics by Thistlewood Farms.  I'm also sharing how I put zippers in my pillows. I much prefer zippers to envelope backs as the pillow keeps its shape soooo much better over time. It's not scary, I promise, and I know you'll love the result!

UPDATE: You can watch a video tutorial on zippers on my Instagram highlights.

*Disclaimer: I have absolutely no idea if this is the "right" way to put a zipper on a pillow.  It's simply one of the ways I taught myself to do it. I have made many pillow covers using this method and they have all held up very well thus far :)

Alright, here we go! First you'll need your two pillow panels, spray basted or quilted to batting, and trimmed up. These could be just simple pieces of fabric, or a pieced together design like this. Mine are 18" as I plan on using a 20" pillow form, and the pillow cover needs to be a bit smaller than the form. If you make them the same size the result will be a sad, saggy thing. I also have a zipper as wide as my project, or a little shorter, it doesn't have to be exact. Finally, you need two pieces of coordinating fabric 1" by 5".

Trim your zipper (with nasty old scissors, not your good ones!!) so that it's an inch or two shorter than your pillow top on each side. Make sure you move the pull to the middle before you do this- chopping it off will create more work for yourself.

Fold your 1" by 5" pieces in half lengthwise and press. Sew (I use a walking foot for this entire project) the folded ends to the edges of your zipper. You can sew over a zipper, don't worry, just go slowly. I went over the seam on the right end two or three times since there isn't a metal cap holding the zipper together there, and there will be lots of pulling on that point when you stuff your pillow. Then trim to the exact width of the pillow top.

Sew the zipper right side down to the bottom edge of your pillow top. Sew about 1/8" from the actual zipper- very close, but no so close that the zipper pull won't be able to move. When you get to the zipper pull, put your needle in the down position, lift the presser foot, and carefully slide the pull behind the walking foot. Then lower the presser, and continue sewing to the end.

Now fold open the zipper and sew it right sides together with the bottom edge of the back of your pillow top. Follow the same procedure for getting around the zipper pull. Then press your zipper seams out. Yes, you can iron a zipper. Just don't touch it for a while afterwards :) It should look like this, front and back:

Now, slide your zipper part-way open so that when it's all sewn together you'll be able to get to the zipper pull to turn the cover right side out. Fold the two sides of the pillow together, right sides together. The pieces of fabric on the ends of the zipper should fold inward and flatten, like so:

Sew around the remaining three edges of the pillow 1/4" from the edge. Back stitch at the corners to reinforce the seams since pillows get a lot of wear and tear. Then, sew around those three sides again to reinforce.  You can trim your corners off just a tiny bit so they form nicely when turned out. Turn your pillow right side out, push the corners and edges out, and give it a good press.

It should look like this along the zipper.  Stuff your pillow form in carefully, zip it up, give it a fluff, and you're there! I love to use 20" down pillow forms from IKEA. The price is right and they feel and look great.

Everyone loves a fluffy new pillow, even sassy 5 year old boys who don't approve of floral things. 

Thanks for following along with this tutorial. Check back in a month for round three of Sweet Tea. You can find my first Sweet Tea project here, or go see projects by my fellow Sweet Tea Ambassadors, Jill at Sew a Fine Seam, and Jen at Noting Grace. Their projects are just beautiful!!


  1. What a cute project! Thanks for sharing.

  2. I love zippers in pillows! It's the only way to get that really square shape! Great tutorial! Thank you for sharing :) xo Amanda

  3. I love zippers in pillows! It's the only way to get that really square shape! Great tutorial! Thank you for sharing :) xo Amanda

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  5. Thank you very very much from the other side of earth, Greece... I've been looking for a proper way to put the zipper since... ages!

  6. Great post! Thank you for sharing valuable information. Keep up the good work... purchase Foam Pillow