How to Sew a Zipper on a Pillow

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A zipper can be a handy way to add a removable slipcover to a throw pillow. Choose a zipper that’s about 2 inches shorter than the side of the pillow where you want the zipper. Although the zipper won’t show very much, it’s best to pick a zipper that matches the fabric as closely as possible. Plain pillow forms can be purchased in many fabric stores. Use upholstery or home decor fabric to cover the pillow--or plain or printed cotton fabric. For a washable pillowcase, make sure to choose fabric that isn’t dry-clean-only. Pre-wash, dry and iron the fabric before making the pillow case.

Things You'll Need

  • Throw pillow
  • Measuring tape
  • Fabric
  • Matching thread
  • Zipper
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Sewing machine
  • Zipper foot
  • Seam ripper
  • Measure the pillow from top to bottom and side to side. Make sure to measure from the center of the pillow’s edges, so that the pillow’s thickness is included in the measurement as well.

  • Cut a piece of fabric that’s 1 1/4 inches larger on each side than the measurements of the pillow. Cut a second piece of fabric the same size as the first. Place the two pieces of fabric right sides together.

  • Choose which edge of the pillow will have the zipper. Baste the pieces of fabric together along this edge using 5/8-inch seam allowance and a long stitch length.

  • Press the seam allowance open. Pin the zipper tape to the seam allowance.

  • Stitch the edges of the fabric above and below the zipper together using a normal stitch length.

  • Remove the standard presser foot from the sewing machine and attach the zipper foot. Stitch the zipper tape to the seam allowance only.

  • Turn the fabric right side up. Topstitch the fabric to both sides of the zipper tape using the zipper foot.

  • Remove the basting stitches carefully using a seam ripper. Pull out or cut off any loose threads to make sure they don’t get caught in the zipper.

  • Unzip the zipper. Sew the other sides of the pillowcase together using 5/8-inch seam allowance, with the fabric right sides together.

  • Turn the pillowcase right side out. Insert the pillow through the zipper opening, then zip the zipper.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make sure to attach the zipper foot to the machine so that the wider side of the foot is away from the zipper teeth. This lets you stitch closer to the zipper teeth. You can switch the zipper foot to the other side of the machine to sew the other side of the zipper.
  • Be sure to complete and open the zipper before stitching the rest of the pillow seam.

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