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Zip it! How to Add a Zipper to Any Sewing Project

May 8, 2012

I wanted to recover the couch pillows to freshen up to the look downstairs with the basement renovation almost done. I purchased several bright contemporary prints from the fabric store, one for each pillow. I always add a zipper when making pillow shams, but this tutorial can be us for any project you want to add a zipper to (duffel bag, clothing etc…)

You will need a few things to do this project:

  • Sewing machine
  • zipper foot
  • zipper (they come in different lengths so make sure to check)
  • high quality thread (don’t cheap out here)
  • fabric  (1/2 yard for a medium sized pillow)
  • pillow insert

This is so easy to do! Think of all the custom projects you can make. I like to hide the zipper in a seam so that the pillows can be used on either side, but you can put the zipper in any place. Keep in mind, this is just one way to do it – if you are looking for another way, just email me and I can help you out.

  • Measure the pillow to gauge how much fabric will be needed.

  • Measure out your fabric making sure to add 1/4 to 1/2 inch salvage on each side.

  • Pick your zipper. They come in so many colors, this one was a perfect match.

  • Cut the fabric to length and lay it down on a flat surface with the right-side/print-side up. You will need two pieces the same size to make a pillow.

  • Un-zip the zipper and place it face down along the edge of the fabric. Center the zipper along the edge so there is equal space on each side.

  • Pin ONE site of the zipper (face down) on the fabric edge.I like to use pins with the large colorful heads, they are easier to push into place and you less likely to forgot and leave one in place.

  • Sew the pinned side of the zipper in place. Make sure to sew along the edge of the zipper, not up close against the teeth. .

  • Now, fold the sewn edge under the fabric, so the print side of the fabric is facing up, and the zipper is now face up. The sewn edge will not be visible.

  • With the sewn edge folded under, adjust the fold to reveal just the teeth of the zipper. Remember, the zipper is un-zipped. Pin the fold into place.

  • Sew down the fold as close as you can get to the zipper teeth, but allowing room for the zipper head to move up and down.

  • Now repeat the process on the other side of the zipper with the second piece of fabric. Remember to keep the zipper un-zipped, and that the zipper lay face down on the printed side of the fabric. Pin into place, and sew long the edge without teeth.

  • Still working on the other piece, fold the zipper under so the zipper and the print and face up, and sew down the fold. Zip it up!

  • Put the right sides of the fabric together.

  • Sew two of the three remaining sides and STOP. Remember to un-zip the zipper at this step before you sew the last side closed. If the zipper is zipped shut at this point you can turn the pillow right side out. Once unzipped, sew the last side closed.

  • Turn it right side out, and insert the pillow.  Ta Da!

  • The zipper is hidden in the seam so the pillow can be used on both sides.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Carissa permalink
    April 21, 2015 3:46 PM

    I love this tutorial! I haven’t sewn in a long time and finally getting back into it. Can I use just a regular pressure foot as my lovely daughter flushed my zipper foot?

  2. vanessa permalink
    January 26, 2015 6:40 PM

    Thanks for this great tutorial. Its been my favorite and easy to follow than most Ive been looking for. Do I need to use a zipper foot to do it this way? Thank you!

  3. Pam Tocornal permalink
    July 21, 2013 8:02 AM

    Thanks for the zipper review. Have forgotten how to put in zipper so you do not see it . Not invisible zipper but one that has a flap over the teeth and pull so you do not see it ….remind me please….thanks

  4. May 9, 2012 4:01 PM

    Thank you for this tutorial! It’ll come in handy when we move on to other rooms.

  5. May 8, 2012 4:38 PM

    This sounds so easy!
    Planning to custom-make pillows for the new house – I’ll definitely be referring back to this post for the instructions 🙂 I’ve yet to try sewing a zipper because they intimidate me – but this makes it seem doable 🙂

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