I’m in love with these chevron zipper-backed pillows! They were amazingly easy to sew. Honestly, sewing a pillow with a zipper closure is easier than sewing without one, since you never have to worry with hand stitching it closed. They’re practical too, since the cover can be taken off and washed, while the pillow form stays dry.
I was already nuts over the fabric, but now that it’s sewn into pillow covers I’m even more obsessed. They really brighten our black leather couch. The leather, which is apparently some sort of coated polyurethane and leather composite, is peeling all over. I can’t replace the couch right now, so distracting myself from it is a good thing.
If you read my post yesterday, you’ll know this was my first time making pillows by myself. I was a bit afraid that the necessary precision would elude me, and that they would somehow be much more difficult than sewing clothing. I’m back to report that they were a cinch! There is absolutely no reason to buy pillows every again, when the fabric store is brimming with better fabrics than you can find on ready-made pillows.
Well, the only thing that might stop me from making oodles of pillows is the cost. Finding the supplies on sale is pretty important. At Hancock this week, the upholstery fabric was 50% off. Zippers and pillow forms were 30% off. If I hadn’t been in a hurry, buying the fabric and sitting tight for a sale on those would have helped the cost. I misplaced the receipt, but the whole thing (including matching thread) added up to about $20. I have enough fabric left over to make a third pillow. So not bad.
You can read the supply list in the photo above. The tape may not be a familiar supply, so here’s a link to the product. That simple roll of tape has saved my zipper sewing life. Prior to using it, my zipper and fabric always got wavy because I stretched either the zipper or fabric during sewing. Pins weren’t enough to keep that from happening – in fact, they bent the zipper into a wave before sewing. But now that I’ve used this tape, I’ve been adding zippers everywhere. I even ripped out a broken zipper and put in a new one on a friend’s husband’s jacket.
The measurements I’m providing are for a 16″ x 16″ pillow form. However, adjusting this tutorial to fit any sized pillow is super easy. You want to use a 1/2″ seam allowance. So simply add an inch total to each size of your pillow form measurements to cut your main front square. Then, your back piece has to be cut and have a zipper installed – with 1/2″ seam allowances – for a total loss of an inch. So make it an inch longer on one side than the square. My pieces are 17″ x 17″ and 17″ x 18″.
Decide where you want your zipper to go on the back of the pillow. I measured down 3.5 inches, so after seam allowances for both the main seam and the zipper seam, it falls 1/2″ from the top of my pillow. Using a disappearing fabric marker, make small dots at 3.5″ from the edge in several spots. Line your ruler up along these dots, draw a line, and cut along the line.
Lay the smaller cut piece over the larger one, right sides together. Pin in place. Then lay and center your zipper on top, and note with your marker where the zipper teeth begin and end. Set the zipper aside.
With a normal stitch length, sew the small area from each edge to the mark you made, backstitching at both ends. In the middle area, where the zipper will go, stitch without backstitching, using your longest stitch length.
Iron the seam open.
Cut two pieces of the fabric tape the length of the zipper teeth. Stick one on each side of the seam you just created, on the wrong side of the fabric. Peel off the paper, leaving just the sticky tape.
Then, center the zipper over the seam, and stick it down onto the tape.
Using a zipper foot and coordinating thread, stitch along both sides of the zipper. You’ll notice that I did not have my zipper centered on this pillow. Oops!
It’s a little tricky to sew around the zipper pull. If you attempt to sew around it, your line will not be straight. So be patient and sew a bit, lift the presser foot, and move the zipper pull out of the way.
When you’ve sewn all the way around the zipper, flip the piece over to the right side. Pull at the seam, and you’ll see the large basting stitches you created earlier. Carefully slide a seam ripper through the gap, breaking those stitches. Do NOT rip out the edges beyond the zipper. Once the basting stitches are ripped out, pick out the loose threads. And you’ll have yourself a working zipper!
We’re almost done! Unzip the zipper slightly, and lay the zippered piece over the other piece of fabric. The two pieces should now be the same size.
Since you’ll be turning the pillow right side out through the zipper, you can now sew the two pieces together all the way around without stopping.
Clip your corners, and either serge or use pinking sheers all the way around the raw edge. Then turn it right side out.
Push the seams out, and iron them flat. A knitting needle or crochet hook are helpful for pushing out the corners.
And that’s it! Insert your pillow form, zip it up, and you’re done. I love that there’s no hand sewing required at the end to close any openings. The whole thing just zips on, and then will zip off for cleaning or switching out for a new cover.