How to Sew a Zipper on a Pillow Cover

Two posts in a row with vintage sheets! I’ve studied up lots on vintage sheets lately and have really grown an appreciation for some brands and patterns. I’ve learned a bit about how to identify a vintage sheet and a retro sheet, and how to use the tags to check for authenticity. Needless to say, my two little guys have learned where the linen racks are at Salvation Army.

It’s been fun for me. As long as I find sheets at garage sales, estate sales, and thrift stores, the investment is very very reasonable. Using Ebay, Etsy, or Craig’s List appears to be a bit more pricey. But, if you are after really great quality or new vintage sheets, Ebay may be your way to go.

How to sew and install a zipper into a quilted pillow cover.

(Vintage Sheet Patchwork Pillow)

I made a picnic blanket last week with some of the sheets I had collected. I am a ‘use all the scraps’ type quilter, and in a effort to use up some of the larger pieces, I made a quilted pillow cover.

The first few pillow covers I listed in my shop had envelope closures on back. Envelope closures work just fine, but I felt a zipper closure would be a bit better quality. After reading some blog posts, watching YouTube videos, and rounding up some help from my husband, we figured out a method that worked best for my pillow covers. I have sewn for years, but zippers felt a bit intimidating for me. It was good for me to learn how to use them.

1. Find a zipper in whatever color you want. But, make sure it is long enough. I use these zippers. They are 14 inches long. The 14 inches appears to be sufficient whether I’m making a sixteen, eighteen, or twenty inch pillow cover. I had some twelve inch zippers that I used first for a twenty inch pillow cover I made for my sister, and she said it was quite the squeeze getting the pillow form in the small zipper hole.

The zippers I use are all white. It’s the most versatile color for me.

How to sew and install a zipper into a quilted pillow cover.

2. This tutorial will work whether your pillow cover is quilted or just two squares of solid fabric.

Turn your pillow cover face down. (This orange patterned fabric is the inside of my cover.) Lay your zipper in the middle at the bottom of your cover, and make pencil marks at each stop on each end of the zipper. The ‘stop’ is the part of the zipper that stops the slide from going up or down any more.

How to sew and install a zipper into a quilted pillow cover.

Here’s a close up of my mark. I made the mark right at the stop on both ends.

How to sew and install a zipper into a quilted pillow cover.

3. Pin your two sides together in preparation of sewing. You will make a small stitch just a few inches from the end of the pillow to the pencil mark.

How to sew and install a zipper into a quilted pillow cover.

4. On either side of the pillow, sew from the end of the pillow to where you made your pencil marks.

Be sure to sew a half inch seam allowance. Your zipper has to fit inside that seam allowance, and the standard quarter of an inch seam allowance is too small for that.

How to sew and install a zipper into a quilted pillow cover.

After sewing at either end, this is what your pillow cover looks like from the front. The ends should be sewn together using your pencil mark as a guide. And, there should be a large gaping hole in between. This is where the zipper will eventually go.

How to sew and install a zipper into a quilted pillow cover.

5. Turn your cover back over face down. Fold back the half inch seam allowance you sewed at each end of the pillow.

Pin one side of your zipper to the half inch seam allowance.

Double check that the slide of your zipper is facing out to the front of the pillow. (See below picture.)

How to sew and install a zipper into a quilted pillow cover.

6. Install your zipper foot on your sewing machine. Most standard sewing machines come with a zipper foot. This is what mine looks like.

How to sew and install a zipper into a quilted pillow cover.

7. Sew down one side of the zipper. If you look at your zipper foot, there should be one side made for running right along the zipper. See below how close my needle is to the zipper. That’s what a zipper foot is good for. It’s made to be able to sew right there close to your zipper.

How to sew and install a zipper into a quilted pillow cover.

Here’s what your pillow cover should look like after sewing down one side.

How to sew and install a zipper into a quilted pillow cover.

8. Flip your pillow cover back over and pin (or don’t pin depending on your comfort level) the other side of the zipper in preparation for sewing down the second side.

How to sew and install a zipper into a quilted pillow cover.

9. Sew the other side of your zipper to you cover. You can see in the below picture that the slide has the zipper pretty well all closed right there.

Eventually on both sides, you have to sew past the slide. Instead of sewing out and around the slide, here’s what I recommend: stop sewing before you get to the slide, lift your presser foot as high as it will go, and gently move the slide to the other side of the needle. This way you can continue sewing in a straight line.

How to sew and install a zipper into a quilted pillow cover.

Here’s what the zipper looks like on the back side of the pillow.

How to sew and install a zipper into a quilted pillow cover.

Here’s what it looks like on the front.

How to sew and install a zipper into a quilted pillow cover.

10. You probably understand already that when you are making a pillow cover with a zipper, you leave all sides unsewn until the zipper is installed. Once the zipper is installed, open the zipper. Then you finish sewing the other sides of the pillow cover. You need to open the zipper first since you sew the pillow inside out.

How to sew and install a zipper into a quilted pillow cover.

Pillow covers really are a great way to try out new skills. You can practice quilting on a really small scale with quilted pillow covers. Quilted pillow covers are essentially two small quilts sandwiched back to back. They are a good place to practice with zippers, and they are a good alternative to buying expensive covers at your local home decor store.

Plus, you can finish a pillow cover in just about an hour. It’s a great small project.

If you like this pillow, you can find it listed in my Etsy Shop.

How to sew and install a zipper into a quilted pillow cover.

(Please note affiliate links have been used in this post.)

How to sew and install a zipper into a quilted pillow cover.

4 thoughts on “How to Sew a Zipper on a Pillow Cover

  1. Wow! I really loved this pillow design. The sheet you used for making this pillow is amazing! Hope to make one like this soon. I have some sewing knowledge, though I am not an expert. Thanks for sharing Kelli.

  2. Hi Kelli,

    I also make baby bibs as I got rather tired of paying a lot for a single piece of fabric that is supposed to be a bib. They were not fit for purpose, so started making my own bibs. I had a nylon shower , so used that in the middle. It works a dream and many of the moms who have used them, say they are the best. You stitched around the edge, but I started using the fancy stitches on my machine just to make them different.

    Hope this has given you some ideas.

    Regards,

    Kay.

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