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How to Sew a Pillow Cover With a Zipper

This post will show you how to sew a pillow cover with a zipper! Get over your fear of sewing zippers and make over some old throw pillows with this easy step-by-step tutorial.

How to sew a pillow cover with a zipper

Anyone else have a long-held and serious fear of sewing zippers? I don’t know why it is so intimidating. But I’m over the fear now. I’ve done a couple things with zippers over the years, and I finally feel like I’m able to approach sewing zippers without fear.

So when I decided to make some throw pillow covers with a zipper instead of an envelope closure, I thought it’d be a great tutorial to share. You see, we have these nasty barftastic faux fur pillows…

pillow form

They weren’t always gross, but after having a reflux-y baby who spit up on them a lot, and after several cycles through the washer and dryer, they just don’t look so hot. Faux fur just doesn’t wash very well. But they are great pillows in terms of size and firmness, so I decided to use them as shells and hide the ugly matted faux fur with a cover. Reduce, reuse, recycle, all that jazz.

And they look lovely! (Especially since the front and back are different fabrics: front is brush stroke watercolors, back is velour.)

pillow with a cover on it

Here’s what I used:

  • Fabric, decorative and velour. I got both of mine from Jo-Ann.
  • Sewing machine and coordinating thread
  • Regular and zipper foot for your machine
  • Scissors, pins, measuring tape, straight edge, marker, seam ripper
  • Zipper
  • Iron

And here are the steps for how to sew a pillow cover with a zipper.

Step 1: Prep and cut fabric.

First wash and dry your fabric to ensure it has been pre-shrunk. Iron if necessary and cut. I was using a pillow that needed a 20″ x 20″ pillow form, and I also added a 1″ seam allowance on each side.

For me cutting is actually one of the hardest processes, so I used a combination of my tape, straight edge, marker, and pins to ensure I got straight edges and a perfect square.

fabric for the pillow cover
fabric for the pillow cover
fabric for the pillow cover

Step 2: Place and mark for the zipper.

You can use either a pin or a marker to mark just inside of the metal stoppers on each end of the zipper.

I’ve marked below with pins. You’ll also notice that I used a straight edge and a marker to mark where the 1″ seam allowance is (because it just makes life easier for me!).

adding the zipper

Step 3: Close the ends of the zipper side.

Use a regular straight stitch to sew from the place you marked with a pin or marker on each side to the end of the fabric. Make sure to back or lock stitch on the beginning and ends of each of these stitches.

The first photo below—my thumb and pointer finger is the area I sewed. The second photo—my pointer finger shows the end of my stitch (where I’d marked with a pin).

fabric for the pillow cover
fabric for the pillow cover
marking where to sew

Step 4: Baste stitch where the zipper will go.

Set you sewing machine to the longest stitch possible; some machines actually have a “baste” setting. Baste the area between the two areas you sewed shut in step 3 (between the two marks you made to signify the end of the zipper).

Then, open the two pieces you’ve sewn together and iron the seam you created open as illustrated in the images below.

(You’ll remove this stitch in a future step. Basting is a loose stitch that you can remove without hurting your project!)

sew a baste stitch
sew a baste stitch
sew a baste stitch
pressing seams

Step 5: Attach the zipper to the pillow cover.

Place the zipper face down directly on top of the seam. Make sure to line it up with the basted stitch and pin in place.

Switch to your zipper foot to sew a straight line down along each side of your zipper (4th and 5th photos below, look carefully for the seam!).

attaching the zipper
attaching the zipper
attaching the zipper
attaching the zipper
attaching the zipper

Step 6: Open basting stitch. 

Congrats! Your zipper is in, YAY! Now flip the fabric over and use a seam ripper to rip open the basting stitch. It should come out pretty easily to reveal your zipper on the right side—the side you pull it open and shut.

attaching the zipper
attaching the zipper
new zipper in place
new zipper in place
new zipper

Step 7: Finish the pillow cover.

The hard part is over. Open the zipper, ensure the right sides are still facing one another, pin the two sides in place, and sew along your 1″ seam allowance on all three sides.

You can mark the 1″ seam allowance with a straight edge and marker if it helps. It always helps me!

Trim the excess fabric from each side, clip the excess fabric from each corner, and flip the case right-side out. Use your finger to push each corner out to make a nice, neat right angle.

finishing the zippered pillow cover
finishing the zippered pillow cover

Slip on your pillow, zip up, and you’re done! Much better than the original pillow, wouldn’t you say?

And now we can easily remove and wash the cover if we need to. Oh, and there’s the bonus of them being reversible, too. Watercolor brushstroke pattern or solid velour 🙂

DIY zippered pillow cover
DIY zippered pillow cover
DIY zippered pillow cover
DIY zippered pillow cover

If you like this, you might also like my tutorials on how to create the perfect curtain hem, how to sew an envelope laptop sleeve, and how to dye a rug.

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collage that says how to sew a pillow over with a zipper

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  1. That Sassy Life coach says:

    Where did you buy your cushions from? I am obsessed!

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