4 Simple Steps to Sewing a Zipper

How many of you have sewing machines?

How many of you actually use your sewing machine?  If you don’t, it’s time to bust it out and get sewing.  With spring almost here (I pray!) all of your toss pillows are screaming for new covers.  (When did they become toss pillows?  I’ve always called them throw pillows.  Is toss more PC than throw?)


I’ve had my machine for almost 15 years.  It’s the most basic of the basic, and I love it.  My skills are also the most basic.  I can sew curtain panels and pillows.  (Oh – I did brave new territory when I sewed this pocket organizer.  That was out of sheer necessity – if I could’ve found one that worked for me I would have saved myself lots of trouble!)

I used to be afraid of zippers (not in general, just afraid of sewing zippers) (Although I bet there are people out there that are, in fact, afraid of zippers.  hmmmm…) so I would sew my pillow covers closed by hand.  This never really looked that great, and also made me not want to rip it open to wash the covers, knowing that I’d have to sew again.   I am telling you that zippers are nothing to be afraid of.  Seriously.

Start with two pieces of fabric, each at least 1/2-inch bigger (on all 4 sides) than your pillow form.  I like the covers to fit extra snug.  It’s not fun to cram a fat pillow in the zipper opening, but it looks so much better when it’s fits snugly.  (Please use coupons for your pillow forms! They are so ridiculously expensive.  Do you guys have the JoAnn Fabrics App?  Lots of extra coupons there.  Love it.  If I find pillows on clearance at places like Target or Bed, Bath, and Beyond, I usually buy them regardless of what they look like.  Sometimes you can get ugly pillows for cheap!)

1.  Place right sides of fabric together, and sew a 1/2-inch seam (approximately) on one side.  (You’ll be ripping out part of this seam once the zipper is in place, so I usually use a wider stitch only in the section where the zipper will lie.  It’s easier to pull out a wider stitch.  I usually just estimate where the zipper will be – it doesn’t have to be exact.)

2.  Press the seam open and then place the zipper, wrong side facing up, along the center of the seam.  Pin in place.

3.  Sew along all edges of the zipper.

This is how it should look when you’re done sewing it in place…

4.  Using a seam ripper, pull open the seam that lies on top of the zipper.  Voila!  You’ve done it!!!!

Now you can place the right sides of the fabric together again, and sew the other 3 sides of the pillow.  (You can leave the zipper open when you do this – it’s a little tricky to open the zipper when the pillow is inside out.)

It’s so much cheaper to update your toss pillows by making new covers.  And your fabric choices are endless.  Too endless – I’ve had 5 different fabrics and I still don’t think it’s quite right.  ugh.

Happy sewing!

Much love-




  1. This is very encouraging, I think I’ll give it a try this week end

  2. Patricia Crews says:

    I am about to recover pillows, and this is a great reminder of something I used to know. Thanks for the current vocabulary lesson.

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  3. Great tutorial! I’ve never tried putting zippers on my pillows before, but I might try now!

  4. So excited about this tutorial! I think our sewing skills are quite similar (straight lines!) and like you, zippers terrified me. But I was so lazy that I’d sew the three sides, stuff my pillow in and force the 4th side through my machine. I literally have 6 pillows waiting to be covered and can’t wait to try this out!

  5. i’m pinning this to save for one day when I need to do a zipper. I don’t think I ever have. I’ll need your tutorial then. Thanks!

  6. awesome as usual

  7. Mommajozy says:

    Good job !!! And good idea !!! I agree that zipper sewing can be scary !! I have been sewing for many years, and I don’t jump for joy at the thought of a zipper. This looks pretty easy though, and you did nice neat job, of the zipper, AND the tutorial !!! * Applause* :)
    I have made a lot of pillows with the envelope style, but this is much sturdier and nicer to look at !!!


  8. Thanks so much for sharing this tutorial. I have always been afraid of zippers and you made the process look not quite so scary. My sewing machine broke a few years ago and I really miss it. I have very basic skills but love being able to sew things like pillows and curtains.

    Have a great weekend : )

  9. Hi Brenda!

    I have one question. If you were making a 18″ pillow, would the zipper be 18″ long, too? This is why I have only made envelope pillows so far!

    Thanks so much!


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  10. Thank you for the tutorial! I haven’t tried pillows yet but now I want to :) and what a great idea on buying cheap ugly pillows that you can recover never thought of that!!

  11. Thanks, Brenda for stopping over and checking out my cards. I think they are appreciated. Even if not, it’s like I expect it of myself, so it must be done. Some things I just get into my head and can’t escape them. I’ll be glad to have your zipper tutorial pinned later. There were some little bags I wanted to make at one point and zippers would do them up right!

  12. Brenda you make this look so easy. Maybe now I can conquer my own fear of zippers! Thanks for sharing this. Pinning for sure! ~ Angie

  13. You make this look so easy! I quilt baby blankets and sometimes have fabric leftover and want to make a pillow to go with is. If I can figure out how to save this tutorial I am going to try the zipper next time. Thanks!

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