How to Sew a Zippered Pillow Cover – a video tutorial

How to Add a Zipper to a Pillow Back - a video tutorial from Shiny Happy World

I’m pretty picky about pillow covers.

I don’t like the envelope backs. They’re easy to sew, but they don’t cover the pillow as snugly as I like.

I like zippered covers, so they cover tightly and can be removed for washing – but I don’t like when the zipper is in one of the side seams. They never “sit” the same way as the other seams, so the finished pillow shape is always a little distorted.

I like the zipper to be somewhere in the pillow back (it doesn’t have to be the exact center) but I don’t like it to extend all the way to the edges, because the stiffness of the zipper again can distort the overall look of the pillow.

So here’s how I sew a pillow with a zipper in the back.

  1. I make the cover a little small. If the pillow is 18 inches square, I cut my fabric 18 inches square. When I sew the front to the back using a 1/2 inch seam allowance, the pillow cover ends up 17 inches square – perfect for the nice snug fit I like.
  2. I make the zipper a little short. Specifically – two inches shorter than the cut fabric. So for an 18 inch pillow, I buy a 16 inch zipper.

Here’s how I assemble the zipper back.

See how easy that is?

(Do you like that super fun, slightly wobbly gingham print? It’s part of the Gingham Play collection from Michael Miller Fabrics and I have fat quarter bundles in a rainbow of pretty colors.)

I make a LOT of these pillow covers.

My daughter doesn’t like using regular rectangular bed pillows. Instead she has an enormous pile of square pillows – mostly with quilted and applique designs on them. 🙂 She doesn’t like the inexpensive “hard” pillow forms. She likes these Fairfield brand Home Elegance pillows. They feel like down pillows, but they’re a LOT less expensive and they’re machine washable. Win!

You can use any quilt block pattern to make a pillow cover.

How to Turn Any Quilt Block into a PIllow

There are basic instructions here, and the Think BIG class (coming soon) will have instructions for making giant floor pillows!

Happy sewing!

Best,
Wendi
Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World

14 COMMENTS

  1. mary sanderson SAYS...

    Thank you Wendi – a very clear explanation for an elegant alternative to the usual envelope closure. You are a Star.

  2. Thank you for showing us this lovely zipper technique.

  3. Mona SAYS...

    Thank you for this tutorial, just what I needed a well explained zipper install. Wow…You are providing me with infinite ideas on how to use your fun Hollywood designs!

    • Mona SAYS...

      That was supposed to be “happy world” computer changed to Hollywood, sorry 😞

  4. That was a really useful tutorial thank you I love your site

  5. Josefina SAYS...

    Thank you for the tutorial, Wendi. I just finished making a quilt top and I have one orphan block that I can use to make a pillow cover with a zipper on the back.

  6. Mariette Forget SAYS...

    Hi and thank you very much Wendi! 😎🌸

  7. Melissa SAYS...

    Wendi,
    You make it look so easy! Thank you. I’ve always been afraid to try to put a zipper into my pillow backs, but with your complete and easily understood instructions I feel I can conquer this problem with little effort. Can’t wait to try it on my next pillow project!

  8. Lori M. SAYS...

    Thank you Wendy for the great close up tutorial for the zippered pillow back…and may I share a tip I use when sewing zippers into totes?…I have a handy paper clip at my machine and use it to lift the pull and then slide it into the end and use to pull the zip out of the way…

  9. I’ll have to give this a shot! I’ve been using a similar method, zipper near the middle of the back and stopping short of the edges, but I’ve been using a flap of fabric to hide the zipper instead of an invisible zipper. Your way looks a bit more streamlined and uses less fabric than the way I’ve been doing it.

    • Oh, wow, I just had time to watch the video and realized it’s a regular zipper, not an invisible one? It completely disappears with that method! This is awesome. I need to make some new pillows to try this!