How to Sew a Decorative Pillow Cover with an Invisible Zipper

I’m planning to put my new Baby Lock Jazz through its paces by testing how it performs while making a series of different projects. I’m starting with decorative pillow covers with invisible zippers.

Spoiler Alert – this is how my pillows look with their new covers 🙂

If you’d like to make a pillow cover of your own, here is what you’ll need:

  • square pillow form to cover (or existing pillow that needs a facelift)
  • invisible zipper, preferably at least 2″ longer than your pillow or pillow form
  • home decor fabric (if using quilting-weight cotton, I recommend fusing interfacing such as Shape-Flex to the fabric before making the pillow – this will bring the fabric closer to decorator-weight)
  • zipper foot and/or invisible zipper foot 

Since I had 10 pillows to make new covers for, I purchased my invisible zippers in bulk  – saving quite a bit of money in the process.

The zippers I purchased for my pillows

I also ordered an inexpensive invisible zipper foot, since I couldn’t find one in my magic box of presser feet. Now that I’m done, I think I could have gotten by with my regular zipper foot, but I think the new foot made the process a bit easier.

The presser foot I purchased for inserting invisible zippers

Preparation:

  • If needed, fuse your interfacing to the backside of your fabric, following the manufacturer’s directions. I’m using home decor fabric, so I’m skipping the interfacing.
  • For a nice plump pillow, cut 2 squares of fabric to the same measurement as your pillow or pillow form. (No, I’m not adding extra for seam allowances, although you certainly could if you prefer a squishier pillow)
  • Optional, but highly recommended – open up the zipper and use a hot iron to press the zipper teeth flat

    Here I’m pushing against the zipper teeth to show how they naturally curl back onto themselves 

    The zipper teeth to the right of my finger have been pressed flat

Sew the first side of the zipper:

  • Place the first piece of fabric right side facing up. Position the zipper along one edge, zipper teeth facing up.
  • Draw lines across the zipper to mark where you will start and stop stitching when attaching the zipper.

    Draw a line across the zipper, 2″ from the end

    Draw another line across the zipper 2″ from the end of the fabric (the zipper is longer than my fabric)

  • Unzip the zipper and sew with a straight stitch, using the marks as your starting and stopping points – and don’t forget to backstitch or otherwise lock your stitches at the beginning and end of your stitching!

Line up the zipper teeth with the left-hand groove in the underside of the invisible zipper foot. I also like to use my finger to keep the zipper teeth in the “unrolled” position so that I can stitch very close to the zipper teeth.

Stop stitching and backstitch again when you reach the second mark. Note the wonder clips holding the end of the zipper in place 🙂

Zip up the zipper to make sure you haven’t accidentally stitched into the zipper teeth instead of right next to them

Unzip the zipper again. This is how much you should see of the zipper teeth when you fold the zipper tape back against the backside of the fabric

  • Attach the other side of the zipper:

Line up the second piece of fabric with the other side of the zipper (make sure the zipper isn’t twisted!)

Just like before, sew between the marked lines, backstitching at the beginning and end.

This is what is looks like from the backside of the fabric after the zipper has been inserted

This is what it looks like from the front side of the fabric with the zipper inserted into the seam

  • Now it’s time to sew the 2″ of seam left unsewn on each end of the zipper

Pull the end of the zipper out of the way and stitch from the zipper to the end of the fabric. I’m using my regular zipper foot so I can get as close as possible to the zipper. Don’t forget to backstitch!

Unzip the zipper about halfway AND THEN sew the 2″ section on the other end of the zipper. (If you forget to unzip the zipper before you sew the last part of this seam, you won’t be able to reach the zipper pull to unzip the zipper later – ask me how I know this…)

Now this entire side of the pillow cover has been sewn. 🙂

Pull the dangling end of the zipper (the extra length) away from the fabric and stitch across it with a wide zigzag (I set mine at 7.0 wide) several times to shorten the zipper.

Cut the excess zipper off

  • Finish the pillow!

    Make sure the zipper is still unzipped at least halfway. Switch back to your general presser foot and a straight stitch. Sew the remaining 3 sides of the pillow. I used a 1/2″ seam allowance.

    Since my fabric ravels pretty easily, I also overlocked the edges. 

  • Finish!

    Turn the pillow cover right side out and poke out the corners carefully.

    Insert the pillow and zip up again – the zipper should disappear! All you should see is the zipper pull.

    Ta-Da!

    My pillows with their new covers 🙂

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