Who enjoys sewing in zippers?
An occasional cricket chirping….
…..but mostly silence.
Something about zippers frightened an entire generation away from sewing. However, this “zipper anxiety” is totally unnecessary.
Flanged pillows can be completed in less than 2 hours – complete with a frustration-free zipper!
This tutorial is for an 18″ pillow form. When finished the pillow will have a 2″ flange all the way around – for a total of a 22″ square. (See Math notes at bottom of post if using a different pillow size.)
- 28″ of fabric (44″ or wider)
- One 16″ regular zipper
1. Cut the fabric for the pillow back into two rectangles: one 10″ by 24,” and the other 18″ by 24″. The Stash provided some not-really-Ultrasuede for the backs of the pillows
2. Cut one 24″ square for the pillow top. Put aside for later. My daughter choose an upholstery weight checked fabric for her pillow tops. .
3. Find the middle of the length of the zipper and mark with a pin. Just folding the zipper in half does this quite easily (and is Math-Free!)
4. Find the middle of the 24″ side of the smaller pillow back rectangle and mark with a pin.
5. Align the middle of zipper to the middle of the rectangle, right sides together. The long edge of the zipper should line up with the edge of the fabric.
6. Using a zipper foot, sew the zipper to the fabric using approximately 1/4″ seam allowance. The zipper pull will get in the way. To avoid any problem, start sewing with the zipper partially unzipped. Sew about two inches ending with needle down, lift the pressure foot, zip the zipper closed, drop the pressure foot, and continue sewing.
Press fabric away from zipper.
Repeat these steps with the larger rectangle and the unsewn edge of the zipper. But do not press this seam.
The zipper will look something like Photo 6.
Take a moment to enjoy your zipper success! Anxiety and frustration free!
Now for the “placket” – kind of an odd word. But then again, so is “flange”.
Lay entire piece flat.
Pinch edges of larger rectangle approximately 2″ from zipper as shown in Photo 7.
Create a 2″ fold from the pinches and fold it over the zipper. This will creates the “placket” – or the fold that covers the zipper.
To keep the placket a consistent width, slide a ruler or a piece of cardboard into the crease that was created from the pinch-and-fold. See Photo 8. It should be between 1.5″ and 2″ in depth.
Using your hands, smooth the crease and the pillow back with your hand.
NON-Math Method: Cut a little triangle into the piece of cardboard to define the depth of the crease (placket) as shown in Photo 9. Then use it to make sure the depth is consistent across the entire pillow back. If fractions are preferred – use the ruler instead.
Important: Take care not to pull the crease with too much effort – the zipper must remain flat. Too much effort may pull it over on its side.
Once the depth is consistent, pin the crease (placket) closed at the edges and every 4″ or so. Press with iron.
Turn the entire piece over so the wrong side is up. Note that the zipper does not extend all the way to the edge of the fabric square. Overlap the fabric in the non-zipper sections and pin – as best as can be done without “deforming” the pillow backs. There will be small sections that do not quite overlap – that is just fine! None of this will show. Everything will be covered by the placket!
Now to define where the placket seam will be – and ensure it is a nice straight seam:
Poke pins through the pillow back at the larger rectangle zipper seam. The pins need to be visible on the right side. Just three or four pins are all that is needed.
Turn piece over.
The pins that are poking through define the stitching line. Lay a piece of tape (I use painter’s tape) along the pins to create a straight edge for sewing.
I do measure the tape to ensure it is the same distance from the placket crease for the entire width. It should be approximately 2″ (approximately!)
Sew along the tape edge as shown in Photo 14. This seam creates a wide flange to hide the zipper.
That little zipper pull may get in the way again. If so, sew to within a few inches of it, unzip it and then continue sewing.
Remove the tape.
For added stability, sew back and forth along the overlapped edges.
The Frustration Free Zipper is complete! (Do a little victory dance!)
Common problem – no worries: If the overlapped sections at the ends of the zipper (Photo 10) were not sewn in place by the Placket Seam, just tack them down with a few hand stitches. They will be secured by the Flange Seam before the pillow is complete.
Place the pillow back flat – right side up. Lay the pillow top on top of it – right side down (right sides together). Pin corners and edges.
IMPORTANT: Carefully reach through one pinned side and unzip the zipper about 6″ – other wise, turning the finished pillow right side out will present challenges.
Sew all the way around, 1″ from edges as shown in Photo 17.
Trim edges to about 1/2″. I serged the edges, but it is not required. Trim the corners diagonally across as shown in Photo 18.
Turn pillow right side out through the unzipped portion of the zipper.
Lay the pillow top side down on ironing board. Using a strong pin (a large safety pin works well) pull the seam and iron flat. This creates a nice flat edge, but it does take a while.
Zip the pillow closed.
Pin all the way around the pillow approximately 2″ from edges. Smooth any “fluff” toward the middle of the pillow.
Stitch around pillow 2″ from edge to create that flange! Unzip and fill with an 18″ pillow form!
Pillow is complete!
(Do the victory dance again!)
Math for other pillow and flange sizes.
For pillows with a 2″ flange – add 4″ to pillow form width for pillow top size.
For pillows with a 3″ flange – add 6″ to pillow form width for pillow top size
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This looks like even I might give it a try. Thanks!!!
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Where does the zipper lie when the pillow is finished? Will the pillow be reversible and the zipper hidden in the bottom seam? I can’t seem to visualize where exactly the zipper ended up, other than that it is covered by the placket.
Thanks for asking – I should have taken a picture of the back side of the pillows to show how/where the placket lies when the pillow is completed.
The placket is about 1/3 of the way from the pillow’s edge.
It is not in the bottom seam – although I have seen pillows made that way – they would not be in the “math-free” or the “frustration-free” category.
These pillows were not designed to be reversible. The back of the pillows is a brown micro-suede.
I developed an even easier way to put zippers in pillows this past weekend. Will be posting the “new improved” tutorial soon.
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Thank you for this great tutorial!!! My pillow cover turned out perfect.
So pleased to hear it! Pillows are so nice to add color to a decor!
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