Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

August 17, 2016

How to Sew a Pillow with a Flapped Zipper

My Mom and I disagreed a little when sewing my DIY ice dye pillows for the boat.  I wanted to do a chunky exposed gold zipper but my Mom wanted to do a flapped zipper, like we usually do.  We discovered that a pretty, smooth gold zipper is around $21 bucks here (yikes), but I really wanted an exposed gold zipper - "so nautical," I argued.  We rummaged around our local Fabricland until we found a less expensive option.  Once we got it home, however, my Mom was worried that the somewhat rough teeth on our cheaper gold zipper would chew up my new boat upholstery from constantly being rubbed against it.  She suggested we go back to our DIY pillow with a flapped zipper idea.  I wanted an exposed gold zipper.

Here is our tutorial for sewing a pillow with a flapped zipper.

:)

How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse
How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse
How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse

First decide on the pillow size (we made 16"x16", 18"x18", 20"x20" and 22"x22" pillows for variety).  No matter the size, we added about a 5/8" salvage seam.

Once you've decided on your pillow size and added the salvage seam allowance to your measurement, cut out two squares of fabric.  If you've dyed it like mine, or it's reversible, decide on the front and back.  Place the two squares together, right sides facing inward.  Determine zipper placement; we centered it and left an inch on either side of the zipper.  Use pins to mark this placement: 

How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse

Set the zipper aside and sew the bottom of your pillow shut, using normal stitches outside of the zipper but, where the zipper will be, use a basting stitch - the largest stitch your machine can do.

How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse
How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse

When you're done, snip the basting every inch or sew.  You want it to remain sewn together, but easy to open later.

How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse

Fold the front of the pillow onto itself below the line you just sewed:

How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse

With the front of the pillow pushed out of the way, pin one half of the open zipper onto the back of the pillow, face down, with the teeth right up against the seam you made (it should be touching):

How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse

Here's a closer look:

How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse

Attach the open zipper, sewing from the closed end of the zipper toward the open end of the zipper, using a zipper foot.  The needle should be on the left side of the zipper foot.  Most zippers will have a different stitching/texture to provide a guide as to where to stitch (usually about halfway):

How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse
How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse

And then you've got this:

How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse

I'll zoom in a little:

How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse

Fold the freshly sewn zipper underneath the pillow and close the zipper.  Pin the front of the pillow out of the way, so a tiny strip of the back of the pillow is exposed:

How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse

Move the zipper foot so that the needle is now on the right side.  Sew in the same direction - bottom of zipper toward its opening (same direction as last time).  The point of this step is to anchor the strip of the back, so the zipper sits nice and flat. 

How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse

This is what it should look like:

How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse

Here's a better look:

How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse

Take the whole pillow, open it up and face it downward - with back of zipper toward you:

How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse
How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse

Keep the zipper foot as it was in the last step.  Now sew the side that hasn't been stitched yet.  Start where you left off, sew across the zipper tape (beyond the zipper stop), pivot and keep sewing along the un-sewn edge to affix the zipper to that side.  When you reach an inch from the other end, pause.

How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse

Before you get to the end, open up the zipper and move the zipper pull away from the edge, toward the area you've already sewn down.  Anchor your needle, lift the presser foot, lift up the front of the pillow and with your fingers gently pull apart where basting was cut.  Your pillow should open easily and you can move zipper pull down so you can sew past in nicely.

How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse
How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse

Then you have this:

How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse

Now open up the basting you sewed in the first step:

How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse
How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse

Making sure to keep the zipper open (so important, lol), flip the pillow so the right sides are facing inward and sew the edges of the pillow with a 5/8" seam allowance:

How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse
How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse
How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse
How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse

When the pillow is finished, and turned right side out, this is what the flapped zipper looks like:

How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse
How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse
How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse
How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse

When she's right, she's right: this flapped zipper looks polished, plus the zipper won't chafe my brand-spanking new upholstery job on the boat!  Mom's clever, she's really clever.

How to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper | @danslelakehouse

For a look at how I made the ice dye fabric we used, be sure to check out my post on ice dyeing.  Or if you're looking for a smaller project, take a peek at my DIY ice dye napkins!  We're got other sewing tutorials too, like:

How to sew a mitered corner (for polished DIY napkins and other linens):

How to sew mitered corners | @danslelakehouse

How to sew a fell seam (perfect for making a tablecloth from too small fabric):

How to sew a fell seam | @ danslelakehouse

How to sew a self-lined fabric clothespin bag:

How to sew a DIY fabric clothespin bag | @danslelakehouse

How to sew a pot holder (plus the right heat shield material to use!):

How to sew a pot holder | @danslelakehouse

How to sew back tab curtains:

DIY Back Tab Curtains | @danslelakehouse

How to sew gathered curtains:

DIY Gathered Curtains | @danslelakehouse

Check out all of our sewing tutorials here - and let me know if there are any others you'd like to see!  This fall and winter I hope to tackle sewing dresses from vintage patterns, taking clothes in, finally finishing my embroidery project (oy), and some other fun sewing projects, but we're taking requests...
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4 comments

  1. Love the first paragraph ... and the sentence following it! I'm not much of a sewer but I appreciate the detailed instructions ... I usually find this sort of thing quite confusing. Not saying I'm going to ever do this, but these instructions would probably give me a good chance of succeeding! :0)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My mom liked that part too, haha! So happy to hear this tutorial is helpful and clear. I hope you do try one day! It's really rewarding to make unique cushions.

      Delete
  2. What a great tutorial this is! Your photographs are so clear and informative, not just pretty.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so happy to hear that!! It took quite awhile for us to assemble this tutorial and we kept tweaking,trying to make it as clear as possible. Thank you for the feedback!

      Delete

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