If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to sew a throw pillow with a removable pillow case, watch this step-by-step tutorial for 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 how to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper.
How to Sew a Pillow with a Flapped Zipper:
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:
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.
When you’re done, snip the basting every inch or sew. You want it to remain sewn together, but easy to open later.
Fold the front of the pillow onto itself below the line you just sewed:
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):
Here’s a closer look:
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):
And then you’ve got this:
I’ll zoom in a little:
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:
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.
This is what it should look like:
Here’s a better look:
Take the whole pillow, open it up and face it downward – with back of zipper toward you:
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.
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.
Then you have this:
Now open up the basting you sewed in the first step:
Making sure to keep the zipper open (so important, lol, the most important step when it comes to how to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper), flip the pillow so the right sides are facing inward and sew the edges of the pillow with a 5/8″ seam allowance:
When the pillow is finished, and turned right side out, this is what the flapped zipper looks like:
It’s actually not that difficult to learn how to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper. Once you get the hang of it, you can easily sew a pillow in an hour or less.
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.
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 a fell seam (perfect for making a tablecloth from too small fabric):
How to sew a pot holder (plus the right heat shield material to use!):
Check out all of our sewing tutorials here – and let me know if there are any others you’d like to see!