Adding a zipper closure to a quilted pillow is one of my favorite things to do lately. I know that sounds strange. But really–there is just something about a quick quilted project that is so satisfying, right?
Quilted pillows are at the top of my list for fast, satisfying finishes. Luckily, we just bought a large sectional for our living room, so I have many quilted pillow projects in my future.
Another reason I love smaller quilt projects is that they give me a chance to use up my batting scraps. I never throw away batting trimmed from larger projects. I always save the small pieces and stitch them together for other projects. HERE is a tutorial on how to do this.
There are two ways to finish off pillow: an envelope backing or adding a zipper closure to a quilted pillow. Although the zipper closure takes a tad more time, the finish is worth it in my opinion. It looks great and holds up well to washing and daily use.
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Quilted pillow top
Backing fabric cut to the same size as your finished quilted pillow top
Zipper (at least 2 inches shorter than the finished pillow size.)
Zipper foot (most sewing machines come with one)
Pillow insert to fit finished pillow (this pillow finishes at 23″ and I used a 24″ insert)
Layer Pillow Pieces
After quilting your pillow top and squaring it up, layer your pillow pieces. Lay your quilted pillow top right side down on top of your pillow backing right side up.
Mark zipper Placement
Take your zipper (making sure it is at least 2 inches shorter than your finished pillow size) and lay it along the bottom edge of your pillow where it will be sewn. The Rainbow Falls pillow finishes at 23″ and I’m fairly certain that I used a 20″ zipper.
Place a quilting pin where the zipper stops on both ends. The zipper stop is the piece of metal on either end of the zipper. You’re not placing pins where the zipper fabric starts and stops, just where each piece of metal (zipper stop) is.
Take your quilted pillow sandwich to your sewing machine and sew a seam from the edge of the pillow to your quilting pin using a 1/2″ seam allowance. Make sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of your seam. Repeat this for the other side.
This photo below shows what your pillow will look like after sewing the short seam on either side of the pillow bottom. There will be a hole in between the seams that is the length of your zipper (stop to stop.)
After sewing the short seam on either side, fold the fabric in between the seams in 1/2″ (you can even press it with an iron if desired.) This just makes it easier when pinning the zipper in place.
Pin Zipper In Place
With the zipper pull facing down, pin one side of the zipper to your folded seam. Make sure the zipper stops line up with the end of each sewn seam.
Time to Sew!
With your zipper foot attached, sew a seam right next to the zipper. Make sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam.
At some point, you’re going to approach the zipper pull. Stop sewing before getting to the pull. With your needle down, lift your presser foot as high as it will go and move the zipper out of the way. Then lower your presser foot and continue sewing down the length of the zipper.
Rinse and repeat
Repeat the above pinning and sewing instructions for the second side of the zipper. The photo below shows what your zipper should look like once completely sewn in.
After the zipper is sewn in, it’s all downhill from here! Unzip the zipper and pin the remaining three sides of your pillow right sides together. It is important to unzip prior to this step because you will be sewing a seam around the perimeter of the pillow and will need a way to turn the pillow ride side out!
Using a 1/2″ seam allowance, sew around the remaining three sides of your pillow. This is optional, but I like to take a deeper curved seam around the corners of the pillow. This just makes the corners of the finished pillow less “pointy.”
Trim the corners of the pillow to make the corners less bulky when turning right side out. I used pinking shears for this step, but regular sewing shears will work as well.
Reach inside the hole created by the open zipper and turn your pillow right side out. Poke corners out with fingers or a pencil eraser.
Stuff your pillow with the pillow insert and zip pillow closed. You’re all set! You’ve got yourself a durable, washable pillow cover. The pillow I made for this tutorial is getting daily use around here. I can’t wait to make more zipper closure pillows soon!