Throw Pillow Cover Sewing Tutorial (A How-to for Invisible Zippers & Piping)!
May 23, 2015
I’ve been collecting down-filled pillow forms over the last year and finally got around to finishing pillow covers for them! I’ve found that with kids, it’s a must to be able to take the covers off and wash them, but I don’t like the envelope or button closures because they shift around too much on the pillow. I use invisible zippers on mine. I know the word “zipper” freaks some people out.. but trust me.. it’s easier than you’d think (and that’s why I’m showing you how)! I also add a lining to my covers to keep those pesky feathers inside and give the cover a nicer feel. ALSO, piping.. it adds the finishing touch and isn’t too much more work.
THROW PILLOW COVER INSTRUCTIONS
Invisible Zipper (a few inches longer than your pillow)
Pre-packaged Piping* (or make your own)
*The pre-packaged piping is 2.5 yards long and will work for a pillow up to 20-inches
Serger (recommend – or use overcast stitch)
Zipper Foot – a MUST!
Scissors, Pins, Etc.
Cut your fabric: First you need to measure the size of your pillow (if it doesn’t already tell you on the tag) to know how big to cut your fabric. Measure across the center of the pillow from seam to opposite seam. Add 1-inch for seam allowances.
My pillow measured 19-inches from seam to seam; adding 1-inch = 20-inches.
Cut 2 squares each from your main fabric and lining fabric (mine where 20-inch squares).
Sewing: With wrong sides together, pin a main fabric and lining square together. Serge around each edge, trimming off 1/8 to 1/4″ of fabric as you go. If you don’t have a serger, trim fabric first with your scissors and do an overcast (zigzag) stitch with your regular sewing machine.
Attach your zipper foot to your sewing machine and have your needle so it’s all the way to the left (my needle went right to the edge of my zipper foot). On the right side of one of your squares, center your piping over one edge with raw edges matching. Leave the first 1-inch of your piping un-sewn and keep your presser foot right up against the piping. Sew until you get 3 to 4″ from the corner…
…then clip into your piping seam allowance (but not too far) every centimeter or so. I did a about 3-inches worth of clips so my piping would follow the curve nicely.
Follow the curve slowly and you’ll be fine! Continue around doing the same thing to each corner.
When you get to the end, pull the un-sewn inch of piping off your pillow case and overlap it with the other end (no more than 1/4-inch) as you sew over it, also pulling the last end off. Trim so piping is even with fabric edge.
Next is the zipper! Are you ready!? I like to sew my zipper on the same side where I overlapped the piping ends (so it can be down against my couch), but you can put it on any side you like. You’ll be sewing your zipper directly over your piping, making sure to get it as far over against it as possible. Double check and make sure you’re putting the RIGHT side of your zipper down against your piping (the right side is the side with the zipper tab). Invisible zippers are only tricky because you need to unroll them as you sew. Test it out by trying to unroll the zipper teeth part so it lays flat. This allows you to sew in the area, so that once it’s rolled back, your stitching will be inside the coil. Ok, now have your zipper hanging off the edge about 1-inch and start sewing right at the edge where your fabric and zipper meet. Uncoil your zipper as you sew along. I do about 2-inches at a time. Uncoil, sew, uncoil, sew, etc. Just keep making sure you have your zipper as far to the piping as possible, and your zipper foot right against the edge of your zipper teeth (if you sew too far over you’ll sew on the zipper teeth and your zipper won’t zip/unzip).
See how easy?
Sew right to the end.
Now you’re ready to sew the other side of your zipper to the other square. Do this by zipping up your zipper a few inches and putting your main fabric pieces together with right-sides facing each other. If your fabric has a pattern on it, make sure the pattern is the same on both pieces. Line up the edges of your fabric where the closed end of your zipper is and put a pin holding the zipper against your square where you need to sew them together.
Unzip your zipper so you’ll be able to uncoil the teeth just like you did before. On the first side, the zipper was off the edge of the fabric just slightly, so I made sure that on this side it hung off the same amount (about 1/8-inch but that will differ depending on the size of your piping & zipper seam allowances). Sew from one end to the other; uncoil, sew, uncoil, sew.
Test out your zipper and make sure it works and that everything looks beautiful! If your zipper hangs off the edge don’t trim it (even if it’s 4-inches longer)! I find it’s best to leave it in-tact… that way if my cover gets too dirty from my kids I can pull out the zipper and make a new cover with it.
Pin around the edges of your cover with right-sides together (have the side with your piping against the table). I first make sure to pin by the zipper to make sure everything lines up and then pin down from there. If your other end/corners don’t match up perfectly, that’s ok, the most important area to match is by the zipper. TIP: Before sewing, unzip your zipper at least 1/3 of the way so it’s easy to unzip fully for turning right side out once you get to that point.
You’ll start sewing over the closed end of your zipper, about 1-inch from where your corner/curve is on the piping. You’ll actually be sewing across the zipper seam allowance on an angle towards the curve (make sure to backstitch when you begin)! Once you feel that you’ve crossed over your zipper, start following against the edge of your piping.
It seems trickier than it is, just take your time and use your fingers to feel where your piping is to make sure you’re sewing right up against it with your zipper foot. I also pull my fabric over slightly towards my zipper foot to make sure it’s riding right up along the piping underneath.
Follow your corners, taking your time. I tried to show you here how I’m using my fingers to feel for the piping as well as push it against my presser foot. CAUTION: since your fingers are so close to your needle, please be careful!!
Once you follow around and get to the other end of your zipper, sew just how you did at the beginning by going around the corner against your piping, but then sew over your piping and across your zipper at an angle, making sure to backstitch REALLY well here because it will have a lot of tugging from putting pillow in/out.
Turn your cover right-side out and stuff it with that pillow!
See how nice and seamless the zipper looks? If you can do this, just imagine what else you can do! 🙂
If only my kids would keep them ON the couch and off the floor!