How to Sew a Zippered Pillow Cover - Easy Way to Decorate

After having a child and COVID hitting a few months after, I’ve never spent this much time at home. I am so thankful for this house and all that it has to offer our family. I try my best to keep it tidy and respect everything that we own. I am a bit of a frugal minimalist, so when it comes to decorating I try to focus on things that won’t take up a lot of space or break the bank. I also like to decorate with the changing seasons and occasional holiday. Sewing my own pillow covers gives me the flexibility to make those small but impactful changes to the overall mood of a room.

Making a zippered pillow cover may seem a little daunting at first, but I can walk you through the details! First you need to measure your pillow from corner to corner. I find it’s easiest to use a piece of string and measure the length of string with a ruler. My pillows were 22 inches wide.

Let’s gather some materials!

  1. Fabric (amount listed in first step of pattern)
  2. Zipper (about the same size of your pillow, or a little bigger)
  3. Matching Thread
  4. Optional: Contrasting Thread (for finishing the edges)

Step 1) Cut Your Fabric


Let’s first talk about fabric. You can use almost any woven fabric for these pillows. Try to stay away from anything that seems too light or that wouldn’t wear well. You can find home decor fabric at your local fabric store, or even use a quilting cotton. I’ve used drop cloth and old sheets before to make pillow covers. The pillows here are actually from a cotton shower curtain! Think outside the box!

You will cut out a square or rectangle that is the same size as your pillow with a ½ inch added to the total length and width. For example, my pillow was 22 inches x 22 inches, so I cut a piece of fabric that was 22.5 inches x 22.5 inches.

Some other tutorials will have you add an inch, others will have you cut the same size as your pillows. It all depends on your seam allowance and how you want your pillows to fit. If you are a little nervous, always go big! You can easily sew them smaller. If they’re too small, you have to start over.

Step 2) Finish Zipper Edges


If you don’t finish your pieces of fabric, they can begin to shed small little threads, which is essentially your pillow slowly falling apart. Not good! So to prevent this you will want to finish your edges. I like to use the edge foot that came with my machine and do an overcast stitch. You could also do a zigzag stitch or use pinking shears. (Check out this blog post that explains different finishing options.) I like to use a fun contrasting thread to finish the edges. It is a great fun pop of color (only on the inside of the pillows that no one sees, but you know it’s there!) and it is a great way to use up scrap thread!

You just need to finish the top edge of each of your two squares. This is the side that we will attach the zipper to. It is really hard to finish the seams after you sew in the zipper, so I like to do it before.

Step 3) Attach Zipper


Next step is probably the most daunting, sewing in the zipper. Take a deep breath and go watch some youtube tutorials if you need to! Take one of your squares and place it right side UP on your table. Then take your zipper and place it right side DOWN over the edge that you just finished. Center your zipper. It should go from one end to the other. If It is bigger than your fabric, that is okay! Take the end that is still together when the zipper is unzipped and have that part hang over the edge of your fabric. Pin the zipper in place.

If you have a zipper foot, you should use it here. The zipper foot just allows you to sew as close to the zipper as possible. If you don’t have one, don’t sweat it and just do you best with your standard foot. You are going to sew one side of the zipper down to one piece of fabric TWICE. Why twice? Let me explain, when you first sew the zipper down you don’t have to worry about getting the stitches as close to the zipper as possible. The first pass is just basting the zipper into the correct position so your final row of stitches look better and are easier to do. So take the fabric and zipper to your sewing machine, and just give a quick row of stitches to hold everything so the edge of the zipper and the edge of the fabric are aligned. After that first pass, sew the zipper down again, but try to get as close to the zipper as possible. You DO NOT want to sew any stitches into the zipper, the zipper head won’t be able to pass through the teeth of the zipper if there is thread in the way!

Yay! You sewed one side of the zipper to one piece of fabric! Now we have to do it again. I like to take the piece of fabric I just sewed and place it right side up and flip the zipper under so the right side of the zipper is facing up. At this point I also like to close my zipper. This ensures that when you line up the next piece of fabric that it is aligned with the first one. You don’t want a wonky pillow! Place the other piece of fabric, right side down, onto the zipper so that the edge of the zipper aligns with the finished edge of the second square. (Right sides go together for all of these steps!)

Pin the zipper in place. Make one pass of stitches just to hold everything together. Make a second pass that is closer to the zipper for a flawless zipper instalment!

Step 4) Sew Remaining Seams


Do a happy dance, because from here on out things should move quickly and smoothly! As long as you do this super important step! UNZIP YOUR ZIPPER. If your zipper is closed and you sew the sides together you will have to rip it all out, because it will just be a square that you can’t flip right side out.

Once your zipper is opened, align the remaining three edges of your pillow and pin them in place. Start at the top with one of your zipper ends. Sew with a ⅜ inch seam allowance all around the remaining three edges of your pillow. I also like to do a few forward and back stitches across my zipper. This area has the most stress on it, so I like to make sure it is extra secure!

Step 5) Finish Remaining Edges


Woohoo! You made a pillow! If you stopped here, it would look wonderful and amazing and maybe not last that long. Take the time to finish those extra three edges. I just went over it again with an overcast stitch again. You could do whatever you did to finish the edges by your zippers!

Flip it right side out and put it on your pillow. If it seems a little big, just sew around those three edges again. Maybe just a ⅛ inch from where your original stitch line was (takes away ½ inch from your finished size). If it is too big, well you can try ripping out your stitches and sewing around the three edges with less of a seam allowance.