85F3CE96-2B73-4819-B350-FD64F4FBC6D4 .Quiltscapes.: Zip It! Lesson II

Monday, July 1, 2013

Zip It! Lesson II


Zip It!  II

This pillow was featured in the recent Half-Hexie ruler "How-to" video seen >>HERE<< 
A lapped zipper is a great way to finish a pillow back, hiding the zipper teeth and making it easy to change out the pillowform, especially for laundering, etc.  

Zip It! II

So, here's another quick lesson in taming the little beast...

Zip It!


Supply List:  
* Pillow top, 18'' square
* 1/2 yard fabric for pillow back
* 20'' Polyester zipper
(I like my zipper a couple inches longer so I can clip off the metal hardware.)
* 2 @ 2-1/4" x width of fabric strips for binding
* Zipper Foot for your sewing machine
* 18" to 20" Pillow Form

Zip It! II

My Mom had a collection of a bunch of notions in her sewing room.  These old zippers recently came to live in my sewing room.  Perfect!  

Measure your pillow top.  Backing pieces will be cut the same width as the pillow top.  Determine the length of your backing pieces by adding 2"  to account for a 1-inch lap.  This would apply to any size pillow.   I cut my backing pieces at 18" x 5", and 18" x 15".

 Zip It! II

1)  APPLY zipper to top of larger backing piece.  
With right sides together (zipper face down; fabric right side up), center and align the edge of the zipper tape with the upper edge of the fabric as pictured; PIN in place. 

Zip It! II

Zig-zag to finish the raw edges and basically baste the zipper to the fabric.

Zip It! II

Once that step is complete, flip the fabric back and fold right along the edge of the zipper teeth; PIN into place.  Change your presser foot to the ZIPPER FOOT, then STITCH through all layers, about 1/8" away from zipper teeth.

Zip It! II

2)  APPLY Zipper to remaining back piece.  
While still closed, align free zipper edge to the bottom of the remaining back piece as pictured, right sides together; PIN. 

Zip It!  II

Switch the presser foot back to the regular foot, then Zig-Zag stitch the edge as before.

Zip it!  II

 3) FORM LAP (flap, overlap, etc.)
Lay out backing wrong sides together over pillow top.   

Zip It!  II

Align top edge of backing with top edge of pillow to form the lap or overlap.  Without catching the pillow front, pin the flap into place to prepare for top stitching.

Zip It!  II

Switch to the Zipper foot again, and STITCH in place.  The foot should glide alongside the zipper teeth if topstitching on the right side of fabric, or move pins to the back side and stitch on the wrong side so you can see the zipper.  

Zip It!  II

If your zipper is longer than the backing, you can now move the zipper pull to the inside of the fabric and stitch the end with a few zig-zag stitches.  Be sure to switch back to the regular presser foot.  TRIM off excess.  Repeat at the other end of the zipper if necessary.

Zip It!  II

4)  FINISH.  
Align backing wrong sides together with pillow top and PIN.  Stitch together, or use a Zig-Zag stitch to secure edges and prepare for binding. 

Zip It! II

BIND the edges of the pillow.  Need a refresher?  Watch this VIDEO tutorial for Machine Binding, or here's a step-by-step Binding Basics TUTORIAL.

Zip It! II

Zip it! II

zip it!  II

This pillow top used 25 5" squares featuring So Happy Together fabrics by Deena Rutter along with RBD Basic Shades and Solids, cut with the 5" Hexie-Half ruler.  One 2-1/2" x width of fabric strip was used for the side finishing pieces.

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial - Zippers truly can be our friend!  Our next zipper we'll tackle in this series?  INVISIBLE ZIPPERS!!   Until then,
Happy Quilting! 



  1. Thank you for an excellent tutorial. A sewer/quilter for 40+ years and this is truly one of the clearest, easiest zipper instruction I've seen. Kudos. By the way, watched your portable UFO project. On my short list of things to make. Haven't been able to find where I can get Riley Blake laminated cotton...the search goes on. (Like I don't have a bazillion other things I could find to do). Thanks again. (*Ask your local store to order it...or order it online)
    by Louise
    July 01st, 2013 at 4:18 p.m.
  2. Thank you for this tutorial! I would like to ask, if you have the correct size zipper and can't move the zip pull out of the way like you did, how do you sew beside the pull? I always have to bump out because the back end of the zipper foot is too wide.
    by Kathleen
    July 02nd, 2013 at 12:35 p.m.
  3. Good question, Kathleen. If I am using the correct size zipper and can't cut off the hardware, I usually stitch a bit further away from the teeth so that any visible stitching line can be straight. I've found that I can usually move the zipper pull if I stop with the needle down a few inches before the zipper pull, and lift the presser foot. Then with the needle still planted, pull the zipper open past the needle. Lower the presser foot, then continue stitching to the end. Hope that helps!
    by Deonn
    July 13th, 2013 at 3:04 p.m.
  4. Great east to follow tutorial. Thanks!
    by Christine Hart
    November 11th, 2013 at 7:28 p.m.
  5. I just "stumbled" upon your blog and love it! Thank you so much for your tutorial on inserting a zipper in a pillowcase. The instructions were very clear, so I will be using your technique for new springtime pillows for our sofa... Many thanks. Ande
    by Ande

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