Pillow Cover Tutorial

Pillow covers are a great way to add personalized touches to your decor. You can make them formal and elegant, or fun and colorful. Make several covers in different colors and themes and change them throughout the year. 

In this project I show you how to sew a zipper into the bottom seam so that it is easy to insert/remove your pillow form.

Pillow Form (I'm using an 18" square form)
Two pieces of fabric, cut 18" square
Zipper, 14" or longer (See note on zipper below)
Matching thread
Zipper foot for your sewing machine

For my project I am using one piece of 100% cotton duck fabric that I painted with textile paints and a stencil. The other piece of fabric is a piece of 100% cotton quilting quality fabric. You can pretty much use any fabric for this project.

Layer the two pieces of fabric, right sides together, matching the edges and corners. Measure two inches from each bottom corner and mark with a pin.

Note on zippers: you want your zipper to be about 4 inches shorter than the fabric width, that is why my zipper should be 14" long (18" - 4" = 14"). Because I had a zipper that was longer, I placed a pin at the 14" mark on my zipper and then I stitched a close zigzag to create a stopper for my zipper, see below. When the stopper is stitched, measure approximately 3/4" to 1" beyond the stopper and cut the remaining length of zipper off. Remember that you can do this on nylon/polyester zippers only.

Stitch the bottom seam of the pillow fabrics with a 1/2" seam allowance. For the first 2" and the last 2" stitch with a normal stitch length and back stitch at the beginning and end of each 2" section. Then change your machine settings to a basting stitch or a stitch with a long length. Stitch the remaining part of the seam, in between the two 2" sections with the basting stitch. Don't back stitch at the beginning and end of this stitching.

After the seam is sewn, iron the seam allowances open.

Place your zipper, face down on the seam allowance, aligning the zipper stops where the basted section begins and ends. Be sure the zipper teeth are aligned right over the middle of the seam. Pin to secure.

Set your machine up with your zipper foot and move the needle position to the left. You want to stitch as close to the zipper teeth as you can. Begin sewing at the end of the zipper tape, stitching a back stitch to secure and do the same at the end of the zipper tape.

When sewing down the first side of the zipper, you will need to move the zipper tab at some point in order to sew down the entire length of the zipper tape. When you need to move the zipper tab, place the needle in the down position, lift the presser foot and move the zipper tab so it is behind the presser foot. Continue sewing.

When sewing the other side of the zipper tape, start with the zipper tab about half way open. Start stitching at the end of the tape and when you get to the point of the zipper tab needing to be moved, place the needle in the down position and lift the presser foot. Take your seam ripper and carefully open the basting stitches in the seam allowance in the area behind the sewing machine needle. Once the seam is opened, move the zipper tab so it is behind the needle and continue sewing to the end of the zipper tape.

After the zipper is sewn in place, remove all the basting stitches in the seam allowance. Be careful that you don't rip the stitches in the two 2" sections of the seam. Pick out any loose threads from the basting stitches. Your zipper is done!

Finish sewing your pillow cover. IMPORTANT NOTE: Open the zipper to the half way point before proceeding. Align the fabrics, right sides together, making sure all the edges and corners are matching. Pin around the three open sides and stitch using a 1/2" seam allowance. After stitching around the three sides, clip the corners to reduce bulk.

Turn the pillow cover so the right sides are on the outside and gently poke out the corners. Insert your pillow form and enjoy your new pillow.