DIY Zipper Pillow Cover

Have you ever tried out a project for the very first time and it turned out so successful that you can’t fathom how you aced it at the first try? What does that do to your confidence? I maybe a little abnormal here but my head fills up with thoughts like these, “Oh wow did I really do that? I’m so awesome…How come I didn’t try that before? Hmm…now that I have “mastered” this I have to challenge myself and try something even harder!” You know, that’s where I falter big time! I get so pumped up with my initial success that in a matter of minutes I want to push myself to achieve more. And in all the excitement I throw all caution to the wind and dive right in without thinking things through. Totally opposite to what I did the first time, where I paid close attention to every little turn the project could take. A big no no when you aren’t a seamstress and are trying to do a not so basic project.

Now that you have the back story, here’s the project that I’m referring to;

zipper pillow cover

Nope not the initial success, the 2nd one where there were many pitfalls. You ask, what’s wrong with that pillow? Nothing much until you closely examine the zipper part. Actually it is pretty good great for a first project but the perfectionist in me is having a hard time accepting that I made so many careless mistakes on this one. But you know what, the good thing is now you can learn from my mistakes and steer clear of them when you give this DIY Zipper pillow cover a try.

For the fun of it, my 1st success story the Chiang Mai Dragon pillow with a hidden zipper (but that is for another day) and my 2nd try the green fish scale pillow with a regular zipper.

zipper pillow

The whole issue started ‘coz I tried to go the uber professional way and mimic the styling on a store bought throw pillow cover that I had aka. the one where the zipper is hidden with a flap of fabric from the bottom piece of the cover.

zipper pillow diy



Fabric for both sides – I used plain white on the back
Zipper – 18 inch for a 20 x 20 pillow – I think you need to go an inch or two shorter than that. You can either buy a smaller zipper or make the zipper shorter (will show you how to do that another day)
Pencil for tracing
A clear thinking head and some patience



  • Trace the size of your pillow form on the back of the fabric.
  • Cut the front piece of fabric (Fab #1) with an inch or 1/2 inch of seam allowance.
  • Cut the fabric that goes in the back of the pillow (Fab #2) a tad bit longer, an inch to be exact. I took more than this and ran into a lot trouble.

zipper pillow how to

  • Place the good side of the zipper facing up. Place Fab #1 on top of the zipper with the good side facing down.
  • Line up your trace line along the edge of the zipper, pin, and sew with the Zipper foot of your machine.

zipper pillow-0285

  • Remember the longer fabric for the back, Fab #2? Sew the longer end with an 1/4th to 1/2 inch seam.
  • Now you’ll end with 2 pieces of fabric that look like this.

zipper pillow-0287

  • Place Fab #2 bad side (seam side) facing up.
  • Place the zipper over it, good side facing down.
  • Line up, pin, and sew.

zipper pillow-0292

  • Pat yourselves on the back for now you have sewn a zipper! Yay!
  • Next step is really key; OPEN THE ZIPPER HALF WAY. If you miss this one the pillow is pretty much useless.
  • Now, pin along the trace lines (good sides of Fab #1 and Fab #2 facing each other), and sew to make a square.
  • When you reach the zipper edges, sew over to the zipper edge as shown below.

how to make a zipper pillow cover

  • I didn’t do this step and my zipper edges ended up looking like this. Ideally it should look like in the third pic.

how to sew a zipper

  • Trim the excess fabric and flip the pillow right side out through the half open zipper. See why we opened it up half way?

zipper pillow cover diy

  • Fill out the corners with a blunt pencil, iron, and you are all set!

zipper pillow cover tutorial

Another important lesson I learned; when working with geometric prints ALWAYS I mean ALWAYS pay attention to which direction the pattern goes. I used left over fabric from my chair makeover, where the fish scales are going down. This new pillow is going to be in the same room with the chairs and I flipped the pattern! As you can see the fish scales are going up here! Talk about being careless!

Do you get over enthusiastic/ confident on a project and end up making careless mistakes too? Have you sewed a zipper pillow cover?


  1. says

    It always seem to work out that way for me on sewing too. Love the pillows they turned out great! I’m sure no one will cenover and flip the pillows and examine your zippers! :-)