Before you get buried in Christmas shopping and baking, how about a quick sewing project to add some holiday sparkle to your home or a quick gift for a friend! In an hour or so you can cover that existing boring pillow, add some holiday cheer and spice up your decorating.
A friend of mine asked if I would make up a few pillows for her that included a hidden zipper so she could switch things around when she wanted a change. Now before you have a heart attack at the idea of a hidden zipper – it’s easy I promise! Inexpensive home decorating fabrics are easy to find when you only need a small piece, and I bet you already have a pillow sitting on your couch or chair that could be covered for the holiday season. Consider using a solid backing like the beautiful cream velvet my friend chose to make your home dec fabric go even farther if you only have a small piece.
Here is what you need:
- Home Dec fabric that measures the dimension of your pillow plus one inch – for a 20 inch square pillow this would be a 21 inch square of material.
- Backing fabric that is the same size as your home dec fabric. This could be the same fabric if you want a reversible pillow.
- Invisible Zipper that is longer than the length of your pillow – for a 20 inch pillow, get a 22 inch invisible zipper.
- Invisible Zipper foot
- Matching thread
- Tape Measure
- Fabric Marker
- Ruler or French Curve
- Sewing Machine
- Pillow insert
Begin by getting out your invisible zipper, unzipping it, putting it face down on your ironing board and ironing it. Use the tip of your iron and push the teeth of the zipper toward the center of the zipper. There is a fabric role that you are trying to unroll. Use steam if you can, but be careful, the zipper is polyester and you don’t want to melt the zipper teeth. Next, cut both the front and back fabric for your pillow to the size of your pillow plus one inch, so for a 20 inch square pillow, cut two 21 inch square pieces of fabric.
Next, we have to trim our corners. You may be wondering why on earth you need to do this since you want a square pillow. Trimming the corners prevents empty corners with no stuffing – trust me your eye will still see a square pillow! If your fabric is fairly lightweight fold the first piece of fabric in quarters. At the corner, measure in 1/2 inch and mark with the fabric marker.
Starting at the corner mark, and tapering to nothing by the time you reach the edge, use a ruler or french curve and draw a curved line. If your fabric is thicker, fold in half instead of quarters and mark the two corners.
Then make a mark at the center of each side of the pillow adjacent to the corner. Now draw your rounded corner line from the corner to the middle of each side and trim the two corners. The idea is to have all four corners identical. In my example pillows, I was able to fold the silver home dec fabric in quarters, but the black home dec fabric was too thick and cutting 4 layers at once would not have been accurate, so I folded it in half and did 2 layers at a time.
Unfold your front fabric that you have trimmed, pin it to the backing fabric, right sides together and cut the corners. This will make sure the two sides of the pillow match up.
See how nicely my corners match up! Now that we have everything matching up, mark with a pin on both the front and back fabrics the side where the zipper will go. I realize we have done everything we could to make sure the 4 corners are identical, but in reality there are slight differences, so it helps if you sew together the sides you trimmed together. If you fabric frays quite a bit (the black fabric did) run a quick zig zag stitch or serge stitch around the edges.
With your fabric cut and zipper ironed, it is time to install that zipper!
With the RIGHT side of the fabric up and the zipper unzipped and facing DOWN, (in other words, right sides together) pin the left zipper tape along the side of the pillow. Line up the top edge of the tape with the side edge of the fabric and side of the zipper tape with the edge of the fabric. The majority of the zipper is towards the body of the pillow. Using the invisible zipper foot and regular stitch length, with your needle going through the center hole, and the teeth of the zipper under the right side of the foot, stitch down the length of the zipper to the end backstitching at the beginning and end. Your stitching should fall in the little groove you exposed when you pressed the zipper. I hope you can see the groove.
Zip up your zipper and pin the front and back fabrics of the pillow RIGHT sides together on the three non-zipper sides with the backing fabric on top. Your zipper is sandwiched between the right sides of the fabric. Now pin the RIGHT side of the non-stitched zipper tape to the RIGHT side of the pillow backing. See how the zipper is sandwiched between the right sides of the pillow. I am going to pinch the right side of the zipper tape and right side of my backing fabric together lining up the edges and pinning from the zipper side. I hope you can see how this works. If you have questions, just email me! Use lots of pins, especially if either of your fabrics have a lot of texture like the cream velvet I am using – it wants to shift all over the place! Unzip the zipper, and unpin the fabric on the non-zipper sides to the extent you need to. Using the invisible zipper foot, and having the zipper teeth under the LEFT side of the zipper foot, stitch the second side, again backstitching at the beginning and end. Again zip up the zipper and check that everything lines up! See how your zipper is sandwiched between the right sides of the front and back of your pillow? Hang in there, we are almost done!
Re-pin the non-zipper sides of the pillow RIGHT sides together, again making sure everything lines up. IMPORTANT! Before stitching the other 3 sides, reach inside your pillow and unzip the zipper for several inches – you need to leave a way to turn your pillow right side out once it is stitched! I marked my stopping point before I inserted the zipper but now you want to mark the zipper bottom one inch from the side of the pillow. This will be your stopping or starting point to sew your pillow. There is no need to mark the top side of the zipper – just begin or end where the zipper teeth start. Starting on the zipper side one inch from the end (or the beginning) of the zipper, begin stitching the seam using a 1/2 inch seam allowance and go all the away around the pillow and end one inch into the other side of the zipper. In other words, you are stitching 3 sides of your pillow plus one inch at the beginning and end of the fourth (zipper) side. When stitching the side with the zipper, pinch the zipper into the seam allowance so you aren’t catching it. Check that you are happy with everything. Press open the seam allowances, snip off the extra zipper tape at the zipper end so it is even with the seam allowances and turn your pillow inside out. Insert the pillow form and admire your new pillows! When you want a change, simply open the zipper and switch the cover.