Well it is about time- I have finally figured out how to sew with an invisible zipper. I mentioned earlier that I found great instructions in Sew Stylish. And since pretty much the only way people find my blog is by searching for invisible zipper instructions, I figured that it is high time I help some folks out instead of people finding me only to be subjected to my invisble zipper frustrations. Pleas read on for how to sew a pillow cover with an invisible zipper.
Before I start, I must confess that I am a very new sewer and that I am NOT an accurate sewer. I don’t “measure twice, cut once” because even when I measure 5 times, it still isn’t right. And it doesn’t matter anyway because I can’t cut straight with either a rotary cutter, scissors, or ruler, no matter…. So, if you want your pillow cover to come out perfect, make sure you follow your basic sewing guidelines (press and pin your fabric in place before sewing and all that). If you are just learning the basics, the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing has great instructions for the rules of sewing.
1. Cut 2 fabric squares. (Mine were 20″ because I was using an 18″ pillow form and accounting for generous seam allowances)
2. Center the zipper along one edge of your squares. Mark about an inch from the end of the zipper with a pin. I used a 14″ invisible zipper.
3. Remove the zipper, sew the 2 squares (right sides together) up to where you marked (only a few inches).
4. Flip fabric right side up, place zipper right side down, and pin right side of zipper along edge of left piece of fabric.
5. Put on your zipper foot, so the foot is to the right of the needle. Sew from top of zipper tape to bottom, and stop just above where the actual zipper piece is. This seam will be hidden, so it doesn’t matter exactly how far from fabric edge or from the zipper teeth you sew it. (I usually remove my pins right before they get to the machine’s foot so it doesn’t damage my needle or jam up the sewing machine.)
6. Sew again, this time, closer to the zipper teeth. Use your fingers to pull the zipper teeth away from the needle. The teeth should fit nicely within a groove on your zipper foot so you can keep your needle sewing straight right up against the teeth. (I had a hard time getting clear photos close up- sorry about that!)
7. Layout your fabric, wrong side up, but fold the center parts of your fabric back so that the right side is up. Pin the other zipper side (wrong side up) in place. This time put the zipper at the top (farther away from you), opposite of how you laid out the fabric in number 4 above.
8. Sew again like you did for number 5, but from bottom (where zipper piece is) to top, opposite of how you did it in number 5 above.
9. Sew again, closer to the zipper teeth, as in number 6 above.
10. Check out your handiwork- the zipper teeth should be hidden, all you will see is the zipper pull, the closer you sewed to those zipper teeth, the more invisible your zipper will be…..
11. Lay the squares right sides together. Mark where the end of your zipper stiching line was, so you know where to begin stiching your pillow outline. Open your zipper, so that it will be very easy to flip your pillow case right side out when you finish sewing…
12. Begin to sew from where you marked (remember to remove the zipper foot and put your presser foot back on)
13. Sew until you reach your seam allowance (somewhere around an inch or two from the end of the fabric- consistent with how far your zipper was in from the fabric edge). Make sure the needle is in the fabric, flip up the presser foot, turn the fabric 90 degrees, flip presser foot back down, and sew on!
14. When you get to your last corner, just be careful to match up with your seam from your zipper, and that your zipper tape is poking out toward you, and not tucked into the middle of the pillow cover.
15. You can see where my seam wasn’t exactly straight, but at least the 2 seams are joined- the new pillow outline seam with the zipper seam (the left-most stitches below).
16. Hard to photograph this step. Here you make a locking stitch to keep your zipper tape end in place. I think a locking stitch just is a few stitches in the same place. My machine has a button for this (marked as a circle with a dot in it). Here you want to basically lock the zipper tape end in place, so you sew it within the seam allowance (so it is to the right of where your stitched seam is, before you fall off the fabric edge). If you don’t do this, sometimes your zipper tape will sneak out to the outside of your pillow. Trust me on this.
17. Pink your edges. Use pinking sheers so that your edges don’t fray. How sweet is it that my pinking sheers are actually pink?
18. Flip your pillow right side out.
19. Stuff your new pillow cover with your pillow form. (I bought mine at Joann’s)
20. Zip it up and you’re done.
Hopefully this was easy to follow, I know it helps me to see how the fabric is placed in the sewing machine. Please let me know if you have any problems (Comment below or shoot me an email: never.yawn (at) gmail.com).
Eventually I will learn how to use an invisible zipper in clothing, and when I do, I’ll post another tutorial.
To read about my misadventures with invisible zippers, click here.