Zippered Pillow Tutorial | aka new chair bling

A freshly upholstered chair calls for new pillows, aka. chair bling, kind of like a little black dress calls for just the right accessories. Granted the lines on a piece of furniture hold their own sort of beauty, but the accessories? Well the accessories can make all the difference!

zippered pillow tutorital
Stitch up a few zippered pillows to take a chair makeover up another notch.

Claire has had a plan in mind for her chair and this space that is her room for a few years now. She started by painting the walls a light-medium grey with a white and turquoise chevron accent wall. She added a chippy mustard colored antique door as a headboard and a thrifted roll top desk that we still need to refinish. She is just as addicted to fur as I am, so her bedspread is a black fur and she picked up some white fur, grey chevron and a red damask print to make a few pillows.

The grey chevron pillows will be made in a basic envelope style, my favorite quick pillow style. You can find sewing tutorials for envelope pillows here and here. They are a great beginner project with lots of possibilities for embellishing.

If you don’t have a lot of extra fabric or if you’re working with fur or a higher quality fabric, then a zippered pillow is a better option. Don’t let the word zipper scare you away. It does take a few extra steps and time, but it really is not too complicated. And the beauty of learning on a fur pillow is that that fur can cover any “less than perfect” spots in your construction.

Zippered Pillow Supplies
zippered pillow supplies
The necessities you’ll need for your zippered pillow  – two fabric squares the dimensions of your finished pillow, thread to match, an invisible zipper the same length as the the side of your pillow (or up to 4″ shorter), scissors and a sewing machine with a zipper foot.
Zippered Pillow COnstruction

Cut 2 pieces of fabric the exact dimesions of your finished pillow. This ensures that your pillow will look full as opposed to slightly anemic. Ours is 22″ x 22″.

With an invisible zipper, the first step is to iron the teeth flat. Unzip your zipper all the way and lay it face down on your ironing board. With an iron set at medium and the steam option turned off, iron each side of the zipper tape until the teeth are laying flat instead of curling up. This allows you to stitch as close as possible to the zipper teeth, making the zipper invisible.

ironed invisible zipper
You can see the before and after ironing difference In the picture on the right.

Your pillow will look best if the zipper does not extend all the way to the corner. If your zipper is longer than needed, it’s best to shorten it at the bottom of the zipper. Do this by stitching parallel to the zipper teeth at 4″ less than your side measurement. I go back and forth over that line until there are about 4 – 6 rows of stitching, creating a new zipper stop. You can then trim away the extra leaving about 1″ of zipper beyond your new stitching line.

The next step is to line your zipper tape up with the edge of your pillow fabric, right sides together. We brought our zipper in about 1/4″ just to allow a little wiggle room for stitching. Using the zipper foot on your sewing machine, stitch with the needle as close to the zipper teeth as possible. You will either need to move the needle to the left or right of your zipper foot, or switch your zipper foot to the left or right of your needle, depending on which type of zipper foot your machine uses.

stitching zipper
Stitch the zipper as close to the teeth as possible, remembering to use a forward and reverse stitch at the beginning and end of your line of stitching.

After you have stitched the first side of your zipper, pin the second side to the second fabric square, again lining up the zipper tape with the fabric edge and keeping the right sides together. Stitch this side just as you did the first one.

second stitching line
Stitching the second side of the zipper.

If you didn’t get your zipper shortened earlier, say because you were simply too tired to remember this after a fun prom weekend with friends and cross country conditioning after school …. Then you can just stitch INSIDE of the zipper seams about 2″ on each end of the zipper at the corners of your pillow and your pillow should survive just fine. And next time you can hope that your mom, the one who really forgot, will remember to tell you about this step. Maybe!

zipper ends
Stitching pillow corners so the zipper lays correctly.

Once you have stitched the ends of the zippered side of your pillow, pin the other three sides of your pillow, lining up the edges with the right sides together. Stitch the other three edges with a 1/2″ seam.

finishing touches
The final stitching lines.

It is easiest to begin by closing the zipper and stitching the side closest to the top of the zipper. After you have stitched that edge of the pillow, unzip the zipper and continue stitching the other two sides. It’s so much easier to do this when one side of the pillow is open as opposed to when the entire thing is stitched up and you have to try to unzip it from the “inside”. Yeah, I’ve done that, multiple times. 

Trim the edges and cut a triangle off each corner, being sure not to snip the stitching line. Your pillow is ready to turn right side out and insert your pillow form.

zippered pillow tutorital
Stitch up a few zippered pillows to take a chair makeover up another notch.

And that’s it! A zippered pillow cover does require a few extra steps, but I’ve included lots of extra tips along the way. Once you try it, you’ll see just how easy it is to stitch up some pillow covers and add a little bling to your chairs… Or your floors, if you have children and your pillows always seem to end up on the floor. No worries, “Just put ’em the wash; they’ll be grand.” And it’s always worth it to have the kids and their friends around the house, right!


About Beth Moore

A Christ-follower, wife, mom to 4, lifestyle blogger, seamstress and seeker of daily glimpses of God's grace and redemption.

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