Zippers can be scary right? Especially if you are new to sewing. But there is really no need to fear! It’s one of those things you have to jump in and try, so you can surprise yourself and see that it’s quite satisfying.
Craftsy has you covered with their Mastering Zipper Techniques class. It’s a totally FREE (!) instructional video and is very well taught by the lovely and talented Sunni Standing. UPDATE: I am sorry to say that Craftsy has turned this class into a paid course. Please refer to Youtube for basic zipper installation videos. Melly Sews and Made Everyday are also a great resource for basic sewing videos.
If you already know how to sew with zippers, her class is still worth watching. She shows you the proper way to install three different kinds of zippers, plus lining techniques, shortening techniques, and a bunch of other little tips and tricks to make you a better zipper sew-er.
The focus of her class is installing zippers into garments, but they also work great for other projects like today’s pillow projects.
They are also a great way to practice zipper installation. It takes such little amounts of fabric and time. With pillows you can’t lose!
Let’s start with the lapped zipper pillow.
MATERIALS:pillow form fabric, matching and contrasting, bottom weight or heavy weight fabric works best standard zipper about the same length as your pillow form matching thread basic sewing supplies (machine, seam ripper, pins, scissors, etc. )
Notes: There are no measurements in the materials list because it depends on the pillow form you decide to use.
Step One: Cutting Fabric
If you are using a 12″ pillow form, as I am here. You need:
1- 12″ by 12″ piece
1 – 4 5/8″ by 12″ piece
1 – 8 5/8″ by 12″ piece
As you can see, for the front, zippered portion of the pillow you simply cut the pillow in half in any ratio you desire (6 and 6, 8 and 4, 7 and 5) and then add 5/8″ to the cut side (or the shorter measurement). For example, if you want to divide your 12″pillow piece into 8 and 4 inches, cut your pieces to 8 5/8″ x 12″and 4 5/8″ x 12″.
You can make both pieces the same color or pattern, of course. I just feel like it naturally lends itself to be a functional design element. If you are going to have to sew it like that anyway, why not make it interesting right? Color block it or pattern block it, like I did. Whatever you want. Just make sure that the two pieces of fabric are of similar weight and quality. You don’t want the two fabrics to compete with each other and affect the fit of the pillow case.
Step Two: Shorten your zipper.
You need your zipper, from zipper pull to zipper stop to be 1 1/4 inches shorter than the width of your fabric, or 5/8 inches shorter at each end. This ensures that you will be able to sew cleanly up the sides of your pillow later.
You can learn how to shorten a zipper in the Mastering Zipper Techniques class. Sunni shows you the proper hand sewn zipper stop method. I personally prefer the down and dirty, put your feed dogs down, and sew a zig zag stitch over the teeth on your sewing machine method. If you do that, leave long tails and double knots the ends by hand.
Visit the Mastering Zipper Techniques class to learn how to do this. The lapped zipper lesson is toward the very end. You can skip to it by clicking on the top left hand tab, but I recommend going through the whole course first, if you can.
The only change you need to make to your lapped zipper is that when you are top stitching the zipper into place, sew straight down. There is no need to pivot and sew across the bottom of the zipper teeth for these pillow cases.
Step Four: Sew your pillow pieces together.
Optional: overlock stitch or zig zag stitch along the raw edges.
MATERIALS:pillow form fabric of choice: heavy weight, bottom weight type fabrics are ideal invisible zipper matching thread basic sewing supplies (machine, seam ripper, pins, scissors, etc. )
Note: No yardage or measurements are listed because they vary depending on the size pillow form you use.
Step One: Cut your fabric and shorten your zipper.
If you are using a 20″ pillow form, cut two square pieces to exactly 20″ by 20″. There is no extra seam allowance added, because a tighter pillow case looks better most of the time. (If you have a particularly fluffy pillow, you may decide to add seam allowance.)
If you are using a 20″ pillow form, you need an 18″ zipper. For the invisible zipper pillow you want your zipper a little bit smaller than your pillow.
Your zipper should be a minimum of 1.5″ shorter than your pillow case at each end.
For full instruction on how to sew an invisible zipper see the Mastering Zipper Techniques class. Tip: You can click on the drop down menu at the top left, to skip to the invisible zipper chapter.
Now that your zipper is installed…
Step Three: Sew your pillow case.
Open your invisible zipper about 1/3 of the way. Pin around the remaining three sides, as well as the corners of the zipper edge.
Step Three: Sew all the way around, stopping at the zipper. You want to sew just past where the zipper seam starts and just barely to the inside of it. The zipper class explains this in terms of sewing a skirt. Instead of just sewing up one side though, sew both corner ends in the same fashion as you would sew up the bottom of the skirt.
Optional: overlock stitch the raw edges.
Turn right side out, through the unzipped opening, and you’re ready to stuff that turkey!
More about Craftsy…
Remember if you sign up for the FREE Mastering Zipper Techniques class, it’s yours for life. Go back and review it as many times as you like, ask the instructor or fellow class mates questions, or bookmark parts of the video as you go. This class really a great way to get a feel for Craftsy classes and to learn or brush up on some sewing techniques.
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Craftsy. The tutorial content and all opinions expressed are absolutely and enthusiastically my own.