How to Insert an Invisible Zipper Into a Welted Pillow

How to Insert an Invisible Zipper Into a Welted Pillow

Hello my lovely blog-followers!  It’s been too long since I’ve posted, and lots has happened since I’ve blogged last!  The biggest change in my life?  I am now officially a grandmother!  Been waiting an awfully long time for this precious moment, and it has finally come in the form of the lovely Bianca Isobel born 2-12-16:IMG_0401

So, after spending not enough time with my new little granddaughter, I’m back home and stitching up about a gazillion things for her!  One of the projects I made for Miss B was this cute pillow for her room: IMG_6597

(Darling design, “A Curious Find” from Urban Threads.)  Fabric is “Brussels Washer linen” by Robert Kaufman. This pillow contained an invisible zipper on the bottom of the pillow.  Some folks our our Viking Designer Epic Yahoo Group thought that was pretty trick.  And, they were a little intimidated by this (surprisingly easy) technique.  There was some requests for instructions, so I’m going to run through the really simple steps on how to insert an invisible zipper into a pillow.  My pillows almost always have welting or cording, because I’m partial to that finished look, but the instructions are pretty much identical for a pillow without welting as well.  I’ll include the one extra tip on working with the welting, but otherwise, the instructions will work in either circumstance.  You’ll be so surprised at how easy this is, and what great results you’ll get!  So, let’s get started, shall we??

Step One

First, your supplies:

Cut out your pillow top and bottom. I prefer to cut my pillow top and bottom 1/2″ larger in each direction than the pillow form I’m using.  For the above rectangular pillow, the form was 12″ x 16″, so my top and bottom were cut 12 1/2″ x 16 1/2″. For the “B” pillow, I used a 14″ pillow form, so my top and bottom were cut 14 1/2″ x 14 1/2″.   If you have fabric that has a specific direction, make sure you mark the bottoms of each of your pieces, because we’ll be inserting the invisible zipper into the bottom of the pillow. So, here’s the top piece of my “B” pillow. I digitized the applique “B” in my fantastic Premier Plus Embroidery Software: IMG_0013

Step Two

We’ll then need to make a mark 2″ in from each side of the bottom  of both top piece and bottom piece like so:IMG_0015

Also, mark the middle of the bottom of both pillow pieces.  You’ll have 3 marks, now, at the bottom edge of the front and back piece of your pillow.  These marks will be used to center your invisible zipper on each side of your pillow.  (We’ll also be marking the zipper accordingly).  The two marks made 2″ in from each side will also be our beginning and ending sewing marks, when we sew the back and front to each other, right sides together (tuck that little fact away in your brain for down the road a piece.) IMG_0027

Step Three

Next, we need to iron the sides of the invisible zipper flat.  To do this, unzip your zipper, then turn it upside down.  Set your iron to medium heat: IMG_0021

Then, starting at the top of one zipper side, carefully iron the curl out of the zipper: IMG_0025

Here is a photo of one side of the zipper ironed flat, compared to the non-ironed side:


Top side not ironed, bottom side ironed


Top left not ironed, bottom right ironed

Hard to see, but when you’re ironing, you’ll see that the curl will flatten out.  This will make it easier to sew close to the teeth of the zipper.

Step Four

Next, we’re going to pin the zipper to the front pillow piece, at the bottom edge.  Unzip your zipper all the way.  The zipper should be upside down.  Thus you will be pinning the right side of the zipper to the right side of your pillow top.  Place the top of the zipper (where the zipper tab stops at the top of the zipper) up at the 2″ mark, and pin in place.  Continue pinning the zipper down to the other 2″ mark: IMG_0028

Step Five

Now we’re ready to sew the first side of the zipper to the top of your pillow cover!  I like to use the Mega Piping foot rather than the Narrow Zipper Foot, but either will work equally well.  The reason I prefer the Mega Piping foot is because of the red alignment marks.  It helps me to keep my sewing line dead straight (Mega Piping Foot on left, Narrow Zipper Foot on right). So, snap on or the other on, so the body of the

foot is positioned to the right, and then we’ll select our stitch:


Left: Mega Piping Foot, Right: Narrow Zipper Foot

So, now to select your stitch.  With the Mega Piping Foot, I prefer to use stitch A1, which I believe will be the same stitch on your Gems machines or the Designer Epic.  It is the left straight stitch:


If you’re using the Narrow Zipper Foot, you may prefer to use A2, then move your needle over so you can get the needle to drop down JUST to the right of the zipper teeth, yet allow the edge of the foot to right snugly against the teeth as a guide.  This may take a few adjustments, so take your time, and experiment with how far to the left you need to move the needle to get both of these positions just right.

Now, position your pillow top with pinned zipper under the foot so that the needle is going to drop down JUST to the right of the zipper teeth.  You’re going to want to stitch close to the teeth, but you must take care not to stitch into the teeth at all, or the zipper will not zip.  If you do, not to worry!  Stop, remove the top from under your presser foot, and with your seam ripper, pull out the errant stitches.  Back up, and start stitching, again.  Here is where you’re going to want to stitch on your zipper.  I have taken a fine pencil and drawn a short line so you can see where you’ll be stitching:IMG_0033

Your pillow top should be positioned like this under your presser foot:  IMG_0038

See how the needle is dropped down JUST to the right of the teeth and the edge of the foot is riding nice and snugly against the zipper teeth above?  Just perfect.  Now, sew slowly all the way down until you get to that bottom 2″ mark.  First side is sewn in!  Test your zipper to make sure it will zip up smoothly.  If you run into interference, check that spot to see if you may have stitched too closely to the teeth.  If so, rip out those stitches, and re-stitch a wee bit further away (just a wee bit) from your original stitch line.

Step Six

Now we’re going to stitch the back part of your pillow to the other side of the zipper.  This takes some visualization to make sure you’re stitching the right side of the zipper to the right side of the back piece of your pillow.  IMG_0040

Take your time to make sure you have your pillow pieces positioned as I have, above.  Now, I can tell you – being left-handed and dyslexic, this takes me some time to make sure I’m seeing things correctly 🙂  I have ripped out a few zippers that I’ve inserted upside down and/or backwards!  So, Patience is a Virtue!!  Take your time to make sure you have this piece correctly pinned.  Again, you’ll align your three marks on the zipper to the 3 marks on your bottom edge of your back pillow piece.  This will assure that once your zipper is stitched in, when you go to pin your two pillow pieces together, they will align perfectly.  Once pinned, I stitch this piece in the opposite direction (bottom to top), so I do not have to switch my foot around.  I find this easier, as I’ve gotten the “feel” for aligning my needle and my foot JUST to the right of the zipper teeth.  Stitch down the second side of your zipper.  Now your invisible zipper is stitched in, how easy was that!  Zip up your zipper again, to confirm you can easily zip your zipper up and down.  Again, rip out any stitches that were too close to the teeth, and re-stitch that section carefully.IMG_0046

Step Seven

Now we’re ready to sew the two pieces of your pillow together.  I will zip my zipper up a tiny bit, so I can see that edge of the pillow top a bit better.  Make sure you have both right sides together, and that your zipper is not twisted.  Place your first pin at that 2″ mark at the bottom of your zipper, and make sure your bottom and top pieces align by aligning those two – 2″ marks.  Continue pinning your pieces together, taking care to align the pieces together evenly.  You’ll also want to zip your zipper closed a little bit, past the 2″ mark. (The stitching you see is the welting stitching – this will be what you’ll stitch right on top of as your stitch your two pillow pieces together):IMG_0049IMG_0047

Now, if you’ve got welting attached to your top piece, switch to the Single Cord Welting foot: IMG_0052IMG_0053

Place your pinned pillow cover under the presser foot with the top piece facing up (so you can see your welting stitching, as that is your guideline for stitching your two pieces together), starting at the 2″ mark, with the cord under the groove of the foot.  Raw edges will be to the right, cording on the left (under the groove).  I make sure the center groove of my foot (you see that I’ve taken an Ultra Sharpie and drawn inside the line to make it red so it stands out) aligns with my welting stitching, because I want to stitch right on top of that existing stitch line as I sew the top and bottom pieces together. Start here (see the red dot):IMG_0048

If you do not have welting, you can use your Clear B foot or your A foot, and simply start in the same place, and stitch all the way around your pillow until you get to the 2nd 2″ mark at the other side of the bottom of the pillow.

Step Eight

Last step will be to cut off the excess zipper.  Some sewers simply cut off the zipper about 2″ from where the zipper comes through the end of the pillow (at that 2″ mark).  I also like to add a bar tack stitch prior to cutting the end of the zipper off, just in case someone gets over zealous in unzipping the pillow cover.  Select your center zig zag stitch and set the stitch width to your widest setting, and the stitch length to the shortest setting.  Center the zipper, so the teeth are directly in the center of your foot, and hold the end of the zipper so it cannot advance under the presser foot.  Stitch several zig zag stitches, then use your cut button to cut your threads.  Then trim away the excess zipper:IMG_0055IMG_0057


Trim the excess fabric from the corners of your pillow, so they will turn out nicely.  Turn your pillow cover right side out.  Voila!  You have a lovely pillow cover with an inserted invisible zipper:IMG_0058IMG_0060

Step 9

Insert your pillow form, and zip your pillow cover closed. How easy was that?


If you have questions, you can ask on my blog, or over on the Viking Designer Epic Group, I’d be happy to help you work through your first invisible zipper pillow.

Remember, Cohen says, “Go sew!”

Cohen Christmas Big


11 responses »

  1. Thank you Patty that was wortht waiting for . I will tackel the iviseble zipp now, I didn’t know you could use the mega piping foot for the zip. Yaay

    • You’re welcome, Terri! I used 6/32″ cording that I made myself and covered with the same fabric as the body of the pillow, Robert Kaufman Brussels Washer linen, in white.

  2. Darling Granddaughter!!! Precious pillows! I’m curious as to why you chose not to use the invisible zipper foot?

    • Dorothy, you can absolutely use an invisible zipper foot if you’re not using welting or cording on your pillow. The welting gets in the way of the invisible zipper foot, so you’ll have to use a foot that is one-sided if your pillow has welting. Good question!

  3. You got a nice one!!!! A keeper for sure!!! This Grandma Thing is great! Thanks for the great tutorial ~ much easier than one would think!

    Sent from my iPad


  4. Thanks Patty for your beautiful pillow tutorial!
    Congratulations on your very first grandchild!!
    I know you must be very happy and grateful for
    This beautiful child God has blessed your family
    With! Please continue to show us all the beautiful
    Things you will be making for Bianca Isobel!

  5. What a gorgeous baby. Enjoy every minute because they grow so fast. Thanks for the great tutorial. I’ve always been a bit intimidated by invisible zippers. Now I’m ready to give them a try.

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