Easy DIY Outdoor Pillow Cover with an Invisible Zipper in 10 Easy Steps
Knowing how to sew an invisible zipper opens up many possibilities with decorating. It is great to have the ability to purchase or re-purpose fabric instead of searching for a pillow that is already made in a style that you want. Old existing pillows can get a facelift with a new cover!
Sewing an invisible zipper is pretty simple once you get the hang of it. I have seen many great tutorials online for pillow covers with an invisible zipper but many of them use 2 pieces of fabric with seams all around. I like my pillows to have the least amount of seams possible. Store bought pillows usually do not have a seam at the top of the pillow. The instructions below will fit an 18×18 store bought pillow form but can be modified to fit any pillow size. When you do not add a top seam because you are folding a piece of fabric in half, using a ½ inch seam for the zipper and ¼ inch seams for the sides will always result in an even reduction all around.
If ¼ inch seams bother you, there are ¼ inch sewing machine feet that can make sewing a smaller seam like that even easier. I like to use a serger for the side seams.
½ yard of fabric or enough fabric to cut one 18” x 36” rectangle, matching thread, invisible zipper sewing machine foot, a 20-22 inch invisible zipper, 1 outdoor pillow form, washable fabric glue stick (optional), hand sewing needle is also optional
You will need an invisible zipper foot for your sewing machine to sew the zipper. A normal sewing machine foot is used for the seams (or a serger). The picture shown below is a snap on type of foot and I use it on my Brother sewing machine. The point of the zipper foot is to get the stiches as close to the teeth as possible without stitching the teeth themselves. The zipper teeth ride in the groove of the zipper foot, adjust the needle so it is close as possible without stitching into the plastic teeth at all
Sewing the Pillow Cover
Step 1 – If you have a store bought invisible zipper pillow, get one and take a look at it. Remove the insert and turn the cover inside out. It helps to see how an invisible zipper is sewn before you start sewing, look at how the zipper is attached to the fabric, once it makes sense to you the whole process will be easier.
Step 2 – Cut 1 fabric rectangle 18” x 36”
(Optional) if desired, finish the edges of the fabric that will have the zipper attached to it – if you are concerned about them fraying. The edges could be finished with a serger or do a zig-zag machine stitch
Step 3 – Open up the zipper, iron the zipper teeth flat.
Step 4 – Fold the fabric in half with the wrong sides together. On the “right side” the side that will be seen, turn zipper so that the zipper pull is facing down and you see the backside of it. If your fold is on the left and the open ends on the right, it should look like the picture to the right. The right half of the zipper will be affixed to the fabric on this side. Align the edge of the zipper with the edge of the fabric. Pin/clip the zipper or use a washable glue stick. I used clips and some of the fabric glue. Once the first side is attached, make sure the zipper is lined up, clip the top together if needed, flip the fabric over and attach the other side. If you have your example pillow handy, look at the way you have your zipper affixed to the fabric, does it look like the example pillow?
See photos below that show how the other half of the zipper looks when attached.
Step 5 – Once the zipper is pinned, clipped or glued in place, mark a line 1.5” from the top of the fabric on the zipper on all 4 ends. It could also be a little longer or shorter. The point of this line is to create a beginning and ending for where you are stitching the zipper. You do not want to stitch the zipper all the way to each end. The edges will be stitched together later after the zipper is sewn.
Step 6 – Sew each side of the zipper starting and ending at the 1.5” mark that you made, 1.5 inches from each edge will be free and not sewn to anything at this point. Make sure you are using the invisible zipper foot, after sewing, check your zipper to make sure it works and it didn’t get hung up by any of the stitches. If there are problems, remove stitches as needed and sew it again. The end of the zipper will need rotated around before you zip it up.
Step 7 – Close up the zipper partially to about the middle, on each end sew the 2 pieces of fabric together from the edge to about 2 inches from the edge – this is just a little bit past the 1.5” mark that you made, keep these stiches just slightly outside the zipper stitches, back stitch at the ends
See the picture below. It may help to draw the 2 inch line with a disappearing/washable marker so you can follow it easily when sewing.
Step 8 – Check to make sure that the stitches are secure, if desired, you can sew in a zipper stop around the 1.5” mark at the zipper end. If all is well, clip the edges of the zipper.
Step 9 – using your normal sewing machine foot (or serger), make sure the zipper is partially open so you can flip the cover right side out when you are done. Sew up the sides of the pillow with ¼” seams. Flip the cover right side out, gently push out the corners, put your pillow form in and zip it up!
Step 10 – Time to show off your new pillow! Great job!
I have listed some links below for some of the supplies that I used to make this project.
If you think you will be making several pillows it definitely pays to buy zippers in bulk. This pack from OTRMAX has an assortment of 40 zippers in 20 different colors for $10.99.
These water soluble fabric glue sticks from Sewline do a great job and I have never had issues with the glue not washing out.
For very reasonably priced outdoor fabric in Pennsylvania, check out Surplus City. Most outdoor patterns are around $6 – $7 a yard. There are 4 locations in PA.