August 6, 2015

DIY Zippered Throw Pillow

If you follow me on Instagram, been to my house or know me in person then you probably know that I have a serious obsession with pillows! I love how easily they transform the look of a room and the sense of coziness they bring to a space.  The only thing I don't love about pillows, though, are the hefty price tag that sometimes can come with them. Now don't get me wrong I love Marshall's, HomeGoods and T.J. Maxx pillows and prices and I own quite a few, but their stocks are constantly changing and therefore are unpredictable, and when it comes to home design I often like to pick out the exact fabrics that I want to incorporate in a space. That said, when we moved into our house and I started designing our rooms, I wanted to pick out my own fabrics but I didn't want to have to pay the large dollar amount some fabric companies charge for custom pillows.  The obvious solution was then to sew them myself, only dilemma, I had absolutely no experience with using a sewing machine. Luckily, I stumbled across a tutorial from one of my favorite bloggers, Sarah at Life on Virginia Street, that gave me the courage and direction I needed to make some myself. So on Black Friday this past year I went out and bought a sewing machine at Target, taught myself how to sew and within 10 days I sewed my first zippered pillow cover and have been sewing them for rooms in our house ever since.

I've been asked many times for a tutorial on how I make my zippered pillow covers, so I finally documented it this last time when I was making pillow covers for our guest bedroom makeover. I'm still not the best at sewing, but that's the beauty because you don't have to be great at sewing to make these. If I can do it, I promise you can too! So without further adieu here is a step by step tutorial on how you can sew your own zippered pillow covers:

Step 1. Iron out the piece of fabric that you want to use for the pillows. I prefer to use the steam setting on my iron because it gets the wrinkles out a lot better. [For reference,  the fabric I used is from Joann Fabric in the Nate Berkus line. Often times, though, I get my fabric from because they many different designer fabrics at good prices.] 

Step 2: Measure out the fabric and mark where you want to cut. Since I like a snug fit on the pillow inserts, I like to cut the fabric "0.5" less than the overall size. For example, the pillow size was 22" x 22" so I cut the fabric in squares of 21.5" x 21.5". 

Step 3: Next cut the fabric. I prefer to do it with a blade and straight edge since I'm not the best at cutting straight with scissors.

Here are the two squares after they are cut.

 Step 3: Face the printed sides of the fabric together and have the non-printed sides facing the outsides (I have peeled back some of the fabric in the photo above to show you what I mean). 

Step 4: Pin the pieces of fabric together using straight pins. 

Step 5: Now it's time for the zipper part. The zipper I like to use is the Coats and Clarks all purpose zippers, which I purchase from Hobby Lobby or Jo-Ann Fabric.  I like to buy the zipper larger than the size of the pillow, so in this case I was sewing a 22" pillow cover so I used a 24" zipper. Often times I just use the natural color ones, but since they had a blue one that was similar to the blue in the fabric I chose to use this. 

Step 6: Unzip the zipper all of the way and flip it over (so that the zipper head is faced down) and have the right side of the zipper lined up with the bottom piece of fabric. Have the zipper  extended an inch past the end of the fabric so that it's out of the way when it comes time to sewing.  

 Step 7: Secure the zipper into place using straight pins.

Step 8: Now it's time to start sewing. I'm still new at sewing so I like to take the extension table off so that I can have more control with feeding the fabric. I also like to put a piece of painters tape on the needle plate to serve as guidance when sewing a straight line.

You want to sew as close to the teeth of the zipper, so in order to do so I put the left foot of the presser foot on the teeth of the zipper. Also make sure to do several back stitches at the beginning and end of the zipper to make sure that the stitch doesn't come undone.

Here is the one side of the zipper now stitched on. Excuse the not so straight stitch - I'm still learning!

Step 9: In my opinion this step is the most tricky and most important step in the process.   In order for the zipper to work properly and close, the zipper teeth have to be aligned straight . To make sure they are aligned, sandwich the zipper and pieces of fabric together (placing them on top of one another) and then peel back the top piece of fabric and zipper in small sections and using straight pins, pin the zipper to the top piece of fabric.  

 Here is what it looks like after the zipper is all pinned on. This used to take me multiple tries to pin it on correctly, so if you find yourself in the same position you're not alone, it can be quite frustrating at times! 

Step 10: Sew on the left side of the zipper exactly like you did in step 8.  After it's sewn on, I'm happy to tell you that the hard part is over and it's an easy downhill ride from here!

Step 11: Sew the remaining 3 sides. I have found that it works best to start on the side that is parallel with the zipper and then do the other two sides next. Also, I like to close the zipper half way when doing this step so that it helps with keeping the fabric aligned  and that way you know that the zipper will actually close once the sides are completed. 

Step 12. Cut the the zipper tail off using scissors.

Step 13. If you have ever looked a pillow cover, you will see that the zipper never extends the whole width of the bottom of the pillow. Instead, at both ends there is fabric next to it that acts as a stopper for the zipper. To create the stopper, measure 2" -3" in  from both sides and make a mark on the fabric in front of the zipper. In this case I did 3". 

Step 14: Starting from the end, sew a straight stitch to that line that you marked in step 13. You want to sew as close as you can to the teeth of the zipper, so put part of the presser foot on the zipper when sewing to ensure a close stitch. 

Step 15: After that, turn the pillow cover inside out and you now have a pillow cover!! The inserts that I used for these pillows are from Crate & Barrel and are down alternative, but you can find inserts at a lot of different stores. 
So what do you think, easy enough to try? Just like anything else, it takes a couple of practice times to get in the hang of it but once you have done it a couple of times I promise you will want to keep making them! 

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  1. I'm ready to take the plunge and start making my very own throw pillows especially with the help of your tutorial do you have any recommendations for a sewing machine. Especially for this beginner.

    1. Hi!! I'm so excited to hear you are taking the plunge! I promise you won't regret it! For a beginner, I would suggest going with a sewing machine that is pretty simple, meaning it doesn't offer tons of different types of stitches. I have a simple one and I love it. It's a Singer one from target, Here's the link to the one I own: