It’s not hard at all to add an invisible zipper to a pillow cover! Use my tutorial to see how to sew an invisible zipper in a pillow.
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I recently made some throw pillows from a beautiful hand dyed felt. The dip dyed ombre pillows have a lovely texture, thanks to the 100% wool felt I used. The wool with the ombre dyed effect creates a look that's both cozy and modern.
And since I had put the time (and money) into buying and dying the wool, I wanted to make sure I had a pretty finish for the closure. And that means one thing – an invisible zipper.
I’ve got a tutorial for you below showing how to sew an invisible zipper in a pillow.
You can use just about any kind of fabric for your pillow. Home décor weight fabric works well, and of course you know I think 100% wool felt is also pretty nice. If you want to make a dyed wool pillow like mine, see my tutorial here for how to dye the wool, then come back how to sew the wool into a pillow with an invisible zipper closure.
How to sew an invisible zipper in a pillow
Supplies – for one 14” pillow with invisible zipper closure
Fabric – 2 pieces, 15” x 15”
Invisible zipper foot *optional, but recommended*
Do I really need an invisible zipper foot?
Most people will tell you that you need a special invisible zipper foot to install an invisible zipper. And I’m not gonna lie, they do make it a lot easier. You can get them for most machines, or you can buy an inexpensive plastic invisible zipper foot. So if you can get one easily, I would say go ahead and do it.
But if you have a machine that, like mine, won’t take the inexpensive plastic foot and you don’t want to spend the money for a specialized invisible zipper foot, you CAN actually install the invisible zipper with your standard zipper foot.
Prepare the Zipper
If you look at your invisible zipper, you’ll see that the teeth are pressed to the back. That helps make the zipper teeth recede when the zipper is zipped, but it makes it difficult to sew close to the teeth. It’s easier to install an invisible zipper if you go ahead and press your zipper flat.
Unzip the zipper, and then press the teeth flat. Here’s what it should look like with the teeth pressed flat.
I find that it’s easiest to iron the zipper wrong side up. I can use my fingers to uncurl the zipper teeth and then get the tip of the iron up in there to iron it flat.
Install the Zipper
Unzip the zipper. Pin or clip the zipper along the edge of your fabric, right sides together, and with the edge of the tape even with the edge of the fabric. (The teeth should be facing away from the edge of the fabric.)
The zipper will be longer than the fabric. That’s okay. You will trim it down to size later, after you've sewn it in. I like to line the top zipper stops up with the top edge of the fabric. That helps keep the sides of the zipper tape lined up correctly with each other.
If you’re wondering about the bits of tape, I use them to help me remember which is the “right side” of the fabric when the right/wrong sides look similar.
Using an invisible zipper foot (or standard foot), sew the zipper in place, starting and stopping 2” from the ends. Sew close to the zipper.
If you look closely at the zipper tape, you can see a slight variation in the weave right next to the teeth. That’s where to sew. Keep the needle in that line, and you’ll be right next to the zipper teeth.
Now for the tricky step. And really it’s not hard, just a little counterintuitive.
Place your other fabric piece next to the first fabric piece, right side up. Then, take the left side of the zipper tape and place it right side down along the edge of the second fabric piece. Turn the zipper tape over as you bring it to the second piece of fabric.
The zipper tape will be twisted at the bottom. Check to be sure that the twists are mirrored, like this. See that both sides twist toward the middle.
If you don’t turn the tape over as you move it over to the other fabric, you’ll end up with twists that are NOT mirrored. See how the sides of the tape both twist to the right at the bottom? This is not what you want.
Now, sew the tape in place just as you did the first one, close to the zipper teeth with your seam in that line in the tape, and starting/stopping 2” from the ends.
Zip the zipper to be sure that you’ve got it sewn in correctly. See how the zipper just recedes? That's the magic of an invisible zipper!
Unzip the zipper about halfway. This step is super important. You need the zipper pull to be in the portion of the tape that’s on the pillow.
Place the fabric pieces right sides together with ½” seam allowance. Using a zipper foot, sew 2 ½” from each end. When you get to where you’ve sewn the zipper, sew your seam just to side of the zipper seam for the last ½” or so of the seam.
The seams you just sewed secured the ends of the zipper so your zipper pull won't come off. You can now trim off the zipper ends.
Sew the Pillow Cover
Now that we’ve got the invisible zipper installed, it’s nothin’ but easy from here on out.
With the zipper unzipped, place your pillow pieces RST. Sew around the three unsewn sides with ½” seam allowance.
Clip corners, turn right side out.
Insert your pillow form and you’re done! Now that you know how to sewn an invisible zipper in a pillow, you’ll want to put them in all the pillows you make!