19 December, 2009

Cushion Zipper Tutorial

I used to think zips were far too hard, and do pillow type openings on my cushions, but once they got sat on a few times (and perhaps used for a pillow fight or two) the openings started gaping. Guaranteed.

So I checked out some bought cushions, and figured this method of inserting a zip into a cushion back. and so that I can remember what I did for next time, here are my pictorial notes!

If you haven't done zips before, just know you've got to use a zipper foot, and you'll be fine. This method is not new, but it'll make your cushions look super professional.

Step 1 - cut two strips as tall as your cushion front (screenprinted linen at top) but longer. Then cut in two - evenly or unevenly, it's up to you. I prefer unevenly (so the zip will be obviously closer to one end of the cushion than the other) because I don't have to measure anything.

Then fold and iron a 4cm (ish) hem on the two 'inside' sides as pictured.

Step 2 - using your zipper foot, sew one entire folded edge, from top to bottom, securing the zip (zipped up to start with, then leave the needle down, open the zip a little, then continue sewing til the end).

Step 3 - pin second back piece to the piece you've just sewn, placing fold over the zip completely. Then mark out the zip location and draw chalk lines to sew up and over both ends and around the zip. (You want to sew inside the metal bits at the top and bottom.)

Note - it's best to actually follow the lines you've drawn, because if you hit the metal, you'll bend or break the needle, as I've also demonstrated for you here...

(It's good to have spare needles on hand at all times!)

You're still using your zipper foot, so this is what it'll look like (above) - you're starting at the top edge, then turning corners by holding the needle down and swiveling the fabric, all the time keeping things straight by bumping right up next to the zip (you'll feel that it's there).

Don't try to sew next to the zipper 'pull' without leaving the needle down in the fabric, then lifting up the presser foot, and gently easing the zip open a little before dropping the foot down again and sewing past.

If you want, include a tag, or a piece of folded ribbon (or even some sort of message) under the flap as you sew it, just for fun.

There. Done.

This zipper was made for the cushion below (which is my mailing list prize for December 2009 - join my mailing list by 20 Dec to go in the draw) which was finished with french seams and topstitching around the edge.

And here's another example using two Anna Maria Horner fabrics for the back - it made the back almost as nice as the front.

So there it is! Thanks for reading, and happy cushion making!


  1. your angel pillow seems very lovely. thank you for your good wishes for 2010 : )

  2. Thanks for putting up that tutorial :) It has been filed away. Good photos. I love the fabrics you used & it looks really neat :)

  3. Lauren3:36 pm

    Still looks hard to me - guess that's because I don't even know if I have a zipper foot and the thought of breaking a needle freaks me out a bit because then I'd have to learn to change it. It is really obvious sewing isn't my thing hey. Doesn't matter, as long as one of the family can sew isn't that right sis?


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