Quick Zipper Tricks

March 7, 2017


How To Add A Zipper

I am a very impulsive crafter. I'm all about the endgame. I get an idea in my head, want it done immediately and dive in without really thinking all of the steps through. I sew without patterns, cook without recipes and create on the fly. Of course, that method has many obvious pitfalls and I often find myself at a creative impasse. When that happens, I either cheat to make it all work out or I walk away. I leave it alone and deal with it when I have more patience.

Well, today was a more patience kind of day. I decided it was time to fix a mess I made a long time ago and I added a zipper to a pillow after I had already sewn most of it.

Yup. It was a major crafting blunder and it has been bothering me for over a year. I just had no desire to go in and tackle it, but I am so glad that I did. You see, I was living a creative lie. Last week, when I showed you all of my pretty pillows, I bet you didn't know that one of them was really very incomplete.

Decorating With Pillows

The big red one was supposed to be an envelope style cover, but the pattern was such that the pheasants needed to be center stage and I didn't have enough yardage to do that. That fact was not apparent to me until after my first cut.

Uh-oh. Great planning, huh?

how to close a pillow with a zipper

The open bottom has been a sore point for far to long, but zippers have always intimidated me. I din't know where to begin. Installation is a technical process and I'm a novice, a self taught seamstress. I basically wing it every time I pick up a needle and thread.

It always amazes me that a sewing tutorial is my most popular post.

I'm also lazy.

I don't know what the different feet do (and I don't want to know), I only change the bobbin if I absolutely can't get away with using the white thread that lives in there and my seams are never straight.

And if they are, it's luck. Not skill.

But today, I decided that I would read the package instructions and figure this zipper thing out, because I am tired of looking at pillows like this...

closing a pillow with a zipper

And it would be nice to have another option beside the trusted envelope method or the stitch it up by hand style.

How To make an envelope pillow cover

Turns out, adding a zipper after the fact was easier than I thought and if I can do it, anyone can. Trust me.

Oh and by the way, if you have a garment or a piece of upholstery with a broken zipper, this method would work to replace it. You just need to rip out the old before installing the new.

Here's how to add or repair a zipper.


I began by sewing up the ends of my pillow, to create an opening that was just large enough for my zipper. I placed the zipper on the open seam of the pillow and then marked the ends with pins.

Measuring For A Zipper Sewing

Then I stitched from the corners of the pillows in to the pin. It created an opening just large enough for the zipper to fit.

Then, with the zipper closed up, I placed it face down on the inside (wrong side) of the fabric and pinned it in place. I only pinned it to ONE SIDE of the open seam.

Sewing Tutorial How To Add A Zipper

Then I stitched the zipper to the seam. Like I said, no fancy footwork or machine feet here. I used my basic foot and sewed the zipper in place. The needle was placed as close to the zipper metal as I could get it and the foot just rode happily on top of the zipper itself.

No problem.

Sewing tutorial How To Add Or Repair A Zipper

This is how it looked from the right side of the pillow when I was done stitching it in place. It is closed.

DIY Sewing A Zipper into a Finished Garment Or Pillow

Ok, now in order to sew the other side, I had to unzip or open the zipper up. Then I pinned it to the  finished seam in exactly the same way I had just done it on the first side.

Open Zipper To Add It To A Finished Product

Then I repeated the stitching process on this side. 

How To Add A Zipper Without A Zipper Foot

And my zipper was in place. I turned the cover back, right side out, stuffed the pillow inside and zipped it up!

Easy peasy. I honestly don't know why I waited so long to do this and why I was so afraid in the first place. I think I'm going to be adding zippers to everything now. 

Adding A Zipper To A Finished Pillow Cover Or Garment

And...having seen the "right" way to make a pillow with a zipper, which involves all that proper foot talk and basting requirements, I think I'll stick with my cheating ways.  

Even though I stumbled my way through.

It had a happy ending. 

Zip!


I cheat a lot. Check these out!


How To Make An Easy Patchwork Chair



How To Add Fabric To Glass Cabinet Doors



How To Make A Scrap Fabric Banner







48 comments:

  1. You go girl you made this look very easy. I do not sew but this looks like something I might be able to do. Hope all is going great for you this week. Love all your pretty pillows.
    Hugs,
    Kris

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    1. Thank you, my friend! It was way easier than I thought it would be, Kris. Once I mapped it out in my head, it went pretty quick! :)

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  2. I do sew and have made many pillows. Zippers are always a scary thing for me too. That one looks nice and neat. Well done!!

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    1. Thank you, Barb! I take that as a high compliment!! :)

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  3. Thanks! That looks so easy, because of you.
    Look out zipper less articles, here I come.

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    1. Oh I am so glad you found it helpful!! That is the whole reason why I post the tutorials, in the hopes that they will help someone out! :) Have a great week.

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  4. I am intimidated by zippers too but you made it look easy. I am a cheater too....so much that I would have left the pillow undone! I have to admit it looks great though all zipped up.

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    1. AnnMarie, my pillow has been undone for over a year!! I was so intimidated I just kept tucking the fabric underneath itself. It was a great look, until someone sat on the couch. ;)

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  5. It's so wonderful at how talented you are with sewing Kim. Have fun with it and have a wonderful week. :)

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    1. Thank you, Julie, you are too sweet! It all looks good, as long as you don’t look too close! ;)

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  6. Kim, this post may have cured my ziphobia. Thanks! Hugs, Nancy

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    1. Ha!! I hope so! :) It sure cured mine.

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  7. Nice. I agree that zippers are intimidating when you first look at putting them in. Good for you for taking it on and nailing it.

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    1. Thank you, Lorri. I have been putting it off for a really long time and it wasn't hard at all. :)

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  8. Hi Kim, Your zippered pillow turned out great!! I sew and I must say, zippers can be a challenge. You did a great job and your tutorial is great. Love that fabric too. Have a great week and fun creating. xo

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    1. Thanks Celestina Marie. I really was intimidated (and still am a bit)! I don’t think I’ll be running to add zippers to everything now, but I won’t be shying away either.

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  9. Great job, Kim! Having been in the sewing business and making about 1500 pillows one year, I was all about the speed of adding zippers. I bought my zippers by the roll (all white) and figured a way to sew them so they were not visible...people had to hunt for the zipper! I did use a zipper foot, too. I make a lot of my decor pillows, and some have zippers and some are the envelope back; I even occasionally buy a ready-made pillow cover at HobLob, because they already have zippers! It's so funny to see sewing machines in craft rooms, usually sitting way up high in a closet, and the bloggers almost always say "I don't sew but want to learn." I fear it is a dying art.

    Warm hugs,
    Carol

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    1. I read your whole comment, Carol…TWICE…but I still cannot get past the 1500 zippers part. 1500? My, you are quite the expert seamstress my friend. I am in awe. 1500…I am going to hear that number in my sleep tonight! ;)

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  10. You make it look so easy! Great step-by-step Kim!

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    1. Thanks Vel! It was much easier than I had anticipated! :)

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  11. That's it?! Wow... I feel like a dork for not replacing the one that's broken on a dress I haven't worn in a few years. It's going to be zipper time as soon as I can get to a store lol Thank you for sharing that, my friend :)

    hugs,
    rue

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    1. "Zipper time"...I love it!! ;)

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  12. YOU AMAZE ME!!!! I am a disaster when it comes to sewing, which is such a shame, I'd love to be able to make pillows and things like you do. My only fabric projects involve that iron on hem stuff, total cheating. Oh well.

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    1. You are the absolute sweetest!! Thank you, and cheating totally counts!! :)

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  13. LOL- I love that you figured out your own way to do it...I am an advocate of whatever works! lol I just bought the foot to put in an invisible zipper. There is no way to do that without the foot that I can figure out. I have a couple of invisible zippers to put in the back of girls' dresses so figured I'd best do it before they outgrow the dresses. xo Diana

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    1. You are a master seamstress, I have seen the dresses. A hidden zipper is clearly way beyond my skill set, but I know you will put that foot to good use! Can’t wait to see what you whip up!

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  14. The pillow looks quite professional. Great job!

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  15. Finding our OWN way . . .
    Is the best found secret . . .
    You Go Girl!

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    1. Thank you, Lynne. I try to follow the directions, but I really do a much better job when I do it my own way.

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  16. When I was younger, I used to sew pretty well, but like you, was always intimidated by a zipper. I'm still intimidated by them! Your tutorial makes it look easy, but I'm still like "no way Jose"...LOL Since I don't have a machine at the moment, the best I could do with a zipper is an iron on or iron in...LOL Love and hugs!

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    1. Sometimes I think it would be a lot easier if I didn’t own a machine, Benita!! I would certainly get myself in a lot less trouble!! ;)

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  17. I know all about zippers and the fears we have with them! I avoid them like the plague too! However, having put in many zippers in my teen years when sewing my own clothes, I know well how to do them. I just avoid them, lol! Anyway, you did an amazing job with this zipper, it is awesome! And great tutorial too! I have to replace a zipper on a coat where the zipper broke. I finally found a coat zipper (the zipper has to separate, and is not the typical zipper). I just need to sit down and do it, just as you did yours. Maybe, just maybe I'm inspired to do so, lol! :)

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    1. I don't know why they are so intimidating, but they really are, aren't they? I bet you're a whiz at them with all that clothing experience. That is one skill I would love to have...making clothes! Maybe someday, although I don't think there is a cheat for that. Well, not one that I wouldn't look ridiculous wearing! ;)

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  18. Great job Kim! Now you know you can tackle a zipper job with ease :)

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    1. Thanks Karen! It was about time I tried it! :)

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  19. I know even less than you, and I'm afraid to get my sewing machine out, but I may have to try it. I'd love to make my own pillow covers. Thanks for the tutorial.

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    1. Go for it, Kristi! You are uber talented when it comes to DIY. This would be a breeze for you! :)

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  20. I really need to break down and learn how to add a zipper. Your post is encouraging. I shall keep you posted.

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    1. Thank you, Lisa! I was terrified. Now I am only timid... ;)

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  21. I pinned! Thank you, what a great tutorial.
    Carla

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    1. Thanks Carla. This is the cheater's guide to installing a zipper after the fact., but it worked! One day, I have to learn how to do it the right way! ;)

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  22. Yehhhh! I knew you could do it! Zippers really aren't difficult. I think what makes them seem so is there are so many ways of doing it it can get confusing. Just find a way you're comfortable with and stick with it. :)

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    1. I agree, Doreen! It was more of an engineering feat that a sewing task. Once I figured out the logistics, i was good to go. And thanks for the cheer!!

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  23. I have always been intimidated by zippers too! You made this seem so easy. I sewed curtains for a friend & she wants pillows to match. I've put off the pillows for a long time now. It's time to pull them out again. One question though. She wants piping along the edges. How or where can I put the zipper?

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    1. Cathy, I have never done it, but I found a video on YouTube. Perhaps this would help... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFQE1mV3r-4. If you do it, let us know. I would love to see how one turns out! Good luck!! I'm rooting for you!

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