Over the years Modern Quilts Unlimited  has shared a whole variety of pillow projects. Many of these include directions for an envelope back, but what about adding a zipper? I still had my prototype for “Louisa May’s Ship” from the Winter 2016 issue, and thought I could show you how easy it is to do.

First, measure your backing the same size as your pillow, assuming a 1/2″ seam allowance on all sides.  My pillow form is 16″, so my pillow and backing are both 17″. Layer these right sides together making sure you know which side the bottom of the pillow is! I measured 3″ along the bottom edge from either side and marked that with a pin.

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I then sewed a short seam from the end of the pillow to the pin, backtracking at both points.

A little tip: I use washi tape to mark the 1/2" seam line all the way down.  Sometimes my eyes aren't so good and a bright color helps remind me where I am! And it's pretty.
A little tip: I use washi tape to mark the 1/2″ seam line all the way down. Sometimes my eyes aren’t so good and a bright color helps remind me where I am! And it’s pretty.

 

Switching to a basting stitch (or the longest stitch length you have on your machine), sew along the “open” area in between your seams, to keep the edges together while you install the zipper.

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Open up your pillow so that it is right side down and press your seam open. You will sew your zipper in with the right sides down before you sew the other seams.

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Lay out your zipper pull side down in between the opening you have created. The teeth should line up with the basted seam, and the zipper pull should be about halfway down. Pin in place.

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Put your zipper foot on and with a few securing stitches at the top of the zipper fabric, sew along the edge of the zipper until you come to the pull.

Make sure you know how to use your zipper foot!  Your machine's manufacturer probably has videos for you to watch if you're feeling nervous.
Make sure you know how to use your zipper foot! Your machine’s manufacturer probably has videos for you to watch if you’re feeling nervous.

Raise your zipper foot and carefully move the pull up and away from you until you can drop the foot again. Continue to the end and then secure with backtracking. Make sure that you keep your pull somewhere in the middle!

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Pin your pillow together right sides together, and stitch around the outside edge with a 1/2″ seam allowance.  I like to backtrack at all the corners, and you’ll see why with this next photo:

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I lip around the corners using a curved cut that tapers to the point. The stitches reinforce that seam close to the cut edge.

Use your seam ripper and carefully remove the basting stitches.  This will be a little awkward, so take your time.

Yup, I didn't open up my zipper halfway down the opening!  Fear not, though, I just have to even more awkwardly pick out the basting stitches, and open up the zipper a little bit each time.
Yup, I didn’t open up my zipper halfway down the opening! Fear not, though, I just have to even more awkwardly pick out the basting stitches, and open up the zipper a little bit each time.

Turn your pillow right side out, poke out the corners, and trim any loose threads.  And you’re done!

Look at those nice sharp corners!
Look at those nice sharp corners!

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