TBT – Enclosed Zipper Tutorial!

Welcome to another “Throw Back Thursday”! Once a month, I’m going to throw you back to one of my most popular blog posts, which hopefully you will find terribly exciting! The reason I’m doing this is not because I have nothing to write about (Nobody has ever accused me of being lost for words), but because since moving from Blogger to WordPress, a lot of my older blog posts have become rather “dodgy” in their set up, and really do need re-writing and re-setting-up.

One of the questions I am most commonly asked is: “How do you put a zipper in a cushion back” – and for the past couple of years, I’ve been able to direct them to this tutorial!

Take a deep breath, grab a cuppa – there’s lots of photos incoming!

First of all, I start off with a pattern, or in this case, some leftover blocks from a quilt…


I had four leftover blocks from my Honey Honey Framed quilt, so I pieced them all together and popped a white border around it to bring it up to size. You can use this same theory with any blocks you have lying around! Next time you’re at your local fabric/supplies store, check out their cushion inserts, and take note of the sizes they stock. Generally speaking, I’ll make my cushions 18″ or 20″, but you can work with whatever you’ve got.

Next step is getting some batting. Now, a great thing to know is that you don’t always have to have one whole piece of batting. You CAN piece smaller offcuts of batting together – especially handy to know with small projects like this. I piece my batting as follows…..


Get yourself a couple of pieces of offcuts, put them together, with an overlay of about half an inch, then set your machine stitch to the widest zig zag stitch.


And bingo! You now have a piece big enough for your cushion.

Then the fun begins! Make yourself a quilt sandwich – Your cushion top, batting in the middle and then a great part of the cushion quilt is that you can use just a plain homespun or even calico as your backing – because nobody will see it! Baste it together and decide on your quilting design.


This size project allows you to really use your imagination, and tackle free motion quilting designs that you may find daunting or tricky to use on a big quilt. This is one such design. I wanted to use this big petal/flower design for my Honey Honey quilt, but the twisting and turning of the quilt did my head in, so I abandoned it. I LOVE how it turned out on this smaller scale. And of course, I used my favourite thread – Aurifil #2810.


Use your quilted cushion covers as a practicing ground! Go crazy! Trim your cushion cover down to size.


Choose a backing fabric, and then cut out a piece about an inch wider than your block and approximately four inches longer.


Cut your backing straight through the middle.


Then overlock (serge) or neatly finish the edges.


Grab yourself a zipper that is at least as long as the width of your backing. If you have a longer one – that’s fine!!


Now, place your zipper facing down on the right side of your fabric. Line up the edge of the zip with the finished edge of the fabric, pin it in place.


As shown here.


Put your zipper foot on your machine (you CAN use a regular foot, but these ones make it easier).


Set your needle as far to the left as it goes. (Don’t forget this step or you will end up with a broken needle. Don’t know how I know this…..)


Line the side of your foot up next to the actual zip. You will be able to feel the plastic/metal of the zip with your finger. Now sew! Take it slowly and ensure the edge of the zip stays on the edge of the fabric.


One side done!


Press your fabric down nice and neatly.


Move your needle over to the far right now and topstitch just a tiny bit away from the zip.


As seen above.


Now place your zippered backing half and place it right sides facing on to the other backing half. Lining up the sides of the backing as evenly as you can.


Repeat the lining up of zip edge to fabric edge and pinning.


And sew again….


And you will have put your zip in!! But wait…..there’s more!


Take your zippered backing over to the ironing board, and press the second side nice and neatly (DON’T TOPSTITCH!) You now want to pinch your fabric, about one inch down, and fold it up over your zipper.


Measure it on both sides so it’s even.


Then press it.


Pin it down on the folded edge.


Move your needle to the far left. And slowly sew down beside your zip.


So it looks like this!


And you now have an enclosed and covered zip!  You still with me???? Exhausting isn’t it?? Grab yourself a drink…..Now it’s time to put your cushion cover together……


Lay your backing down, right side facing down.


Place your cushion front on top of the backing. Try and get it as straight as possible, so that the zipper is the same measurement from the top of your cover on both sides. ***


Pull your zipper back a few inches from the edge.


And pin the zipper edges nice and close together.


Trim your backing to the same size as your front. You can literally cut straight over the zip! Baste it all together, and then sew around the edges about a 1/4″ in.


You now have a cushion cover. Just needs binding! If you know how to bind a quilt, then you will be able to bind a cushion cover! I will be back next Tuesday to show you my version of machine binding.


Most important of all, find yourself a cushion insert that looks like it will be just a touch too big for the cover! Cushion inserts lose their “oomph” after a bit of living, so you want to make sure it will be able to last the distance…


Isn’t she beautiful?? This cushion is the perfect example of using fabric and/or blocks that you have lying around (I mean literally, these blocks lay in the corner of my lounge room after trimming the quilt!) to make something exquisite, that will make someone really, really happy!


And the back. I am super happy to tell you that this beautiful cushion cover was sold to one of my customers. Win, win!

Now – If you don’t want to bind your cushion, and have a finish like this:


Then it’s easy.  Instead of basting your cushion cover top and backing WRONG sides together***, you baste and then sew them RIGHT sides together – ensuring your zip is open a couple of inches before doing so.  Once you have sewn all the way around the edges, you then simply open the zip right up and turn your cushion out the right way and press the edges down, giving it a nice clean seam!

I have literally made a million cushions, and don’t look like stopping any time soon, so I do hope this helps you get started in your own cushion cover marathon!

13 Responses to TBT – Enclosed Zipper Tutorial!

  1. Di Ross says:

    Thank you. I’m just about to replace my cushions and this post has given some great ideas . Have made cushions before . Envelope ones as the easiest option. Will give free motion quilting a try.

  2. Kate says:

    eeek! This little piece of deliciousness lives on my bed!!! <3 Love it!! <3

  3. Lesley Gilbert says:

    I’ve seen this method somewhere before but your many photo’s tutorial explained it a lot better – thanks 🙂

  4. That “pinch” trick to make the enclosed zipper is effin genius! I’m sooo going to use that on my next cushion – thanks for the flash-back!

  5. June Spencer says:

    I will use the enclosed zipper method all the time from now on . Thank you so much for this tutorial

  6. Hello…..just found this post…..best thing I’ve read on how to make a cushion. Thanks so much!

  7. Louise says:

    I’m a beginner but have not been brave enough to try a zipper closure on my pillows only use the flap method. Would really like to be able to do this zipper method. I’ll give it a try. Thank you so much for all the clear pictures and detailed instructions. The detail you give makes it read “doable” to me 💜

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