Make a Quilted Zipper Pillow: Photo Tutorial

Elegant Quilted Pillow DIY! Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!

If you learned how to sew through quilting, as I did, those extra baubles, buttons, and beads some sewists use can look intimidating. For the longest time I actually had a very acute fear of zippers. They looked positively dangerous! I mean...they have teeth! Anyway, over the years, I’m proud to say that I have conquered my fear of zippers and actually have an exciting tutorial to prove it – The Quilted Zipper Pillow! Ta Daaaa!

If you have ever had a fear of zippers, I want you to know that you’re in good company. I am your people. Now. Enough fretting. Take my hand and let’s sew some dang zippers together.

Supplies

  • Quilt pattern - the Modern Fans pattern, available Aug. 30, is used in this sample project. See below for more great quilt pattern options.
  • Pillow insert (this tutorial will use an 18” square pillow insert)
  • Fabric - enough to make both the pieced pillow top and 1 piece large enough to cover the back of the pillow form. My pillow backing piece is 19” square.
  • Batting - at least 2” larger than the unfinished quilt top. (My batting is about 21” square and is Quilters Dream wool.)
  • Muslin - any fabric will do, just keep in mind that it won’t be seen. This will be the inside of the pillow form and it should be about the same size as the batting.
  • Coordinating thread for quilting and piecing
  • Straight pins
  • Safety pins
  • Seam ripper
  • Basic Quilting Supplies
  • Zipper - at least 2” shorter than the size of your finished pillow. Mine is 14” (the length of the zipper is measured from the pull to the metal end)
  • Zipper foot - comes standard with most machines. Scroll down for a pic of mine.
  • Walking foot - makes machine quilting much easier

Quilted Pillow Pattern Options

Since we're a couple weeks away from the exciting release of the Modern Fans pattern, you can still make this quilted zipper pillow with some of the other Suzy Quilts patterns available.

  • Bohemian Garden: This is the perfect design for a pillow because it can easily be made in any size.
  • Kris Kross: Made from 6" quilt blocks, this pattern is stunning on a smaller scale, such as a pillow. 
  • Stars Hollow: Add border strips to the sides of a single Stars Hollow block to make a bold, pinwheel star pillow.
  • Sew Mojo Minis: Use the improv techniques and designs from the 4-part Sew Mojo series to make an array of wonderfully unique pillows!

Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!

Make a Quilted Zipper Pillow: The Quilted Part

As the title of this blog post has given away, this is not just a zipper pillow tutorial, but a quilted zipper pillow tutorial. So, let’s start with the quilted part.

Have you ever seen a beautiful quilt pattern, but just knew in your creative little heart that you couldn’t squeeze it into your schedule? Seriously, what quilter hasn’t thought this? 

Trending patterns!

Here’s a solution – turn that striking quilt pattern into a pillow! Simply take a block or two...or four, and make a delightful quilted zipper pillow. The design seen here uses 4 blocks from my pattern, Modern Fans – available Aug. 30.

A touch of math...just a touch...

Each Modern Fans block finishes at 7” and I wanted a finished 18” square pillow. That means that after sewing my 4 blocks, I would only have a 14” unit – better sew some strips on the sides!

Sewing this pillow top together I used the typical ¼” quilters seam allowance. However, when it came time to sewing the actual pillow, I wanted a ½” seam allowance around the perimeter. That means that my unfinished pillow top will measure 19” square. Make sense?


Step 1: Quilt your quilt sandwich

Phew. You already know how to do that! Lay the backing piece on a table and place your piece of batting on top. Smooooth it out. Then lay your pillow top on the batting. If you need to draw any guidemarks, do that before basting.

I use a hera marker to draw my diagonal guides and then baste with safety pins. Ready to quilt! With my walking foot safely strapped on, I slowly quilt – starting in the middle and stopping at the end of each line so that I can quilt one whole side in the same direction. Once that side is finished, I flip and quilt the other side.

Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!

I used a lot of safety pins because this pillow top is made with 100% linen – which has a tendency to shift around while I machine quilt.

Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!
Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!

Doesn't this Quitlers Dream wool batting create such a puffy elegant texture?

Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!

Step 2: Trim your quilt sandwich

Like I mentioned before, my pillow insert is 18” square, so I want my unfinished pillow top to be 19” square (to leave a ½” seam allowance on all sides).

Elegant Quilted Pillow DIY! Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!
Elegant Quilted Pillow DIY! Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!
Elegant Quilted Pillow DIY! Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!

Make a Quilted Zipper Pillow: The Zipper Part

Step 3: Arrange your zipper on the pillow

  • Lay out the piece of fabric you’re using for the pillow back right side up on a table.
  • Directly on top of that piece of fabric, place the quilted pillow top right side down – lining up the edges.
  • Lay your zipper in the center of one edge and place pins in the pillow to show where the zipper starts and stops. Set the zipper aside.
Elegant Quilted Pillow DIY! Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!

Step 4: Sew 1 seam 2 ways

  • On both sides, from the pin to the corner, sew a ½” seam, back stitching at the beginning and end.
  • That leaves a big hole in the middle where the zipper will go. In that spot, we will sew a temporary seam. Change your stitch length to something big, like 5. Without backstitching, sew between the two areas previously stitched.
Elegant Quilted Pillow DIY! Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!
Elegant Quilted Pillow DIY! Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!
Elegant Quilted Pillow DIY! Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!
Elegant Quilted Pillow DIY! Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!

Step 5: Iron

Iron the seam open.

Elegant Quilted Pillow DIY! Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!

Step 6: Pin the zipper in place

  • Place the zipper, right side down and line it up with the seam just sewn.
  • Pin the zipper in place on the ends.
Elegant Quilted Pillow DIY! Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!
Elegant Quilted Pillow DIY! Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!

Step 7: Attach the zipper foot to your sewing machine

Since the zipper foot is designed to allow you to sew very closely to the zipper, you will most likely need to manually move your sewing machine needle over to the side closest to the zipper.

Elegant Quilted Pillow DIY! Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!

Step 8: Sew on one side of the zipper

The moment we’ve all been waiting for! Deep breaths…

  • Starting at the bottom of the zipper, sew about an ⅛” away from the edge of the zipper’s teeth, backstitching at the beginning.
  • Before sewing all the way to the zipper pull STOP.
  • Keep your needle down and lift up your foot.
  • Unzip the zipper past the foot.
  • Now keep sewing to the end of the teeth, backstitching before you finish.
Elegant Quilted Pillow DIY! Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!
Elegant Quilted Pillow DIY! Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!
Elegant Quilted Pillow DIY! Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!

Step 9: Sew on the other side of the zipper

We’re almost there! Now it’s time to do what we just did again.

  • Starting at the bottom again, but on the opposite side, sew up the zipper’s teeth. Oh, and don’t forget to backstitch in the beginning.
  • About 2” away from the zipper pull STOP. Keep your needle down. Lift up the foot, and push the zipper pull through the teeth until it’s behind the foot.
  • Keep sewing to the end and don’t forget to backstitch before snipping the threads.
Elegant Quilted Pillow DIY! Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!
Elegant Quilted Pillow DIY! Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!
Elegant Quilted Pillow DIY! Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!
Elegant Quilted Pillow DIY! Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!

Step 10: Rip out the temporary seam

The zipper is sewn and now it’s time for the big reveal! Flip everything over and with a seam ripper, rip out the temporary seam over the zipper. Ta da!! You did it! The hard part is finished!

Elegant Quilted Pillow DIY! Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!

Step 11: Unzip the zipper half way (sounds weird, but just do it.)

Elegant Quilted Pillow DIY! Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!

Step 12: Pin and sew the other 3 edges of the quilted zipper pillow

  • Keep right sides together and pin along the perimeter.
  • Sew a ½” seam around the final 3 edges, backstitching at the beginning and end and pivoting at the corners. Tip! To prevent super pointing corners, curve your seam in a little wide at the corners.
Elegant Quilted Pillow DIY! Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!
Elegant Quilted Pillow DIY! Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!

Step 13: Snip the excess fabric at the corners

I used pinking shears, but you can use regular scissors too.

Elegant Quilted Pillow DIY! Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!

Step 14: Poke out corners

Stick your hand into that half open zipper and turn the pillow inside out, using your finger to push out the corners.

Elegant Quilted Pillow DIY! Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!
Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!

Step 15: Cram your pillow insert inside and you're FINISHED!

Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!

Do you have any zipper tips? Or maybe buttons or flaps is your preferred pillow finishing method. Let us know in the comments!

Elegant Quilted Pillow DIY! Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!
Elegant Quilted Pillow DIY! Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!
Elegant Quilted Pillow DIY! Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!
Elegant Quilted Pillow DIY! Sew a quilted zipper pillow with this step by step tutorial. I'll walk you through how to baste and quilt your pillow top, sew a zipper, and finish the pillow beautifully!

Suzy Quilts

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30 thoughts on “Make a Quilted Zipper Pillow: Photo Tutorial

  1. Rhyomi says:

    I was so excited to see this post come up!! I’ve been wanting to try something like this for a while, and I LOVE the idea of adding a zipper! This is such a great way to have fun with new quilt blocks without committing to a full quilt.

  2. Gigi Voegeli says:

    Wowie wow wow wow! I never saw a zipper put in like that before!! I too have zipper phobia. I can’t wait to try this!!! Thanks Suzy!

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      How can we quilters not have zipper phobia when we’re used to only working with soft, cushy things like batting? 😉 I hope this tutorial helps you on your exciting journey into zippers.

  3. Janine says:

    I love that you used linen for this pillow. It adds so much yet is quietly understated and timeless. Pairing it with a modern pattern is pure art. I can’t wait to see your Fan pattern. I think I see an update in my living room just in time for Fall. I have many students/customers who limit their creativity just because a zipper is involved. Thanks for removing the mystery. Have a great day!

  4. Cathy says:

    This is a great tutorial and your pillow is gorgeous!
    Can I ask where you got your rug? I love it, and the colors in it are my favorites!

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      Thanks, Cathy! I got it at this huge and crazy warehouse in the suburbs of Chicago, called The Dump. Despite its name, it’s really not a dump. Haha! This one is vintage and (they told me) one of a kind from Turkey. I’m sure you can find one similar online, though. 😉

  5. Hannah says:

    This tutorial is exactly what I needed 😍 as my experience with sewing is 110% limited to quilting, I have such a phobia of zippers!! Any chance you’ll turn this tutorial into a Facebook or Instagram live video?? I’m defiantly wanting to try some quilted pillows now!!

  6. Dawn says:

    I am trying to work up the courage to quilt my own work (instead of sending it to a quilter) and I have tried, without success, to put in a zipper before. This seems to be the perfect project for both! Thank you for the excellent instructions and detailed pictures.

  7. Susan says:

    I like the pillow and the tutorial. I have a question though on the pillow insert. How thick is the pillow insert? The finished pillow looks on the thin side. I am wondering if there would need to be any adjustments if I used a thicker pillow form.

  8. Melissa says:

    So very awesome!!! Great tutorial, I can’t wait to make pillows with zippered covers!!! And besides that, you show the best quilting porn around……… cross-hatch deliciousness!!!! I seriously think I need to get some wool batting!

  9. Pingback: Modern Fans Quilt Sew-Along - Suzy Quilts

  10. Pingback: Modern Fans Quilt Pattern – Video Tutorial included! - Suzy Quilts

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