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How to Sew Pillows with a Hidden Zipper (without an invisible zipper!)

How to Sew Pillows with a Hidden Zipper (without an invisible zipper!)

Ruffle pillow using Bari J. Charlotte fabric for Art Gallery Fabrics

Before we get started, for those of you who do not sew, you can find finished Bari J. Pillows here. For the fabrics used in these pillows look for Bari J. Charlotte Fabrics. Link to my fabric page is here to find places to purchase fabric.

A trick I learned a long time ago that I keep in my arsenal of sewing skills is how to hide a zipper when you don't have an invisible zipper on hand. In fact, I never use invisible zippers on pillows because this is so easy. 

This week I made two gorgeous ruffle pillows. I recorded the process of making the hidden zippers. You can find that video at the end of this post. I additionally wrote out the full instructions for pillow making and you can find them below.

For best results, please read all of the instructions all the way through before sewing and watch the video for further explanation.

For two 20" Pillows with Bari J. "Charlotte" Fabric you need:

2 - 18" zippers

1.5 yards of fabric for pillows

1.5 yards of fusible fleece

1.25 yards of fabric for ruffles


2 - 20.5" x 20.5" fabric for fronts

4 - 20.5" x 12" fabric for backs

Here's the formula for cutting fabric strips for your ruffles:

Size of pillow: 20" x 4 sides = 80" x 2 = 160" needed for each pillow.

Plus additional 10" for seaming ruffle pieces together = 170" needed each pillow. TOTAL: 340"

Divide 340 by your fabric width. Mine is 42" wide. So, 340 divided by 42 = 8.095 

I cut 9 strips just in case.

Step by step:

1. Fuse fleece to the backs of each piece of fabric.

2. Quilt each piece of fabric if desired. I like to do this because it makes the pillow feel more substantial when you are using cotton.

3. Place the two back pieces right sizes facing and BASTE a 5/8" seam along one long side. 

4. Press open your basted seam.

5. Place the zipper on top of the open seam on the wrong side of the fabric with the zipper facing down, carefully centered along the seam. Pin in place well.

6. Bring your pinned back to the sewing machine with the fabric right side up. You won't be able to see the zipper, but you'll be feeling for the zipper teeth as you sew.

7. With your zipper foot on, carefully sew down the seam on the right side of the zipper from top to bottom, removing pins as you go. You'll be approximately a scant 1/4" from the seam avoiding the zipper teeth but sewing the zipper in place. Sew very slowly. When you get the the zipper head, you'll stop and wiggle the zipper head past your raised presser foot so you don't hit it, or end up with a curved sewing line.

8. Repeat step seven going up along the other side of the zipper. This step will be easier because your pins will be out and your zipper will be in place, but still make sure your zipper teeth are centered along the seam.

9. Now use your seam ripper to open the basted seam. Your zipper will now be revealed, but hidden behind a little flange of fabric so it can't be seen on the back of your pillow.

10. Place your pillow back right side down and place your pillow front on top right side up. Trim your pillow back size so it now matches the size of the front (I had you make the back in case your seams weren't exact. It's easier to trim it than to worry about it being too small.

11. Sew all of the ruffle strips together, press in half the long way. Use a pleater foot to make your ruffles OR alternatively, place a piece of thin cord over the edge of the ruffle and use a wide zig zag stitch over the cord (not on it). Now pull the cord to ruffle. It's helpful to do this in sections of about a yard case your thread breaks. Truthfully, a pleater foot is a lifesaver though!

12. Curve your pillow corners by placing something round in each corner and cutting around it.

13. Pin your ruffle in place all the way around the pillow to fit with the raw edges on the raw edge of the pillow and the fold facing in. When you meet the two ends, turn the end of one piece in so the raw edge is hidden, and insert the other into it making the ruffle fit flat on the edge of the pillow. 

14. Open the zipper at least 10" and then place the front of the pillow right side up, and the back of the pillow right side down on top of it sandwiching the ruffle between. Clip or pin in place. 

15. Sew all the way around the raw edges removing pins as you go using a 1/2" seam allowance. Turn your pillow through the zipper and press. 

Bari J. Family Room with Ruffle Pillows Charlotte Fabric by Bari J



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