Hi, I'm Nienke, from the Dutch blog Pienkel and I'm very happy to meet all of you over here at So Sew Easy. For this first contributor post, I made you a tutorial for quite a basic yet versatile project: a pillow cover with an invisible zipper.
Inserting an invisible zipper was one of the sewing skills I didn't dare to undertake for a long time. However, as with most intimidating skills, once done it turned out fairly easy. Materials to make your invisible zipper pillow cover:
– Fabric. For a common 16″ square pillow, you'll need two 16″ squares of woven fabric without stretch. Quilting cotton is perfect for this purpose!
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– One invisible zipper, 16″ long. If you'd like, a slightly shorter one would do, and if you have a longer one at hand that works as well, however the right size just makes it all a bit easier.
– Matching thread.
– Invisible zipper foot for your sewing machine. Mine is a cheap plastic universal one, works just fine! It is perfectly possible to sew an invisible zipper without an invisible zipper foot, it just takes a bit more effort. You do need a regular zipper foot then though.
– Regular sewing supplies, such as sewing machine, scissors and pins. First, finish the edges of your two squares of fabric with a zigzag stitch or a serger. Take a good look at your invisible zipper. If closed, you'll see it has one flat side where the runner hangs and one side where the teeth of the zipper are visible. The flat side is the right side.
Now open your zipper and pin it to one piece of your fabric, raw edges aligned, right sides together. If the size of your zipper doesn't exactly match the size of the fabric, you can mark the center of the zipper and the center of the fabric and work from there. Install your invisible zipper foot. It has two dents at the center front. These are to guide your zipper, either left or right. The tiny stripe in the middle shows where you'll sew. Now place your fabric with pinned zipper underneath the foot, as pictured above, starting at the top of the zipper. The needle should go exactly besides the teeth of the zipper. If the needle goes through the teeth of the zipper, the zipper won't be able to close because the thread is in between the teeth. If it happens, as pictured below, just use your seam ripper to undo that part and try again.
Now, with the teeth of the zipper guided through the left dent of the zipper foot and the needle going straight along the teeth of the zipper, carefully sew all the way until the end of the zipper, or, if you get to the end and the runner of the zipper gets in the way, as far as you can get. Check if the runner can still pass all your stitches and if you're happy with the placement of your stitches. They should be as close to the zipper teeth as possible.
If you don't have an invisible zipper foot, first of all, I would highly recommend buying one. But if that's not an option, you can use your regular zipper foot as well. That way, you'll have to make sure you sew straight along the teeth yourself, without extra guidance. What might help in this case, is carefully ironing the teeth of the zipper flat before pinning and sewing. Don't use a too hot setting though, the teeth might melt. Now, pin the other side of the zipper to your other square of fabric in the same way. Make sure your fabric lines up when the zipper is closed! Again, marking center of fabric and zipper could help.
This time around, guide your zipper through the other dent of the invisible zipper foot. The bulk of your fabric is to the right now and you'll be sewing the zipper from top to bottom just like on the other side. Now your zipper should look like the photo above: invisible! Open your zipper at least halfway, otherwise you can't turn your pillowcase later on. Pin your two squares of fabric to one another along the three sides where there is no zipper, right sides together, raw edges aligned.
Put your regular sewing foot back on and sew along the three edges with a straight stitch and a small seam allowance. At the corner where your just stitched seam meets the zipper side, mark one inch from your stitched seam along the line of the zipper stitches and then square up to the raw edge. Stitch along these marks, making sure all of the zipper is on the side of the raw edge, not in between your stitching.
Make sure you secure your stitching by going back and forth a few stitches at the end! Repeat for the other corner.
These lines of stitching are to neatly finish the seam where the zipper ends. If your zipper has a different length, make sure your stitching doesn't end before the stitching of your zipper starts, the stitches of your corner stitching and the stitching of the zipper should just meet eachother, or even overlap slightly, but it shouldn't leave a hole. Clip the corners of your pillowcase and turn the pillowcase right side out. Make sure you pushed the corners out properly, so they are nice and sharp. Give the pillowcase a gentle press and put a filler pillow in. You're first one is done, get ready to make a couch full! If you'd like to make a couch full, but with some different pillowcases as well, like a colourblocked envelope pillowcase, or one with applique, check out my tutorial page!