How to Insert a Metal Zipper in Your Pillow
Are you a metal zipper lover? Or do metal zippers freak you out, give you an instant sense of unease and visions of sewing needles breaking?
I fall in the latter category – ha! Well, I used to until I finally dove in and gave them a try.
Metal zippers have been sitting in my zipper stash for years now. Yup, years! Now, in all fairness, I used to be big on making pillows, but I always gravitated towards invisible zippers. I liked the clean look they offered.
I also LOVE the look of metal zippers. They just add that extra touch of luxe to the finished pillow.
But, they intimidated me.
When it came time to pull together my Shattered Star lumbar pillow top I decided this was the time to finally dive in, face my fears and give metal zippers a try.
And today, I thought I’d share exactly how I went about tackling that step in case you want to add this gorgeous finish to your own cushions.
Let’s dive in!
*This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission.
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
Before getting started, here’s a full list of the materials and notions you’ll need to tackle this tutorial:
HOW TO INSERT A METAL ZIPPER
Let’s dive into how you insert a metal zipper in the Shattered Star lumbar pillow.
STEP 1 - PREPARATION
Start by laying your pillow back right side facing up. Next, lay your pillow top right side facing down on top of your pillow back (right sides will be facing each other and your pillow lining will be facing up).
Lay your metal zipper along the bottom edge of your pillow, making sure it is centered.
Using a marking pen, mark two lines: at the zipper end and zipper pull. These markings will be your stitching guide.
STEP 2 - STITCH YOUR BOTTOM SEAM
Remove the zipper and pin or clip the pillow in place. Take it to the sewing machine and, using a ½” seam allowance and a regular stitch length, stitch up to your first marking (about a 2” section), backstitching and the start and end, before switching to a long basting stitch (I used a 6.0 stitch length) for the length of your zipper (about 22”) up to your next zipper marking, then switch back to your regular stitch length for the remaining 2”, back stitching at the beginning and end of the last 2” of the seam.
Essentially, you want each of the ends to be nice and secure with a regular stitch and the area where the zipper will go will be basted stitch. A basted stitch is a longer stitch length that temporarily holds things together. You’re going to remove these stitches, so make your life easier and keep those basted stitches nice and long for easy removal.
STEP 3 - INSERT YOUR METAL ZIPPER
Lay your pillow top open right side facing down lining side facing up. Press your seam open.
Then lay your zipper right side facing down (zipper teeth facing down) in the center of your basted stitches, lining up with the markings you made.
Pin or clip in place.
Using your zipper foot, stitch on either side of the metal teeth, remembering to backstitch at the beginning and end.
Tip – if you’re finding the zipper pull is getting in your way, then stitch up to the zipper pull, leave your needle down, raise your presser foot and open the zipper so the zipper pull is no longer in the way of your zipper foot. Lower your presser foot and continue stitching.
STEP 4 - REVEAL THE ZIPPER
To reveal the zipper, lay your pillow open, right side facing up.
Using a seam ripper, gently remove the basting stitches to reveal your metal zipper!
How cool and easy is that?!
Note – this was my first time working with the zipper foot with my Juki and I went a little extra on the backstitching to make sure I had a good, reinforced seam. I’ll be a little less aggressive next time – ha! Also, I would use a longer stitch length – such as 3.0 instead of the 2.0 that I used.
STEP 5 - STITCH YOUR PILLOW
Now that you have your zipper installed, all you need to do is close up the remaining 3 sides.
IMPORTANT – before proceeding with the next step you want to open your zipper halfway. This will ensure you can turn your pillow right side out after stitching the pillow closed.
Lay your pillow top and pillow back right sides together (linings facing out). Pin or clip around the 3 unstitched sides.
Using a regular stitch length, stitch around all 3 sides using a ½” seam allowance, backstitching at the start and end.
Trim your corners to reduce the bulk and make popping out the corners easier.
STEP 6 - FLIP THE PILLOW & POKE THE CORNERS
Turn your pillow right side out.
Use a *slim Hera marker to help you poke out your pillow corners.
STEP 7 - PRESS
Now, give your pillow a good press.
I like to roll my seams so that I can get a nice crisp edge around the perimeter of the pillow.
STEP 8 - STUFF
Stuff your pillow with your favourite pillow stuffing. My go-to are:
Fabric scraps, trimmings and batting scraps – yup! I like to keep a bin under my sewing table to catch all my scraps that don’t make it into my ‘scraps to keep’ pile. I used this method for Pips’ floor pillow and he loves it! I’ve sat on it several times and it makes for a nice squishy pillow.
STEP 9 - ADMIRE YOUR WORK
Now, for the best part, stand back and admire your work!
LESSONS LEARNED FROM INSERTING A METAL ZIPPER
Practice makes perfect. I share this only because I know the next time I use this technique the end result will be more polished. I find that I need to tackle a technique first to see/ understand the process and then I can refine from there.
I would use a coordinating thread colour, so the zipper stitches don’t show on the exterior as much.
Don’t try this without using the zipper foot – it makes a world of difference.
Next time I make this, I plan on stitching my zipper to just the seam allowance rather than both the seam allowance and pillow top and back. It would provide a more seamless finish.
Don’t let the fear of metal zippers scare you off. I let it intimidate me for far too long and that means I’ve been missing out on this gorgeous way of finishing off your pillows!
For more pillow inspiration, be sure to check out:
And there you have it - proof that sewing with metal zippers doesn't have to be scary or difficult! Grab the Shattered Star Pillow pattern, your favourite metal zipper and make one (or several) as a gift today!