Wednesday, October 07, 2009

How to sew a cushion cover with an invisible zip - A Tutorial!!

finished cushions
Cushion covers with invisible zips - let me show you how!

It has been a very, very VERY long time since I've posted a tutorial on this here blog. Truth be told it's been a long time since I've learnt how to do any new and exciting things, until last weekend when Pete's mum showed me how she made cushions with invisible zips!

They look great, but the thing that excited me most was that it was EASY. Like 10 gazillion times less fuss and hassle than any other technique I've tried for sewing zips. So I decided to document the process and share it with you lovely folk. Now I must say that although Heather showed me how to do this, she originally learnt the technique from here, so huge kudos to the Sew? I Knit! Blog!

Step 1) Cut your fabrics to size. I'm making covers for a 45cm cushion so my pieces are 47cm x 47cm including a 1cm seam allowance. I also overlock the bottom edge of each piece where the zip is going to go.

making cushions - front and back, zipper edge overlocked

Step 2) Prepare your invisible zip! Pictured below are the sort we buy. They're "heavy duty" ones, and you'll see that the bulky teeth side of the zip is the BACK rather than the FRONT like on normal zips. We use a 40cm zip for a 45cm cushion.

making cushions - invisible zips

Now it makes the sewing process a LOT easier if you iron the zip out flat before you begin. Open the zip completely and see that you can kind of 'roll' the teeth outwards to expose some tiny stitches beneath. Iron the zipper with the teeth rolled outwards as shown below, and just go as close to the zipper head as you can. Use a low heat setting so as not to melt the teeth!

making cushions - iron invisible zip out flat

Step 3) Pin the zip in place. Open the zip right up and lay it along the bottom edge of your fabric. The RIGHT side of your zip should be facing down, with the RIGHT side of your fabric facing up. The zipper tape should be lined up with very edge of the fabric.

Also, you'll notice below that I've positioned the zip to one side, with the closed end starting right in the corner. I'll explain this later.

making cushions - pin zip in place

Step 4) Prepare your invisible zipper foot. Okay these are often very weird plasticcy contraptions, but they're not expensive and you can get them from most sewing places. There's generic ones that come with various attachments so you can fit them on any machine. YOU MUST USE AN INVISIBLE ZIPPER FOOT. Trying to sew an invisible zipper without one would be very tricky indeed.

making cushions - invisible zipper foot

Step 5) Sew your zip in place. You'll see that the invisible zipper foot has two grooves in it's base. Your folded out zipper teeth will fit in one of these grooves whilst the needle stitches very closely beside the teeth. You'll probably need to adjust the position of the foot or the needle to get a nice close stitch. Begin sewing where the zipper teeth start and stitch towards the zipper head. Keep the teeth folded out flat as you go.

making cushions - sewing invisible zip

Sew along the length of the zip, removing pins as you go, until you reach the zipper head. You'll probably get to about 1cm away from the zipper head before you have to stop. That's fine. Just do a locking stitch and raise the foot. You're done with that side!

making cushions - sewing invisible zip (front side)

Step 6) Sew the other side. Repeat steps 3-5 for the other side. Be careful to pin the correct side of your zip to the correct side of your fabric:

making cushions - pin zip in place

Sew along the length of the zip as you did before, this time with the teeth of the zipper in the OPPOSITE groove to the one you used before. Sew until you reach the zipper head and stop, do a locking stitch and raise the foot.

making cushions - sewing invisible zip  (back side)

Step 7) Finish off the ends of your zip. If you close your zip completely (ooh it's so neatly concealed!) you'll see that the head and tail of the zip are still exposed. Like this:

making cushions - zip fitted, ends need to be closed off

And this:

making cushions - zip fitted, ends need to be closed off

But to close these ends off is quite simple. Lay your fabrics together again right sides facing. You'll see where your zip stitching ends - a few centimeters from each side of your cushion.

Attach a normal zipper foot to your machine with the needle to the right of the foot. Sew in from the side of your fabric and try and get as close as possible to your existing stitches. Hold the ziper tail out of the way so it doesn't get caught in your stitches.

making cushions - closing off the ends of the zip

Do the same at the other end. When working the open end of the zip, make sure that your fabric & stitches are lined up correctly, and move the zipper head along a bit so it's not in your way.

Step 8) Admire your handiwork so far.
Doesn't it look all neat and tidy? Wasn't that so much less painful than you expected? Also notice that your zipper ends up being more or less centered because of how we offset it's position in the first place.

making cushions - invisible zip fitted

Step 9) Finish it off! Finishing the cushion from this point is a simple affair. Simply lay the cushion front & back fabrics together right sides facing and stitch around the remaining three sides. Make sure you open the zip first before doing so! Then overlock the edges if desired.

making cushions - ready to stitch up the sides and overlock

Et voila! Here's the ones I just made for our home:

finished cushions
Cushion with Rooftops and Delft

finished cushions
New cushions hanging out on the couch. Featuring Delft, Rooftops & Birch prints.

73 comments:

CurlyPops said...

What a fab tutorial... I might need to invest in one of those nifty invisible zipper feet. It actually looks easier than using a standard zipper.

Jacqui said...

Yay, perfect timing with the tutorial! Someone told me today on my blog that invisible zippers are easy and I shouldn't fear them and voila, your tutorial appeared in my reader! They've been a bugbear of mine for ages so perhaps this will push me to actually get an invisible zipper foot and try instead of avoiding the issue completely :)

Candied Fabrics said...

Awesome! Who knew there's such a thing as an invisible zipper foot? Not me!

seoulsuzy said...

Wow, so detailed! Thanks for the tutorial. ^_^

gret said...

What a great tutorial, thanks Lara! I've sent my readers your way too! :o)

Juicy Roo said...

Lara you take the best photos for tutorials! I never seem to take them at the right time and before I know it my project is complete and I have one photo of Step #1! You are a tute-sharing inspiration! xo

Isis said...

very well explained! thanks for sharing, now i feel confident about putting invisible zipers in.
x isis

flowerpress said...

Brilliant, simple and fantastic. I'm about to make some cushions and now I think I'll try an invisible zip. I've never heard of an invisible zip foot either, I thought a zipper foot was specialised enough! Thanks :-)

Mookah said...

I didn't know about invisible zipper foots either! Thanks for the tute, might have to give it a go.

Claire said...

Why thank you! I've been meaning to make some cushions so this is wonderful timing. I love your comfy looking couch :)

~ Kim ~ said...

Thanks for the great tutorial. It was so easy to follow with clear pictures! I've always botched up finishing the ends of my zipper so hopefully I'll get it right using this method.

Freshly Found said...

This will be added to my favourites. What a lovely way to close a cushion cover. Thanks.

Wendy said...

great tut!!! I love the cushions :)

Bettyjoy said...

What a great tutorial - I always have problems sewing in zips but you have made it look a lot easier - maybe I'll attempt a cushion tomorrow:) thanks so much

Billy said...

Cool! Thank you so much for this very detailed tutorial, I´m definitely going to refer to it when I venture into invisible zipper sewing. (which will be sometime soon, I hope!)

Jesse said...

Great tutorial! Thank you! Never knew about invisible zipper feet, so it always seemed very difficult.

thewillowsnest said...

Hey thanks for going to the trouble to post this!!!

Great job!!
Cheers , Helen

Fiona said...

What a detailed tutorial! Those cushions look great!

del said...

great tutorial! you make it look easy. Good timing for me too, as I've been looking longingly at some of your fabrics for some cushion covers and was wondering how I'd manage to zip! Now I have the answer I'll just have to make sure the foot fits my very old Bernina.
Thanks!

del said...

oh, I forgot to ask, where do you get your zips? my local enormous chain store type fabric shop doesn't stock anything as sturdy looking as that.

Rachel@oneprettything.com said...

This is fantastic! I've been meaning to learn how to do this and you explained it so well. I'll be linking.

Salihan said...

Great tutorial! I'll be referring to this the next time I make cushions. Thanks for the clear explanation! -me@salihan.com

Track and Field said...

I made myself some pillow out of your Birch fabric with linen backings awhile ago - with the invisible zip.
The zips are so easy to install and look so professional!
Your tutorial is great.

casserole said...

This is a great tutorial, and your fabric prints are utterly delicious!!

I posted a link to your tutorial on Craft Gossip Sewing:
http://sewing.craftgossip.com/tutorial-pillow-cover-with-invisible-zipper-in-the-seam/2009/10/13/

--Anne

Sonya said...

No good excuse now to get all those cushion projects completed - perhaps I'll overdo it for Christmas pressies this year!
Proper Job, Lara ;o)

~Sonya (sago)

Claudia said...

Thank you so much! I have one of these feet and could never work out how they function! Thanks to your photos I will have another go! Greetings from Germany!

Corinne said...

Thanks for sharing this - I would love to try it - yours are so gorgeous!

florspace said...

Hey Lara, Thanks so much for the tute! I'm afraid of invisible zippers but they don't look so scary no more. hehe :+)

metrosupialdesigns said...

Those look awesome! I like to line mine in muslin while I have the serger out and it gives them such a nice feel!

Great blog and I've always admired your fabrics.

henzy said...

fabulous.. and you make it look so easy. Now all i need is to buy a sewing machine

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handmadelife said...

thanks for posting this tutorial in time for Christmas present making!

Spin Spin said...

I'm totally gonna see if you can get a fancy zipper foot for my le ancient but trusty machine, thanks :)

sylvi said...

i'm joining the choir to say that the timing was perfect! i'm in the middle of ...eh, thinking about making some pillow covers, but it's good to know i can have a look here should i get a stupidity fit, which makes the part of actually beginning so much less taunting now. if only i can find those zippers... and the zip foot. surely i must have one?

thank you! good post. inspiring.

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Anonymous said...

Dear Del,
If it is any help Spotlight carry the invisible zippers. I have used the ones for dresses for cushoins and they work fine. And i have an old bernina ( 35 years old and still working beautifully touch wood ) and I use the 452 foot
(buttonhole foot ) for putting in invisible zips. Have made 2 wedding dresses and a deb dress and they looked fabulous.
Cheers
Lizzie

kp said...

lizzie - thanks for the info on the zippers, had just been to spotlight looking for some and was unable to find anything heavier just as del said earlier. also a really limited number of colours in the right size so i was wondering where on earth to find the heavy duty ones...

spin spin, at spotlight i found a generic invisible zipper foot for my 30+ year old elna. takes an hour or so and practically a degree to put together with the instructions provided but it was about $7 and it works!

ILikePaperCutting said...

invisible zipper foot is something new for me, thanks for sharing

kp said...

thanks again for this tutorial - have FINALLY finished my first efforts, and posted on my own blog here:

http://whenyouturnyourfacetothesun.blogspot.com/2010/04/mrs-ds-first-married-birthday-present.html

(hope that's okay?)

Michelle said...

i love these kinds of crafts . They're really nice to look at.

Home Furnishing said...

Perfect tutorial clearly explained with pictures.This is fantastic. I think anyone can try this after reading this.

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mazspazz said...

Hey Larz,
Great tutorial...Finally got around to making some covers using some of Teeg's Blue Wrens in Charcoal on black...I am such an Ink & Spindle groupie...

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The Shopping Sherpa said...

Thank you! I've had this tute bookmarked for months and finally used it today: http://theshoppingsherpa.blogspot.com/2010/08/monday-making.html

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Designer Clothes said...

Thanks so much, it’s been years since I tried to put in an invisible zipper. I’ve made quite a few pillow cases for gifts, just never put a zipper in one! This is for my grandniece’s kindergarten class nap time. God bless you!

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Emma said...

This would be a lovely addition to my selection of cushion covers at home. Thanks!

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This would be a lovely addition to my selection of cushion covers at home. Thanks!

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Heather said...

Thank you for some brilliant insight into how to fix up a cushion with such little fuss. I didn't use an invisible zipper foot, and though it was a bit more fiddly it still worked fine. I am far more confident with sewing now, I had a lot of fun with this. :)

Zedd said...

Brilliant tute! You make it look so easy. Beautiful fabric too. Overall, a really classy product. Kudos!

Guido said...

Thanks so much this has been brilliant - I've used it many times. I love the look and it makes it so easy. Cheers