Outdoor Zipper Pillows

Our front porch has been super junky for a long time. Recently I decided I was sick of it! I have a whole plan for how to spruce it up and it starts with these colorful pillows! I ordered these outdoor fabrics from fabric.com. And while they are definitely outdoor fabric they are not waterproof. So just be mindful that you might want to bring these in if it rains to prevent the pillow forms from getting moldy.

If you've never sewn zippers before I know they can seem very intimidating! But this is a super easy project to get you introduced and comfortable with them. This is also the same method I use for sewing zipper pouches. The only difference is I usually add a liner fabric for the pouch.

Materials:

  • Zippers - I got colorful nylon ones from Joanns
  • Fabric - I got these two from fabric.com
  • Pillow
  • Matching thread
  • Sewing Machine
  • Serger (optional)

Step 1:

Cut your fabric. Measure the dimensions of the pillow and then add an inch for seam allowance - cut two pieces to this. Then cut 2 small rectangles to add tabs to your zipper. I rough cut these tabs way bigger than they need to be and then trim I it down after I've sewn it to the zipper.

I interrupt this tutorial because I have to explain this pillow pictured below. It is the most hilarious Christmas present we've ever received. You know how you can basically get anything made with a photo on it? Like coffee mugs, calendars, notepads, etc. Well one year for Christmas Andy's parents got his sister a blanket with a giant blown up photo of her dog Dax on it. It was before we met but I heard about and she loved it. So after me and Andy had been together a couple of years for Christmas we opened up one of our presents and there was a blanket inside and we were like YES it's going to be of Clementine! We already know it! Sure enough we opened it there was a giant blown up photo of Clem's adorable face on a blanket. But there was more. Then they handed us a box and said ok now this is for Clementine's dog bed and it was this...

It is so funny. And it did live in Clem's dog bed for a long time but we've since got rid of it because she stopped sleeping in it. Honestly, why would she when we let her sleep on the couch and the guest bed because I'm sure those are way more comfortable. So I'm going to recover the pillow for now with some outdoor fabric to live on the porch.

Step 2:

Next you're going to sew the fabric tabs to either side of your zipper. The reason you're adding these tabs is so that when you sew around the perimeter of the pillow you're sewing through fabric all the way around and not the nylon zipper. It makes for a much smoother looking corner. To do that you want there to be about an inch of fabric on either side of the zipper. So for the pillows that I made, the zipper was already 2 inches shorter than my dimensions as is so I didn't need to cut the zipper down at all and I just added fabric tabs and that was all hunky-dory. But, if your zipper is longer than the dimension of your pillow you'll need to cut the zipper down to a shorter size first and then add tabs. Just make sure you don't cut off your zipper pull!!

Ok so yeah sew the tabs to either side of your zipper making sure to fold the hem twice before stitching.

TIP: I like to add a bit of scotch tape to the end of the zipper when sewing the tab so that it doesn't flair out and the width stays the same.

Trim excess zipper after you've stitched the tab down and then trim the width of the fabric tabs so that it's the same as the zipper. I like to keep the extra length until after the pillow is assembled and then trim it down to size.

Step 3: (optional)

I was unsure of the quality of outdoor fabric I bought so just as a precaution I serged the pieces of my pillow before assembling to prevent any fraying.

Step 4:

Pin your zipper and one of your pieces of fabric right side together and sew a straight stitch with about 1/4" seam allowance. I never use a zipper foot because I don't care about getting that close to the zipper teeth and I chose a colorful zipper to be seen. But since I use my normal foot I usually have to stop at some point, put the needle down in the fabric, and lift the presser foot and move the zipper to other side as it gets in the way of the foot.

Open it up and then pin your other piece of fabric to the other side of your zipper making sure to pin right sides together. Sew another straight stitch with 1/4" seam allowance.

Optional - at this point you can add a straight stitch 1/4" along the seam on the right side of the fabric. However, I preferred it to look looser and so I didn't add this stitch.

Step 5:

At this point you should have one big rectangle and all we need to do is stitch around the perimeter! First make sure to open up the zipper so that it will be easier to flip inside out later. Then fold your fabric right sides together and pin along the 3 open sides. I used my serger for these seams but you could just do a straight stitch 1/4" in.

Step 6:

Turn your pillow inside out and add your pillow form!

 

 

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