sewing + quilting confidence grows here, tip by tip

Monday, 6 May 2013

Tutorial: Quilted Pillow Cushion With Hidden Zipper



Updated at 1 August 2016
I've created an updated and even easier version of my hidden zipper tutorial and also a new version of the quilted pillow front with hand quilted detail.  Click the images below to explore both new methods and I'll leave the original method here also to give you the option to work with your fave technique.



Yesterday I was making 2 quilted cushion covers with hidden zippers so I took the opportunity to take photos along the way and put together a tutorial to share with you.



Here's a list of what you'll need:

a cushion/pillow insert (I'm using a 16")
a zipper the same size as or up to 2" less in length than your cushion insert (I'm using a 14" zipper on a 16" insert)
two strips of double sided fusible 1/4" x 15"(I'm using a heavy weight Steam-A-Seam 2, I've previously tried a light weight Heat n'Bond but it wasn't always sticky enough to hold)
Basting spray or basting pins
1 front piece of fabric cut 1/2" bigger on both sides than your cushion insert (my front is 16.5" x 16.5" for a 16" insert)
1 piece of backing fabric cut 1.5" bigger on both sides than your insert (my backing is 17.5" x 17.5")
1 piece of fabric to make zip flap 4" deep and 1.5" wider than your (my zip flap is 4" x 17.5")
1 piece of batting cut 1" bigger than your cushion insert (my batting is 17" x 17" for a 16" insert)
1 piece of muslin cut 1.5" bigger on both sides than your insert (my muslin is 17.5" x 17.5")
spool of thread in chosen quilting colour
1-2 bobbins of chosen thread colour
straight line quilting ruler
marking tool
straight pins
sewing machine with straight foot/zipper foot/walking foot
scissors/rotary cutter/cutting mat
iron and ironing board

Note: the fabric sizes I have quoted allow a safety margin for possible shrinkage and misshaping caused by quilting the cushion/pillow top quilt sandwich and then the larger backing fabric allows wiggle room for any misshaping that may occur when adding the zipper to the backing. If you use the above measurements you should be able to make a successful cushion/pillow every time.  However, if you are confident in making your project then you may find that you can use a 16.5" square front piece, a 16.5" square batting, a 16.5" muslin and a 16.5" x 17" backing fabric.



Some of you have told me before that you like hearing how I choose which colours to use so I'll share with you how I chose my thread colour for the cushion - I trialled 3 threads: Aurofil Ivory-2021; Harvest Gold-2920; and Peacock Blue-4182.  I've used 50/2 weight thread for this project - the finest weight of Aurifil on an orange spool but if you want a more defined quilting line than you might want to use the thicker 40/2 weight green spool instead.

I increased my stitch length to 3.2 and stitched a line of each thread across a main design section of a spare piece of the front fabric backed with batting, this will give me a good idea of how the fabric will look once it's quilted.  The Ivory thread looks almost white making the fabric appear dirty, while the Peacock Blue thread is too strong/obvious making the fabric design become secondary to the quilting.  The Harvest Gold thread sits perfectly across all the colourways in the design, defining the quilting and complementing rather than detracting from the fabric - so this is my choice of thread for quilting this cushion cover.



Cut the backing fabric from side to side across the width using a 1:2 ratio - my back is 17.5" x 17.5" and I've cut it into 2 sections - 6" x 17.5" and 11.5" x 17.5".  Exactly where you cut this line is up to you - you may prefer your zip to be across the centre of your finished cushion cover.



Iron your zip flap fabric in half along the length with the 'wrong' sides together so the 'right' side is visible and create a 2" wide strip



Iron your double sided fusible strips into place along the upper side of the zip fabric.  I got the idea to use double sided fusible to secure zips pre-sewing a while back after reading a zipper tutorial by Autum @Sew, Mama, Sew!.



With the zip closed place the zip tab on your left.  Lift the paper cover off the fusible on the top edge of the zip furthest from you.



Turn the zip flap fabric so the long open edge is towards you and the folded edge should be furthest away - NB: a directional print needs to be the right way up as you look at it - I messed up at this point so the text on my fabric is now upside down on the finished cushion cover!  Turn the zip to face downwards with the zip tab on your left - this will put the uncovered fusible edge closest to you - centre the zip on the length of fabric and iron the fusible edge of the zip to the open long edge of the zip flap fabric.



The zip is now firmly attached to the zip flap fabric.  Lay the zip and zip flap fabric edge along the bottom edge of the smaller top section of the cushion backing lining up the side edges of the zip flap fabric with the edges of the backing fabric - you can pin them in place if you like.  Change your machine foot to a zipper foot and set your stitch length to 2.4/straight stitch.  If necessary adjust your machine needle moving it off to one side so it doesn't hit the zipper foot when you start to sew.



Straight machine stitch through the 3 layers of fabric and zip along the 'fused' edge of the zip.  You want to keep the zipper foot as close to the zip teeth as you can and be sure to continue your sewing at both ends beyond the ends of the zip so that the fabric is all joined even if there is no zip to enclose at both ends.



Now iron your zip flap seam away from the cushion back - all the seams should be ironed towards the back of the cushion fabric.



Here's how it should look from the front but hopefully your directional fabrics will both be facing the same way at this stage and not in opposite directions like mine are!!!  Press the seam flat from this side too - you may need to slide the zip open and closed to be able to iron flat without the zip tab getting in the way.



Now top stitch a straight line the full width of the fabrics to keep those seams nicely in place and neaten the finish.



Remove the paper from the double side fusible on the other side of the zip.  Line the edge of the zip up with the top edge of the larger bottom section of the backing fabric.



Be careful to line up the side edges of the smaller section of the back with the side edges of the larger back section, NB: the two sections should be right sides facing at this point and pay careful attention when checking that any direction prints on the top and bottom sections will both be facing the same direction when the fabrics are opened out.



Iron the fusible edge of the zip into place.



Again using the zipper foot and a 2.4 stitch length sew the zip into place.  This time you are only sewing through the zip and 1 layer of fabric but still be sure to sew as close to the zip teeth as possible.



Lift the zip flap and iron the edge of the fabric cleanly against the zip.



Now straight line top stitch along this seam to create a neat edge against the zip.



Iron the zip flap down over the zip and the back is now complete.



Check out the zip under the flap - don't worry that the ends of the top and bottom section of the backing aren't joined at this stage - they will be firmly stitched together when the front and back cushion sections are sewn together.


Now it's time to make the quilted cushion front.



I used 505 basting spray to attach the front fabric to the batting and the batting to the muslin backing - you can use basting pins if you prefer.  I like to include the muslin backing so that over time the batting doesn't shed and wear against the cushion insert.

I recently saw 2 cushions that inspired me and I knew that I wanted to quilt my two cushions in the same way.  For this cushion I'm using a vertical/horizontal quilting that I saw used by Kimberly @Birdie Girl Quilts and for my second cushion I'm using a diagonal quilting that I saw used by Adrianne @On The Windy Side.



To mark my quilt sandwich I use my straight quilting ruler and a Clover Hera marker - you can use whatever marking tool you prefer.



You can see here that I've scored a vertical and a horizontal line aross the quilt sandwich somewhere around the middle in both directions.



Look how the Hera marker scores the fabric so you can see exactly where to quilt without leaving any marks on the fabric - this scored line will iron away in seconds.



Now's the time to switch to your walking foot, change your stitch length to 3.2 and adjust your tension if necessary.  Stitch along the two score lines you've just created.



Use the edge of your walking foot to follow your previously stitched line and add another row of stitching.  On my machine this creates two rows of stitching approximately 1/2" apart but there's no rule to this so create a gap that suits you.



I snip away the threads at each end of my stitched rows to stop thread tangling into the back of other rows as I add them.



2 more rows of stitching in each direction on either side of your first stitched lines - you will now have 6 stitched lines.



Continue to add rows on either side of the centre and in both directions until you've covered the whole quilt sandwich - building up from the centre out in this way rather than starting at one edge in and completing one direction at a time will stabilise the quilt sandwich and help to prevent puckering, bunching and movement.



Here's how the muslin back's looking

If you're ever creating a tutorial then at this stage I highly recommend that you don't get clever and cocky and decide that you can chat with your middle son on Skype at the same time as sewing.  The sewing went just fine and wasn't I pleased with myself when I finished the perfect cushion at the same time as being a caring, loving Mum listening to all of Joe's stories from work and throwing in the odd comment here and there ... but then I realised that I hadn't taken a single photo along the rest of the way!!!

So bear with me for this part, I've taken the photos in retrospect, not quite so good as seeing them as you go but don't panic it's really not at all difficult so I'm more than happy that you'll still be able to complete the cushion cover!



Cut the quilted front sandwich to a perfect square - don't worry about size too much, somewhere around the size of your cushion insert up to a 1/2" larger will be fine.



Place the cushion backing onto the cushion front with right sides together and the zipper open - it's REALLY important that the zipper is open at this stage so that you can turn the cushion inside out through the zip when you're done sewing!  Pin the layers together around the edges.



Place pins along the zip line too to hold it in the correct position now that the zipper is fully open.



Set your stitch length back to 2.4 and sew the cushion front and back together using a 1/4" seam.  If you want a snugger fit for your cushion then use a 1/2" seam - NB: a finished cushion cover that's 1/2" smaller in both directions than your insert will appear fuller and firmer.  You can sew fully around all four sides of the cushion cover and this will also fasten down the open edges on either end of the zip securing it to the cushion cover front.



Diagonally snip away the four corners of the cushion but don't cut further in than where the stitch lines cross each other.  This will give you much neater less bulky corners when you turn the cushion cover inside out.  If you'd like to learn how to stop those empty pillow cushion corners (aka Bunny Ears) then this is the time to click through to my tute that eliminates Bunny Ears completely and once you've followed that tute head back over here and continue from this point on.




Remove all the pins and turn the cushion inside out through the open zip.



Make sure all the corners are nicely turned out and wiggle your side seams until they are as flat as you can get them and give them a press with the iron.



The completed cushion cover.



The completed cushion back - I've lifted the zip flap so you can see the zip and the muslin backing on the inside of the cushion.

All you have to do now is pop in your cushion insert, zip up the cover and maybe give it another light press with the iron.




and here's my second cushion cover made in exactly the same way but with diagonal quilting.







I know it's a long winded tutorial as I've detailed every step for you - but it's actually quite quick to make the cover, the most time consuming part is the quilting, I made the two covers on the same day.

Let me know if you use the tutorial, I'd love to hear how you go on :)


Fabrics Used:
Cushion 1: Melody Miller Ruby Star Sparkle 'Phones Ring A Ling' and 'Ruby Stories Ring A Ling', Echino 'cycling'
Cushion 2: Yuwa Live Life Collection Premium 'Laundry', Robert Kaufman Essex Linen

Related Posts:
Guess Who I Caught Making Something!!!


Made By Me:
Here's some other cushions I've made using the tutorial - click images to go through to original post:





Made By Flicky (my daughter x):




Made By Joe (my son x):

Made By My Class Students:


Made By You:
Here's some images and links to cushions 'made by you' using my tutorial - click images to go through to original posts.  Thanks for contacting me, it's such fun to see how others interpret the tute :D








This tutorial is featured on:
Totally tutorials tips tricks recipes how tos One new sewing tutorial every day.


Clicking on a image will take you to through to the new page of crafty goodness :)


81 comments:

  1. Really nice tutorial, Chrissie! I'll have to give it a go - love the hidden zipper behind the flap technique.

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    1. Thanks Jackie, I love a hidden zipper, it makes the back as interesting as the front! :)

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  2. Beautiful. The fabric is so darling and I love the square quilting! Thanks for the tutorial.

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    1. Flicky has fallen in love with both of the cushions and is disappointed that they are to be given as gifts - she's now wanting me to make some for her to take to uni, just something else to add to her very, very long wishlist that I have to make!!! :)

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  3. What a beautiful tutorial! You're such a good teacher.

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    1. What a compliment coming from a teacher, you've made my day :)

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  4. Thanks for the tutorial. I'm going to have to try the hidden zipper.

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    1. Give it a go Colleen, it's much simpler than I made it seem with my long winded instructions but hopefully they take you through doing it step-by-step! :)

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  5. I worked out how to add hidden zipper as well, it is brilliant! Love the second cushion, and will have to check out the marker u use, I need one of them!

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    1. Do get hold of one of the Hera markers Nat, they great for straight line marking - I'm not as keen for fmq marking though I know some people do use them for that also. You can also use them to score a line where you want to create a seam for ironing and then the seam folds back very easily as you iron over it - great for Cathedral Windows - and last week at Sarah Fielke's Trunk Show (see my last post) she told us that she uses them to score the ironing seams to make her bias tape. :)

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  6. I would never have thought of using double sided fusible to hold the zipper in place for sewing but it's ingenious! Thanks so much for this tip. Beautiful cushions x

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    1. I can't take credit for the fusible tape idea - as I said I came across it on Sew, Mama, Sew! but it's a cracker. I just cut the 1/4" strips off my large piece of fusible cut from a bale though I've now seen that you can buy it on very narrow rolls of varying widths.

      Maybe there's other ways that we could use this tape too? - thinking caps on! :)

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  7. I love the look of the back with the strip over the zip. I am going to use that on my next cushion.

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    1. Isn't it neat - it makes the back a feature on it's own?! :)

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  8. The hidden zip is a great idea, Chrissie and I love the bicycle fabric. Hope you don't mind, but I'm pinning this comprehensive tutorial.

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    1. Don't mind at all Pam, in fact I'm thrilled :)

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  9. What a great tutorial! Can't wait to try it. Thanks so much for sharing, I know they take a lot of time to prepare.

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    1. Thanks Julie, it was good fun though I could hardly speak to Joe anymore on Skype when I realised I'd finished making the cover and forgotten to take the last lot of photos! It's tricky taking photos of your own hands at work too - at one stage Flicky spotted me trying to take a photo using my chin and quickly stepped in to help!!! :)

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  10. I'm pinning it, too, with your permission. What a wonderful tutorial and beautiful pillows! Thank you, ChrissieD!

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    1. Pin away Kathleen, thank you for dropping by and taking the time to comment and I'm thrilled that you want to pin the tute too :)

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  11. Great CUSHION tutorial, its the same way I make mine, apart from I have never used the double sided usible, where did you get it from? also love the telephone fabric you used. I just became a follower, Sam

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    1. Hi again Sam! I just cut a 1/4" slice off my large sheet of fusible that I buy from The City Quilter in Manhattan. I always have 2 weights in - a heavy weight Steam-A-Seam 2 and a light weight Heat n'Bond - you can get them at Joann's and also on Amazon. This project worked better with the heavy weight Steam-A-Seam 2. I use it to attach applique, to join the front and back of my book covers together and you can hold up trouser and skirt hems with it :)

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  12. Gorgeous swoon worthy cushions and great tute - thanks!

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    1. Thanks Kelly - I love that expression 'swoon worthy', that'll do for me! :)

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  13. Hi Chrissie, what a fab tutorial! So detailed and comprehensive. And the cushions are gorgeous. No wonder Flicky wants one! I shall have to make one, I'll add it to my very long 'to do' list, but I'll get there one day! Thank you for taking the time to do this xxx

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    1. I'm going to have to make new cushions for home now too - I'll message you with details of who these are for :) x

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  14. Great tutorial - exactly how I do my hidden zips :o)

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  15. Great tutorial!! Love the cushions.

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    1. Thanks Sue, they're a gift for a couple I know so I'm hoping they'll love them too! :)

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  16. Super tutorial!!

    Love the phone fabric! *swoon*

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  17. Beautiful cushions and amazing tutorial. I love the idea of using double sided fusible tape to hold the zipper in place.

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  18. This is a wonderful tutorial! Thank you very much!
    Ipatchandquilt dot wordpress dot com

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  19. Good Afternoon Chrissie, Thank you so much for visiting my blog and leaving such lovely comments.
    Do you know, I have sewn many zips in my time, but I have never seen a zip sewn this way before, I usually spend time tacking them in place, but what a wonderful idea to use double sided fusible web to keep the zip in place before sewing. I have never seen strips so thin, so I will have to search the internet.
    I love how you have quilted your cushion cover and the materials you have shown us are fabulous.
    I have enjoyed visiting your blog and I have become a new follower. I look forward to future posts.
    Best Wishes to you,
    Daphne

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    1. The fusible makes it so simple Daphne. You can buy the fusible cut narrow on a roll but I just cut a 1/4" slice of my normal large sheet. I nipped over to your blog again earlier and saw your wonderful Banoffee Pie - such a family favourite for us and I couldn't help adding my little bit to help your American followers to modify the ingredients, hope you didn't mind! :)

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  20. Wow! I've been wanting to learn how to make a zip this way, so thanks for sharing! I love the fabric, too! :)

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  21. Your cushions are lovely Chrissie and the tutorial is really clear too!

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  22. Love it! Thanks for the tip of the adhesive with the zipper -- I hadn't seen that before. Great tutorial, Chrissie. I definitely see some of these in my future. Thanks for linking up with TGIFF!

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  23. Excellent tutorial. Love the hidden zipper idea.

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  24. Very nice, Chrissie! Thanks for sharing the tutorial, too! Whoop whoop!!

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  25. Nice pillows! The telephone fabric is really cute!

    Navy Wifey Peters @ Submarine Sunday Link Party
    http://www.usscrafty.blogspot.com/2013/05/submarine-sunday-31.html

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  26. Ooh, I've been contemplating making a pillow for a friend soon, and had wondered how to do this! Perfect timing, thanks!

    Thanks for linking up!

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  27. Awesome quilting and fabrics! Checking over from link up.

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  28. Despite your telephone conversation distractions it's a great clear tutorial:-)

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    1. I couldn't believe it when I realised what I'd done, I could hardly speak (which is practically unheard of!), Joe was still chatting to me and all I could think about was the tutorial and how I was going to fix it!!! :)

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  29. Lovely cushions! Thanks so much for the detailed tutorial on how you sewed the hidden zipper for the back ... :) Pat

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  30. Thanks very much for visiting my blog and for your lovely comment. This is a great tutorial, loads of handy tips here especially using the double sided fusible, I never like using pins.

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  31. I am visiting you from A Round Tuit/Creating my way to Success. These pillows are meticulous in detail. Your tutorial is so thorough. I liked the tip about the fusible tape. I will have to remember this. Visit my post about teaching children to sew:

    http://www.thelostapron.com/2013/05/summer-sewing-camp-supplies.html

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    1. Popped over and had a look Ana - wow, you're doing some brilliant work with young people, really inspirational :)

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  32. Fusible on zipper...brilliant! Thanks for sharing.

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  33. Your tutorial is awesome and so was your choice of fabrics. Loved it all and thank you so much.

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  34. What fabulous cushions! I just love your fabric - and the tutorial is brilliant - so clear!

    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a fabulous week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success
    http://www.jembellish.blogspot.com/

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  35. So C U T E !!!! I love both of them. I also LOVE the diagonal quilting. You've inspired me now...I'm going to try this next!

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  36. Such an awesome tutorial!!!! New follower!

    Thanks so much for sharing at A Peek Into Paradise TGIF Link Party.

    I hope you will come party with us next week and see if you were featured! http://apeekintomyparadise.blogspot.com/

    Have a great week!

    Hugs! Cathy

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  37. Świetny kurs, poduszki wyszły Ci super!
    Warto samemu sobie stworzyć takie niebanalne poduszki, dopasowane do wnętrza.
    dziękuję i pozdrawiam :)

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    1. Cieszę się, że podoba Ci się to, dzięki za upuszczenie przez :)

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  38. Thanks for the great tutorial! Love the telephone and bike fabric you used for the pillows. I hope you don't mind if I've pinned it, so I can find it for future reference.

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    1. Don't mind at all - pin away! Glad you found it useful and thanks for dropping by :)

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  39. Thanks for the tutorial. I've wanted to learn to put zippers in my pillow covers for ages. It makes them a bit more aesthetic. Love your choice of fabric too! So fun!

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  40. It's very kind of you to make this tutorial. Nice fabrics.

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  41. I just finished a pillow following this tutorial, thank you so much!! It's so easy the way you've laid it out. :)
    I do have one question, though. In your tutorial, the front is 16.5" square and the back is 17.5" square. Did I miss something? I ended up having to trim the back down to the size of the front, but wondered if I missed a step or did something wrong.

    Thanks so much for a great tutorial, I'm really pleased with how my pillow came out! :D

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    1. Hi Anne, I'm thrilled that you've used the tutorial and that you're please with the outcome. Great question about the difference in sizes for the front and back. Firstly the back needs to be larger than the front as once you cut across the back to insert the zip you'll lose 1/2" for the zip seams making it 17.5" x 17" and if the zip edges aren't lined up perfectly there's an allowance for this also. I've also made the batting and muslin backing larger than the front to take into account any misshaping to the front caused by quilting and then the larger backing allows 'wiggle' room when layering the front and back together.

      As you've discovered, it is possible to make the cushion using a 16.5" square front, 16.5" square batting 16.5" square muslin and a 16.5 x 17" backing if everything stays true to shape/size as you worked on each section but I wanted to write a tute that would work every time so I included a small amount of 'safety'.

      I'm glad you've asked the question and I'm going to add a note about this into the tute. I'd love to see how the pillow turned out if you'd like email me a photo or link too :D

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  42. Just used this tutorial to insert hidden zips into 2 cushions I'm making as a Christmas present. Who would have thought all those years ago, when I was learning to sew zips into dresses, that one day I'd be glueing instead of tacking to hold the zip in place. Worked like a charm and the zip flap adds interest to the back as well. And yes, I'm sewing Christmas Day. We have our big family do on Boxing Day, so gives me an extra day. Thanks for a fab tutorial, Chrissie. Will, of course, take pics, write a post and show you. Merry Christmas!!!

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    1. Wow Pam, I too did some sewing on Christmas Day - hadn't quite finished Simon's Christmas present quilt so was handstitching the binding! Thanks so much for using the tute and especially for taking the time out of your Australian Christmas Day (it was still Christmas Eve here of course!) to comment. Best wishes for the new year to you and your family :D

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    2. Only took me 6 months to write the blog post...
      http://www.threadingmyway.com/2014/07/robot-wine-waiter-cushions.html

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  43. This is such fab tutorial Chris. I will definitely be giving this one a go. Thanks so much :)

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    1. Hope it's useful Michelle - if you do use it let me have a pic and I'll add it to the post - Chris :D

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  44. Great tutorial! Thanks much! Until now, I'd never made a zippered pillow that I liked.

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  45. fantastic tutorial - just linked back to it at the Love Sewing Blog on latest post :)

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    1. http://www.lovesewingmag.co.uk/free-sewing-patterns/for-the-home/item/408-cushion-cover-techniques

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  46. A great tutorial on an amazing idea, I've just found this on a current blog from Quilt in a Not-shell, I've got to try this! Thank you for sharing. :)

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  47. Thanks for re-sharing this! I did a similar zip installation tonight, but the adhesive is so clever! And I'm curious, do you ever quilt or interface the back to make it as sturdy as the front? Just curious...

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    1. Hi Debbie, no I don't but you certainly could. I do always use inserts that are an inch larger than the finished cover so the cover is really full - that's the look I prefer and the fabric is then firm around the insert so it doesn't need to be sturdy. If you like a looser fit then you might want to interface or quilt to make the cover stand alone - Chris :D

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  48. That's a pretty pillow, and thanks for sharing the tip on using fusible tape for sewing zippers. I had not thought of that!

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  49. This is so pretty and I totally agree with Agy, I need to get hold of some fusible tape STAT!

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  50. these look so pretty and I love the hidden zippers

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  51. Hi, Chrissie! Awesome tutorial! Although the whole project with zip is beyond my skills right now, I loved seeing how you put it together, especially the tips on the quilting part. I just love the cute fabric choices!

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I love to hear from everyone, thank you for taking the time to read my blog and share your thoughts. Please leave a message to let me know you visited, it's a great way to get to know you all better too :)

Chris Dodsley