DIY Tutorial: Hidden Zipper Throw Pillow

New throw pillows are a quick and easy way to refresh your decor and update your space, both indoors and out. Sewing new throw pillows for your home can be a quick and easy activity once you learn the basic process.


We’ve broken down the steps to make a clean, hidden zipper throw pillowcase with a polished look. This tutorial can be completed with a single yard of fabric, depending on the desired size of your finished pillow. See our Fabric Estimator for yardage estimates by pillow size. 


Materials You'll Need: 


  • Sewing Machine
  • Regular presser foot (zipper foot optional)
  • Sewing Thread
  • Fabric of your choice 
  • 1 yard for a pillow up to 24” square
  • Pillow Insert
    • Most pillow inserts are intended for indoor use. If you want to make a hidden zipper throw pillow for outdoor spaces, be sure to use a pillow insert made of weather-resistant materials that is specifically designated for outdoor use. Many outdoor pillows are made with polyester fill and a water-repellant shell, but you should check the specifications for any pillow insert you buy before using it outdoors.
  • Tape Measure
  • Fabric Scissors 
  • Seam Ripper
  • Pins 
  • Zipper (larger than pillow insert)
  • Fabric Marker or Pencil 



Step 1: Measure Pillow Insert


  • Measure your pillow insert from one seam to another (this will be the exact size to cut your fabric).
  • We will sew with a ½” seam allowance so the finished pillowcase will be slightly smaller than the pillow insert. This will make your finished pillow look full and cushioned. If the pillowcase is larger than your pillow insert, the finished pillow will look baggy and flat. 


Step 2: Mark and Cut Your Fabric 


  • With the measurements taken from step 1, measure and mark your fabric (mark on the back side) for cutting.
  • You will need two panels of equal size: one for the front of the pillow and one for the back.
  • Be sure to avoid the selvage edge when measuring.
  • Cut your fabric at the marked lines.
  • Place the two pieces of fabric together, with right sides facing each other.
  • Trim any excess fabric if necessary.


Step 3: Pin and Sew Basting Stitch for Zipper Side 


Next, we will mark the placement for the hidden zipper.

  • With fabrics facing right sides together, measure 2 ½ inches in from either side on the edge of the fabric where the zipper will be, marking your fabric.
  • Pin the two pieces of fabric together. 
  • Mark a half inch seam allowance on the zipper edge. This is very important for our next step when attaching the zipper.
  • On the sewing machine, begin by backstitching a few times over the starting edge of the fabric and continue sewing down until you hit the first 2 ½ inch mark you made.
  • Back stitch over that marking as well. 
  • With your fabric still attached to your machine, adjust your stitch length to be longer (so it’s not as short and tight). 
    • This is the basting stitch which is where the zipper will be placed. After it’s placed, this stitch will be removed in a later step with the seam ripper. 
  • Continue sewing all the way down until you hit the other 2 ½ inch marking. 
  • Change your stitch length back to its original setting.
  • Back stitch over that mark.
  • Finish sewing down to the edge, back stitching over that as well. 
  • Remove your fabric from the sewing machine. 


Step 4: Attaching the Zipper 


  • It is not required, but it can be helpful to have a zipper that is longer than the desired pillow to give flexibility in the sewing process. The images provided show a 22” zipper for an 18” pillow.
  • Open your fabric and lay flat (right sides facing down) so you can finger press open the seam allowance fold. 
  • Iron out the fold so it lays flat. 
  • Lay out your zipper with the teeth facing down, against the basting stitch seam, lining up in the center of the fold. 
  • Make sure the zipper tab always points upwards.
  • Pin your zipper down and unzip the zipper a small amount.
  • Take this to your sewing machine.
  • If you have a zipper longer than your pillow size, flip the fabric fold up to see where your 2 ½ inch marking is.
  • Backstitch at the 2 ½ inch marking and sew all the way down the length of the zipper, about ¼ inch away from the zipper teeth, making sure to keep the zipper centered.  If you have a zipper foot, you can use it here. Otherwise, a regular presser foot will do! (Photos provided do NOT show a zipper foot)
  • As you sew down the zipper, leaving a ¼ inch seam allowance from the zipper teeth, you may need to adjust the zipper tab by zipping it up, past your pedal foot so it’s not in the way.
  • Once you reach the end, or your second 2 ½ inch marking, keep the needle in the fabric and raise your presser foot. 
  • Turn your fabric 90 degrees and lower your presser foot.
  • Sew across the zipper teeth.
  • With the needle in the fabric, lift the presser foot, turn your fabric 90 degrees, lower the presser foot, and continue to sew back up the opposite side of the zipper.
  • You may need to unzip and zip up the zipper when getting to the top again.
  • Be mindful of the zipper tab, that it stays pointing up.
  • One last time, keep the needle in the fabric, raise your presser foot, turn your work 90 degrees, lower your presser foot, and sew across the teeth of the fabric. 
  • Remove your work from the sewing machine.


Step 5: Revealing the Zipper 


  • Lay your fabric flat, right side facing up.
  • Take your seam ripper and carefully rip up the first couple of basting stitches covering your zipper until a small opening, big enough to fit your seam ripper, is created.
  • Using the red ball on your seam ripper, carefully run that up your fabric to rip up the longer length stitches we made in step 3, to reveal your zipper!


Step 6: Sewing it all Together 

  • Trim the excess zipper without cutting into your seam.
  • Fold your fabrics together, with the right sides facing each other.
  • Pin all 3 sides of your fabric together, making sure all sides line up.
  • Mark or eyeball your ½ inch seam allowance, which will be your sewing line around the 3 sides, without the zipper. 
  • Unfold the seam allowance fold on the zipper edge so both sides of the fabric lay flat together.
  • Backstitch a few times over the edge you just unfolded, leaving a ¼ to ½ inch seam allowance.
  • Continue sewing all the way down but not completely to the edge. Stop about ¼ to ½ an inch from the edge. 
  • With the needle still in your fabric, lift your presser foot, rotate your fabric at a 90-degree angle, lower your presser foot and continue sewing. 
  • Repeat that for the remaining 2 sides of your pillow, remembering to fold and sew the edges together on the side of the zipper. 


Step 7: Turn Your Pillow Right Side Out 


  • Carefully trim the corners of your pillow, being cautious of your seam. You don’t want to cut into your seam.
  • This allows for less bulk when we turn the fabric right side out.
  • Unzip your zipper and turn your fabric right side out!
  • Thoroughly push out your corners to get a nice, neat, rounded edge. 


Step 8: Insert Your Pillow and Zip it Closed! 


  • Simply fold your pillow insert in half and stuff your pillow (folding the pillow insert in half helps to smoothly stuff the pillow)!
  • Zip it up and there you have your very own pillow with a hidden zipper!  


Make your Own Sunbrella Throw Pillow 

Shop Sunbrella upholstery fabrics or check out the Sunbrella Fabric Finder for help in finding the ideal Sunbrella fabric to fit your style. Many Sunbrella upholstery fabrics are available to order by the yard on! 


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