How to make a big box pillow with zipper

Pets and people alike will find this big box cushion wonderfully comfortable to lounge on. I’ll show you how to do a zipper concealed by a flap. Piping adds a professional touch.


(Click fabrics for direct links for purchase at Warehouse Fabrics Inc.)

Abbey Espresso
Abbey Espresso

5/32" piping cord

Continuous zipper tape/pull

Polyester stuffing
I had 2.5 yards of fabric to make the pillow and piping and had plenty (note: this fabric is more brown than it appears in the photo in the listing. See my photo at the top of this post for a more realistic showing of the color); 6 yards of piping cord; I used almost two large bags of stuffing; my zipper ended up being about 19″ long on the pillow, but you’ll need extra if you’re using continuous zipper tape like I did. You’ll cut the excess inches off after sewing. You could also use a regular zipper that is about that length. The zipper will be hidden by a flap.

The pattern

Cut the following pieces:
2 main panels 27″ square
3 side band pieces 27″x6″
(For zipper side) 2 small side pieces 4.5″x6″
1 zipper flap 2.5″x20″
2 zipper panels 3.25″x20″

You’ll cut enough 1.5″ bias cut strips to make 6 yards of piping (you can make two 3-yard sections if you want). More on how to do this is below in tutorial.Includes 1/2″ seam allowance and makes a pillow 26″ square by 5″ thick.

The process

First, make the piping. You’ll cut 1.5″ strips on the bias. It’s definitely easiest to do this with a rotary cutter and mat. This tutorial will show you how to make your bias tape, with scissors or rotary cutter. After you have your piping made, continue with the next step. Because my fabric is reversible, I made my piping with the other side so that it would stand out a little bit.
Sew your piping on each of your main pillow squares. Leave a few inches at the start and finish free so you can join them nicely. See this tutorial on how to join the ends of the piping.
Let’s start on the zipper part of the pillow. Take the small zipper flap and press it in half lengthwise.
Now lay that flap on top of one of the zipper panels with raw edges together and the fold facing down. Then lay the zipper face-down on top of the flap, as shown above right. If you’re using continuous zipper tape, it will extend past either end for the time being. Don’t hack it off yet. If you’re using a normal zipper, make sure the pull is at least 1/2″ away from the edge because we are sewing another piece onto the end.
Stitch using a zipper foot.
Take the other zipper panel and place the other edge of the zipper tape along that panel. Sew.
When you press it open, it looks like this.
Your zipper is hidden under that flap. If you’re using continuous zipper tape, thread your zipper pull on now. You can use this tutorial for help.
Place the “small side pieces” on either end of the zipper and stitch. My zipper was still sticking out when I did so; I had hacked it off before shooting this picture. If you still have zipper sticking out, now is the time to cut it off.
When pressed, it looks like this. (Might want to click to enlarge photo.)
See? There’s your zipper hiding under there. Next, sew this zipper panel to the other side panels so that you form a big circular piece. As you sew each side panel to the next, start and stop 1/2″ from the top and bottom of the seam so that you can turn the corners easier in the next step.
Start pinning it to one of your pillow side pieces that has the piping. I started with the zipper panel side and pinned to the side of the pillow where I joined the piping together, making that the official “back” of the pillow. Line up the seams on the side panels with the corners of the pillow. Use your piping foot to stitch. You won’t be able to see your piping, but your piping foot will set on top of it and help guide you along. The corners seem like they will be tricky, but they aren’t. Just go slowly and stop in the center of the corner, lift the presser foot, rotate to the next side and begin again. Repeat with the other side piece. BE SURE TO OPEN YOUR ZIPPER BEFORE DOING THE SECOND SIDE!!!
Turn it all right-side out through the zipper. Stuff with stuffing to desired fluffiness.

Other views

(Click for bigger views)