How to Sew in an Exposed Zipper + Make a Cloud Pillow!

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How to Sew in an Exposed Zipper + Make a Cloud Pillow!

making pillows is such a fun and easy way to freshen up a room and splash some color around. i usually make pillows with an envelope closure in the back, but i have recently fallen in love with the look and convenience of an exposed zipper in the bottom. i like the textural interest that the hardware adds and it makes changing out the pillow inserts a cinch!

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you can of course use this method for a number of applications, but i'm going to show you the process today i used in making this sweet cloud pillow for bear's nursery. and of course, i used hello, bear fabrics (specifically, the firefly print)!

here's what you'll need:

- fabric for the pillow: i used hello, bear firefly whisper (adjust amount according to desired pillow size)
- all purpose craft paint in black and paintbrush
- zipper with metal teeth (i used this one from coats and clark, also available here)
- poly-fil
- iron off pen

general sewing supplies:

- sewing maching & thread
- scissors
- straight pins
- iron

hello bear cloud pillow + exposed zipper tutorial (1)

step 1: begin by planning the shape of your cloud. lay two pieces of fabric down, wrong sides together (right sides facing outwards on top and bottom). use your iron off pen to draw the shape of your cloud, being careful to give the pillow a straight bottom for the zipper. cut out along your lines.

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step 2: draw on a pair of eyelashes, using your iron off pen, first. trace over your pen marks with a small paint brush and martha's all purpose craft paint in black. sidenote: this paint is wonderful on fabric! i've used it to make several onesies and it even washes well!

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step 3: after the paint has dried, turn the cloud right sides together and stitch along the bottom straight edge with a 1/4" seam allowance. set aside.

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step 4: using a scrap piece of fabric, cut a long rectangle about 2" in width and as long as you'd like the exposed part of the zipper to show. draw a rectangle on it with the iron off pen that's about 1" in width.

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step 5: open up the cloud pillow and press the bottom seam from the back. turn right side up and pin the extra piece of fabric to it, right side down, centered on the stitched seam.

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step 6: stitch down the extra piece of fabric, using your drawn rectangle as a guide. this will serve as your facing.

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step 7: now open up the seam again by cutting it straight down the middle (you'll be cutting through two pieces of fabric, and opening back up your original seam). leave about 3/4" at each end, and clip in the shape of a "Y" towards the corners (see photo above).

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step 8: now fold everything inside the stitched line, fold to the back and press.

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step 9: place your zipper behind the opening and pin in place.

*note: your zipper should have a 'stop' in the end, to keep it from unzipping completely. if it doesn't, you can simply make one by using a bar tack stitch, or a very tight zig zag across the teeth. just make sure to widen your stitch enough to where you don't hit the metal zipper (and break your needle)!

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step 10: stitch down along the edges of the opening to secure the zipper in place. again, just be careful to avoid hitting the metal teeth with your needle (i may or may not have broken a needle here!). :)

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step 11: unzip the zipper about half way. turn the pillow pieces right sides together and pin in place. stitch around the edges using a 1/4" seam allowance. go back and clip along the curves and in each corner as shown above.

hello bear cloud pillow + exposed zipper tutorial

step 12: find the zipper opening and turn the pillow right side out. press the seams and begin stuffing your pillow (i used poly-fil). the key to keeping your pillow 'lump-free' is by using small bits of poly-fil at a time, and filling the furthest corners first.

*if you prefer, you could also make a fitted pillow insert using the same method above. simply stitch around the pillow and leave an opening in the bottom. stuff with poly-fil and then hand stitch closed the opening. this would give you a removable insert.

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voila!

How to Sew in an Exposed Zipper + Make a Cloud Pillow!psst. if you love this cloud pillow, be sure to check out these hello, bear cloud decals with interchangeable faces!

Comments

  • This looks so cool! I’ve been considering redoing my couch pillows for awhile. I especially like the “explosed” zipper on your title graphic. Oops. :)

  • These pillows are gorgeous! lOVE them all!! your last fabric collection Cultivate is stunning, congrats. Can’t wait to find some of these fabrics near home, but if it is not, I should buy these fabrics far away anyway ;)

  • So cute! Out of curiosity, how do you find the time to make all these things with your son around? Does he have a sitter/go to day care? I have a two and a half year old (and now a newborn), and I can hardly find time to do any sewing anymore. My son has never been content to just sit and play while I work.

    • hey lauren! i don’t have a sitter or day care, i just work while he sleeps! i can occasionally sew while he plays, too though. :) xo

  • Oh this cloud pillow is tooo cute!!! I’m a potter by trade and it totally inspires me, would you mind if I used this post as inspiration on making a sweet little raincloud bowl???

    • hi kristen! of course! i’d love to see it when you’re finished, i bet it will be darling!!

      • I’ll come back and let you know when i finish it :):) Thank you for the inspiration!!

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