How-to Insert a Zipper

how to insert a zipper

Whether you buy a zipper at the fabric store or use a roll of zipper "tape", the steps for inserting a zipper are really very simple.  You need a zipper foot for your sewing machine.  This how-to shows you how to insert a home dec sort of zipper used in cushions, pillows and slipcovers. The zipper I am inserting here is 40" long and will be the back band or boxing on a window seat cushion.

What you need:


sewing machine with zipper foot


fabric you're inserting the zipper into


What you do:

1. cut a strip of fabric 2 inches wider than the remaining boxing

For a 5 inch thick cushion, boxing is cut at 6 inches, allowing 1/2" seam allowance on both sides.  The piece of fabric used for the zipper is cut at 8" and cut in two, lengthwise.


created on: 04/02/08

created on: 04/02/08

2. pin two 4" pieces of fabric together, right side to right side and stitch using the longest basting stitch on your sewing machine

created on: 04/02/08

created on: 04/02/08

created on: 04/02/08

3.lay zipper on open seam with zipper teeth placed directly on top of stitches

4.pin in place and begin stitching at one end, stitching straight all the way down side, stop, pivot and stitch up the other side

created on: 04/02/08

created on: 04/02/08

5. when finished, backstitch cut thread

6. add zipper tab onto zipper, moving tab down on zipper to open it and get it working

7. fold a scrap piece of fabric in two, making a tab to stitch at top of zipper to keep it from coming off

created on: 04/02/08

created on: 04/02/08

created on: 04/02/08

8. flip zipper section over and using small scissors or seam ripper, cut through the basting stitches so zipper is functional

created on: 04/02/08

9. set aside to sew into cushions or pillows


If you need to know how to fix a zipper, this ManMadeDIY article covers it in great depth.


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Sarah on May 19, 2012:

This tutorial really helped me when I was putting an invisible zipper into my pillow.  Thank you for all the steps you showed.  I mentioned you on my blog for my first couch pillow with a zipper! :)   Thank you!  Sarah 


Karen on Mar 13, 2012:

This is commercial zipper stock - many regular zippers you can't take the head off and put back on so easily....

ModHomeEcTeacher on Apr 18, 2008:

Now you have to get to work, heh?

evenstar on Apr 18, 2008:

thank you so much. I have been wanting to know how to do this as I have some pouches to make up. I am almost disappointed that the mystery is gone!

ModHomeEcTeacher on Apr 07, 2008:

If you give the boxing for the zipper an extra inch and fold stitch that inch into the seam allowance, you should come out o.k., sometimes it doesn't exactly and you have to trim it up.

Thanks so much for the tip.

yeye_joijoi on Apr 06, 2008:

oh zippers! the bane of all m sewing projects.


Thought I'd note here the baste in step 2 calls for 1 inch of seam allowance each (ontop of which you sew your zipper). Otherwise, just be sure to trim the finished box peace to match the rest of them!!!!! I learned the hard-ish way.

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