Posted in Tutorials
Custom embroider a pillow cover

If you are looking for a gift idea for nearly any occasion, a custom embroidered throw pillow is always a lovely choice.  Linen pillows with names and dates are my preferred gift for newlyweds and anniversary gifts.   Washable cotton pillows with state outlines and reminders of home make wonderful gifts for graduating seniors to take to their college dorm rooms.  I am going to show you how to make these pillows from start to finish, including how to put in the invisible zipper! 

All machine embroidery fonts and elements shown in this tutorial are available to purchase on this website


First, let’s talk about supplies.  I prefer to use a heavy linen material for most of my pillows.  I find this fabric durable, holds stitches well, and is generally a nice neutral color that matches most decor.  The downside is it is not as easy to launder, so I typically reserve this fabric for wedding gifts.  For other zippered pillow covers, such as those for college students or children, I will use a pre-washed cotton fabric. 

  • Pillow form- any size
  • Fabric- enough to cut two pieces of equal size for the front and back of the pillow form
  • Invisible zipper- color match as closely as you can to your fabric

Cut two fabric pieces the dimensions of your pillow form + ½” .  My pillow form is 12” x 16”, so I cut two pieces- each 12 ½” x 16 ½”. 

Use your embroidery machine to sew a beautiful design on one of the pillow pieces.

(Optional)  If you have a serger, serge around the edges of both pillow pieces to minimize raveling.


Place right sides together and pin the front piece to the back piece, then pin the edge where the zipper will go.

Lay your invisible zipper down to mark where you want the beginning and end to be. 

  • If you have a zipper longer than the length of the pillow, plan to sew about 2” in from each end on the next step.
  • If you have a shorter zipper length, you’ll want to make sure you sew a longer length from each end.

Using a regular stitch length, and a 5/8” seam allowance, sew from the end of the fabric to where you marked, and be sure to backstitch.  Do the same stitching at the other end of the pillow edge. 

Lay the stitched pillow pieces face down with your new seam facing up.  Lay your zipper face down on the seam, making sure the zipper pull is above where the pillow opening will be. 

Unzip and lay the zipper over the opening. 

Pin one side of the zipper to the seam allowance.  Do not pin through the front layer of the pillow cover.


To be sure you have the pins through only one layer, fold the top layer back as shown in the photo.

Now pin the other side of the zipper to the opposite side of the seam allowance.

You may find it easier to pin if you fold back the bottom layer as shown in the photo.

Before you sew, make sure the top zipper pieces line up as perfectly as possible so your finished zippered area won’t have a gap.

Using your zipper foot, sew each zipper length, backstitching at each end. With your left hand, roll the zipper teeth flat and stitch as close as you can to the zipper teeth.

Turn the pillow to the right side and make sure the zipper opens and closes properly. 

Unzip the zipper about ½ way

Pin the other 3 sides of the pillow cover right sides together. 

Sew the remaining 3 sides of the pillow together using a ½” seam allowance.

You can always come back and sew a deeper seam allowance if you need a snugger fit for your pillow cover.

Clip all the corners

Turn the pillow cover right side out through the opened zipper. 

Iron the fabric

Add your pillow

Admire Your Beautiful Work!

Tuck in the invisible zipper pull

Grab some jute twine from the Dollar Store

Cut a long length- typically about 2 ½ yards

Wrap it around the pillow multiple times, then tie in a knot or bow.

Tuck the card for the happy couple under the twine. 

Ready to get started?  

I would love to see the zippered pillows you create!  Join over 3000 embroidery enthusiasts in our Facebook Group, and show us your creations

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