Easy zipper insertion and tips for outstanding cushion covers

Have you checked out the cutwork machine embroidery from yesterday? It was a lot of work, but beautiful. Today, I’ll sew one of the cushion covers together. I’ve got one more machine embroidery design I want to do, but first, I’ll use the Husqvarna Viking Designer Sapphire 85 to show you how to insert a zipper.

Husqvarna Viking Designer Sapphire 85

It was super easy to insert the zipper, sew the cushion together, and finish off the raw edges. With all the great functions on the Designer Sapphire 85, it didn’t take long at all. The hardest part was trimming the fabric to the size needed for the cushion!

I thought my crazy flower looked very organic. It didn’t seem right to waste it, so I decided to go ahead and use it. My daughter loves it, and that’s all that counts!

So, let’s get this cushion sewn together.

The machine embroidery design for the cushion cover

First, I trimmed away all the basting stitches and jump stitches on the front. I used my Inspira EZ Snip Curved Scissors to make easy work of removing all those stitches. That alone made the piece look much better.

Clipping the jump stitches on the machine embroidery

Once the threads were gone, I used my wool pressing mat to press the piece from the back. I like to place the piece face down on the wool, which prevents the embroidery from getting crushed under the iron.

I use the wool mat on top of my Singer Iron and Crafting station, and it works like a charm. The large work surface is perfect for larger projects.

Pressing the machine embroidery on a wool pressing mat

I have three 22″ pillow forms. I’ll use the embroidered covers for the larger forms, and the decorative fabric for the two smaller (20″) forms. I needed to trim the piece of machine embroidery to the correct size. Here’s a sewing tip when making a cushion cover: if my pillow form is 22″ square, I cut the front of my cushion cover to 22″ square. I like my covers snug, and adding a seam allowance makes them a bit too loose. This tip applies to any size cushion cover.

I have a 20½” square ruler, but it wasn’t quite large enough. I started with a tape measure and a chalk pencil to mark the approximate perimeter of the cushion cover, ensuring the design was centered as best as I could get it.

Using a tape measure to get the basic perimeter of the cushion cover

Once I had those registration marks along all four sides, I used my large square ruler and an 8½” x 24″ ruler to cut out the 22″ square, rotating the two rulers on all sides to get the square. I double-checked the size once I was done and trimmed a wee bit extra off.

Using two rulers to cut the 22″ square

For the backing, I cut a piece 22″ (to match the width of the cushion front) by about 26″. The excess backing allowed me room to insert a zipper. While there are other methods of closing the pillow, I love putting in a zipper, and with the Designer Sapphire 85, it’s a snap.

I cut the backing into two pieces along the long sides. It really doesn’t matter where, but I like to aim for the middle.

The backing for the cushion cut into two pieces

The zippers I managed to find were too long, so I needed to shorten them. That was easy enough – I marked where I wanted the new zipper stop to be. If I’m working with a 22″ cushion form, I try to get a 20″ zipper. My zippers were 22″, so I had to cut 2″ off.

Marking the position of the new zipper stop

Before I cut the end of the zipper off, I made a new zipper stopper on my chalk line.

I used the satin stitch (B12) on the Designer Sapphire 85 and the A-foot. The stitch length was .1, so the stitch would create a tacking stitch, and the width was 6.5. I ended up using 5.5 stitch width, as 6.5 was a bit wide for the zipper.

The settings for making a new zipper stop

I placed the zipper under the presser foot, lining up the chalk line with the red horizontal line on the Utility Foot A. You can use the FIX function to start, and ensure the width of the stitch clears both sides of the zipper. Use the handwheel manually to test the stitch width, then use the FIX function to end your stitching.

Stitching the tacking stitch for the new zipper stop

Here’s the new zipper stop. I left about ½” beyond the new zipper stop and cut the rest away.

The new zipper stop

Next, I placed the right side of the zipper (the side with the zipper pull) along one long edge on the right side of the bottom section of the back of the cushion. I centered the zipper and pinned in place, lining up the edge of the zipper with the edge of the fabric.

Pinning the zipper to the back of the cushion cover

I used Zipper Foot E, which comes with the Designer Sapphire 85. It’s easy to use, with lots of room to see where you’re stitching. TIP Always move the zipper pull out of the way of the presser foot. It’s sometimes challenging to move it, but you’ll always get a wobble in your stitches if you try to stitch next to the zipper pull.

Using the Zipper Foot E to stitch the zipper in place

To get the needle in the right spot to sew the zipper, I moved the needle (Stitch Positioning) so the needle ran along the edge of the foot and stitched the seam exactly where I wanted it to be.

The settings for sewing my zipper to the cushion cover

After sewing, I folded the fabric back so the zipper was right side up, and carefully pressed the seam.

One side of the zipper stitched to the bottom half of the cushion cover

On the freshly cut edge of the top half of the cushion backing, I pressed about 1½” to the wrong side, creating a folded edge.

Fold under 1½” on the top half of the back of the cushion cover

I placed the top half of the cushion cover face down on the work surface, with the folded edge at the bottom. Next, I placed the bottom section of the cushion back (with the zipper) onto the top section, with the long edge of the zipper along the raw edge of the fold – creating a flap to conceal the zipper on the right side of the cushion cover. I made sure to pin so nothing would move when I sewed.

Again, using the zipper foot, I stitched along the zipper tape. This time, your stitching will show on the back of the cushion, so be sure to use matching thread in the bobbin. Start and finish right at the ends of the cushion cover.

Stitching the second side of the zipper in place

My zipper was almost in place, but those little flaps at both ends of the zipper were annoying, so I stitched them down by topstitching an L-shape starting at the horizontal stitching line. If you do this, be mindful of the zipper stop and the zipper pull inside the flap. Pivot at the corner and stitch the fold in place.

Stitching the fold at the end of the zipper in place

I forgot I had to stitch from the ends of the horizontal seam, so there’s a wee bit of overlap. It was difficult to find a thread color to match the fabric, so I used black, and it shows up more than I would have liked. But it’s the back of the cushion, so I didn’t worry about it.

Stitching the flap at the end of the zipper closure

Now it’s time to sew the front and back together. I started by opening the zipper halfway. TIP If you don’t open the zipper before sewing the front and back pieces together, it’ll be a bit of a challenge to turn the cushion cover right side out!

Open the zipper partway before stitching the front to the back

I’m not too fond of large floppy corners on any cushion, so I rounded the corners slightly to help eliminate the dog ears. I started by marking two diagonal lines with chalk – beginning ½” down on one side and ending at the 4″ mark – and cut them off. I did this for all four corners of the cushion cover for both the front and the back. Using the front as a template, I trimmed the back to the same size and rounded the corners the same way.

Markings on the cushion cover corner to eliminate the dog ear

Next, I pinned the two layers right sides together, ensuring the zipper was open. When you pin your layers together, the zipper flap should point towards the bottom of the cover. If the pattern on the front isn’t directional, it doesn’t matter, but if there is a direction, this matters.

The front of the cushion cover pinned to the back

I used the edge of the Utility Foot A as a guide for my seam. I like to use a ½” seam or something close to it.

Using the Utility Foot A to stitch the two sides together

I could have pivoted at the corners, but I chose to run the stitching off the fabric and start the next stitching line right at the edge.

The stitching lines run off the corners

The last thing I needed to do was finish off the raw edges of the seam allowances. It was easy to use the Quick Help function on the Designer Sapphire 85 to find the right overcast stitch.

Assistance from the Quick Help to choose an overcast stitch

I used the Edging Foot J and the Utility Stitch A15 (Triple zigzag) to overcast the edges to help prevent fraying.

Using the Utility Foot J to overcast the raw seam edges

The stitch was perfect for preventing this fabric from fraying. There are other stitches to use for overcasting, so be sure to use Quick Help to explore them.

The overcast seam edge

And just like that –the first of my five cushion covers was finished! Notice how rounding out those corners doesn’t detract from the cushion cover, nor do they distort. You can’t even tell, and there’s no dog ear hanging off the corners. It’s a quick little trick, but it’s so worth it to do.

The front of the first machine embroidered cushion

Here’s the back so you can see the zipper flap.

The zipper flap on the back of the cushion

The machine embroidery was done on the Husqvarna Viking Designer Sapphire 85, and I created the design using two different machine embroidery designs from the mySewnet library. I used the mySewnet Embroidery software. While it’s not quite as perfect as I’d like, it’s good enough for where it’s going, and I learned so much from this exercise!

Tomorrow I’ll be back to share the other machine embroidered cushions with you and look at some decorative techniques using the print fabric I showed you earlier this week.

Have a great day!


This is part 4 of 5 in this series

Go back to part 3: Creating beautiful cutwork designs on the Designer Sapphire 85

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