How to Make a Cushion Slipcover with Zippers - dummies

How to Make a Cushion Slipcover with Zippers

By Mark Montano, Carly Sommerstein

Adding a zipper to a slipcover cushion is a nice way to give it a finished look and lets you remove your cushion covering easily. Zippers can also be added to the backside seams of sofas to allow for a better fit if your sofa is wider on top than the bottom, or if it has an unusual shape. As an introduction to using zippers, try this project to build your confidence.

Before you start, grab these supplies:

  • Enough fabric to cover your cushion.

  • A 50-inch zipper

  • This project works for a standard-size 87-inch-wide sofa with cushions that measure 24 inches wide x 24 inches long by 6 inches high, so you needed a 50-inch zipper. Adjust your measurements as needed.

  • Cloth measuring tape

  • Iron and ironing board

  • Notepad and pencil (you’ll be recording quite a few measurements with this project)

  • Scissors

  • Seam ripper

  • Sewing machine with appropriate color heavy-duty thread

  • Straight pins

The following steps can help you correctly insert your zipper:

  1. Measure your cushion’s top and bottom and record the measurement in your notebook, labeling it “Top/Bottom, Cut 2.”

    The example top and bottom measurements are 24 x 24 inches, plus 1 inch for the seam allowance, for a total of 25 x 25 inches.

  2. Measure your cushion’s side, and record the measurement, labeling it “Sidepieces, Cut 2.”

    The example sides are 6 inches high, so the measurements before adding seam allowance are 6 x 24 inches. After adding the seam allowance, it measures 7 x 25 inches.

  3. Measure the area where your zipper will be attached. Remember that you’ll be adding another inch to this zipper sidepiece measurement (for the seam allowance); note it in your notebook as “Zipper Sidepieces , Cut 4.”

    The example side measurement came to 8 x 25 inches. When it’s time to cut this piece of fabric in half lengthwise, you’ll be left with two pieces that are 25 inches wide by 4 inches high. You will discard one piece and label the remaining one “Zipper Sidepieces, Cut 4.”

  4. If you’re making paper patterns, create and label them, and use them to cut your pieces, or simply cut your fabric using the measurements you recorded in your notebook.

    Creating paper patterns for this project helps because it includes quite a few pieces; labeling your pieces can help you keep everything in order.

  5. With the right sides together, arrange the “Zipper sidepieces” together in pairs, and sew each pair together along one end, creating two long pieces.

    In the example, the four pieces each started out as 4 x 25 inches and wound up as two pieces both 4 x 50 inches.

  6. Press all seams open with your iron at the heat setting appropriate for your fabric.

  7. Using a basting or long-stitch setting on your sewing machine and a 1/2-inch seam allowance on each strip, place the two long “Zipper sidepieces” strips next to each other and sew them together.

  8. Press all the seams open with your iron at the heat setting appropriate for your fabric.

    Now it’s time to sew the zipper.

  9. With straight pins, pin your zipper facedown with the teeth right on the seam.


    Your zipper needs to be wrong side up, sewn onto the wrong side where the seam allowance shows.

  10. Stitch along the center of the zipper tape on each side and tack each end.

    By going over the ends of the zipper, you’ll better secure the part that gets the most wear and tear.

    Be careful when tacking over the ends of your zipper, because the metal can break your sewing machine needle.

  11. Turn the fabric over and, starting above the zipper pull, remove all the baste or long stitching from the long seam that’s over the zipper.


    In this step, you’re exposing the zipper and the zipper pull.

  12. Unzip the zipper about 8 inches.

    Doing so gives you an opening to pull the fabric through when you’re finished.

  13. Stitch together the two sidepiece strips from Step 2 to create one long strip.

    This is the piece of fabric that makes up the cushion’s side.

  14. Sew the two cushion sidepieces together along each end.


  15. With the right sides together, pin and stitch on your top and bottom pieces, using a 1/2-inch seam allowance.

    Follow the seams and bend the strip when you get to the corner to navigate around it. Follow the seam allowance, making sure not to make any pleats or gathers as you sew.

  16. Turn your slipcover right side out through the 8-inch unzipped part and insert your cushion.