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Patchwork Pillow Tutorial with Hidden Zipper

Patchwork pillow tutorial with the Avalon Quilt Pattern by Nollie Bean

In need of a quick project?  Last minute gift?  A fun way to spruce up holiday decor?  Let’s make a patchwork pillow cover together using the Avalon quilt block.  

This tutorial will guide you through making a pillow cover with a covered zipper closure on the back that will fit an 18 inch square pillow form.

The Avalon quilt block is an 18 1/2” square, unfinished - perfect to sew up a quick project that will fit an 18” pillow form.  This is the perfect make to share as a last minute gift or to get that sew-jo flowing again.  And, if you’ve never sewn a zipper before, this is a great gateway project to get comfortable working with zippers and the zipper foot on your sewing machine.

Patchwork pillow tutorial with the Avalon Quilt Pattern by Nollie Bean

Let’s gather up all of your supplies and then dive right in!

Supplies that you will need:

  • Avalon quilt block, or other 18 1/2" square
  • One piece of fusible interfacing measuring 19" square
  • One piece of fabric for the back of the pillow measuring 10" x 19"
  • One piece of fabric for the back of the pillow measuring 12" x 19"
  • 18" zipper
  • Zipper foot for your sewing machine (pictured below in Step 2)
  • Iron for pressing
  • 18" square pillow form

Note - Looking to make this exact pillow?  Snag the 2022 Holiday Edition Avalon Quilt Kit.

Don't have the Avalon Quilt Pattern yet?  You can find it here.

Patchwork pillow tutorial with the Avalon Quilt Pattern by Nollie Bean

Step 1:  Create the front of your pillow

Following the instruction provided in the pattern, make your Avalon Quilt block.  Ensure it is pressed as flat as possible.

Then, following the instructions on your fusible interfacing, secure the interfacing to the back side of your Avalon quilt block.  The interfacing will secure all of your patchwork seams and add some extra sturdiness to your quilt block and pillow. Using your ruler, trim any excess interfacing from the sides of your quilt block.  

Patchwork pillow tutorial with the Avalon Quilt Pattern by Nollie Bean

Tip:  Looking for a quilted look?  You can use a piece of 19” square batting rather than fusible interfacing, then quilt your quilt block using only half of a quilt sandwich.

Step 2:  Create the zipper back

This will be the longest part of the process, but it is surprisingly easy!  Sewing with zippers might feel intimidating at first, but I promise it can be easy and with a little practice, you will be a pro in no time! 

First, take your 12" x 19" piece of backing fabric.  Along the side that measures 19", fold in by approximately 1/2 inch and press.  This piece will become the bottom part of your pillow back.

Patchwork pillow tutorial with the Avalon Quilt Pattern by Nollie Bean

Then, take your 10" x 19" piece of backing fabric.  Again, along the side that measures 19", fold in by approximately 1/2 inch.  Then, fold a second time and press.  When unfolded, it should look like the picture below.  This piece will become the top part of your pillow back.

Patchwork pillow tutorial with the Avalon Quilt Pattern by Nollie Bean

Then, making sure not to cover the zipper teeth, place the bottom part of the backing along the zipper teeth using the 19" side of the fabric that you ironed under to get a nice finished edge overlapping the zipper tape. Pin in place.

Patchwork pillow tutorial with the Avalon Quilt Pattern by Nollie Bean

Using your zipper foot, sew as close to the teeth as you can, removing the pins as you go.  You will also need to unzip and move the zipper pull out of your way as you approach it.

Patchwork pillow tutorial with the Avalon Quilt Pattern by Nollie Bean

Next, take the top part of your backing, open up the 1" edge that we ironed under twice. Fold over just once and place on top of the zipper tape, as shown in the picture. The right sides of your pillow cover fabrics are touching. 

NOTE:  I have the fabric off-set just a little in the picture for demonstration.  You will want to line up both fabrics before pinning in place.

Patchwork pillow tutorial with the Avalon Quilt Pattern by Nollie Bean

Align the top edge of the zipper tape with the edge of the pillow top (folded down once by 1").  Pin in place.

Patchwork pillow tutorial with the Avalon Quilt Pattern by Nollie Bean

Again, using your zipper foot to get as close to the zipper teeth as you can, stitch in place, removing the pins as you go, and moving the zipper pull when you get close.

Flip over the top part of the backing, using the second pressed fold from earlier. This is my favorite part!  See how the flap forms all by itself where you ironed the fabric before?! We will stitch over the top part of this flap to keep it secure.  Using a ruler, measure and mark a line about 3/4" from the flap.  Or if you're like me, just eyeball the stitch line making sure you stitch along the zipper tape.

Pin to hold everything nicely in place, and stitch over your drawn or eyeballed line from the previous step.

Patchwork pillow tutorial with the Avalon Quilt Pattern by Nollie Bean

With your rulers, measure and trim your pillow back to make sure it is a 19" square. Yay!!! It's finished :). How did you feel about sewing that zipper in?

Patchwork pillow tutorial with the Avalon Quilt Pattern by Nollie Bean 

Step 3: Finish your pillow!

One final step, and it is all downhill from here!

Place your pillow back on your work surface, right side up.  Open your zipper slightly to make it easier turn your pillow once it is sewn.

Patchwork pillow tutorial with the Avalon Quilt Pattern by Nollie Bean

Then, place your pillow top, right side down, on top.  Make sure all sides line up and pin.  Making sure your pinned pillow sandwich has your pieces right (or pretty sides) together.  

Patchwork pillow tutorial with the Avalon Quilt Pattern by Nollie Bean

Using a 1/2" seam, sew around all four sides of your pillow!  

Once sewn, turn the pillow right side out throw the slightly opened zipper.  I like to use a chop stick to help get the corners pushed out.  Then, insert your 18" pillow form and you are finished!!!!  

Yay, that’s it; you’ve mastered the zipper and created a work of art!  After you finish your happy dance make sure you admire your lovely new pillow.

Patchwork pillow tutorial with the Avalon Quilt Pattern by Nollie Bean

I love to see what you make!  Please use #avalonquilt and #nolliebeanpatterns when you share on Instagram.

Happy sewing!!
Xoxo ~Jenni

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