What Size Zipper For 20 Inch Pillow?

When selecting a zipper for a 20-inch pillow, a zipper that is slightly shorter than the pillow size is typically used. A common rule of thumb is to use a zipper that is 1 to 2 inches shorter than the pillow’s edge, so for a 20-inch pillow, an 18 to 19-inch zipper would be appropriate. This allows the zipper to fit well within the seams without extending to the corners of the pillow, providing a clean and professional finish.

Understanding Zipper Length for Pillows

When it comes to crafting or re-covering pillow cushions, the details matter. The zipper is an essential component, as it affects both the functionality and appearance of the pillow. The standard approach is to choose a zipper that is just short enough to keep it hidden and ensure that it does not wrap around the corners of the pillow, which could cause an unsightly bulge or prevent the pillow from maintaining a crisp, square shape.

Why Use a Shorter Zipper?

A zipper that does not extend the full length of a pillow may seem counterintuitive, but it has several advantages:

  • Aesthetic Appeal: A shorter zipper remains tucked within the pillow seams, maintaining the pillow’s shape without extending to the edges where it may be more visible.
  • Functionality: The ends of a zipper can be bulkier, and by keeping them away from the corners, the pillow maintains a more uniform edge which feels more comfortable during use.
  • Durability: Placing the zipper slightly away from the corners can reduce stress on the pillow’s fabric and seams when inserting or removing the pillow insert, potentially prolonging the life of the pillow cover.

Choosing the Correct Zipper Type

Pillows are versatile home accessories, and the zipper type should match the pillow’s use and style. Here are some common zipper types and their best use cases:

  • Closed-End Zippers: These zippers are sealed at both ends, making them ideal for throw pillows and decorative pieces.
  • Invisible Zippers: These have their teeth hidden and are perfect for creating a seamless look in decorative pillows.
  • Metal Zippers: Known for their durability, these work well for heavy-duty use or style preference.
  • Coil Zippers: Made from nylon or polyester, these zippers are flexible and suitable for cushions that may require frequent removal of the cover for washing.

Remember that the material and color of the zipper should complement the pillow fabric and overall design.

Sewing Tips for Pillow Zippers

Installing the Zipper

Installing a zipper in a pillow can be daunting for beginners but following these steps can simplify the process:

  • Sew the fabric together along the edge where the zipper will be placed, using a long basting stitch.
  • Press the seam open with an iron to create a flat surface for the zipper.
  • Position the zipper face down over the seam so that the teeth align with the sewn line.
  • Use a zipper foot on your sewing machine to stitch close to the zipper teeth, sewing one side of the zipper tape to one side of the fabric seam.
  • Repeat the process for the other side of the zipper tape, ensuring that the zipper can slide easily in between.
  • Carefully remove the basting stitches to reveal the installed zipper.

Hand-Sewing vs. Machine-Sewing

While sewing machines offer speed and precision, hand-sewing can also be quite effective for installing zippers in pillows, offering more control over the stitches and allowing for adjustments as needed. Choose a strong, durable thread that matches your fabric, and take care to make small, even stitches for a professional finish.

Making Adjustments

Sometimes, even with careful consideration, a zipper may not fit the pillow as intended. If you find that your zipper is too long, it can be shortened. To shorten a zipper, sew a new stopper at the desired length using strong thread, and then cut off the excess zipper tape beyond the new stop, ensuring that you do not cut too close to the stopper. For coil zippers, special zipper stops can be purchased and clamped onto the cut end to secure it.

Choosing the Right Zipper Size and Type for Different Pillow Styles

Decorative Pillows

Decorative pillows typically feature more intricate designs and fabrics. For these types of pillows, an invisible zipper tends to be the preferred choice, as it remains hidden and does not interrupt the pattern or texture of the pillow cover.

Outdoor Pillows

Outdoor pillows require zippers that can withstand the elements. In this case, a rust-resistant zipper made from plastic or coated metal may be ideal. Additionally, the zipper should be well-sealed to prevent moisture from entering the pillow.

Functional Pillows

Functional pillows, such as those used on couches or beds for everyday use, benefit from durable zippers that can withstand frequent use. Coil zippers are often a good choice here because they are both flexible and strong.

Children’s or Pet’s Pillows

For items that might need frequent washing, such as children’s play pillows or pet bed covers, select a zipper that is both sturdy and easy to use. A close-end plastic zipper will likely provide the functionality and durability needed for such items.

Finishing Thoughts

Choosing the right zipper for a 20-inch pillow involves not only selecting the right length, typically 18 to 19 inches, but also considering the type of zipper and its application. The installation should be done with care and precision, whether by hand or with a sewing machine, to ensure that the zipper operates smoothly and enhances the look and longevity of the pillow. Keep in mind the various factors such as desired appearance, functionality, and pillow use in order to select the most appropriate zipper. With these considerations in mind, your pillow project should come together seamlessly, creating a functional and aesthetically pleasing finished product for comfortable repose.


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