Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tutorial ~ Subway Tile Pillow with Invisible Zipper


I love the look of Subway Tiles and decided to covert the look into a nifty pillow.  This pillow allows for easy peasy piecing ~  It's quick to make, you can whip one up in no time!  On top of that, it looks phenomenal finished and you can easily remove the pillow form to launder the pillow case!  No need for you to buy expensive commercial pillows (that everyone else has) when you can customize and make your own!

Your materials:
•5 FQ's of 5 different colored solid fabrics
•1 FQ for pillow backing (you can choose a solid or print for your pillow back)
•1 -20 inch pillow form
•1- 18 inch invisible zipper
•coordinating thread (I reccoment Aurifil 50wt thread--your seams will lay super flat and nice!) 
• and of course, your sewing machine!

*Note, I did not wash my fabrics prior to cutting/pressing.  If you do wash your fabrics, make sure to do so first.  You can still use FQ's for cutting your rectangles, but you will need a larger 5/8 yd piece of fabric for your pillow back to accommodate for shrinkage.

• Cut out our "Subway Tiles".  You will need 6 rectangles of each color.  Take your 5 solid Fat Quarters and cut 6 rectangles from each color--cut them to be 5 inches wide x 3.5 inches tall.  When you're done, you should have 30 rectangles. 

• From your Pillow backing fabric, cut out an 18"x18" square

• Layout your desired design.  You'll need 6 rows of 5 rectangles each.  You can layout your own design, or using the main pic of my subway tile pillow, follow my layout substituting your colors for mine in the same manner.

• Working from your rows, take two rectangles and lay them on top of each other with the RST (right sides together)

• Using a 1/4" seam allowance, stitch down one side of the short end (3.5" side) of the rectangle.  I've used a 1/4" foot on my machine.  It has a seam guide to make a nice 1/4" seam

• Take the two rectangles you've just sewn and open them up.  Add another rectangle on in the order of your row layout (make sure the fabrics are RST)
• continue stitching the short ends together until you have a row of 5 rectangles

• Use the same process for all your rows until you have 6 completed rows of 5 rectangles. (my pic only shows 4 rows, the last one was cut off--but you will need 5 rows) 

• Flip your rows over and press each seam open

• Make sure to PRESS using an "up and down" motion (don't iron, it may distort your seams/fabric)

 • Once you've pressed open the seams on all your rows, flip them over to the right side.  This is where your "Subway Tiles" start to take shape!
Starting with the top row and the second row, offset the second row to the MIDWAY point (the middle of the first rectangle on the second row will sit under the first seam of the top row)  

 • Alternate seams and midway points all the way across and pin or clip in place with the RST (this will require you to flip the top row on top of the second row)
Don't sweat this part! This midway-offsetting does NOT have to be super accurate, just eyeball your midway 

• Stitch along the edge you just pinned/clipped using a 1/4" seam

•  Continue adding on your rows noting the midway points.  Each row added will be offset at the beginning.

• Continue adding on your rows...

• Press open your new seams.  You can either wait until all rows are stitched together or do each one right after it is added on.  Again, make sure to PRESS using an up and down motion.

When you're done pressing seams...

Here's the back with all the seams pressed...

 and here's the front!  Now you can press and GENTLY iron this top piece.

• Now, lay your 18x18" pillow backing on top of your Subway Tile front.  

• Using the 18" square as a guide, cut your front to an 18" square.

• Again, don't sweat this part--you can line it up however you want~the "tile" effect will still come through!  I like mine a little wonky with little edges sticking out on the sides.

• Clip or pin the top and sides of the "tile" front and your back piece, RST

•Stitch along the sides and the top with a 1/4" seam allowance.  Don't stitch the bottom~leave it open.  This is where your invisible zipper will go.

•Grab you invisible zipper and flip it over.  Push open the zipper teeth on the top, separating them from the zipper tape.  Press/iron along the zipper (**Be careful not to leave your iron on the zipper teeth for too long as they may get very hot and could melt the teeth**)

•This is what your top zipper tape/teeth will look like when finished

•Push open the zipper teeth on the bottom, separating them from the zipper tape in the same manner and press/iron open

• Now take your zipper, completely open, and place it in between your front and back pillow fabrics --attach it to the back pillow fabric UPSIDE DOWN using clips.  (HINT-clips are MUCH easier for this part than pins!)  The zipper pull should be on the left side...

• Clip all the way across matching the outer edge of the zipper tape to the edge of the back pillow fabric. 

• If you have an invisible zipper foot and know how to use it, Hooray!!  Use it here!  if you don't...no worries!  You can use a regular zipper foot!  It is usually labeled with a letter "E" for most machines, but refer to the above pic if you're not sure.  If you can snap the foot to your machine's shank, do so, on the LEFT side of the zipper foot.  If the shank of your machine is different, attach your zipper foot according to the manufacturer's instructions.

• Place under your presser foot starting with the RIGHT side of the pillow.  Your zipper foot will sit atop your zipper tape.  IMPORTANT: Move your needle over to the left as close as possible to the zipper teeth

Stitch down the zipper tape getting as close as you can to the zipper pull on the other end

• Zipper is now attached to the back pillow fabric!

• Now flip your pillow over so the back fabric is facing you, and pin/clip the zipper to the front fabric the same way you did the other side (the zipper pull should now be on the right)

• This time, you will start on the end where the zipper pull is, so scoot your zipper foot as close to the zipper pull as possible under your presser foot--Also make sure again that your needle is as close to the zipper teeth as possible.  Stitch all the way down the zipper tape 

•Now that your invisible zip is attached to both the front and back of your pillow, it's time to close the corner zipper "gaps"
Note where your zipper stitching stops on both the left and right sides of your pillow.  You can eyeball it or mark it with a pencil.

•With your zipper foot still attached, place the left bottom of the pillow under your presser foot about 1/4" - 5/8" up from your zipper stitching

• Stitch out just beyond where your zipper stitching stops

• Do the same thing on the right side of the pillow bottom (SEE PICS)

• Clip with scissors or pinking shears all 4 of your pillow corners

• Almost done!  Turn your pillow right side out...

• Voila!

• Now just scrunch your pillow form into the zippered opening (the reason why I use a pillow form that is bigger than the pillow cover is so the pillow is full, using a smaller pillow form will make your pillow look sad and droopy!)

• Now just zip 'er up!  
Notice how stitching as close to the zipper teeth as possible made the zipper disappear? Nice!

You're Finished!  Now you can easily take out the pillow form to wash the outer pillow case anytime!  Enjoy your new pillow!

Happy Sewing!


  1. Love your pillow, thanks for sharing :)

  2. Fabulous..thank you for the tutorial :)

    1. You're so welcome, Pam! Let me know if you make one! :)

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  4. thank you so much for this! love it.

    1. You are so welcome! Thank you for taking a peek! :)


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