Saturday, November 10, 2012

A better way to sew zippers in fleece

Meet Sadie

My daughter often comes home to visit me with a project in tow, and this time she wanted a new cover for her well worn dog bed. A minor error in planning gave me an opportunity to rethink my sewing strategy, ending up with a technique that came out great. Many sewing "mistakes" are opportunities to be inventive, and sometimes the solution is better than the standard method.

We had planned a square bed made of fleece, about a 36" finished top and bottom with sides of about 3". We planned to put a zipper in the center of one panel so the stuffing could be removed for easy washing. In my hurry, I forgot to cut any of the side panels with a seam in the middle. I was already sewing the side panels together when this was discovered. We had enough fabric to re-cut, but I just didn't want to do it. Then the idea came to me- fleece doesn't fray, so shouldn't I be able to just sew the zipper down the middle and cut an opening? It's quick and fast, keeps bulk to a minimum. It turned out to be the perfect solution.

Since fleece stretches, I wanted to stabilize the panel ends. I cut two pieces of square muslin. I didn't worry about being too exact just yet.

 Then I sewed the zipper down the middle on both sides of the teeth. I laid the muslin with the seam allowance even with the zipper tape and sewed right across the end encasing the ends of the zipper. I turned the muslin to the edge, trimmed it to fit. I could have basted it down, but didn't.
 Here is a close up of what this looks like. You can see the muslin seam in between. This panel is now stabilized at the ends with the cotton and by the zipper in the middle so the fleece won't stretch out of shape.
 This is the right side.
 Then I took my tiny sharp scissors and cut down the center between the zipper top stitching.
 It's a perfect match- no bulky seams and you can't see the zipper pull unless I open the cut for you.
 Here is what the zipper looks like on the finished dog bed.
What do you think? Did it work out well? Never mind that we didn't mind the directional print. Perfection is not necessary. It's a dog bed!
 Sadie seems to like it well enough!

I don't sew with fleece much, but if I ever do, I will definitely use this method again!


  1. Wow! I was just in a sewing class on zippers this morning and we were discussing how you couldn't do an invisible zipper in a dog bed because they don't come long enough. It appears you used a regular metal zipper, is that correct?

  2. You bet, Brenda! Our zipper was a standard 22" long. The guts of our bed was made of polyester batting, like a bed pillow. We didn't have any trouble maneuvering it in and out of our cover. If your bedding is made from something firm like molded foam, then a standard zipper may not be long enough.

  3. Ha! I found this at the right time- I love Costco beds but I hate that you can't get the cover off to wash...this is the perfect solution. Thank you. :)

  4. Thank you so much for posting these instructions. I was covering a vanity stool cushion with very fluffy fleece fabric. I wanted to be able to remove the cover for washing but because the fabric was so thick and fluffy I was in a quandary as to how best to install a zipper, until I found your very clear and helpful page. I followed your instructions exactly and my cushion cover is beautiful! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    1. Thanks! I appreciate knowing that my posts are helpful :-)


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