There really is no definitive CORRECT way to sew a zipper into a box cushion

… aside from doing your best to sew it straight & true. As with so many things, there are multiple ways to sew a zipper into a cushion boxing. Each of us ends up with a preferred method, depending on who we learned from and the the fabric we’re working with.

I can think of three different methods that I’ll share with you in this post, though I’m sure there are more.

  1. [Standard] Sew the zipper to each separate side of the boxing, then top stitch to finish.
  2. [Basted] Sew the zipper to boxing that has first been basted together, top stitch to finish.
  3. [Taped] Tape the zipper to boxing, each side of which has been pressed flat and matched (for leather)

Three methods of sewing a boxing zipper compared:

Note: for the demonstration videos I am using sample sized pieces – most zippers are longer than 6 inches! So just imagine a longer boxing…

1. ‘Standard’ Method

I call this ‘Standard’ because it’s the way I learned to sew a zipper into a garment when I first learned to sew.

  1.  Match the zipper right sides together with one side of the zipper boxing and sew them together with the stitch line close to the zipper. Repeat the same process for the other side.
  2. From the front, no seams are visible, and the zipper is exposed, so you’ll need to fold each side of the boxing fabric to meet at the center of the zipper and top stitch each side if you want a hidden zipper (Note: the topstitched zipper is stronger & longer lasting).
  3. Press each of the two folded boxings to meet along the center of the zipper and top-stitch at an even distance apart from the center.

This is a tedious one for me, especially with certain ‘misbehaving’ fabrics, and fabrics (such as velvet) which do not like to have their face (right side) ironed. I don’t usually use this method, so I haven’t included a video demo (I’d be happy to do one if requested – just ask in the comments below). I prefer the ‘Basted’ method for fabric, and the ‘Taped’ method for leather.

2. ‘Basted’ Method

This is the method I use for most fabrics.

  1. Baste (use maximum stitch length on your machine) the two halves of the zipper boxing lengthwise (I use a 1/2″ seam allowance) with right sides together, then press the seam open.
  2. Pin the zipper to the back side of the sewn zipper boxing, with the right side of the zipper facing the seam allowance, and lined up along the seam.
  3. Stitch close to the zipper on the back side – about 1/4″ away from the center seam line.
  4. Remove the basting, and admire your nice straight seam!

Here’s a quick demo video showing the ‘Basted’ method (sorry, no sound)

3. ‘Taped’ Method

This is the method I use for leather because you don’t want any more holes in your fine leather than absolutely necessary.

  1. Finger-fold a 1/2″ seam allowance along one edge of each half of your zipper boxing
  2. Butt the folded edges of the two boxing halves against each other.
  3. Center the zipper along the center line, keeping the two halves snug to each other.
  4. Tape across the boxing & zipper, about every 3-5 inches.
  5. Secure the zipper to the boxing at each end (I use Wonder Clips in video; binder clips work as well)
  6. Top-stitch each side about 1/4″ away from the center line on the front side – you’ll be stitching through the tape on the back side.
  7. Remove the tape, and admire your work!

Here’s a quick demo video showing the ‘Taped’ method (no sound)


For a more detailed look at the steps of sewing a zipper into a cushion boxing using the ‘Basted’ method, check out this video (with sound)

Subscribe to our mailing list to get monthly updates, tips & projects for natural upholstery!

Check out upcoming upholstery workshops here.