Friday, 4 November 2011

How to make... cushion covers

I recently took up some curtains and made the excess fabric into a pair of cushion covers. 

Why waste good fabric, that's what I say!

So here's a 'How to...'

What you will need:

Sewing machine
Zip foot
Tape measure
Zip (about two thirds the width of the cushion) - ask for a 'closed end zip'
Matching thread
Unpicker (really useful)
Tailor's chalk (or a pencil, whichever you prefer!)
Calculator or pen and paper
Tea (copious amount)

Here's what I did:

Measure the front of one of the cushions from side to side to find the right size and then add on one inch to this measurement to allow for seams.  Keep it somewhere safe.

Then do the same for the top to bottom measurement.

Cut fabric to this size

Using a wide zig zag stitch, sew around all of the raw edges about a quarter of an inch in.  This will prevent your lovely cushion covers from fraying.  Repeat for both pieces of fabric.

Pin both pieces of fabric, right sides together, along the top edges (it didn't matter too much with this fabric as it was the same on both sides but will make a difference if the fabric is patterned)

Measure zip from metal top to metal bottom (there's probably a technical name but it escapes me!) and ensure it works by pulling it up and down a couple of times :)

*Easy Maths alert*
Grab a calculator and do the following sum:

Meaurement from step 1
zip measurement from step 5
divide by 2

This will give you the distance from each side that you need to mark - it's where the zip opening will go.

Sit down and have a cup of tea to recover.

All set?  Ok, let's move on -

Sew a straight seam along the top of the fabric, half an inch down from the top.  When you get close to the zip opening mark, do a couple of backstitches to secure the thread but do not cut.

Increase the length of the stitch to the widest possible and continue with the seam until you get to the other zip opening mark.  Backstitch a couple of times, shorten the stitch length again and continue to the end. 

What you've just done in the last couple of steps is to tack (or 'baste') the fabric together where the zip will go - don't worry, it will become clearer as we go along!

Open out the fabric, with the inside of the cushion cover up, press the seam flat.

Turn the cushion cover over and put a pin in where you had marked the zip opening so that you can find it again

Take your zip and place it underneath the zip opening with the metal top near the pin.  Start to pin the zip in place.  Feel through the fabric to ensure it's centred and continue to pin down both sides of the zip.

Change your sewing machine foot to a zip foot

Begin to sew from the end of one zip along the side taking out the pins just before you get to them.  Keep your fingers on the zip as you go along to ensure it's still in the middle.

When you get to the end of the zip, leave your needle in the fabric, lift the foot up and pivot the fabric 90 degrees.  Sew along the end of the zip and then pivot again so that you can now sew down the other side.

Sew along the other side of the zip and then finish off at the other end.

Using your unpicker, unpick the tacking stitches along the zip and pull out any loose threads.

Check your zip works.  It does?  Well, of course it does!  Excellent!!!

Another cup of tea is in order and maybe even a snack!  Now you've put in the zip you're nearly home and dry!

Ok, so now you will want to open the zip and leave it OPEN for the time being.

Change your foot to a normal foot then fold the cushion cover in half so that the outside edges are touching.  Pin along all three edges.

Sew along the edges, half an inch in, pivoting at each corner

Take the scissors and cut across the bottom corners in the seam allowance making sure you don't cut into the stitching.  This will make it easier to have crisp corners when you turn it the right way round.

Snip off any loose ends.

Turn the cushion cover the right way out using a turning tool to gently encourage pointy corners (oh wait, I used a blunt pencil, that did the same thing!)

Press the cushion cover and insert cushion pad.

That's it!
You've done it!  Give yourself a huge pat on the back!
Must be lunch-time by now or at least another-cup-of-tea-time!

Let me know how you get on!


  1. Oh I'm excited about know I bought Heidi's sewing machine but have no idea how to sew, yes? So I will totally be trying this once I have somewhere to unpack the machine! :) xx

  2. Excellent LOL!

    Let me know how you get on!