With Summer well and truly upon us, now is the time to check the state of your garden furniture, especially the cushions. Have they seen better days?
How about giving them a makeover! Not only will it give them a new lease of life, but it will also save you money. You can recycle old clothes or use up your oddments of fabric. They will be unique to you and brighten up your outdoor space.
These are suitable for all levels in sewing and even though the covers do have a zip, it really is very easy to do….we promise.
Here’s what you need
Material (old clothes and remnants are great for this project)
coloured thread (this can be matching or a contrast colour)
Fabric marker or pencil
Here’s what you do
The first thing you need to do is measure the cushion pad that you want to cover. The overall look of the cushion is a personal choice and we prefer to have a plump firm one. To achieve this you want to make the cover a snug fit. Usually, there is a label on the pad showing it’s size. If it is a 20-inch pad then we would add 1/2 an inch to allow for the 1/4 inch seam allowance on the sides. Our panels would measure 20.5 inches before joining them together. If you want a softer cushion, simply add more. However, it is a good idea to cut the panel larger than you need. This way, if the fabric misbehaves if you are joining pieces, you can cut the panel to the exact size you need and your cover will look much neater.
This tutorial is for a circular cushion so you want to measure across the cushion at the widest part. Ours measures 30 inches so we know that our finished panel will be 30.5 inches before sewing the front and back together.
Select your fabric, again making sure that you have enough to allow for the seam allowance. As we are joining two pieces, at this stage we don’t want to cut it into a circle. You will find it much easier to sew the pieces together this way. We have used two different colours, but this is the perfect chance to use up all your oddments and do a patchwork. This tutorial CLICK HERE is for an easy patchwork cushion but you can make your panels square like this and then cut them to size after.
Before you join the fabric it is a good idea to overlock or work a zig-zag stitch along the edges that you will be joining. It’s not crucial, but it will prolong the life of the cover and stop the edges fraying.
Placing the right sides together and making sure they are lined up and even, sew a 1/4 seam. Don’t worry if your machine foot doesn’t give you exactly 1/4 of an inch seam, as long as it’s only a couple of mm’s out you will be fine. If however, your foot gives a much wider seam, this should be taken into account when calculating the size of the panel.
A top tip when sewing a seam is to make your machine foot do all the work. Use the edge of it as a guide and keep your focus on that spot. This will give you a nice even seam line. A stitch length of 2.5mm will hold the two pieces securely and you won’t get big holes between the stitches.
Once you have sewn the seam, turn the panel over to reveal the wrong side. Finger press or iron the seams open ready for topstitching.
A topstitch is decorative and therefore can be any size you like. The seams have already been secured but adding a top stitch gives definition and holds the excess back fabric in place. A good stitch length is 3mm or more. It will allow the material to glide under the foot with ease. If you are feeling bold, how about using a contrast colour to make the seam pop.
You can even take the opportunity to use one of the decorative stitches that your machine may have. It is really important though to select the correct foot for the stitch. With these type of stitches, the needle will move to the left and right so you need to make sure your foot has the space to accommodate the needle pattern. If you are unsure, check by hand turning the needle to see if it will go into the fabric without touching the foot. NEVER use the foot pedal to check this as the speed of the needle may hit the foot and cause an injury. If you use a thread that matches the contrasting material it adds a really professional touch.
Once you are happy with the design of the panel, now is the time to cut it to size. Using the measurements you calculated cut out a circle. We chose to have the seam in the centre so that there was an equal amount of each fabric showing. This is a personal choice and a perfect excuse to get creative.
The back of the cover is made in two pieces. This will allow us to add a zip in the centre of this back panel. It means that you can remove the cover for washing and not have to put the whole cushion in the machine. We used a plain fabric for the back so we didn’t waste the more expensive fabric. The back won’t be seen, and it means that you can get more out of the main patterned material. For the zip, choose one that will be long enough to allow the cushion to fit. It doesn’t need to be the full width of the panel as we will add extender fabric to the ends to make it fit.
Cut two pieces of fabric roughly the same size and big enough so allow for the seams. Remember there will be a centre seam for the zip so allow for this too. Cut 4 strips of the backing fabric. They need to be long enough to add to the end of the zip, allowing for the seams. It’s always better to cut them longer than you need so you can trim them to size after. Make sure that they are wider than the zip, again this is purely so that you can cut them to the exact size you want.
Place one the pieces right side up, then lay the zip right side up on top. The end of the zip should be towards the end of the strip.
Lay the second piece of fabric right side facing down on the top. At this point make a note of where the zip stopper is so that you can stay away from it when sewing.
Sew a seam through all the layers. Make sure that you stay well clear of the metal stopper as this will break your needle if you run over it. The stopper should be in the end section so that it can be cut off once sewn. Cut the excess fabric away. Don’t use your good sewing scissors for this!
Fold both pieces of fabric back over the end and finger press in place.
Sew a top stitch to secure all the pieces together.
Do the same for the other end of the zip. Take care in keeping the ends close together as they are not attached to each other at this end.
Once you have sewn both ends they are ready to trim and add to the panels.
Trim the width of the fabric to match the zip. If you want you can add a tacking stitch down the centre of the two pieces of fabric. This will keep them together as you cut to size.
Line the right side of the zip with the right side of one of the panels. If you have left excess length at each end try to centre the zip so that you have the same amount of extender fabric at each end. Using your zipper foot and a 2.5 stitch, sew down the extender fabric, the zip and remaining fabric. Use the edge of your foot as a guide to keep the seam even. You may need to move the zipper pull out of the way. To do this, put your needle in the down position, lift the presser foot and slide the pull so that it is now behind the foot and out of the way of the stitches.
One the zip has been inserted lay the right side of the front panel down on the right side facing up back panel. For added detailing and if you have used the design we have, line up the zip seam with the centre seam.
Once you are happy with the position, cut out the back piece to match the front. Pin or clip the two pieces together. It is advisable to do this as the two pieces may move slightly and won’t match by the time you get all the way around.
Before you sew them together check to see that you have opened the zip. If it’s closed it will be harder to turn it the right side out.
Sew all the way around the edge of the secured pieces using 1/4 seam. Remove the pins and clips as you go.
Once you have sewn all the way around, work a zig-zag or over the lock the edges. This will stop them fraying and prolong the life of the cover.
These really are very simple to do so go grab all your oddments and get creating.
We love seeing your creations and makes, so don’t forget to tag us #CraftyCoCreations
The Crafty Co