Saturday, 24 August 2013

How to sew a quick cushion cover


I haven't done a tutorial in ages, so as I was making a speed-stitched cushion* cover, I thought I'd write up a quick how-to in the process. This envelope closure cover is the quickest and easiest way to make a cover - no buttons, no zips, no ties, just a series of straight seams. Just to make it a bit more interesting (and also because I only had a small piece of my beetles and shells fabric to eke out) I made the front two-tone - a nice way of making yourself feel artful with minimal effort. You only need half a metre (half a yard is fine) of each fabric to make these. You can find the gorgeous Lily Keziah fabric I used in Alice's shop , Backstitch, where she also has a fat quarter bundle with two co-ordinating solid fabrics (the large fat quarter cut of the beetles easily made the two front panels).

back view

My cushion/pillow cover is made to fit a standard-sized inner of 16" (40cm) square, but you can easily tweak the measurements if you want to fit a larger or smaller pad.

You need to cut the following pieces:

Main fabric (shells and bugs):
1 rectangle 16.5 inches by 10.75 inches

Contrast fabric (dots):
1 rectangle 16.5 inches by 6.25 inches (for the front)
2 rectangles 16.5 inches by 10.25 inches (for the back panels, includes a 1/2 inch hem allowance)

1) Start by assembling the front panel: place the main fabric and contrast fabric panels right sides together along one of the 16.5 inch sides, aligning the raw edges (neither of my prints is directional, but if yours are, take care to ensure they will end facing the way you expect!). Stitch the panels together with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Open the panel flat and press the seam towards the darker fabric.

Topstitch the panels close to the seam on the right side of the darker fabric.

2) To make the cushion back, press a 1/2 inch hem along one long side of each of the back panels (turn the fabric 1/2 inch to the wrong side and press, then turn the raw edge under again to enclose inside the fold and press again).
Stitch the hem in place.

3) Place the cushion cover front right side up with the seam running vertically, then layer each of the back panels on top (right sides together with the front panel)  aligning the raw edges so that one back panel overlaps the other on the hemmed edges (running vertically).

Pin in place then stitch all the way around the raw edges with a 1/4 inch seam allowance, removing the pins as you sew.

4) As the envelope opening will be put under more stress than the other seams when you insert and remove the cushion pad, sew a second line of stitches across the central 9 or 10 inches of the top and bottom edges of the cushion cover to strengthen the seam.

You can then finish the raw edges using a zig zag or overlocking stitch to avoid fraying if desired.

5) Turn your cushion cover right side out, insert your cushion pad, then plump it and place it on your chair of choice.

A good way of checking whether your cushion cover makes the grade is to release it into its natural habitat and return around five minutes later to assess the situation.


We have cat approval.

* I say cushion, you say pillow - one of those UK/US things. Over here a pillow is something you put your head on to sleep.

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