This tutorial has been written with the beginner in mind, and is used during the first week of our 4 week introduction to sewing course. There are no buttonholes, zips, or tricky pattern pieces to cut. By the end of the tutorial you will have made your first cushion cover and already know how to sew French seams – so what are you waiting for!
Complete the table below to work out your fabric and interfacing requirements.
The label on your cushion may include its size, if not, pull the fabric along the top taught and measure it – this figure is the width of your cushion. Repeat along the left side of the cushion, this figure is the length of your cushion.
Width x length: ……… x …………
STEP 2 – FABRIC REQUIREMENTS
You can use almost any type of fabric for a cushion cover, fleece, flannels or knits will give your cushion a ‘hug me’ look, whilst home décor weight fabrics hold their shape, regular quilting weight fabrics work well too, and can be enhanced with the addition of iron on interfacing to give a crisp, luxury look to the cushion (if you are a beginner, I would start with home décor weight fabric or quilting weight fabric).
Width of your cushion + 2.5cm x length of your cushion + 2.5cm
………… x …………
Back Fabric (Top Piece)
Width of your cushion + 2.5cm x length of your cushion x 0.65 + 3.7cm
………… x …………
Back Fabric (Bottom Piece)
Width of your cushion + 2.5cm x length of your cushion x 0.65 + 2.5cm
………… x …………
If you are using regular weight quilting cotton, we recommend using iron on medium weight interfacing (woven or standard) to add definition to your cushion, or fusible fleece if you want to plump it up.
Size of the front fabric piece ………… x …………
Back top piece
Size of the back top fabric piece with 3.7cm taken off the length ………… x …………
Back bottom piece
Size of the back bottom fabric piece with 2.5cm taken off the length ………… x …………
If you are using interfacing then iron it onto the back of your fabric pieces first (place on top of the back of your fabric, then place another piece of fabric or a tea towel on top, and iron into place). The interfacing pieces for the top and bottom back pieces are smaller than the fabric pieces. For the top back piece position the interfacing so that it lines up with the top, left and right edges (it will finish before the bottom edge). For the bottom back piece position the interfacing so that it lines up the bottom, left and right edges (it will finish before the top edge).
Before sewing the cushion cover together we recommend lightly spraying all the pieces with spray starch (available at your supermarket!). The starch will give your fabric a temporary stiffness that makes sewing the pieces together easier and helps give you crisp lines.
Place your back top piece of fabric in front of you, so that you are looking at the back of it. Fold the bottom edge up1.2cm and iron the crease. Fold the bottom up again, by 2.5cm and iron the crease into place (the raw edges should now be hidden).
Pin the folded section into place, making sure that the pins at a right angle to the fold line (see below) pins should be approx. 5cm apart.
Make sure your bobbin has cotton on it that matches or compliments your main fabric, and then sew the folded over section into place, approx. 19mm (3/4”) down from the outside edge (this type of sewing is called top stitching).
Put this piece to one side.
Place your back bottom piece of fabric in front of you, so that you are looking its back. Fold the top edge down 2cm and iron the crease into place. Fold the top down again, by 1.2cm, and iron the crease into place (the raw edges should now be hidden).
Pin the folded section into place as before and sew into place, approx. 6mm (1/4”) down from the outside edge.
Place your front piece of fabric in front of you, wrong side facing you. Place the bottom piece on top, right side facing you, with the bottom, left and right edges lined up with the front piece, pin into place. Place the top piece on top, right side facing you, with the top, left and right edges lined up with the front piece (it will overlap the bottom back piece), pin into place.
Take out the pins and then trim the seam allowances (fabric between the raw edge and your sewn line) back by half (see images below).
Turn your cushion cover out so that you are looking at the inside of the cover. Iron flat, making sure the seam lines are along the edges, then pin the two sides of the cover together (see images below). Sew around the 4 edges using a 6mm (1/4”) seam allowance as before.
Turn out your cushion cover, iron and fill with your cushion insert – ta dah!
Why not try…
If you feel uncomfortable leaving the back without any form of closure, and you don’t fancy taking on buttonholes, you could sew poppers into place, or use our iron on Velcro.
Our cushion cover with a border – visit our blog for the tutorial.
When you get more confident you could..
- Add a couple of button holes along the folded over section of the top back piece before sewing the cover together. Adding buttons to the bottom back piece after you have finished the cover – the buttons make a feature out of folded over section on the back, allowing you to have the cushion facing either way.
- Add piping, pom poms or ric rac to the outside edges of your cushion.
- Quilt the front panel – a great way to use up your favourite scraps.
- Add binding to the outside edges for a super crisp finish.
What are French Seams?
One of the biggest challenges when sewing is dealing with raw edges, they don’t look nice and when you start using your projects they start to unravel. You can deal with these edges in a number of ways, one of which is French seams.
When sewing regular seams you place your fabrics together, right sides facing each other, then you sew together and turn the fabrics out the right way, the raw edges are hidden on the back of your fabric, but are still there, waiting to unravel!
When you sew French seams you start by placing your fabrics together with the wrong sides facing each other, you then sew together as normal. Next you trim the seam allowance back – that’s the fabric between the edge of the fabric and your sew line, you need to cut about half the fabric away. Then you turn the fabric out so you are looking at the back of the fabric, iron flat, and then sew again, using the same seam allowance. This captures all the raw edges inside the sewn section, hiding them from sight and stopping them unravelling.