If you have mastered making envelope style cushion covers and want to take your cushion cover skills to the next level but don’t know where to start, this is the tutorial for you. By the end of the lesson you will know how to make and sew with piping, and how to add an almost invisible zip to your cushion cover – with lots of professional tips throughout you will never need to buy a ready-made cushion cover again!
If you live in or near to Witney in Oxfordshire, and would prefer to learn with a teacher on hand, why not join us at our Sewing School where you can learn how to make professional level cushion covers in an evening – click here for details!
Cushion Cover with Piping & a Zip Tutorial
Main fabric (1cm (1/2”) longer and 1cm (1/2”) wider than your cushion pad) x 2 pieces
Piping cord (size 4 or 5 works well – enough to go around all 4 sides of your cushion plus 8cm (3”).
Fabric to cover the piping cord (for a 45cm (18”) cushion a 40cm (16”) square is plenty) or enough ready-made bias tape to cover your piping cord.
Step 1 – Making Your Piping
Measure the length and width of your cushion, add the two figures together, multiply by 2, then add 8 cm. This gives you the length of piping cord needed:
Length of cushion …………. (L)
Width of cushion …………. (W)
L + W …………. (A)
A x2 …………. (B)
B + 8cm …………. length of piping cord needed.
Step 2 – Covering Your Piping
You need to cut strips of fabric on the bias to cover your piping cord. Cutting the strips on the bias will help ease the tape around the corners of the cushion cover, and give you a smooth finish.
For size 4 or 5 piping cord you need to cut your strips 4.5cm (1.75”) wide.
You can easily find the bias on your fabric using a quilting ruler, simply lay the 45 degree angle line on your ruler along the bottom of your fabric. The long side of the ruler will be at 45 degrees (along the bias). Draw your first line.
If you don’t have a ruler, fold the bottom left corner of your fabric up to the top edge and press the fold, when you open the fabric back out the fold line will be at 45 degrees (along the bias). Draw your first line along it.
Move your ruler out from your first line, the width of your strips, and draw a second line (it will be parallel to the first line), continue moving your ruler across your fabric in this manner, drawing strips as you go.
Cut out your strips.
You now need to join the strips together.
Place two strips together, right sides facing, so that they are at a right angle to each other and the diagonally cut short edges are lined up (see images below). Then move the top layer down, keeping the raw diagonal edges lined up, until the length of the straight edge of the top piece (side closest to the raw diagonal edge) measures the length of your seam allowance.
Sew the two strips together, along the diagonal edge, using your preferred seam allowance. Open out to check the two sides are level. When you are happy press the seam allowance open and then cut off the excess fabric sticking out of the top/bottom on each side.
Using your zipper foot, start sewing the two sides of the fabric together, close to the edge of the piping cord, STARTING approx. 10cm down from the start of the piping/fabric AND FINISHING approx. 10cm from the end of the fabric/cord.
Step 3 – Attaching Your Piping
This is best done without pins, if you really can’t survive without pins then just put a few in down the first side.
Place the piping cord so that the unsewn part starts approx. one third of the way down one side of your main cushion fabric. Match up the raw edges of the piping cord cover and the raw edges of the fabric (you should be looking at the right side of the fabric) and start sewing the piping cord into place FROM the point where the sew line starts in the piping cord. Stop when you get a few cms from the bottom.
Use a ruler or seam gauge to measure up from the bottom of the main cushion fabric, the width of your seam allowance, and mark this point on the piping cord’s seam allowance, drawing a line across from the sew line on the piping cord to the outside (raw) edge.
Now draw a diagonal line on the piping cord fabric from the inside edge of the line you have just drawn (the end near the cord) down to the point where the piping cord fabric meets the corner of the main fabric (see below).
Cut along the diagonal line, taking care not to go over the stitches.
Now turn your piping cord around the corner, so that the raw edges of the piping line up with the raw edges of the fabric and begin sewing again.
STOP SEWING WHEN YOU ARE APPROX 10cm from the start of the piping cord.
You now need to join the piping cord ends. Push the piping cord out of the way and place one strip of piping cord fabric on top of the other. Mark where they meet, mirroring the shape of the diagonal cut end of the top piece.
Trim along the second line you drew, and then pin the two layers of piping cord fabric together, so that the diagonal raw edges are lined up, and the top of the bottom layer is sticking up the length of your seam allowance (just as you did when you joined the lengths together earlier).
Sew the two strips together. Open out the seam allowance and lay the fabric back out on your main fabric, it should lay flat.
Lay your piping cord on the top of the piping cord fabric and trim the cord so that the two ends butt up against each other.
Fold the fabric over the piping cord and sew to the main fabric as before – you will now not be able to see where the piping started and ends!
You now have three layers of fabric running around the edges of your cushion cover, and this will become four when you add the top layer of fabric. To reduce the bulk, peel back the first layer of fabric and trim the next one away (you will be cutting away the bottom layer of the piping cord cover).
Step 4 – Adding the Zip
Place your second main fabric piece on top of the first and pin the two layers together, making sure all the sides are properly lined up. Sew 5cm in from the left and right edges, on the side you are planning to add the zip (usually the bottom).
Open out your fabric. Look inside your cushion cover through the gap you just made by sewing 5cm on each side. On the side with the piping, from the bottom, you will see the main fabric, followed by the piping and then the seam allowance from sewing the piping on – we will call this bit the bottom fabric.
We are now going to sew the zip onto the bottom fabric, on the side of the cushion cover with piping attached.
Lay your fabric down with the cushion cover closed (two sides right side facing each other, the piping on the bottom side). Fold back the zip opening on the side without piping, so you can see the piping. Position the zip across the opening, so that the teeth of the zip are butting up against the piping cord, and the long edge of the zipper tape is lined up with the raw edge of the bottom fabric on the piping side of the cushion.
Don’t worry about lining up the other side of the zip yet.
Sew the zipper tape into place, close to the zip’s teeth. You will be sewing through the bottom fabric on the piping side of the cushion cover and the back of the zipper tape only.
Once you have sewn a few cms you may find it easier to undo the zip to complete this step.
Turn your cover over, so you are looking at the right side of the fabric, and check the zip works. Iron the fabric and top stitch along the opening on the side of the cushion cover with no piping.
Put the two sides of the cushion cover on top of each other, lining up all four sides, and pin together. Sew around all 3 open sides.
Trim the excess fabric away from the corners, taking care not to go over the sew lines. Finish the raw edges with pinking shears or a zig zag stitch to prevent fraying.
Turn your cover out the right way through the open zip – Ta Dah!
An almost invisible zip! You can now use your cushions both ways round 🙂
We used Riley Blake’s Bloom and Bliss fabrics for our cushion – click here to view in store, with white Kona to cover the piping cord. Click here to view our range of Kona colours – perfect for covering piping! Click here to view our range of piping cords.