How to Re-Cover Couch Cushions (includes the world's best sewing technique ever!)

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How to Re-Cover Couch Cushions (includes the world's best sewing technique ever!)

 It's Frugal Friday at Shabby Nest...a blog with a long list of great ideas for your home every Friday! Be sure to visit! This is my entry for the blog hop. Enjoy!   

And a Special Welcome to visitors from Wardrobe Refashion...the best blog for Frugal Sewing I've ever seen! If you love to have got to go see what their community is posting. It's sewing heaven!

The best barter I ever made was between Angela Frye at Large Order of Fryes (darling blog!!)and I. My DH had been on the road for months and had no time to do car repairs and we couldn't roll the window up and down on the left with the little electronic button.   She asked if I would consider a trade. Her DH would fix my car door and I could re-cover her bay window couch cushion.

I had never done one in my life..but I've never turned down a challenge...So, with warnings not to expect too much in the way of 'quality work' I agreed.  It was a great lesson in covering couch cushions!  I'm so glad she asked me because the experience I got from doing it cross-applied to so many things.

Getting Started really think you want to do this? Okay... Then I will share with you what I know about re-covering couch cushions, but be ready to roll up your sleeves!. I only got a tiny peek in a re-upholstery book in the bookstore one day, as we were heading out the door but that peek has revolutionized the way I sew! The principle of just covering this one cushion, can help you do so many creative things!

Just for starters, you can use this same basic principle, to alter mostly made dresses to fit you perfectly. (Leave the sleeves for last.) You can alter skirts to fit you just the way you like.You can slip cover just about anything! I covered a book shelf shaped like a podium with black poplin. I put a velco flap in the back. It looked so good that my husband's company used it as a podium for demonstrations at their annual oil convention.  The front was curved and the back was flat. It fit that shelf like a glove!You can make fabric covers for portable table tops too. 

Note: Be sure to use either upholstery thread or machine quilting thread...something durable or doulbe stitch every seam. Do that anyway! There will be a lot of stress on the seams.
The basic idea is to pin pieces of fabric that are the general size and shape of the item's various planes on wrong side out.  Pull the pinned cover off, sew up the seams (leaving an opening) and when you put it back on right side out, it will a T!  I love love love this sewing technique!!
I'm not a professional, but I did re-cover the bay window cushion pictured just above and included piping. It was my first time to do it ever! And I've done four cushion covers so far for my mother, so I hope these pictures will help you. 
FIRST,  take good pictures of every little detail of the existing old cover that you are trying to replace. How is the zipper installed? Are there flaps covering the ends? How do they stitch it? How do they reinforce the seams? Do they use piping? Believe me--once you rip the pieces apart, you will not remember how they went together! If you skip this step, you WILL kick yourself! Don't blame me :o)  if you get in hurry and decide not to take pictures. I did warn you! :o)
 Rip the whole cushion cover apart. Be careful to save the zipper 
and any other construction pieces that were used.

Lay out the pieces on your fabric and pin just like you would a pattern. 
Be sure to cut enough of each piece.

Then cut out the pieces.

First we will sew the lengthwise seam that we will be attaching the zipper to.  
Measure how wide the seam allowance is.

Fold the largest piece of fabric in half with the right sides together. 

Pin that far from the raw edge of the fabric. 

Stitch with a basting stitch.

Open out the seam allowance.

Press flat.

Now lay the zipper right side down against the wrong side of the cushion cover  
matching the teeth with the seam that you just basted and pin in place.  Then hand baste in place.

On my cushion, they made the zippers extra long. 
About 2 inches of both ends of the zipper hung off each end.

Now remove the pins and change to a normal stitch lenghth. 
Top stitch the zipper in place making sure to stitch an even distance from the seam on both sides. 

Note: You will eventually have to move the zipper pull to stitch all the way to the end on both sides.  Be sure to stitch from the same direction both times so that you don't end up with puckers!

Now rip out the basting stitches so that the zipper shows from the outside.

Next, turn the cushion cover,  which is still just a tube with a zipper in it, wrong side out again.
I keep the zipper closed and push and pull until I get the cushion worked all the way into the cover and it is smooth and even on both ends.

Turn the cushion on it's end and lay one of the end pieces on top of the foam. 

Pin evenly left, right, top, bottom, alternating each time, until the whole end piece is pinned to the side tube.
I usually pin about a half to 5/8 of a seam depending on how much excess there is. Don't take up too much seam allowance not allowing enough for the other end.

Now pin the other end in the same way. You may have to adjust the pins on both ends 
to make the seam allowances even.   Now hand baste both ends and remove the pins.
 You are almost done!! Great job! 

Here comes the tricky part. Open up the zipper and I know it's hard to do when the zipper pull is facing the inside of the cover.  Now push and pull on the cushion to get one end out. Once you do that, the rest of the cushion will come out pretty easily. If I don't baste first, I almost always have to re-pin a few pins that come loose in the process.

Now, stitch the end pieces onto the cushion tube taking the seam allowance you pinned. In this picture, I had not yet thought to baste. It made the ends pucker sometimes, because it's so hard to turn corners and not lose the pins! You will get much better results if you hand baste first . Stitch all the way around once.Then stitch again about an 1/8 inch away for reinforcement.

Now turn the cover right side out and insert the cushion. Beautiful!!

Here are some more views. If you have any questions about your particular cushion, just send me a picture and I will give you my advice.  I will be doing some cushions with those end flaps on them next week and will post and addendum to this tutorial.
Wow! Three down and nine more to go! Have a great weekend!  

Don't forget that there are two more days to enter my Followers Are Special GiveAway! Click  HERE for more details. Winners of signed copies of  The Artistic Mother by Shona Cole and The Ultimate CheapSkate by Jeff Yeager will be announced on May 1st.

Happy Sewing!


Rebekah Greiman said...

This looks great! I found you through the link party. I love the tutorial. Now, if only I didn't have a vinyl retro couch.....

Donna said...

A slip cover would probably work better for you, but I'd have to see the design to be sure. :o)

Juliette Crane said...

you make it look so easy :) thanks for saying hello on my blog. you have so many fun things to share here as well and i can't wait to stop back and see more!

have a fabulous weekend!

Large Order of Fryes said...

Barter is the best!! Not sure who got the better deal - ha ha!

Caroline said...

Nice! What a great idea....

Caroline said...

Yup, I do post over at WR ... my pledge is ending just now. :( Hope I'll have a chance to do it again after a couple of chaotic months.

Anonymous said...

What a great tutorial! I have a HUGE old couch I've been wanting to make new covers for--the center of the couch is flanked by two chaise-lounge type chairs. The cushions are HUGE. I've been procrastinating getting started. But today, you've inspired me. I'm going to the fabric store today. Thanks so much for sharing this. Eight old couch cushions, here I come--you're getting a major makeover!

Tara said...

Just finished my first cushion! As a newbie to the sewing world... I was quite nervous to try this, but it turned out great! Buh-bye orange tweed in my camper and hello damask! Thanks for this amazing tutorial :D

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for the tutorial! I just finished my two first cushions, and this was my first real sewing project. The cushions look great and it was quite easy, albeit long :)

Just one thing is that we decided to use the old zippers as you suggested here, but right when we finished, one of the zippers broke (meaning I have to start over for that one). So for the next cushions I am going to buy new zippers to hope this doesn't happen again.

Also for the sewing I used a 'jeans' type needle in the machine, since the upholstery fabric is quite thick.

Donna said...

Great tips! I just had no money at all so I used the old zippers and finding ones long enough was a challenge. But Hancocks carries long rolls of zipper so perhaps that would work.

Yes! Jeans' needle.. A Heavy duty need is a must. I forgot to mention that.

So blessed that you all are enjoying this. :)

Anonymous said...

If you slide the pillow into a dry cleaner bag it will go into the cover rather nicely. When you get the pillow where you want it, just rip the plastic bag out. That's how the pros do it. Maybe next time, eh?

Donna said...

Thanks for a great idea! I never would have thought of that but it sounds like a huge help. :)

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