I have been missing from the blog, and I have no excuse. Well, I can come up with a lot of excuses! But none of them really are good enough. I guess the main one being is that I just can’t seem to think of an acceptable spot to take pictures and I really think I need a tripod, but I am just too lazy to go get one. Yet, this doesn’t mean I have been slacking off on the sewing front. Oh no, quite the opposite, I have so many awesome projects on the go, and I’ve tried so many patterns and have come up with a few TNT’s (Tried and True patterns). Exciting! Now only if I could photograph them…
Anyways, in the absence of tripod, space and motivation, I will share the project that I have finished this weekend for someone else. And to make up for the absence I will make it into a super long, maths filled but easy(ish) tutorial. Yay! First one!
I find it funny how I assume that there are actually people reading my blog except for my mom. Hi Mom! Who am I kidding, my mother doesn't want to read English... Boyfriend? Ha, he wouldn't want to know how to make a cushion cover, he'd make me do it while he plays Fallout on the couch next to me... Anyways, may be someone some day will read this blog. Here is to being optimistic!
I was asked to do a bench cushion cover for a space with specific measurements. Here is the picture of what I imagined it to be like. There was no previous cushion cover, so I was given foam and fabric, and off I went figuring out how to put it all together. Fun! Actually, it was.
I figured that for the bench seat to slide into the space, which has walls on three sides, the cushion needs to be slightly smaller than the space. But how much smaller?... I was puzzled with that for a bit, until I decided that ~ 0.7mm on each side is what I need. Yes, I prefer metric measurements.
Here are the maths for the finished cushion measurements:
Let’s say the space measures 141cm long by 60cm wide. Since there are walls on three sides, I want the cushion to slide in easily, so I would like there to be around 0.5cm on each side. The width should be okay with 60cm.
Then we have the foam height, my foam was 7cm high. But I wanted to add some batting to it so that it would be a little rounder and at the same time I want my cover to be nice and taught, so I think 7 cm is good.
Hence the final finished measurements of my cushion will be:
140cm long x 60cm wide x 7cm high
Seam Allowances and Final Measurements
I personally like using 1cm seam allowance. I know some pattern companies use 1.5cm, but I find it is too bulky in the end and I tend to trim it all off. So with my 1cm preference my measurements for my pattern pieces would be:
142cm long, 62 cm wide and 9cm high
Here is where it may get confusing. We are essentially making a cube, and I always find it easier to draw it out on paper before I begin drafting and cutting. This is what my diagram looked like:
- 2 Large Pieces 142cm wide x 62 cm high – these would be the top and bottom of my cushion
- 2 Short Side Pieces 9 cm wide x 62 cm high
- 1 Front Side Piece 142 cm wide x 9 cm high
The tickly back long side piece, where the zipper goes, it's the one pictured on top:
- 2 Zipper Pieces 126 cm wide by 5.5 cm high – these are the pieces where I would attach my long zipper.
- 2 Side Zipper Pieces 10 cm wide by 9 cm high – these are my two small side pieces that I will sandwich my piece with the zipper in between
In the end these last 4 pieces would equal to the front long side measurements (142cm x 9cm).
I was planning to use piping all around the top and bottom of the cushion. So I would need the total of:
(142cm+62cm)x4 = 816cm piping
Make it 8.3m just to be on the safe side. Yikes!!! That’s A LOT of piping. So you'll need enough of bias cut fabric and piping cord.
Cut it all out! I am not going to go into specifics of fabric requirements, but it should be easy to figure that out based on what your particular cushion measurements are and how you are going to end up laying it all out. Don’t forget that you will need about 0.5m extra if you are planning to do piping and even more extra fabric if you need to match the pattern.
I recommend cutting the Large Pieces out first, then working in the rest of the pieces. In the end use the left over scraps to cut your bias fabric for the piping. I do recommend cutting the fabric for piping on bias since it molds around the curves a lot nicer. But if you are really strapped for fabric and there is no way you can cut on bias, you can cut with the grainline. It won’t look as nice, but it is still okay. I’ve done it before and it worked.
I also saved a little scrap of fabric (~10cm x 5 cm) to use as my zipper cover pocket thing (technical name, I know). It’s a little cover that hides the zipper pull. It’s not necessary, but it’s super easy to do.
~ At this stage I used medium weight fusible interfacing to interface all my fabric pieces, except for the bias cut pieces for piping. You do not need to do this if your fabric is nice and heavy. The fabric I was using was rather light and thin and I was worried it would wear out quickly. Interfacing fabric will help to add weight and durability to it.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
You can either work on piping or zipper first, but I figured zipper it a better place to start since it is more complicated and you are still fresh and not super tired.
You are going to install the zipper along the long side of Zipper Pieces, so that the zipper is in between them. I am going to assume that everyone knows how to install a regular zipper, but if anyone has questions, I can easily do a tutorial on it.
I ended up having to shorten my zipper. I just cut it off and it works okay, since there is a seam right at the end of it.
At the zipper opening, I installed a zipper pocket. I folded my scrap piece of fabric in half, overlapped the zipper by about 2.5 cm on top of it, and stitched the fabric to the zipper within the 1cm seam allowance. Trimmed it and voila, zipper pocket is done.
Next, attach the Side Zipper Pieces to the Zipper Pieces you've just put together with the zipper. You will attach these at the zipper opening and closing, so that the piece with zipper is in between the side pieces.
Don’t forget to press every seam as you go. Pressing makes a lot of difference!
Attach Sides Together
Since we are working on the side piece, might as well attach them all together now. We will be attaching piece with zipper, Short Side Pieces and Front Side Piece at the short, 9 cm, edge. Make sure you attach them as long-short-long-short sequence. Otherwise they will not wrap around your Large Pieces as needed. At this point you will have one big loop of side pieces. Make sure it is not twisted anywhere and all the outsides are facing the same side.
This is where fun is… (I am being sarcastic). I assume you know how to attach your bias pieces together at a slant. So do that, press and trim the seams open. I prefer to press first and then trim, I find it easier this way since I don’t have to deal with pressing tiny seam allowances open. Then start on pinning your piping cord in between your piping fabric. Oh fun! Yep, pin the whole 8.3 meters, I hope there are enough pins! You can try and do it all without pinning but I find it a bit more challenging. If you can do it, you are my hero.
Stitch the piping together using zipper foot.
Now we are going to take the piping and pin it to the Large Pieces. Your piping should be facing to the inside of the piece, with your seam allowances matching the edges of the piece. Pin it all around. I clip my piping at the corners and slightly curve it around the corners. This is where it helps that the fabric for the piping was cut on bias. When the two cords meet, I like to undo the stitching on the piping, push it back, clip the piping cords so that they meet, clip fabric on one of the cords, fold fabric over on the other cord, and tuck the clipped fabric into the folded so that it is nice and clean on the outside. A lot of words, but again, I can do a separate tutorial if needed.
Stitch the piping to each piece! You are getting good at stitching that piping!
Attach Sides to Large Pieces
We are going to take our big loop of side pieces, and pin the side seams to each corner of the Large Piece. You will be pinning and stitching them to the seam allowance side of piping, so that piping is facing inside the cushion. Once you pinned the side pieces to all corners, go ahead and pin the pieces together all around, stretching and fitting the pieces together as you go.
Stitch! You will not be seeing the piping, yeah it gets harder. But you can feel it with your fingers and your zipper foot. Stitch as close to the piping as possible, it will result in nicer finish. Take your time here if you need to.
Make sure you leave the zipper open a little, otherwise you will have trouble turning the piece out. Repeat by attaching the other Large Piece in exactly the same way. Slow and steady, feeling the piping in between two layers of fabric.
Trim the corners and turn it out! Check your corners, sometimes if you didn’t stitch close to the piping they will not look as nice. It’s an easy fix, just go back and stitch over in the corners. Admire your work! Do a little happy dance! Oh wait, we still need to fit that foam in it…
Cut the foam to the size you first calculated, mine was 140cm x 60cm (see how nice I am, you didn't need to scroll back up!). I heard bread knife works well, but I didn’t have one . Correction, I was too lazy to go upstairs and get one. So I used a serrated steak knife and it worked well!
This is the optional part, but I had some extra batting, so I used a large batting piece to wrap it around my foam so that the edges of the foam are less square. This is not necessary, but I think it looks a little nicer when it is less squared. It's totally a personal preference though.
Now we have to put the foam into the cushion cover… I would recommend doing some warm up stretches. Take a deep breath, short side of the foam and stuff it into your cushion cover. As far as you can go. You may start sweating, but don’t give up. Take a break, have a snack (or gulp of wine) to replenish your energies and try again. Eventually you have your foam inside the cushion cover. It won’t look pretty yet. You will have to stretch the fabric, compress and move the foam, move the fabric around until you are satisfied with the positioning of the foam and the way your corners look. Then you will gather all you final energy to close that zipper. It may be challenging but you are almost there.
Once you pulled that zipper shut, you can take a step back and finally admire your work. Yep, you just made a covered foam bench seat. Look at you go!
Now, do you have what it takes to make a couple cushions out of those scraps?...
P.S. Since the bench cushion was not made for me, I do not have final pictures of it in the space it was made for. May be one day I will...