A client asked me to make her a bunch of cushion covers. OK, so it’s not the kind of exciting design/couture work I seek to attract but it’s more of a challenge than hemming jeans and good experience for getting the hang of pricing which should reflects the time taken and skill involved. Two kinds of fabric were supplied and my brief was simple; no piping and no trims, just squares of 60cm and rectangles of 40cm x 60cm. All with concealed zips at the bottom. Without thinking too deeply, I quoted £10 per cushion.
Hm, perhaps not enough. Next time, I’ll take into account the fabrics used. On this occasion, I had messy velvet (but beautifully thick velvet, just like the short nap of Blogstalker’s forehead. In fact, I should have paid the client for allowing me to sew it!). The striped fabric took caution too, not only in matching the design at the side seams but, prior to that, in cutting, as the position of the stripes had to be the same if you laid out all the cushions side by side on a sofa.
The first cushion always takes the longest as you work out a method and discard a few false steps. I’ve laid out a how-to-sew in case it helps someone else but also to help me next time, if I forget after a while. Also, my research came up with a simple solution to the saggy corners problem which I’ve outlined below in the how-to-cut Tutorial 2.
(If, on the other hand, you’re after a fun cushion cover, for example for a teenager’s bedroom or den, here’s a tutorial from the archives for a zip-free cushion cover.)
Tutorial 1: Sewing a Cushion Cover with a Concealed Zip along the bottom
The advantages of having zip on a cushion cover are many. You can take out the pad occasionally and bash it into shape – or top up with filling. If your fabric permits is, the covers can be laundered. And unlike with a cover that has an opening at the back, both sides of the cushion can be on display.
When buying zips, choose a colour which most matches the fabric at the point where the zip will be placed (e.g. with my client’s stripy fabric, I had to choose between beige or grey). You need not buy the most expensive zip; unlike with a garment, these zips will not get frequent use.
Size matters: zips need not be quite as wide as the cushion; a few centimetres shorter is fine (and cheaper, as zips go up in price with length). In fact, it’s easier to open and close the zip when there’s some fabric at the ends to hold on to as you pull the tab.
A paper pattern is a good idea: size of cushion pad plus 1.5 seam allowances all around. Make sure you use a set square, or equivalent, to ensure you draw right angles.
Tutorial 2: Cutting the Fabric to Create Plumper Effect
These are my own cushions, made from very expensive Designer’s Guild fabric and really cheap IKEA cushion pads! They get sat on, squashed and generally abused. As you can see, the corners look rather ’empty’. I made a third cushion after following this method of reducing the amount of fabric in the corners so they fill better.
The cushion looks no different from a square one, but there’s a subtle improvement in shape.
Wow, that was traumatizingly square! I might need to make something sirenish and for myself, to recover.