A friend of mine asked me if I’d be able to make new cushion covers for her outdoor furniture so I’m currently in the midst of this project. I had to special order two of the three fabrics I’ll be using (which hasn’t run as smoothly as I’d liked…) and the one I show here we had to order online from JoAnns.
It took a while to find which fabric we wanted to use. My considerations were manifold: it needed to be dirt/stain resistant since it’ll be outside, it should be a happy color, and it shouldn’t fade too easily/badly. A multicolored fabric hits all those points: any stains could be masked by the pattern, it’ll be lively, and it won’t look splotchy if it fades. As I said before, we chose three fabrics in the end (we found too many that we liked): one is a more solid green/blue color (this is for the cushions to sit on; Solarium Outdoor Fabric in Lagoon), the one pictured here (used for some of hte back cushions; called Solarium Outdoor Fabric in Sail Away Sailor), and the third I’m still waiting on (also for back cushions; Solarium Outdoor Fabric in Cabana Huts). In the finished design the solid color unifies all the pieces while the sailboat and cabana hut patterns help add variety while still staying true to the theme.
I’m quite proud with how the first two cushions came out so I wanted to share the work I did (the inside is as neat as the outside :)). I started at 7:50am yesterday and worked nonstop until 3:15pm to finish these. In fact I was so engrossed in my work that I didn’t even stop to eat. The pattern on the fabric made it a little more challenging to work with since I needed to figure out how to cut the fabric to make the two cushions identical. It was pretty easy in the end (time consuming and a bit tedious with measurements and such, but not too difficult). Anyways, here is how I did it!
Outdoor Cushion Process
1. Cut the fabric. For these cushions I needed my pieces to be 29x32in. Below you see the two sides of one cushion (the duplicates for the second cover are below). The 29in across does not include the white strip of the edge, but I left that on for a step later on.
2. Cut the corners to make it easier to shape the cushions. I took out a 3×3 square on the top of the fabric (top of the cushion) and a 3x5in piece on the bottom. I won’t be adding a zipper or buttons to close the covers so I wanted the bottom flaps to overlap enough so they keep the cushion inside while still allowing for the option to take the cover off for washing. Keep it practical! It’s important then to have enough fabric to have the two sides overlap and also to sew the edge over to have a clean edge so it looks professional.
3. Handle the edges. I don’t have a serger but using a zigzag stitch along the edges does the trick too; this is done to keep the fabric from fraying. All cut edges should be sewn over. It takes a while, granted, but it ensures a quality end product.
4. Create a clean edge. Before sewing the appropriate pieces together, make sure the edges of the bottom parts of the fabrics (the 5in wings) are folded over so that the overlapping flaps are neat.
5. Sew the sides. I took the two pieces of the cushions (right sides together) and sewed the top edge and the two sides together, making sure that the corners I cut out were still open. Since these seams will need to withstand some tension I added an additional reinforcing zig-zag stitch on the inside of the straight stitch. I mentioned in step 1 that I kept the excess white stripe on the sides; I folded this over the inside seam allowance to reinforce the binding stitch. Note the corner is still open.
6. Form the corners. Fold the fabric pieces so that the corner forms; do this by bringing the centers of the seams on either side of the corner together and pinning it. The corner of the square that’s formed by the cut out piece should be the end of the line formed by bringing the sides together. As you can see I curved the stitch line a bit to give a rounded edge to the cushion. Reinforce the straight stitch with a zigzag on the inside of the seam (not seen on the photo below).
7. Close the bottom. Fold one of the longer bottom wings at a time like you did with the other two corners. Make sure to pin both sides the same way– pin one side of the flap and then the other to avoid accidentally sewing opposite sides of the flaps on either side. Mark the line you’ll stitch and sew. Do this carefully and reinforce the pressure points (where the flaps end for instance). Again I curved the corners a little to alter the look of the finished cushion.
8. Finished! After reinforcing all the seams on the inside and trimming any excess threads, turn the cushions around and admire! (The patterns on the cushions are identical, here I chose to show either side).
From left to right: the top corner, the overlapping flaps at the bottom where the cushion will be inserted, and what the bottom corner looks like. As you can see, in the middle image, the edge extends past the center seam along the sides (unlike the top corner where everything meets neatly). If I’d used a zipper it would run across the middle, but my method leaves enough fabric overlapping to properly cover and hold the cushion.