We’ve recently revamped our garden with built in bench seating (to see how it looked before, and for it’s first budget revamp, click here). Although I have plenty of natural ‘cushioning’, I thought that it would be a good idea to have outdoor cushions on the bench just to make the seating experience more comfortable.
There were two issues with this:
- We’ve built a custom size bench, so finding ready made cushions with the same size was difficult.
- Custom made outdoor cushions were out of our budget.
In these circumstances I decided to dust off my sewing machine and have a go at the job myself! I began trawling Pinterest for inspiration in the hope of a tutorial and found this tutorial from @abeautifulmess. Seemed fairly straight forward and so I started to find the right material.
I looked at a couple of online places for outdoor fabric. I knew what I wanted – I didn’t want any type of oil cloth material, anything PVC and I wasn’t too concerned about it being waterproof because I won’t be leaving the cushions out over night. I live the UK, and in the North West you need more than “waterproof” to withstand the rain we get!
I was looking for thick, cotton, and possibly weaved, material and found this seller on eBay. It turned out that they sold a striped fabric similar to the one in @abeautifulmess’ tutorial, which had initially attracted me to the tutorial in the first place. I ordered 4 metres of material and it cost £31.96 (including postage). I decided that if I had any material left, then I’d make some cushions covers from it.
We have been in the process of replacing our sofas in the living room and I decided that instead of throwing the cushions away, I would reuse them for this outdoor seating (thanks mum!). I took out the foam and reused it for the outdoor cushions. For two of the cushions I had to cut them down to size a little, but it worked really well.
Read on to see how I got on with the tutorial. I’ve tried to be honest about my sewing skill set too and I’m sure I’ll keep tidying these up too.
This the material I chose. I bought it off this seller on eBay and it is a striped weaved cotton fabric. Tough fabric, but not difficult to work with and I didn’t need to change my needle on the sewing machine.
Just be aware of the tension needed for your thread – I tested this out on some scrap material first.
Saying that, I did keep forgetting to do that every time I changed the thread. Complete amateur over here, believe me!
I ordered 4m of fabric. It’s good to check the width that the fabric comes in, which the seller or shop should be able to tell you. I knew that this fabric came in a width of 140cm, so I would have enough for one cushion in each width and then the centre band also. This just reduces fabric wastage and means that you get the most for your money too.
There are two ways you can do this. If you already have the foam or filling (like I did) then you can use the foam as a guide on top of the material, mark it and then cut.
You will have measured the seating area already and so you could use those measurements and then cut the foam accordingly. I had to do that on two pieces anyway, so that they would fit the seating.
Whichever way you measure, make sure that you leave at least 1cm or ½ inch as a seam allowance.
If you’re wanting to make new cushion covers, you could always unpick the current covers and use them as a guide on your new chosen material.
I had four pieces to cut for each cushion:
- x2 pieces for the top and bottom of the cushions
- 1 piece for the depth of the cushion (add on for seam allowance) and as long as three sides of the foam.
- 1 piece for the section that I have decided to use as the opening and the Velcro fastening.
I used regular fabric scissors, to cut and thankfully it was a striped pattern because I had some lines to use as a guide at times too!
Once you have your pieces cut, you need to pin them into place before you sew.
I decided to pin one side to the band and to sew that first, before I then pinned the second piece to the band. I’m sure that you could pin both and sew both at the same time, but I didn’t trust myself to get tangled with the material and end up sewing the wrong pieces of material together!
I tried to remember when pinning, to think of the direction that I would be sewing. I would have the head of the pin facing towards me so that I could easily take them out as I went along.
I used a straight stitch and tried the tension and length out on a piece of scrap material first. I did keep forgetting to do that each time I changed the thread through, so I got myself a little tangled at times! That was when I was tempted to throw the machine out of the window, but I persevered!
Try to keep the edge as straight as you can. I must admit that mine have been a little wobbly, but I really did try! Just take your time and you’ll probably find that your stitching will get better with every cushion cover.
The tutorial that I was following had a zip fastening, but I’ve never been very confident in using zips, so I decided to have Velcro as the fastening (I may regret this, but only time will tell!).
I sewed up three of the sides, as normal, and then with the fourth side I cut a piece of material that was slightly wider than the previous three sides (to allow for an overlap), cut in half, hemmed and sewed together to create an opening. This piece of material was then attached to the rest of the cover.
The Velcro I chose sticks to the material and I have since sewn it in place to secure it too. It’s not perfect, but it does the job quite nicely.
As you can tell, this has definitely NOT been done by someone who is amazing at sewing, but I really enjoyed following the tutorial.
I decided to make four cushions covers due to storage, as we don’t really have the room for two long cushions. We’ve already tested them out and they’re really comfortable!
I’m also really pleased that I’ve been able to reuse foam that would have been thrown away, and create outdoor cushions with it for our bench seating. It’s given me a little more confidence in taking on more sewing in future too!
I hope this has been helpful, and if nothing else has inspired you to take on a similar project. This blog has been nominated under the Best Creative Skill category in the Amara Blog Awards and I if you would like to vote for me, you can do so here.