Happy New Year! I hope your resolutions include rejuvenating your worn-out furniture because I have lots of fun projects planned for us this year! First up is a new bed for Pixie. She’s been lying on an old cushion I pulled out of a client’s chair. Yuck! So I thought it was about time for an upgrade. A few yards and hours later, and she is relaxing in style. The best part is you can use these steps to make any boxed cushion, even if it’s not for your furry friend. Think window seat, desk chair or even revamping a sofa by adding new cushions in a contrasting fabric! —
Read the full how-to after the jump!
- white or yellow chalk
- yard stick
- t-pins or straight pins
- zipper and zipper pull
- 5/32″ welt cord
- sewing machine
- single welt cord foot
- masking tape
Don’t forget to check out Upholstery Basics: Tool Time to learn more about the tools we’re using today.
1. If you plan on washing your cover in the future, pre-shrink the fabric by washing and drying before beginning construction.
Laying out the fabric:
I’m making a 25″ square cushion with a 4″ boxing around the edge. When marking my pieces on the fabric, I’ll need to add an extra 1/2″ to all sewn edges; this is called a seam allowance. If my final cushion needs to be 25″ square, I’ll add an extra 1/2″ to all sides, making my cut piece a 26″ square. The 4″ finished boxing will go around the front and sides of the cushion (75″), so it will be 5″ x 76″ with seam allowance. We’ll also need a zipper boxing in the back so we can easily insert and remove the padding from the case. I like my boxing to go around the sides about 5″, so the finished dimensions of the zipper boxing need to be 4″ x 35″. The zipper attaches in the center of the zipper boxing between two strips of fabric, so each strip is a finished dimension of 2″ x 35″. With seam allowances, we’ll need two strips that are 3″ x 36″ to make up the zipper boxing.
2. First we’ll cut our top and bottom faces. Determine what part of the pattern you’d like to be centered and measure out from the middle to mark the edges of the cushion. Square up the edges with the pattern and double-check your measurements before moving on. Remember, measure twice, cut once!
3. It looks best when the top of the cushion matches the front boxing, so find the center front of your cushion top.
4. Find that same point in the next available repeat of the pattern and make a mark 1″ above that point. This will be the top of our front boxing.
5. Make a mark 5″ down from that point. This will be the bottom of our boxing.
6. Using the pattern as a guide to keep the lines consistent and straight, draw two horizontal lines across the fabric. This will be your front boxing. Since my fabric is not 76″ wide, I’ll seam together three pieces of fabric, end to end, to make my boxing. I prefer to place the seams at the front two corners. Mark the middle top of the front boxing so you can easily line it up with the cushion when sewing.
7. Once the top and bottom faces and boxing for the front and sides are drawn, draw the zipper boxing. Remember, we need two pieces that are 3″ x 36″.
8. Follow step 8 from Coil Seat Finale to draw your single welt cord. We’ll need a little over 200″ to go around the top and bottom faces of the cushions.
9. On the back side of the fabric, mark the top edge of all of your pieces.
10. Iron down the 1/2″ seam allowance that attaches to either side of the zipper.
11. We’ll use the single welt cord foot to sew the cushion. Cut a piece of zipper chain the length of the zipper boxing (36″). Place one of the edges we just ironed in the middle of the zipper. Place the zipper teeth under the single welt cord foot where the cording would normally go. The needle should be positioned to the right of the zipper teeth over the fabric. Start at one end and sew down the right side of the zipper to the other end.
12. Now attach the other side of the zipper boxing by turning the zipper around and repeating step 11.
13. Here’s what the zipper boxing should look like when it’s finished.
14. Follow steps 9–14 of Coil Seat Finale to sew the welt cord.
15. Now we’ll attach the cording to each face of the cushion cover. Start by marking or cutting a small notch in the middle of the back side of the face. This is where we start and stop the cording.
16. The cording tail should be 1/2″, so place the cording under the foot with the tail to the right and the edge of the tail lined up with the edge of the cushion.
17. Continue sewing the cording along the edge of the face. When approaching corners, prebend the cording to go around the corner. Cut a few notches in the tail at the corner so it will lay flat. Lift the sewing foot and pivot to sew tightly around the corner.
18. When you’ve sewn all the way around, stop about 4″ before getting to the middle back of the cushion face and cut off the extra cording 3″ beyond the middle mark.
19. Open up both ends of the cording, approximately 2″, by cutting the threads inside.
20. Lay the two ends of the cording (where we started and where we stopped) side by side and cut them to meet in the middle.
21. Connect the two ends by wrapping masking tape around the connection.
22. Fold the excess fabric under and wrap around the welt cord. Be sure the cording is completely covered by fabric before sewing down the middle connection.
23. Ta-da! Welt cord is attached to one face of the cushion. Now repeat steps 15–22 for the other face.
24. After both faces have welt cord, we’ll attach the boxing around the front and sides. If you haven’t already, seam all boxing pieces together. Line up the middle top of the boxing with the middle front of the top face of the cushion cover.
Since we don’t want the threads to show, we’ll sew on the back sides of the fabric for the remaining steps. When we turn the cushion right side out, no threads will show. As long as we keep the edges lined up and the welt cord under the foot, we should be able to maintain our 1/2″ seam allowance.
25. Starting from the middle, sew the boxing around the front and one side. Stop 6″ before the back corner.
26. Go back to the middle of the front and flip over the pieces. This will keep the cording on the left and seam allowance on the right. Repeat step 25.
27. After you have the boxing attached to the front and sides of the top face, repeat steps 24–26 for the bottom face. This is what it should look like (right side out) when you’re finished sewing on the boxing.
28. Now we’ll sew on the zipper boxing. Line up the middle back of the top face and the top middle of the zipper boxing. From the middle, sew along the back and around the corner. Stop 2″ past the corner, leaving the end of the zipper boxing loose. Go back to the middle, flip and sew the other direction.
29. Once we’ve attached the zipper boxing to the top face, we’ll repeat step 27 to attach the zipper boxing to the bottom face.
30. Attach the zipper pull to the zipper. Leave a few inches open at the end of the zipper.
31. The ends of both boxings should be loose toward the back corners of the cushion. We’re going to make a pocket to hide the zipper pull. Fold the front boxing back and place the zipper boxing over it, as shown in the photo. You can adjust how much zipper shows on the sides of the cushion by extending the front boxing closer to the back corner.
32. Hold the end of the zipper boxing firmly to the end of the front boxing while placing both under the sewing foot. Be sure to get the rest of the cushion out of the way before sewing the ends together.
33. As you sew across the ends, place a small piece of fabric over the zipper teeth and sew over it. This little tab keeps the zipper pull on track so it doesn’t slide off the ends.
34. Once the ends are sewn together, smooth the fabric that folds under the zipper boxing, lay all of the layers flat with the edges lined up and close up the rest of the cushion that was left open.
Now that it’s finished, turn it right side out, stuff it with your padding of choice, and have a seat! I used a loose polyester fiber to give Pixie a nice, squishy bed.
Tips for cushion sewing:
1. Wash fabric before constructing your cushion, so it’s pre-shrunk. If you’re not sure if the fabric is washable, order a sample and throw it in the wash. You can also dry-clean fabrics that are not washable.
2. If you have a serger, serge the edges of the fabric before sewing together to prevent fraying.
3. On cushions, the top of the pattern should start at the back of the cushion and go down to the bottom of the boxing. The boxing on the sides and back should be oriented the same direction as the boxing on the front.
4. Buy long lengths of zipper on a roll so you can cut it to the size you need. It’s also cheaper this way.
5. Use a thread and zipper that are similar to the color of your fabric if you’d like it to be unnoticeable.
6. Double-check the marks on your pieces to make sure you have the pattern orientation correct. There’s nothing more frustrating than sewing something on upside down!
7. If your seams are not super tight, sew around the cording one last time to tighten up loose sections.
Be sure to check out the other Upholstery Basics posts!
Fabric: Duralee 21015 in Red, available at .