Sewing your own cushion covers is very simple – it's basically just a square! And you can make the closure as simple or ornate as you want. You can even add piping for that special touch.
Suitable Fabrics & Notions
For the fabric, you can use just about anything! From heavy furnishing fabrics to soft silks, cushion covers come in all varieties.
And because you need so little fabric, you might even be able to grab a bargain from the remnants bin!
Another great alternative is tea towels. If you're like me, you are given more tea towels than you can use in a lifetime. So why not put them to good use as cushion covers – they're the perfect size!
How Much Fabric to Buy
Here in Australia the standard cushion size is 16½" square (or 42cm square). You can check yours by removing it from it's cover and measuring it. Don't just measure across – make sure you measure all the way to the seam, as we need to allow for the cushion width.
Now we just need to add 1¼" or 3cm to the width (for seam allowance) and allowance to the height for seam allowance and closure. How much you add to the height depends on what type of closure you will be using (see below).
Don't forget you'll need 2 pieces of fabric this size for each cushion cover. So, let's say you are making 4 cushion covers with the standard seam allowance for your closure. You'll need:
4 cushions x 2 squares at 18" by 18" (I've rounded up from 17¾") which is 36" by 72" or 1 yard long by 2 yards wide (depending how wide your roll of fabric is).
In metric, you'll need 4 cushions x 2 squares at 45cm by 45cm which is 90cm by 180cm or 1 metre long by 180cm wide (depending how wide your roll of fabric is).
The traditional type of closure for a cushion cover is a zipper (usually 13" or 33cm long). If you are using a zip closure, you'll just need a standard seam allowance for the height of 1¼" or 3cm.
If zips are too much trouble, then you can try a button closure. With a button closure we need extra fabric at the top to fold over and close on one side. So you'll need one side with the standard seam allowance for the height of 1¼" or 3cm, and one with additional allowance of 3" or 7½ cm. Don't forget to buy buttons, and remember you'll need to create button holes if you use this method (I find these harder to do than zips!).
The lazy way to do it (and don't get me wrong – I'm all for the lazy way) is to use either stick on Velcro (not so good for an item that gets washed often), sew on Velcro, or pop studs. Pop studs come either in metallic or plastic form (they're the things they use to put the closures on doona covers), and you'll need to buy them in a kit with the little thingamajig that attaches them. I've got one – they are so easy to use!
To Make Your Pattern
Fold your fabric in half with right sides together. Now just mark out your squares (including seam allowance) with tailors chalk and cut out. You only need to mark out the number of squares equal to the number of covers you are making, as we have the fabric doubled over.
If you are using button closures, you can do this using a single layer of fabric, as some of your squares will be different sizes (to allow for the button closure fold over). In this case, you need to mark out double the number of squares to cushion covers as we have only a single layer of fabric.
To Make Up
With right sides together, sew both side seams and the bottom of the cushion cover together. Warning – if you are using a button closure, stop your side seams 5/8" from the top so you can hem the top edges individually.
Zip Closure: mark on the top edges of your fabric where the zip will be placed, and sew from the outer edge in as far as the end of your zip at both edges. Iron the seam open. Now pin your zip in place and sew.
Pop or Velcro Closure: stitch together the top seam from the outer edge in to about 1½" or 4cm. Do the same on the other side. Iron the seam open. Now hem the opening section of this seam (so that when you pull apart the closure to remove the cover the seam stays with the cushion). You can now attach your Velcro or pop closures.
Button Closure: Pin the standard hem allowance on the extended top of your cushion and stitch. Repeat on the other top edge. Turn your cushion right way around and mark on the extended top of your cushion where you want the button holes (I recommend doing this with the cushion inside the cover. Now sew your button holes, cut open, and stitch your buttons in place.
And that's it!