Making Cushion Covers


I bought this 1950s barkcloth on my summer jaunt to the Isle of Wight. I’m pleased to have finally covered two cushions that had seen better days, even utilising scraps of fabric left over from this skirt.

Cord Collage

I forced myself to make self fabric piping, even though I loathe and despise cutting bias strips. Don’t ask me why. Actually, do ask me why – I know exactly why! Cutting out endless one-inch strips of fabrics and sewing them together leaves me creatively dead. But a cushion cover looks a lot more finished with some piping, so I forced myself through that particular circle of hell.

Piping Collage

I’m exaggerating, of course. Making these cushion covers whilst watching Strictly Come Dancing was pretty much my idea of weekend heaven. I didn’t have to think too hard about either activity and it was huge fun to leap from the sewing machine to scoop up Ella so that we could watch a charleston or a pasodoble together. I was safe in the knowledge that the distraction of Ben Cohen’s pectorals weren’t going to make me ruin a dress –  I was only making cushion covers. (I don’t endorse objectification of the human body. Unless it’s Ben’s body.)

When attaching piping to a cushion cover, I baste it to the right side of one piece of the cover first. Make sure you place the ends on a long side – not on a corner of the cushion. If you also trim out the cord from the piping ends, you’ll create a nice smooth join without excess bulk. True confessions – I just use household string to make my piping. Yeah, wotcha gonna do about it? I so don’t care.

Have you been dancing around your sewing machine recently?

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29 Responses to Making Cushion Covers

  1. Chris says:

    Love the colour combination! And the piping does add a special touch. And pssst, don’t tell anybody: I even make my piping out of fabric strips cut on the grain. I did buy proper piping cord recently though, just to not combine to much naughtiness in one length of piping 😉

  2. Perfect cushions, I love them! And your dedication to a nice finishing touch puts me to shame, I can never be arsed to make my own piping, hence all my cushions are bald and boring.
    Yes, Ben’s torso is a tad distracting, I’m surprised your cushions turned out the right way round with such a specimen on display! I’m still cross about Rachel being booted off instead of Dave…. x

  3. Julie Cruickshank says:

    Lovely cushion covers! I danced to caro Emerald whilst working out how to put a visible zip in a skirt on Saturday! The fabric had been used to cover boxes of tiles in my dining room for 6 months so I guess everyone will think ‘I’ve seen that fabric somewhere before….’!

  4. Sewingjen says:

    As a teacher of soft furnishing and latterly all sorts of sewing! I have a good method of creating a long crossway strip without sewing lots of bits together, if you would like a copy of my method just let me know and I will mail it to you. I used to teach that you only ever used cotton piping cord and that you unwound the ends and “re twisted ” them to ensure that a) you didn’t get a bump in the piping and b) the piping didn’t shrink back and create a gap when washed. However City and Guild methods not used now!!! I did once unpick some seat covers from a well known shop (Sparks and Mencers!) and found that their “piping cord” was made of compressed and twisted PAPER! So don’t feel bad about using string!

  5. Caroline says:

    Lovely cushions. I’m always on the look out for a nice bit of barkcloth, it’s so useful for cushions and bags!
    Another piping confession here: I have also been known to cut on the grain to make the fabric strips shhhhhh. I bulk bought a whole bunch of piping cord recently to make baskets with but I think using string is a brilliant idea!

  6. Kaitlyn says:

    This look fantastic! The yellow on the back makes such a good contrast

  7. Ros says:

    There are much easier ways to make your own bias tape for the piping than cutting each strip and then sewing them together! Have a look here:

  8. emhancock says:

    I love the cushions! Well done for having the patience to do piping. By the way I love that yellow cord skirt. It is fabulous! x

  9. Whatever you touch turns into gold 🙂 Love the cushions and the fabric/colour combination! No dancing around the sewing machine for me, too accident prone but I like watching Gossip Girl when I sew… (what can you do, I like the clothes they wear, hehe)

  10. Kelly says:

    Ah, thank you for this. I have been putting off making cushion covers for a chair my husband made…primarily because I made half of the piping and gave up because I hate dealing with all the fiddly bias strips. This may help spur me into action. Your cushions look fantastic.

  11. CurlsnSkirls says:

    Love them & good for you for dancing thru your Dante details! (Shhh – I listen to audible books with big headphones so I can hear whilst the machine’s chugging.)


  12. Hoosiermama says:

    Vintage barkcloth is soooo cool. Maybe it’s just nostalgic for me, but I really like it. But DON’T sew endless bias strips together end-to-end! Another commenter included a link about making continuous bias strips. Learn to do this and you may actually go looking for excuses to make bias tape–it will make you feel SO smart.

  13. LinB says:

    Oh, honey, no wonder you dread piping, cutting out and stitching one strip at a time. Let me e-mail you the instructions I sent Lladybird, useful for turning any rectangle into a bias tube, which can then be cut (even rotary cut) into continuous bias strips. I think I filed them under “I don’t know where what to do with these but probably shouldn’t delete them.” [checks] Ja, ja, there they are. It’s so easy and fun to do, sometimes I amuse myself for hours at a time doing nothing but sewing up bias tubes for binding and piping.
    BTW, Caroline (above) is correct: unless you are setting piping or binding on a curve, you can use on-the-grain binding in your applications.

  14. Pearl says:

    The piping was definitely worth it! And since we’re confessing…I’ve often used nylon clothes line cord :0

  15. Catherine says:

    Was about to tell you about continuous binding – but others have beaten me to it! Much quicker AND a more economical method too.

    Love the cushions.

  16. Joanne says:

    Fabulous cushion covers my love. Excellent use of household string right there. True confession from me – I don’t bother to cut fabric strips on the bias when making piping for cushions! Wotcha gonna do bout that then eh?

  17. Julia says:

    Oh dear me, I seem to have stumbled into a den of piping shame. Who knew? I shall resist the urge to make a citizens arrest in the name of the sewing police. Just move along here people, there’s nothing to see, move along. . .

  18. ruthe2013 says:

    Love your cushions, and I have to confess to using string in corded corsets! Just be mindful it will shrink if washed. But hey, i don’t wash corsets…. Do you wash cushions?!

  19. Lisa says:

    I’ll basically use anything I can get my hands on, I’m shameless. I’ve cut off the cord handles of a Monsoon shopping bag and used those for purse making. The same bag also had the print nicked of it for screen printing. As far as I’m concerned, this is the point of being able to make stuff yourself.

  20. What am I going to do about it? Copy the idea! Like several others, I heartily endorse the continuous bias-binding suggestion.

  21. Daniela says:

    I love your cushions and especially the fact that you used the yellow corduroy! Such a lovely combo! I have just started with making the first Christmas presents – also cushions 🙂 I might borrow your idea with the centered buttons and the lovely piping, so cute!

  22. redsilvia says:

    Cute cushions! A little sunshine in time for gray winter.

    I use yarn to make piping, in fact the Simplicity dress that you made me make (because yours was so cute) used old Woolease as the filler. I know cutting bias strips is awful but if you’re using a thin fabric try the continuous method now. So much easier.

  23. What lovely cushions and well worth doing the piping. Love a bit of bark cloth. I’ve been sewing in front of Strictly too. Sadly I was out the room when Ben ‘the torso’ came on.

  24. What a fantastic idea! Absolutely wonderful cushions that will be comfortable too!

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  26. Just wow cushion covers and the color of the cushion covers also nice.

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