Monday, October 20, 2008

Cushion cover tutorial

ETA: I made some more of these and revised a couple of things here.

I made these cushion covers and liked em so much I wrote down the steps in case anyone else is interested. Some of the photos have "notes" on them in Flickr so click on them to see the notes.
Start by cutting out your fabric. I am making a 50cm square cover with 2cm seam allowance so I've cut two 54cm squares.

Overlock (serger) the edges.
Put your front and back pieces right sides together.

Draw a line 2cm from the bottom edge of your cover (the zip will go in this edge).

Put a mark 8cm from each edge. This will be where your zipper starts end ends.
Now we're going to sew along this line and then unpick part of it after we've put the zip in. Doing it this way ensures that the fabric closes over the zipper really neatly.

Using your normal stitch length sew from the edge to the first mark 8cm along.

Stitch backwards for 3 or 4 stitches and then forwards to the mark again.

Change your stitch length to the longest you have and continue sewing to the next mark 8cm from the other edge.

Change your stitch length back to your usual setting and sew forwards 3 or 4 stitches then back to the marker and then forwards again to the end of the fabric.

Press the seam open. The better you press it at this point the better it'll look when it's finished.

Now with the right side down, line your zip up along the stitching line and pin it in place.
Now we're going to sew the zip in place with the right side up (because the stitches on top always look a bit nicer than those on the bottom). You can either baste the zip in place or you can leave the pins in but it could be a bit fiddly taking them out coz they'll be on the underside.
I basted my zip in place by hand.
Now put your zipper foot on your machine and get ready to sew at the edge with the zipper pull.
Now we're going to sew along both sides of the zip and across the ends of it so the stitching line will make a long skinny box around the zip.

Mark your fabric on the right side 8cm from each edge.

Starting at the first mark, sew down one side to the other mark. You should sew quite close to the zip but not super close.
When you get to the second mark, with the needle down, lift the foot and pivot your fabric 90 degrees and sew across the zip. Sew back and forth across the zip again to reinforce it.

Then pivot the fabric again and sew along the other side of the zip to the mark.
Now you need to move the zipper pull before you sew across the zip otherwise you won't be able to open it, disaster!

So, put the needle down and lift the foot and using your unpicker unpick some of the basting stitches and 5cm or so of the stitches that cover the zipper. (see note)
Now push and pull the the zipper pull until it is behind the foot.
Then pivot the fabric and sew across the zip as before.
And that's the zipper done! Give it a nice press to make it sit flat.
Now with the right sides together sew the other 3 seams 2cm from the edge. Pivot the fabric at the corners rather than sewing all the way to the end, it'll make the next bit easier.

Press all the seams open. Go on, I know it's a pain but it'll give you a better finish.
I sewed across the open end of the zip just to hold it together a bit better as it felt like the other seam might need some reinforcement.

Chop off the excess zip at both ends.
Now you could call it a day and your cover would be finished but I didn't like the pointy corners on mine so I sewed across the corners to give the cover a bit of volume.

Here's how I get it nice and square.

Arrange your cover so it's in roughly this shape then stick a pin into the seam and check that it comes out right in the seam at the bottom. Push it back up through the seam again. This should line them up perfectly. If you have a cutting mat with a grid (or graph paper) you can check that it's all square by putting the point on the darker 5cm mark and then making sure the sides cross the 5cm intersections. Umm that's kinda hard to explain, see the notes on the photo.
Now draw your stitching line across the corner. You can make it as deep as you like. I drew my line 3cm from the tip which makes it 6cm long.

Mark all the corners this way then stitch along the lines.
Then overlock (serger) the tips off and you're done!

Give it a really good press and then put your cushion inside it!

I'm using the 50cm feather cushions from Ikea. They're only about $8 (AUD) each and very comfy.

Note that if you can get a zip with a zipper pull that sits really flat and which locks down into place it'll look even better.
Make a whole set!

Fabric from Amitie


  1. Thanks for taking the time to write such a fab tutorial. My girlfriend wants me to make her some cushion covers so I'm bookmarking this one for future reference. I love the way that you did the boxy corners!

  2. I learned how to put zips in like this. One really quick way to 'baste' the zipper in is sticky or masking tape - you can sew right through the tape, and it will rip straight off again at the end :) Love the cushions, and your tutorial is great!

  3. Thanks for the masking tape tip Melanie. I'll have to try that next time.

  4. This is a great tutorial, thanks! I'll be giving it a go for sure.

  5. This is a fantastic tute, thanks so much for taking the time to put it together, I'll be making some for sure!

  6. Thanks to you and your tutorial I have just made a beautiful, very professional looking cushion - thank you!! I've never know how to put in zippers neatly, but now I do!! Onto the next 3 now...

  7. Thanks so much for a wonderful tutorial. I never thought i would be able to make a cushion cover, let alone one with a zipper and now i have two beautiul covers to show. The photos were such a great help. Thanks again

  8. Thanks Helen and anonymous person! I'm so glad that you could use my tutorial! I'm feeling a bit chuffed now :)

    BTW if anything in it is unclear or wrong please let me know.

  9. I just Googled 'Cushion Cover Tutorial' and you're number 2. These cushions are super cute, I have been wanting to do some new covers for a while now so I will see how it all goes!

  10. Wow, my first perfect (near perfect) zip! thanks for your detailed instructions.

  11. What a clever and super easy way to put a zip in!!
    Thanks for taking the time to share it.

  12. yes I've been looking for a really simple explanation for inserting a zip for ages - and its been right here in Melbourne all along! Thanks

  13. Amy these look great
    your instructions are so well done
    i'm adding project to my mental list of things i must make...
    ...maybe in time for a spring bbq

  14. Ahh! Freakin genius! Thanks Amy.

  15. Hi Amy,
    Great instructions. Can you tell us how the zip goes in when one of the cushion sides is piped?

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  17. Great tutorial. Love it how you finished the corners. So easy and it makes a world of difference. Used your tutorial already and will do so again. Thanks for putting it on the net. :)

  18. Hi Laura, I'm afraid I've never made a piped cushion. I've been sitting here thinking about how I'd do it and I'm really not sure. I'd probably have to Google it :) Sorry.

  19. Thank you for this brilliant tutorial, I'm making some new lounge cushions and have never put a zip in cushions before and was searching for a method and came across your site. I've just completed a cushion and it looks great! thanks for all the detail - much appreciated :-)

  20. Thanks for the tutorial, I made a cushion but I think the zip was too long as the zip corners are a bit odd. I want to have another go. Can you tell me the length of zip to use?

  21. Hi Anon,

    Thanks for using my tutorial.

    It doesn't matter if your zip is too long because you can chop off the excess. See in picture 14 in the tutorial, my zip was too long too but I just sewed across it where I wanted the zipper opening to be and then chopped it off a couple of centimetres from that seam.

    I hope that makes sense.


  22. Oh Amy,
    thank you so much for posting this tutorial. Have just made my first two cushions for my new porch basket chair. Thrilled with the results and feeling very enthused about being crafty. I borrowed a friends sewing machine and now am all excited about buying my own. Any suggestions? Also would love some tips on good places to source interesting fabric in melbourne. My creativity has felt a bit thwarted by what I've found so far!

  23. Hi love this tutorial and would like to try. Is this invisible zip or normal zip? thanks.

  24. Hi Eithne, I'm so glad you liked my tutorial, I'm amazed that so many people have used it, I didn't think it'd get much interest :)

    As for sewing machine suggestions, well, I can only comment on the two that I've used which are a three or four year old Janome and a thirty year old Bernina. The Janome is mine and I'm very happy with it, it's just a basic mechanical model with ten or so different stitches. And the Bernina is my grans and is all metal and still works perfectly. If I were looking for a new machine I'd probably go to a good second hand dealer and a shop that sells them new and try out a few different models to get a feel for the differences and to figure out what bells and whistles you do and don't want.

    And fabric stores, well there's Tessuti, Clegs, Darn Cheap Fabrics, Trimmings and Remnants, The Cloth Shop, Patchwork on Central Park, Amitie, Kimono House, umm, that's all I can think of at the moment.

    Thanks for commenting!

  25. Hi Anon, it's a normal zip. An invisible one would look good too but I've never put one of those in.

  26. i have just made my first cushion cover thanks to your tutorial it is great!! thankyou

  27. Hi, thanks so much for the instructions, I can now put a zip in a cushion cover! Woohoo! I made 4 of them on Saturday whilst sat out in the sun, following your very detailed instructions, and they are now pride of place in my lounge! Love your blog!

  28. This tutorial is great and I want to give these cushions a go. Can you advise what the natural looking fabric is you used on the back of the cushions?

  29. I am in the process of making a cushion at the moment but I don't have a machine so am sewing by hand- any tips for inserting a zip by hand or is this impossible? thanks!

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  31. Hi Manifold, I've never inserted a zipper by hand but I think you'd do it exactly the same way as I've described here with a machine. I can't think of any reason why it wouldn't work. Let me know how it turns out :)

  32. A big thankyou for posting this tutorial, I'm a novice sewer and I was able to make my first ever cushion that even has a zip! I've started my own craft journey/blog and have included a link to your wonderful tutorial on there, I hope you don't mind?

  33. I was trying to figure out how to do the box corners - turned to Google and found your great instructions! Thanks!

  34. Thank you, very clear with good pictures, I've got it. Now to go upstairs and do it.

  35. I made to of these covers yesterday and it came out perfectly. Thanks - it's the first time I ever managed to put a zip in neatly

  36. Fantastic tutorial, had 2 cushion covers to make and finished one before I found your instructions on doing the zip! Second cover came out perfectly. Masking tape is an ace tip too, saved bags of time.


  37. This zipper tute is going to change my zipper-putting-in life forever. Thank you SO much. Seriously. I just put in a super mediocre zipper the other day and thought Hmmm. Maybe there's a RIGHT way to do this. And here it is!

  38. Finally an easy to understand AND easy to do tute! Thank you so much.

  39. Thank you for your tutorial, it's fantastic. I bought my daughter her first sewing machine for Chrismas and I've shared the tutorial with her. I suspect the whole family will be getting new cushion covers this year!!!

  40. Thank you so much for this tutorial! I've read other tutorials on this same method but I just couldn't get it to work. Yours really clicked with me and now I have a cushion cover I'm actually proud of!

    Thank you! :)

  41. Talk about a light bulb moment, I have never thought of putting a zip in like that. Fantastic.
    Thank you for being so thoughtful and making the tutorial. Shows a good heart.

    Many thanks, Heather.

  42. Wow, thanks Heather, I think that's the nicest comment I've ever read!

    And thanks to everyone who's commented, I'm so pleased you like it!

  43. Hi, your tutorial saved me too. Thank you. I'm in England, so a long way off from sunny Melbourne. Do you know how to make a round bolster cover, with the ends gathered in under a circular bit of fabric, with no stitching showing? Can't work it out.

  44. Hi Gael, Sorry but I've never made a bolster cushion so I don't have any tips for you. Good luck though.

  45. Thanks for such an awesome tutorial Mildly Crafty. I've never made cushion covers before as I wasn't sure I'd be able to do the zip but after reading this I feel really confident going into it.

  46. Thank you this is really nice and detailed, I'm sure it'll save me a lot of time thinking about how best to approach making the covers!

  47. Thanks sooo much for making the effort to write this fantastic tutorial. I've been wanting to make some outdoor cushions for months but kept putting it off thinking it was too hard, but you've made it super easy! I tried it out with 3 cushions on the weekend & I'm absolutely stoked with the results (even my hard to please mother-in-law was impressed!). Thanks again, Renee :)

  48. I used your tut to make a 1.2m x 1.2m cushion cover in vinyl! My 1971 bernina struggled a bit but the instructions held up and it's proudly on the lounge room floor. A real feeling of accomplishment!
    Thanks Amy, I won't say it was easy, but it was worth it!

  49. thanks 'mildly crafty' i am a novice at sewing but have managed to complete a few cusion covers, with zips!!
    Friends have even commented on how good they look.. i just tell them that your blog showed me how to do it..
    many thanks

  50. lol..thats cushion covers by the way

  51. Great tutorial! Many tutorials do not explain things well, yours did. As a result, I made SIX gorgeous cushions today, including a very hip faux fur one. Thanks for the tips (and thanks to my new Pfaff, which I love) :-)

  52. I found this so clear and helpful, thanks a lot! I just made this cushion:

  53. This tutorial is fantastic. Apart from high-school fabrics classes (a LONG time ago), I'm pretty much a beginner (and a nervous, clumsy one at that) when it comes to sewing. Made my cushion on my brand new Singer, and even managed to do the zip without screwing up! Thanks heaps :)

  54. Thanks for this really clear tutorial. I have just blogged about the cushion that I made using your method- I LOVE it! Thank you thank you thank you!
    (If you're curious you can find mine here:

  55. Thanks so much for this great tutorial. I ran into problems sewing a zip into a delicate piece of vintage fabric and found your site when turning to the WWW for help. Your method has produced beautiful results for me. A thousand thanks for sharing. Hope you have a great day! x

  56. Great tutorial, thank you ..I plan to use zips and put them in your way from now on.

  57. Great tutorial!

    Thanks for Sharing!