Tuesday, April 23, 2013

six cushions only took ten years. now you make some.



Nine years, eleven months, twenty-six days
to carefully think about it.
Four days to make.

I love them. My tush loves them. The girls both said, 'Wow, Mom, our chairs feel so GOOD now.' Poor kids. Looking on the bright side, I guess sitting on hard chairs may have built some character along the way. The chairs were purchased about ten years ago from Crate & Barrel and they are, in fact, pretty booty-friendly, even without the cushions. But it was time.

 I love that 'booty' is in my dictionary. 'Shake one's booty'. *snort*

Anyways, all the cushions have wild, patterned fabrics from my stash on one side,

and conservative black ticking on the other. 
I guess that kind of makes them the mullet of chair cushions.


If you want to make some similar ones, first you'll need to make a pattern from your chair:


There's a glimpse of my messy studio. I haven't cleaned up from cushion construction. I fling leftovers across the room as I go to keep them out of my way and off the work surface, and I honestly try to aim for the trash can with scraps, but mostly I miss. It's a pay-the-piper situation.

As you can see, I find it helpful to make construction notes to myself on the pattern as I go. That way if I use the pattern again I can avoid all the really goofy mistakes I made the first go round.

I measured the width and depth of my chair seats, then added about an inch all round to compensate for the stuffing. You'll also need to add the seam allowance (I used 3/8 inch, the same size as the flange on the piping to keep things simple). I made a paper pattern from those measurements and added rounded corners.


I wish I had made the sides of my pattern a bit more curved, because after you stuff the cushion the sides pull inward a bit. So you will do a better job than me.

Adding the holes for the buttons makes it easy to mark the placement on the right sides of the fabric when you trace and cut. Don't use a disappearing marker because who knows how many years days will go by before you actually finish the cushion, and you don't want the marks to vanish. I used a sharpie marker, which was fine because the marks are hidden under the buttons.


Plan to make a test cushion or two in order to work out the optimal size for the pattern and make adjustments. I like a chair cushion to be pretty much the same size as the chair bottom, not spilling over the edges or looking shrunken. Here's a test cushion I made that was pieced. (It used to be stuffed and have buttons but I robbed it all to use with the final cushions.) The final design is not pieced because I decided piecing + piping + 8 buttons x 6 cushions = Crazy Town.


You'll need to gather:
  • Fabric for tops and bottoms (Decor weight works best, but I used quilting cotton on some of mine. You can always add fusible interfacing to beef it up.)
  • Eight self-cover buttons for each cushion you make. I used 7/8 inch buttons on mine.
  • One-inch wide cotton webbing or ribbon for the straps. I used about 20 inches per cushion (four 5-inch pieces), but that will vary for you because your chairs are different.
  • Velcro for closures (see note below about using a long piece as opposed to a square)
  • One package of premade piping for each cushion (Jo-Ann had a nice selection of Wrights bias piping, which comes 2 1/2 yards per package. I had about 18 inches leftover from mine, so this should cover a variety of cushion sizes.)
  • Scraps of fabric to match your piping for the self-covered buttons
  • Bags o' stuffing. I used 2 1/2 large bags (32 oz) of Polyfil stuffing for six cushions, and I probably err on the understuffed side. I really hate to stuff things.
Once you get your pattern figured out, the process of making them is pretty easy.

Cut lengths of cotton webbing or sturdy ribbon for the velcro straps. You'll need two pairs for each cushion. Use this formula for sizing:

Length needed to wrap around chair back and overlap opposite velcro
1/2 inch for finished edge 
1/2 inch for seam allowance

*** Late Note *** After some real-life road testing, I've found it's probably better to use a longer piece of velcro (as opposed to a square) unless your house contains only placid adults who move with quiet grace, and do not squirm and fidget. Otherwise, a longer piece of velcro with more overlap will provide a more secure fastening.

To make the straps, press over 1/2 inch of one end. Tack with a dot of glue, then sew the velcro square so that it covers the cut edge.


Trace and cut out two pieces of fabric for each cushion from your pattern and mark the button placement on the right sides.

Glue baste the piping round the edges of one of the cushion halves (using the same method I used in my Four Leaf pillow tutorial) except if you used a 3/8" seam allowance you can glue the piping so it is flush with the raw edge of the material. Snipping the flange around the corners makes it easy to curve the piping.


Using a zipper foot, sew the piping down just a few inches along the back of the cushion half, so that when you hand sew the opening together later you won't be juggling loose piping as well as two layers of fabric. You can also take this opportunity to sew a corresponding line along the seam allowance on the other piece of fabric, so you can use that as a guide when you hand stitch it closed later. I highly recommend that.


Next glue baste the straps on with 1/2 inch overlapping the seam line, two straps per corner, one with fuzzy and one with prickly. Make sure that in each corner one strap is basted on with the velcro up and the other with the velcro down - learned that the hard way.


Glue-baste the other piece of fabric on top of that, right sides together, leaving an 4 inch opening in the center back so you can stuff it later. Pin for extra security. Using your zipper foot, sew as close to the piping as you can, all the way around except for the opening. Be sure to backstitch at beginning and end.


Notch the curved corners and turn it right side out through the opening. I always love that part.

Now set up your iPad on your work surface with Doctor Who Season 2 streaming (that last bit is optional) and stuff and stuff and stuff, until each cushion has a nice shape and is filled out but still pretty spongy. Add the buttons at this point. Thread a doll needle with a long piece of embroidery floss, doubled.

Go into the pillow at the mark you made, then out of the pillow at the corresponding mark on the other side. Thread on a button (which you have already covered in matching fabric). Go back through the pillow very close to where you came out, and come out on the other side very close to where you came in. Cut off your needle and tie a very tight square knot with the loose ends, pulling the floss as tight as you can to create a tuft. Tie an extra knot for security. Then thread on another button, tie another tight square knot and trim the ends so they are hidden behind the button. Repeat for the other three sets of marks.

The diagram shows a single strand going in and out of the pillow, but it will in reality be two strands since you've doubled your floss.


Now stuff more until the pillow is just the right shape and firmness all over. When you are done, pin the opening shut with your seam allowance tucked inside (aren't you glad you sewed the guideline there now?) and hand sew the opening closed. Finished!



Now go put them on your chairs and sit down a while.

35 comments:

  1. These turned out so awesome. Thanks for the tute. I have always wondered how people put buttons on cushions like that!

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    1. Hey, Skooks! Thanks! That's my method anyway. Might be a better one out there, but it works for me.

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  2. these are so adorable! i might make one for my sewing chair xD

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    1. Hey, jessewonderland, thank you! If you make one, show me a picture!

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  3. I love a good ten-year-long project! I have a few of those. Also a pile of 'boo boo' projects, as my daughter calls them. I call them problematic projects. :) Great result!

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    1. :-) Thank you! Glad to see I'm not reigning alone as Queen of Procrastin Nation.

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  4. I snickered at the "mullet of cushions" line. Hilarious! They turned out great!

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    1. LeeAnn, unfortunately I had a mullet in high school, so I know all about it. :-)

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  5. Love them. They look great. Love the colored buttons! Come on over to my house so we can make some together, okay? :-) My mom came to my house to help make curtains one time. It was so much more fun together!

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    1. Mama Pea, thank you! Ooh, sewing party, sounds so fun! I don't ever get to sit with other ladies and sew.

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  6. These are really great! I certainly don't have the patience with the stuffing / buttoning, but they are so cute it might be worth it! :)

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    1. emedoodle, I totally relate. That is partly why it took so long for me to buckle down and make them. But I am glad I did.

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  7. Fantasic!
    it would be great if it was translate :-)

    Please.....

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    1. Barbara, I added the translate gadget at the top right! Enjoy!

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  8. I am totally in love with those! Even more I love that you aren't afraid to play with color and they all look so good together! I want to do something similar to our master bedroom....can you come to my house next time you are in town :-)

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    1. Hey, Kristin, thank you! I worried over it for far too long and in the end my brain disengaged and that's how I ended up with the colors. I recommend you just close your eyes and choose from a bag. Ha!

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  9. I love it! They are seriously gorgeous! I have been wanting to cover my ikea cushions for about two years, and finally finished them. They aren't amazing, but I am really sad that it took me so long to just do it. It did not even take that long to do!

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    1. Hey, Megan, thanks! I pondered doing that same thing, but the IKEA cushion was square and my chairs are not! Congratulations on gettin' er done.

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  10. Mullet of chair cushions! Wa ha ha ha! These are much more gorgeous than a mullet. Lucky for you, after all that work. Fabulous.

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    1. Thanks for thinking they are indeed nicer than a mullet, Jessica! I surely do. However, my judgement and taste are forever suspect after actually having had a mullet my entire sophomore year.

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  11. These are so fantastic!! I've been mulling & mulling what to do with my kitchen chairs too... I think I would cry the first time someone spilled something on cushions this nice, so I will continue mulling.

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    1. Amy, ha ha! I have two words for you: Scotch Gard. Also, the prints are so busy I am hoping they will be forgiving as far as splashes go. Fingers crossed.

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  13. You are hilarious.
    I just started sewing and will probably never make a chair cushion (well never say never, these are fabulous). Even so, found myself reading (almost) every word of your tutorial solely for entertainment, which says something as I find it hard to make myself read most tutorials that I have vested interest in.
    I have a lot of half finished projects.
    Wish everyone made the boring part as entertaining as you do... Keep up the good work!

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    1. Hey, thanks, Nicole! I appreciate your feedback! In sewing, sometimes you have to laugh so you won't cry. Ha!

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  14. just what i was looking for, but am a beginner need more help on how to do the button part!

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    1. Hey, Stephanie,
      May I suggest googling 'how to button tufts'? That may give you several sources to view, including YouTube videos.

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  15. Your cushions are great, I'll have to give that a try (after Christmas).
    Joyce

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  16. So adorable! These are much better than a mullet.Leather Button Beds

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  17. I realize I'm late to the party, but I LOVE these and want to try making them. I have some material for the tops, and am wondering if you can recommend a place online to order some fabric for the bottom. I want something contrasting, maybe a wide orangey stripe

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    1. Hey, Pamela! Ticking is usually available at your local fabric store, it's pretty common. However, I've never seen orange ticking so you may have to do some looking around to find exactly what you want, locally or online. I've found lots at fabric.com or fabricworm.com. For instance I searched orange stripe at fabric.com:
      http://www.fabric.com/SearchResults2.aspx?Source=Header&SearchText=orange+stripe&CategoryID=1d5f47dc-9991-4088-93f3-26a376046a5e

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  18. Hi Larissa, these are more than fabulous. I am so inspired and cant wait to get started ! For now there are only 2 chairs cushions to be made (hopefully will not take 5 years!) . Thank you again for your patience in posting these ! Candace

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    1. Hi, Candace, thanks so much! You probably have a lot more follow-thru than me, so no worries! Ha. I'm sure your cushions will be great.

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  19. I just stumbled across this tutorial while looking for seat cushions. I had bought some fabric to cover some old upholstered chairs, decided against the chairs, but now have stools I want to make cushions for using the same fabric. This is awesome (and your sense of humor exactly matches mine! yikes) right along with looking at your finger wrinkles and wondering if they match mine before even reading your comment! Thank you and I will be making these! (but only 4, thank god!)

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    1. Hey, Lynne in Seattle. I'm glad to know someone else has ET hands. Good luck with your cushions! I'm still enjoying mine. Worth the effort.

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