Saturday, September 29, 2018

Ridiculously Easy Zippered Cushion Covers (with lovely Sharp Corners)

I spent Thursday this week at the Royal Melbourne Show, at the Spotlight Inspiration Space, showing people how to make cushion covers. I promised a free tutorial on my blog, so here it is (sorry - a day later than planned!).

The method I chose was one that hid a multitude of sins if a beginner were to give it a go. There is a zipper, but it's well-hidden beneath a wide overlap of fabric. And of course, I included tips to make the whole process a lot easier and faster than you'd think. And of course, I used fusible/hemming tape (I always use fusible tape).


1 x Square cushion insert (any size)
1 x dress zipper - at least 10cm (4'') longer than the cushion insert
Hemming tape/fusible tape/cut a strip of Vliesofix (Bondaweb)
Thread to match back fabric (see below)

Fabric -
FRONT- Cut a square of fabric 4 to 5cm (1.5 '' to 2'') longer and wider than the cushion insert.
Eg. For a 41 x 41cm cushion insert, I cut a 45 x 45cm square of fabric.

BACK - Cut fabric same width as front, but cut length 7cm (a little less than 3'') longer. (Length doesn't have to be a very accurate 7cm measurement - a little more or less wont hurt).


1. On the back fabric, divide the length (including the extra 7cm) into thirds. Round this measurement to the nearest centimetre or half-inch, and cut 1/3 from one end of the backing fabric.

2. On the bigger piece (we'll call it the bottom piece) of the backing fabric, lay the zipper face down along the cut edge. Align the edge of the zipper tape with the edge of the fabric, with the end stopper of the zipper at least 2cm (3/4'') from the side edge of the fabric. The head of the zipper should be hanging off the other end of the fabric.

3. Using a zipper foot, stitch the zipper to the fabric.

4. Turn the zipper to the right side, and all the seam allowances will fold underneath the fabric side of this seam. Topstitch along the edge of the fabric - about 2mm (a generous 1/16'') from the seam.

5. With right sides of fabric together, place the smaller piece (we'll call it the top) over the zipper. Align the cut edge of the fabric and the zipper tape, and check that the side edges of the smaller and larger pieces align on both side seam edges. Stitch the zipper tape into place along the fabric edge.

6. Place the square front piece on the table and then place the back (zippered) piece over the top, right side facing up. Align the bottom edge of the back with the bottom edge of the front and smooth the back piece over.

7. Now align the top edge of the back piece with the top edge of the front, allowing the extra fullness to fall over the zipper area.

Use your hands - and then an iron - to flatten this fullness into an overlap over the zipper. If your fabric is in any way delicate, use a pressing cloth under the iron when you press.

8. Fold back the top piece so that you can see the seam where it attaches to the zipper. Place hemming tape (or fuse paper-backed fusible tape, or a strip of fusible webbing) along the seam (taking care not to let it overhang the edge of the zipper tape and stick to your ironing board).

7. Fold the top of the cushion back into place and press it again. This will stick the fabric into place exactly where you need to sew it.

8. To make it easier still, feel through the fabric for the top edge of the zipper chain and run your thumbnail along, to mark a line to follow with your stitches.

9. Use a zipper foot and stitch along the thumbnail-indented line.

10. Open the zipper  little way and then align the open ends as if the zipper were closed. Stitch through the overlapped fabric, across the ends of the zipper. You can now safely trim those zipper ends off (without risking accidentally losing the zipper head).

Hurrah! you've inserted a zipper!

11. With right sides together, match the back to the front, aligning all the edges. Take one (any) side and seam it together with a 12mm (1/2 '') seam allowance, backtacking/backstitching at each end of the seam. Don't pivot and turn the corner... this is where the "neat corner" trick comes in!

12. Overlock/serge/zigzag the raw edge of the seam allowance.

If your fabric type is not likely to fray during laundering (eg, gentle handwash or dry clean only), you can skip this step, but if you are using a fabric that will be put into a washing machine, it's always a good idea to finish the seams.

13. Fold the seam over - right on the seamline - and stitch the next seam, capturing the folded seam allowance. Overlock/serge/zigzag that edge.

14. Continue folding, seaming and finishing each edge until all four sides of the cushion cover are sewn.

15. Turn through the corners:
Push your index finger right up into one of the corners, with the inside (fingerprint) facing the folded seam allowance. Fold the other seam allowance over the top of the first, and hold it with the thumb of the same hand (basically making an OK hand-sign with fabric in between).

Pinch your fingers together with the folded seam allowances in between, holding them as close to the corner point as you can, then flip the fabric through to show the right side (don't stop pinching the corner).

Voila! Sharp corners! (This works on fine fabric for collars and cuffs, too - anywhere where the build-up of bulky seams doesn't matter.)

16. Press the seams flat and then press the cushion cover.

17. Pop the cushion insert in and do up the zipper.

18. Feel a bit clever and make lots more cushion covers. Play with embellishment ideas.

And have a great weekend. xx


A Peppermint Penguin said...


méri said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Méri Almeida said...

welcome back to the blog Nikki and thanks a lot for this tutorial wich I'll save - in need of some pillows
xx méri (remember me?? :) )

Jan said...

Hi, Nikki, thanks for this -I've always struggled with zips and sharp corners. I'm looking forward to the return of my sewjo and making some new cushions. Jan xx

Ruth said...

Hi Nikki, thanks for this tutorial, a great way of inserting a zipper in a cushion cover, and a way of achieving neat, sharp corners!
I have saved this tute for future reference,
Cheers, Ruth.

Fiona said...

I am about to make cushions for my new single recliners x2, a three seater couch and a two seater couch, so u can see I need to make several, was going to make simple envelope style until I saw this so thank you Nikki.