How to Make Cushion Covers

What You'll Need
Sewing Scissors
Cushion insert or stuffing

Making your own cushion covers is far less expensive than purchasing them ready made. It's easier to get the right colors too, as there are countless fabrics to choose from. Mix and match fabrics and colors, or keep it simple. Either way, the end result will be something to be proud of. Cushions can be just about any shape, but we'll start with the simplest one, square.

Square Cushion

Square cushion inserts can be purchased in basic sizes ranging from 12" to 20". These are easy to work with and keep their shape for quite some time. A cushion cover should be the same size as the insert so that the fit is snug. Allow for an extra 1/2" for the hem when measuring out fabric. If a cushion insert isn't being used, there are many fillings to choose from, including polyester, foam rubber, and polystyrene beads.

Cutting and Assembling the Cushion

  • Cut two squares with hemming included. If you don't have a sewing machine or an over-locker, pinking shears can be used to cut the fabric to reduce fraying.
  • Once the two pieces have been cut out, pin and then tack the two pieces together by hand, using a large stitch; so that the thread can be pulled out easily. This helps to keep the two pieces together when sewing. So the tacking is easier to see, it's better to use a contrasting color thread.
  • Leave an opening large enough to fit the zipper. The zipper needs to have 1/2" to 1" allowance either side.
  • So that the fabric doesn't fray, you'll need to sew around the edges, if you have the equipment, do a zigzag stitch with a sewing machine, or use an over-locker. If the fabric pieces have been cut with pinking shears, it isn't necessary to sew around the edges.
  • If the cushion covers are being sewn by hand and you don't have pinking shears, the hem can be folded over twice with the cut edge tucked underneath. Alternatively, a zigzag stitch can be hand sewn. Iron the hem flat before stitching the hem down.
  • Fit the zipper before finally sewing the covers together. Iron the hem to give a straight edge to work along. If you want to hide the zipper slide, a small folded piece of fabric can be sewn across the end where the slide will sit. Do the slide cover before sewing the zipper to the cover. 
  • Always assemble and sew the cushion cover inside out.

Design Tips

  • Make cushions using alternate colors either side, such as, red and black, or two shades of blue.
  • Use different fabrics with different textures, linen one side, cotton the other.
  • Iron-on appliques can spruce up a plain piece of fabric. Even if in the same color.
  • Rope edgings, cords, tassels, ribbons, lace, and fringing can easily be sewn on by hand, or glued on with fabric glue. Iron-on is also available.
  • Rhinestones, jewels, sequins, beads, buttons, flowers, and bows add nice accents. Sew or glue on. Some are made to be ironed on.