Making Do: Outdoor Cushion Renewal

My old patio chair cushions were really showing wear last year.  They were faded and starting to fray in areas.  I'd patched them in the past but this time, I knew they really were done when the season was over, so I planned to buy new ones.  However, I was looking at the old cushions and it occurred to me to reuse the filler form and make new covers using an indoor/outdoor table cloth I'd purchased last year at Aldi for $4-$7 I think.  I'd bought two, meaning to use them as curtains on my front porch to block the sun but honesty they seemed a bit busy to have such a big space of pattern stretched out.

Well there was the fabric I needed.  I had enough fabric to make four cushion covers and a small tablecloth for the café table on the back porch.

I used the old cover as a guide and the form as my pattern.  I allowed for 1/2 seam allowances on the cushions.  I positioned two of them so the front of the cushion was on the fold of the fabric but couldn't do all four that way. 

So I cut my forms.  Next I sewed around three sides, allowing for 1/2 inch seams.

Next I looked over the old cover and noted that they'd sewn a straight seam catty corner over the corner to give a clean square edge at the front of the pillow.  I did the same. I pulled the corner up and laid it flat, with seams in the middle of the corner, then sewed a straight seam diagonally across that. This was easier on those that were cut with the fold at the front edge.  It took a little calculating and opening of seams to lie flat before I could do it on the other two.  They have a nice crisp corner at the edge.

Then I used the old cover as a guide to figure out the placement of the back curve and the ties.  I'll share how I made the ties here in a little bit.  I confess this part took some practice. I went too far and had to rip out some seams, my least favorite job of all when sewing.  I did better on the last two than on the first two.

                                          following the curve of the back of the cushion

After the ties were placed and the back curves sewn, I closed the top of the pillow.  Again, this took a little practice.  I had it just right by the time I did the fourth pillow.  I had a lot more seam allowance than 1/2 inch here. I folded in the edges and tucked them in nice and deep trying to leave as little seam outside as I could manage and get a nice straight edge.  This took a little trial and error but I didn't rip out seams on this part.  After all, I don't expect anyone to be peering that closely at the back edges of the cushions!

That finished the cushion off nicely!

Now let me tell you how I made the ties.  I cut strips of fabric about 1 inch wide and about 14 inches long.  I didn't use a straight edge just eyed it so not every one of my ties is the exact same. However, this worked out rather well overall.

I folded under the shortest ends first and hemmed them.

Then I laid the strip flat, and folded one edge over so that it fell in the middle of the strip.  I sewed down that edge.  I did the same to the other side. 

Then I folded the strip in half , with the sewn edges together.

  I used the previous sewing line as my stitch guide.  I found it easiest to start the strip with about an inch protruding from the back of the presser foot.  I could not feed this thin strip through unless I did this.  I sewed down the length of the strip.  Then I clipped threads, and turned it around.  I started just a little above where I'd begun stitching the first portion and closed the last inch or so.  This gave me a neatly finished tie.

The ties are folded in half lengthwise and then you sew across them to anchor them into the cushion seam, as you are sewing that deep curve.  I chose to go over and back up and sew over again to reinforce the hold.

This appears to be the only photo I took with the ties sewn into the cushion. 

All in all I was pretty pleased.  The first two cushions and four ties took about one and half hours, from cutting to sewing.  The last two and four ties took me  thirty minutes but by that point I knew just what worked and why and it made the going a lot easier.

So for $4-$7 and 3 hours of my time, I have four brand new cushions for the porch furniture.  I'm half tempted to take the other tablecloth and sew four more cushion covers for the patio set now that I've done this, because it truly went so well.  I'd planned to buy paint but I can't buy enough paint for the same cost as the tablecloth and I must say the cushions look so neat I'm ready to jump right on makin the next set!


Anonymous said...

Terri, You've encouraged me to give a go at sewing new cushion covers for 2 outdoor chairs (I got an outdoor metal w/ glasstop table for free from the neighbors who were getting rid of it last year to get a new one, and then I scored 2 metal tie-cushioned chairs for free from some people up the street who were giving them away for free!!) as well as 2 large cushions with loonnnnng zippers as well as 2 small cushions (also with zippers) for a love seat we have on our deck. Never thought to use tablecloth for fabric but this has me thinking....I have fabric for some but not for ideas are stirring for me on fabric for the rest--thanks for the inspiration!!! I'm not much of a seamstress but used to sew when I was younger (and I come from a long line of very good seamstresses so I'm hoping it's in my genes somewhere???? haha!!). I'll have to post in mid-May if I get them done! I'm needing to spruce up our outdoors space this year on a very tiny budget! Plan to refurb the table to make it look like the $300-500 ones I saw at the local hardware store over the weekend!! *l love the challenge to see what I can do* Heidi in Canada

Sew Blessed Maw [Judy] said...

Beautiful job.. and they look so pretty. Know your porch will be so inviting.. Can't wait for the "Coffee/Tea Chat with Terri".. [just know,we will be sitting on that beautiful porch , enjoying these cushions. smile.
Thats a great idea, to make the other cushions, while its on your mind and they will go much quicker..
Great price, using tablecloths..

Kathy said...

They look great! What a good idea to turn them into cushions and tablecloth. I know you will enjoy them this summer.

Little Penpen said...

Nice!! I bought a colorful tablecloth from goodwill to do the same!!

beckyathome said...

It's always so much easier to sew anything the second time around. Now you are a cushion-sewing pro with all that practice, and can make as many as you want, and I'll bet pretty fast, too. They turned out so nice looking. That print is a wonderful choice for cushions. I enjoyed seeing them.

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