Confessions of a Cushion Cheat

This whole post is a cheat.

Firstly my blog site was blocked yesterday, so I couldn’t post or even open the site.

Secondly this post was written in January and I felt it was a bit lightweight at the time.

Thirdly and far more importantly I have been struggling with the “interior design” of my book. I have laid it out in Indesign not once, not twice, but three times. It has been nerve wracking and disappointing and I have relied on a triumvirate of my son Gus, daughter Charlotte and Justin at work to help me work out, occasionally in person and mainly over the phone, what I am doing wrong and how to rectify it. Hours and hours have gone by. This has allowed me scant time for blogging.

So, following my SWAP photos post, because a couple of people admired my cushions, I figured it would be legit to drag the draft out and publish it today. By the way voting is now in swing for anyone registered on the site. There are some great sets – do go and have a look at Artisans’ Square.


Today’s interior fashions are mostly minimalist, supported by a light sludge or slight muds colour schemes. It’s understandable. With our busy, distraction-ridden lives we yearn for peaceful interiors. Additionally, homes are getting smaller and can soon look cluttered.

When we chose our colour scheme at Rainshore we went for grey! Farrow and Ball call these “easy neutrals” and I have to agree. Then, last Christmas, we watched the 2015 Walt Disney/Kenneth Branagh Cinderella (no excuse, the little kids were with their Daddy).

Not only were the clothes absolutely sumptuous (wicked Stepmother and Stepsisters) the interiors are completely over the top and glorious. Lots of pattern, texture and colour. I so enjoyed the riotous clashing and fabulously stylish draping. It is well worth watching if you love clothes and design. The naughty sisters wear gorgeous great knitwear and Cate Blanchett has some of the best hats I have ever seen. To be honest it would be hard to live comfortably in an environment as lively as this.

But we need a bit of excitement and beauty in our homes. Although I hate making household goods with a passion, colourful textiles can make our homes more interesting and personal. In fact if you dress head to toe in navy, maybe having red or yellow in your living room can provide some visual titillation. If it’s a lampshade, a table cloth, curtains or cushions you can change them if they bore or overwhelm you.

I go for cushions every time.

Cushion making
Nice cushions!

Buying lovely ones are expensive, and making them properly is skilled and dull. Here is my cheat.

Buy some inners. I have found cheap polyester ones perfectly OK and you can get packs of six or eight delivered by Amazon.

  1. The key with cushion making is to make the cushion cover smaller than the inner, by as much as 8 cms (3-4cms on each of the four sides). This makes the cushions nice and fat.
  2. Have one edge of the fold so you only need to sew two sides up on your machine.
  3. Press. Trim off the corners and turn the cover right side out and press again, this time folding in the seam allowance on the fourth side.
  4. Stuff the inner cushion in, pin and sew up the final edge by hand with a neat stitch. No zips. Cut open the stitches if they need a wash or if you fancy a change.

Now, I will get back to the book. I have a date with the printer (30 May) to focus my mind.

Do you cheat with cushions?

10 Responses

  1. Viliene

    Yes, I cheat with the zip: I iron the seam allowances where the zip goes, pin the zip under or fix it in position with a bit of glue, sew it in then open the zip, turn to the left side and close the two remaining sides: The cushion is cut on the fold, like you suggested, so that saves one seam.
    Then I only need to close the little bits at the end of the zip with handstiching. This might be faster than your method and you do not need to resew when you have washed the cushions.

  2. Elaine Sabin-Simpson

    That’s the way my mum dealt with cushion covers when I was a kid-I thought it was the only way for years. As you know, I’m also not a fan of making home dec stuff, and quick and dirty suits me best [I also eliminate seams with folds if possible] but I do often bung in a zip as stage one, then fold and sew just two seams. I have a lot of cheap zips lol
    My recent foray into the Great Cushion Cover Swap on The Sewing Place made me feel very inadequate seeing the astonishingly exquisite creations everyone else made. Oh the shame!
    Life really is to short to pipe one or make bloody buttonholes though!
    I’m with you- for splashes of colour, and some nice squishy comfort, fab. As actual luxury decorations which are too precious to dribble on…nah.

  3. Linde

    I buy M&S cheap pillows and sew them down the middle then cut them . They are really full and make good cushion inners.

  4. Emma Gibney

    I use an envelope cushion shape so there’s just an overlap at the back – it does require sewing two hems to start, but then all that’s left is two straight sides to sew. Hard to justify a zip on ikea fabric. Love your colours and certainly adding the Cinderella film to my movie list!

  5. Jay

    Funnily enough I’ve been churning out a few cushions as a way of getting back into sewing without having to spend ages cutting out. These have been zipless, some envelope style some hand closed. We used to have a adequate supply of cushions, but many were enthusiastically ripped and gutted by the dog in his puppy days. Actually zips and even piping isn’t too hard, but I think simple ones are more comfortable, no hard ridges to catch you in the back.

  6. ceci

    Sorry about the book completion growing pains……I’m sure it will come!

    On the cushion front, yesterday I switched off the warm cushion covers for the summer ones and was noticing how shabby the summer ones have become, so the cushion discussion is timely! I am also doing some attic curating and found a carton of curtain fabric remnants so I’m planning a cushion marathon after my current out of town trip. I am of the envelope school of cushion covers, more hemming but no zipper. One of the dogs historically has been a great zipper enemy.


  7. Karen

    ijEnvelope backs all the way. I see them industrial style as I am usually making multiples. I pin all the hems and sew them continuously without cutting the thread between cushions. When all are done, I cut them apart, fold them (pin or don’t pin, whatever you feel like) , and sew up the sides, again continuously just leaving a small gap between covers. Cut apart, turn and your done.

  8. Patricia J Clements

    I have been too enthusiastic making pillows (Yank here from across the Pond) and have more than I need. And…Yes, they all have four seams and zippers–all 16 of them–matching the pattern as I cut the fabric. I did buy the inners; the only sane way to go. You are correct in advising to make the pillow covers smaller than the pillow form.

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