Upcycle Chair Cushions
I must admit that I am a bit of a project non-finisher. I get these grand plans to do a project, then end up getting bored half way through and start on something new. So when Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores asked me to recover two chair cushions, I was pumped to finally finish a chair project I have had “in progress” for literally years. Hey, everyone! It’s Kara from A Kailo Chic Life, and I am going to share how I recovered cushions from my Craigslist chair find using an awesome gray tribal print with DIY coordinating gray tweed piping so that you can get motivated and finally recover that chair you have had sitting in the corner for years too!
While recovering a chair cushion complete with piping detail may seem daunting, if you have moderate sewing skills (i.e. can sew a straight line and have made a simple pillow before), then should have no problem tackling this task.
Begin by measuring the pillows you plan on recovering. I measured the longest side of each pillow then added them together and added another 1/2 yard (for the side pieces) to get my final yardage requirements.
I ended up needing just shy of 2 yards of the main fabric (it is best to go with a heavyweight material for the main cushions), 1/2 yard of fabric for the DIY piping (I used a gray tweed), and 10 yards of 1/4″ cording to complete both of my pillows.
Once I had all my supplies, I began by measuring my pillows and adding 1/2″ to each length and width and cutting the main fabric in this size. For example, my pillow measured 22.5″ by 17.5″, so I cut two pieces (one for the top and one for the bottom of the cushion) at 23″ by 18″. This gave me a 1/4″ seam allowance.
You will also want to cut out your side pieces if your pillows are boxy like mine. Again I measured the length and width and added 1/2″ to each measurement when cutting the fabric. I ended up needing two long strips per pillow, so I took my total length and divided it in two and then cut two pieces with this length plus the 1/2″ seam allowance. Then I sewed the ends of the pieces together to create a long strip that was 1/2″ longer than I needed to go all the way around the edge of the pillow.
The final cut will be the material that you will make into the piping. You will want to cut 2″ strips of the piping fabric and then sew all the ends together to create a super long continuous strip of material. I needed 10 yards, so I stopped when my piping fabric strip was roughly 10+ yards.
Now that all your supplies are cut, it is time to make your piping. Add your cording to the middle of your piping fabric strip and fold over the fabric to create a casing for the cording. Use a zipper or cording foot with the needle moved as close to the cording as possible and baste stitch (on the longest stitch setting) the fabric to create your piping. Continue until all of your cordings is covered.
Now it is time to sew your pillow covers. Begin by pinning the piping in-between the top cushion fabric and the side cushions fabric. You want to make sure the piping is facing inwards like so:
Work your way around the cushion pinning the pieces together and then (still using the zipper or cording foot), stitch around the pinned edge. When you get to the end, you can sew your side pieces together to complete the edge. Now repeat the process with the bottom fabric while leaving one edge fully open so you can insert your pillow.
Once you have sewn all but one side, turn the case right side out and insert your chair cushion. Then use a needle and thread to whip stitch the opening closed. Repeat with the other cushion for the back of the chair and you’re done!
I was originally going to try a gold piping, but I felt the gray tweed coordinated better with the main fabric. But feel free to mix it up by choosing a bright solid color for the piping to give your chair and a little flair.
I hope you all now feel inspired to try your hand at recovering that chair or bench cushion that has gotten dingy or is just out of date. I have to say, while I was dreading having to sew the new covers for the longest time, I am SO happy with the results. Now I am itching to try my hand at making a few more pillows with piping detail!