How To Cover An Outdoor Chair Cushion – Outdoor patio cushions take a beating from the elements. We all face the decision to either buy new or restore your outdoor cushions. Unfortunately, the cost of replacing the pad is high. After thinking about it, I decided to use my sewing machine and try to recover the pads.
I wish I could tell you that this was a quick and easy project 🙂 , but the truth is, it took me several days to complete all eight pillows. There are some simple ways to sew a patio cushion, but I really like piping. I used a durable thick outer fabric and added zippers so they would be easy to wash. Here is the process I used to tackle this project.
How To Cover An Outdoor Chair Cushion
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The fabric on my old pillows was very thin and soft. I chose to buy a strong fabric that can be used in wet environments. This fabric can be a little more difficult to work with than your average outdoor fabric, but for good reason. It’s vinyl on the back and canvas on the front. I am very pleased with the weight, quality and price of this material.
When tested for waterproofing it did not absorb water and when dry there was no sign of water. It is supposed to be waterproof, stain resistant and 100% polyester. I’m not sure how it holds up with the sun’s UV, but I’ll post an update after a while to let you know. I ordered 10 yards and it came in one solid piece. I only used about 8 yards for 8 pillows.
I was able to make 4 pillow sets (8 pillows total) for the price of 1 set and I am confident that my pillows are of the highest quality.
I wanted to use the old pillows as a pattern for the new ones, so I painstakingly recreated a base and pillow. I removed the old zippers and used them on the new cushions.
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To remove the zipper, use a seam ripper. Start at one corner and pull the fabric and thread out. Then use a nail clipper to cut the thread. When you open a corner, you can fold both sides of the fabric to prevent the threads from breaking.
When I removed the zipper, I removed the foam inside the pillow and replaced it with my new pillow covers. Then I finished separating the fabric panels. I removed the excess threads and examined the old fabric.
Lay your old fabric over the new and cut around it to create your new panels. Then the hair straightener. If you are using the same fabric as I used, be careful to iron on the canvas side of the fabric. The back of the fabric is vinyl and will tear if you iron it. Also, don’t leave the iron in one place for too long, as this will damage the fabric.
Then lay your fabric on a flat surface and mark your seam allowance. My seam allowance was 3/8″. I used a clear acrylic ruler to mark my seam on the back of the fabric with a Sharpie Ultra Fine Marker. Make sure you are on the back of the fabric.
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I used a light cream colored fabric for my piping. Use your light ruler to cut 2 1/4″ wide strips of fabric. If your piping length is longer than your fabric strip, join the 2 strips by sewing the corners together.
Then sew the fabric strips around your pipe with a cord foot or zipper foot. Then go back and cut the seam allowance to 3/8.
Take one last piece of your fabric, right side facing right, and tuck the piping into the bottom edge of the panel. The good side of the fit is in the center of the fabric and the seam allowance is on the edge.
Use the zipper foot to start sewing on your piped fabric. You want to sew close to your piping for a clean look. I always start narrow and work my way up the curve.
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Also sew the end of your tube as we will need to close it later. Start a few centimeters from the edge.
When you get the curve, fold the tube into the seam allowance so that the needle moves smoothly along the edge. Lower the needle, then lift the presser foot to turn the fabric.
When you sew almost all the way, stop about two centimeters from the end of the tube. Back row. Then remove the fabric from the sewing machine.
Pull the fabric away from the thread on both sides. Line up the wire, trim and trim off the excess.
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Then cut off the excess fabric from the last side of the piping fabric that you sewed, leaving enough extra to cover the end of the fabric. Now cut the other side of the fabric slightly longer than the end of the thread. Fold one side of the tube down and place the other side on the edge.
Don’t forget to sew backwards at each end. You need to repeat this process on both ends of the garment.
Take your original fabric panel with an iron seam allowance at each end and place it under the zipper. Make sure the right side of the zipper and fabric is facing. Straighten the edge of the fabric, leaving a little room for seam allowance.
Then use the zipper foot to sew along one edge of the zipper. Be sure to sew backwards at the beginning and end of the zipper.
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Now close the zipper and sew the other side about two inches. Make sure the backing fabric is out of the way so it doesn’t catch on the needle. Sew back to close the thread at the beginning and end, then remove from the machine.
Open the zipper completely, bring the bottom fabric to the outside, and finish sewing the rest of the zipper. Be sure to sew backwards at the beginning and end.
Turn your fabric inside out. Attach one of the end panels to the main panel with a seam allowance using a stapler. I find it easiest to set up the stapler and push all the way into the tube and then staple.
Start sewing at the corner of the zipper, as this is the hardest area to sew. Then work around the panel.
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Put your stapled panel back into the sewing machine and start sewing your seam. I always start in the middle of the tunnel and then work around the corners/curves. I use my zipper foot and sew as close to the piping as possible. This will give you a nice finish.
When you get to the zipper, if your fabric is too thick, you can remove the back seam. Reboot after zip. Be sure to go back and sew the zipper part by hand.
I highly recommend this video before you start sewing your end panel. This will help you understand the basket weaving technique.
When sewing around curved areas, place clip slots on the seam so it lies flat for you. Curves are easier to control if sewn slowly.
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Then, before attaching the second side panel, open the zipper. Otherwise, you won’t be able to turn your fabric right side out. Then attach the other end panel with a stapler. Now sew the other end panel.
Finally, turn the pillow right side out. At this point you will want to check your tube. Sometimes if your zipper foot isn’t close to the piping, the piping won’t stick to the fabric and it won’t look good. If you have this problem, note where it is, flip your cover over and put that area back on. Be sure to sew backwards at the beginning and end of the area.
Fold the foam in half and slide it through the zipper opening. Then go in and around the foam to set it up. Flash it up and you’re done!
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