How to make cushion covers for outdoor furniture

This month we are focussing our attention on cushion covers, so I wanted to take a closer look at how to make cushion covers for outdoor furniture.

At Lazy Susan we have a great collection of outdoor cushions that are specifically designed to fit perfectly on all our different styles of outdoor chairs and benches.

They’re weather-proof and the covers themselves are easy to remove and machine washable.

We looked at cleaning and maintenance in our recent How to clean outdoor furniture cushion covers post, so I won’t repeat myself. However, you can easily remove the fabric from the foam pad via a zip to wash, repair and refresh if need be. 

Our outdoor cushion collection can also be tied on to perfectly fit any of our Lazy Susan chairs, seats and benches too. So even if the wind picks up, they aren’t going to blow off or slide off when you’re sitting on them. An important feature that many overlook when purchasing or making new.

In this post I want to focus more on making your own… 

Whilst I’m confident we have a great product in a range of great outdoor colours, you may want to liven things up, put your personal stamp on our furniture. 

You may even have a set of our cushions where the pads are still in good condition, which is often what we find, but the covers are starting to look a little worn. 

Make do and mend as they say!

Outdoor fabric trends

Outdoor fabric has made significant strides even in the ten plus years or so I’ve been in the outdoor furniture industry. 

In fact a whole outdoor soft furnishing boom has sprung up in that time, from outdoor rugs and drapes to sofa style cushions and day beds.

The quality of the fabric has come on in leaps and bounds with brands such as Sunbrella leading the way in terms of technical innovation and creative on-trend textile designs.

As we spend more time at home (especially in 2020) and in our gardens, there’s greater demand to make our outdoor spaces as ‘liveable’ as possible. 

In the UK we’ve always been a little behind the curve when it comes to outdoor living, we simply don’t have the climate. However, that has shifted dramatically in recent years. We want to bring the inside out and vice versa. 

And better products are helping us to do that…

In fact, such as the leap in our industry, many interior furniture manufacturers are utilising outdoor textiles for pieces designed for the inside of our homes too.

Maybe at Lazy Susan we’ve played it a little safe. However, our cushion collection is based on what sells. Who’s to say that won’t change though, we are always looking ahead. 

Plus, if you do want to go for more of a fad trend, then making your own covers is a great way to achieve it. 

You don’t need to be a master of the needle and thread too, as long as you can run a straight line on a sewing machine, you’re good to go. 

In fact, there’s some great how to videos that I will also share in this article that have helped even a novice like I to achieve great results!

Let’s face it, cushions are quick and easy to make, and perfect for brightening up your patio/garden furniture…

Slip Stich Method for Outdoor Cushion Covers

A slip stitch is basically an invisible seam. It is particularly useful for closing up openings in cushions and stuffed toys, and the slip stitch is sewn from the outside of a seam to give a neat finish. 

The downside is it permanently sewn shut. If that’s not an issue, then this is the easiest of the different methods we’ll look at today.

The video above from Rokolee DIY gives you a great basic overview, whilst the How to make a cushion cover article from gathered.com is a great comprehensive step by step how to.

Envelope Method for Outdoor Cushion Covers

For those new to the sewing machine, this is the method and video for you. Envelope cushion covers are removeable, so you can slip them off and pop in the washing machine if need be, however, they don’t require sewing on the dreaded zip! This sewing tutorial from Jann Newton from Newton Custom Interiors explains how simple they are to make.

Button Close Cushions for Outdoor Cushion Covers

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Another popular finishing style and a step on from the above is the button close cushion covers. If you go down this route I would opt for some chunky bright buttons to create a design statement. This detailed video from Debbie Shore shows you how to achieve some wonderful shabby chic covers.

Zip Close Cushions for Outdoor Cushion Covers

Here we have a great video from Treasurie that shows you how to make a zippered cushion cover that even beginners can sew. All you need to do is cut 2 pieces of fabric the same size as your foam insert pad for a tight cover or add 1/2 inch seam allowance for a looser cover that’s easier to remove.

The video below on the other hand is for those that have this skills or if you really want to challenge yourself. After all, it’s supposed to be fun, a little practice can lead to some wonderful results. Don’t be afraid to experiment too. Buy some unbleached cotton to play around with before you commit to a more expensive outdoor fabric.

This video from Online Fabric Store looks at how you can make a box style cushion, which are great for many different styles of garden seating: 

Garden Seat Pad Cushion Covers

And last but not least we have this great video from Patricia from Living Even Keeled that shows you how to make outdoor seat pad cushions with nothing more than glue and velcro.

Lazy Susan’s how to make cushion covers for outdoor furniture tips & tricks

On Trend Fabrics Unbleached Cotton Fabric

As mentioned above under the zipper method section, if you’re new to cushion making, then practice with some low cost unbleached fabric such as the above from On Trend Fabrics at Amazon before you commit.

Also, any cushion that is not a perfect square, rectangle such as the round back style we offer at Lazy Susan would need a template or pattern to go by to ensure you make exactly the correct shaped cushion you need to fit the chair.

Don’t throw your old ones out just yet if they are still in the original shape… You can use them to make the template! However, over time cushions become worn and they lose their shape. If this is the case, then show them the bin and measure the furniture instead to create that perfect fit.

One trick I use is to place a sheet of paper on the chair seat and press the paper flat all along the bottom of the seat. Press it down firmly along the outside edge and draw around the outside edges of the seat where you would like the edge of the custom cushion to be and cut out the shape. 

If unsure, a quick search on Google will explain better than I can how to make a template for a cushion cover.

The final piece of advice I can give is if you’re making cushion covers for a dining style garden chair such as those sold at Lazy Susan, then please ensure you add a tie to secure them to the chair/prevent sliding.

This article from DIY Candy has a great step by step guide with excellent photos that shows you how to create this style of cushion cover.