Learn how to sew a lovely Cushion Cover with this step-by-step tutorial. This is an envelope style cover so no zipper needed!
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve taken on the huge task of slip covering our vintage couch.
It’s a big job but honestly not as hard as I thought it would be. One of the best parts was making the cushions!
I’ve been making the cover out of bleached drop cloth. You can watch a short video on how to bleach it here:
If you make a bunch of piping beforehand, the cushion making process is pretty straightforward.
Check out my blogpost on how to make piping HERE. There are two videos so you can see the whole process.
I was able to make a smaller cushion cover for a chair upstairs in just one morning before my kids woke up. Mostly.
They were up just as I was finishing so I gave some morning hugs and listened to some wacky dream explanations 🙂
Watch the full video here:
You can also check out the Youtube shorts video I made. It’s a whirlwind of a video but a nice recap of what to do if you’re already familiar with the process.
Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Drop Cloth – This is what I use and it works great! It’s %100 cotton. I’ve heard if you use a different kind that isn’t totally cotton, it doesn’t bleach correctly and can turn grayish. Check out my Drop Cloth Potholder post where I talk about how to bleach it.
Cotton Piping– You can do this tutorial without piping but it really makes it 10 times better! Just go with it and you’ll be so happy with the results.
Sewing Machine – Here’s the sewing machine I’m using currently. My old machine sadly died after 12 years and this was what I could get my hands on. It’s pretty basic but it gets the job done.
Upholstery Thread– I highly recommend you use upholstery thread instead of all purpose thread. I found that regular thread rips too easily when I take the cushion covers on and off.
How to Sew a Cushion Cover – Cutting the Pieces
*You want to cut all the pieces with extra room all around so you can easily manipulate the fabric while you’re pinning and sewing.
*If you’re using a material with a wrong and right side, make all the marks on the wrong side of the fabric.
Mark and cut out a piece of material the shape of your cushion.
Cut out two more pieces that overlap to form the shape of the cushion. You want the to overlap by a few inches. If you are using drop cloth, you and use the hemmed edge of the drop cloth for the part that overlaps. This will be the envelope opening on the underside of the cover.
If you aren’t using drop cloth, you’ll need to hem just the overlapping edges.
Now cut out a strip of fabric that’s a couple inches wider than the width of the cushion and fits all the way around it. Add four or five inches to the end so you can easily pin the ends together.
If you have a large cushion, you might need to connect a couple strips together to get a piece long enough for the side. Watch my video on how to do that here.
Get Your Machine Ready
Switch out your regular J foot for and I foot. The I foot is the zipper foot. You need this because you want to get as close the piping as possible while you sew seams.
Thread your machine and the bobbin with upholstery thread and sew a few lines on a practice piece to test the tension. You can read about what it should look like and what it looks like when it’s messed up HERE.
Let’s Start Pinning
Start with the two overlapping pieces first. You want to start with these (which will be the underside eventually) because it makes it much easier to get the cushion out later on.
Get the pieces right where you want the to sit, with extra fabric hanging over the sides, and place a few pins in the over lapping seam just so it won’t shift around while you work.
Grab the long strip for the side of the cushion and the piping you made already.
Sandwich the piping between the overlapping layers and the side strip. Leave a few inches of the Piping and the side strip out so you can connect them to the other ends.
If your fabric has a right and wrong side, everything is facing right side against the cushion, wrong side out.
I like to start the piping on the side or the back of the cushion.
Lay the piping right on top of the piping on the cushion itself. You’re gonna want to put piping wherever the original cushion has piping.
Pin all the way around the top of the cushion with the piping sandwiched in between. Put your pins as close to the piping as you can because those will be your guide for where to sew.
When you get all the way around, cross the piping and pin them, then pin the extra fabric on the short end of the long strip together.
Pull the cushion off and sew the short seam of the long strip first, then trim the extra fabric off that end.
Now sew the whole top seam of the cover. Make sure you stay as close as you can to the piping without sewing over it.
Go slow around the corners and don’t be afraid to add a little pleat to make everything lay flat.
You can make some relief cuts in the extra fabric on the corners to help flatten them out as you sew.
*Side note, I know this isn’t the proper way to sew the ends of the piping together. You’re supposed to seam rip one end open, cut them to meet each other, then sew them together, but I just don’t want to spend the time and effort. Seam ripping is the worst and I’ll skip it if I can.
I’m a rebel. No one tells me what to do.
Except maybe this baby.
Sew the Other Side of the Cushion Cover
Fit the cushion back on, place a few pins in the overlapping seams and turn it over.
Make sure you have all the seams in the right place so you can pin the other side correctly.
Place the full piece you cut on top and put a few pins in the middle so it doesn’t shift around while you’re pinning the sides.
Sandwich the piping in between the top layer and the side strip again, making sure to leave some of the piping end sticking out again.
Check where you joined the last piping ends and decide if you want it in the same place or somewhere else.
Pin all the way around.
Make a pleat at each corner to keep it nice and snug.
Finish Sewing the Cushion Cover
When you’ve got it all pinned, carefully wrestle the cushion out of the cover by pulling it through the open overlapping seams in the back. Pull only on the seams you already sewed.
It’ll feel impossible at first because you made it so snug, but just squeeze it out and trust that upholstery thread.
Sew along the line of pins and then trim all the extra fabric on the seams.
Turn the cover right side out and wrestle it back onto the cushion.
Finished! Great Job!
Now it’s time to contemplate whether you want to make a cover for the whole chair/couch or just go with the contrasting fabrics.
For more angles and instructions watch the long version of the video I made.
Don’t forget to pin it!
Print the tutorial for later!
- Sewing Machine
- Bleached drop cloth or upholstery fabric
- Cotton piping
- Upholstery thread
- Zipper presser foot
- Lay your fabric out, wrong side up.
- Cut out two pieces that over-lap for one side of the cushion.
- Flip it over and cut a complete piece for the other side.
- Cut another strip that is a few inches wider than the width of the cushion and a few inches longer than when you measure all the way around the side.
- Make enough piping to copy how much piping is on the cushion you're covering. You can find how to make piping on my website, goodenoughandstuff.com
- Hem the overlapping sides of the first two pieces you cut out.
- Lay the overlapping pieces on the cushion, right side against the cushion.
- Sandwich the piping between the side strip and the overlapping pieces.
- Lay the piping against the piping on the cushion, leaving an end sticking out a few inches.
- Pin the layers together, sticking close to the line of piping on the cushion.
- Pin all the way around the cushion.
- Cross the piping and press the ends as flat against the cushion as you can and pin them between the layers.
- Match the ends of the long strip and pin them together.
- Using a zipper foot and upholstery thread, sew the line of the long strip first.
- Sew along the line of pins around the perimeter of the cushion as close to the piping as you can, without sewing over it.
- Fit the cover back on the cushion and place a few pins along the overlapping seams to keep them in place.
- Flip the cushion over and lay on the last piece.
- Sandwich piping between the layers and pin it all the way around again.
- Make a pleat at the corners to fit it to the cushion.
- Take the cover off the cushion carefully by going a little at a time and only pulling on the seams you already sewed. This is why you want to sew the overlapping side first 🙂
- Sew along the line of pins.
- Trim the extra fabric off the seams.
- Wrestle it back onto the cushion and you're done!