We have a wonderful porch on our 100 year old house that after my 1st failed attempt in placing furniture on it, I realized it needed vintage wicker. Once I found the right wicker furniture I then realized the cushions needed a bit of tweaking… Here I share with you the step by step, vintage wicker easy sew cushions tutorial… Sewing new cushions may not be as difficult as you think. Here are a few tips and shortcuts to make it as quick and easy as possible.
Failed attempt? Oh yeah… even as a professional decorator I have tons of failed attempts… I actually think that the only true failure in decorating is if after you try something and it really doesn’t look right, you’re unwilling to change it. That would be an epic failure to me. To get ‘tunnel vision’ in decorating is the true failure. We must be willing to see our mistakes and continually work on perfecting them.
So, wanna see my 1st failed attempt?
OK, here it is:
As much as we love the porch on our old house, it does have a few ‘issues’… The main issue is that the previous owner glued down indoor/outdoor carpet on it. It’s ugly! But at least it’s just gray and not a bright color that would slap you in the face with its boldness. But still… carpet? Not my favorite. However, with other projects in the works, the front porch carpet just isn’t on the list of things to tackle this Spring, so for now the carpet must stay. And this 1st seating arrangement just looked as bland and boring as the carpet did… nothing special about it at all.
The first thing I did… besides selling the metal chairs, was to get an outdoor area rug to define a seating area. I knew that would be a very limited choice, given that the front door blue was already done, (painted that last fall) and I really wanted a rug that would repeat or compliment that same hue. I found a fun outdoor bright blue area rug from World Market, that looked great with the blue on the front door, (and was only $39.99 for a 6 x 9!) Since there are so many more fabric choices than rug choices, so in most cases it’s best to start with the rug.
Then after a bit of a search for vintage wicker, I found a complete set in wonderful condition from a gal that had it listed on Craigslist. But…
the cushions that came on the wicker furniture, just didn’t do anything at all with the rug, and…
they obviously didn’t fit the vintage wicker pieces very well at all. When I went out looking for ready made cushions, guess what? Yep, they don’t make them to fit these vintage pieces of wicker any longer. In fact I ran into another gal at one of the stores looking for the right sized cushions for her furniture too, without success. We started to chat, and I realized I was going to need to custom make some to fit properly, and encouraged her to do the same, but she didn’t sew and knew how much it’d cost to hire someone to do it. So, I’m actually hoping that this post will encourage someone, (maybe you?) that maybe has ill-fitting cushions or cushions needing an update, and has never sewn to realize they/you really could sew them, it’s not that hard!
So here we go, with a lot of pictures, and fewer words…
I removed the cushions that came with the vintage wicker, and since they are in excellent, new condition, I listed those for sale too on a local Facebook garage sale site, and both old chairs and new cushions are sold!
To make a pattern for the cushions, I actually used some old cheap Christmas wrapping paper. You can use newspaper for this, but actually I have found that it can be a bit messy with the ink, so this cheapo wrapping paper is perfect.
After pushing it into the chair seam, I marked the cutting line with a pencil.
After the paper pattern is cut out, I fit it in the chair one more time, just to be sure it fits well.
For the cushions on this vintage wicker I chose 2″ foam. You can cut it with an electric knife, which is an especially helpful tip if you’re cutting 4″ thick foam to get a good straight edge, but for 2″ foam, I just snipped it with regular scissors and it turned out fine.
Then onto the fabric…
I just laid the paper pattern out on the wrong side of a single layer of the fabric, making sure the print of the fabric was going the correct way, and lightly traced around it with a pencil. (or chalk works better) Then with the measuring guide out if front of my scissors, I just cut around the pattern. Because the foam is 2″ thick, I made my cut line 2″ wider than the pattern to give me a generous 1″ seam allowance.
When cutting the 2nd piece of the cushion fabric, (you’ll need a top and bottom piece) I recommend laying the 1st piece you just cut out, right on top on the fabric and using that as your guide.
Be sure you place it with the right sides together, and again check that the pattern is going in the right direction.
Pin the top and bottom of the cushion, right sides together. I always use two pins together marking where I am supposed to start and stop, or inevitably I will be sewing along, and go way past the stopping point. If that does happen, it’s no big deal, you just need to rip out some stitches to make the opening large enough. So for these cushions, I left most of the back of the cushion open to get the foam inserted in after the cover is turned right side out.
Once the 3 sides of the cushion cover was done, I turned it right side out. For the back of these cushions, I folded the raw edges in and pinned closed the opening, lining up the front and back evenly.
Now at this point, I knew I was going to have a pillow on the back of the chair that would cover a seam on the back, but if the seam would have been exposed, then I would have hand stitched this pinned back so that the seam would lay flat and not show… but I was in a hurry and these would be hidden, so I put on the zipper foot attachment of my sewing machine, placed the needle all the way to the left and just held the stuffed cushion up to the sewing machine and quickly stitched it shut. This method is super fast, but it does leave a bit of a flange seam. Another option is to insert velcro, ties or even a zipper. Those are a little more involved, but not too bad, just more time.
The new fabric works great with the bold color of the rug.
The chair cushions fit well now.
I love the vintage style of the fabric too, it really does look to me like it could have been from the 20’s or 30’s when I believe the wicker dates to.
Now the bright accents and fresh look of the wicker pull your eye away from the yucky gray carpet, making it blend into the background more.
I have no idea what we’ll find underneath when we do rip out the gray carpet on this porch, but for now, it’s fine and I’m really pleased with the vintage wicker sporting their new cushions.
So what do you think, you sewing novices… did this seem easy enough to you? Are you encouraged to try your hand at it? It can be a lot more complicated to make cushions, but it doesn’t have to be, and I hope this was enough encouragement to some of you thinking it’s too difficult, to see that it’s really not.
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