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Getting started with cushion making

A quick and easy first project, ideal for a complete beginner

PP 4 bright cushions - Sew a simple cushion cover - Free sewing patterns - Craft -

Cushions are a fantastic way of adding colour and giving a lift to almost any room. They can be either functional or decorative and are a great way of adding instant style, bringing a plain room right up to date, at very little cost.

You only need very basic sewing skills to make a cushion. Creating a simple square cushion is the easiest way to get started. Once you have mastered this design then you can move on to other shapes and techniques.

Before you start, get everything together that you are likely to use.

To make a simple square cushion, you will need:

Basic materials

Square cushion pad You could cover an existing cushion pad or buy a new one to cover - John Lewis (020 7629 7711) has a good selection.

Fabric The type of fabric you choose will depend on the end use of the cushion, but you should use furnishing fabric that is either machine washable or dry cleanable where possible. For outdoor cushions use weatherproof fabrics. For indoor cushions you can use almost all furnishing fabrics and more delicate fabrics for purely decorative cushions.

Tip: Rather than buying new fabric you can save money by recycling fabric, such as: vintage fabric from charity/thrift shops; leftover fabric patchworked together; or fabric taken from large pieces of old clothing such as skirts or shirts.

Sewing thread Match the thread colour as closely as possible to the main fabric colour.

Tip: If you can't find an exact match then always choose a darker shade rather than a lighter one.

Basic tools

Sewing machine Only the most basic sewing machine is required for making a simple cushion because the only stitches you need to use are basic straight stitch and a zigzag for neatening seams.

Scissors Dressmaking scissors with long blades are ideal for cutting out the fabric and a small pair of scissors with short pointed blades are ideal for cutting sewing thread and trimming.

Tip: Don't use dressmaking scissors to cut paper as this will blunt them.

Pins For holding fabric pieces together

All the above mentioned materials and tools should be available in your local fabric and sewing shops. You can also order all these items online - see our nationwide craft supplies directory.

Four easy steps to follow:

Click here for detailed cushion-making diagrams

For a simple 45cm square cushion, you will need 50cm of 137cm wide furnishing fabric. Cut out one 47cm square for the front of the cushion and two rectangles 47x31cm for the cushion back.

Tip: Cushions have a front and a back. If the fabric you want to use is expensive, you could buy a piece just for the front of the cushion and use inexpensive fabric for the back.

Press under 1cm then 3cm across one long edge of both rectangles and stitch.

With right sides together, lay the two backs on top of the front, overlapping the backs to fit. Pin and stitch all round the cushion, taking 1cm seam allowances. Neaten seam allowances.

Turn right side out and press. This is a simple plain cushion cover with overlapped edges hidden at the back of the cushion.

Tip: You can adapt this method for any size of cushion. Increase the size for large floor cushions or even a cushion for your pet. Decrease the size for child-size cushions.

Although this is a simple cushion, it doesn't mean it can't be beautiful! Not only can you choose beautiful fabrics, but you can enhance it with embellishments such as beads, bows, buttons, ribbons and sequins.

Get inspiration from...


'Cushions, Pillows and Throws' by Lucinda Ganderton & Lucy Berridge

'Cushions and Covers: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creative Soft Furnishings' by Gina Moore

'Cushions: Stylish Projects for the Home' by Isabel Stanley


You'll find cushion-making or soft furnishing classes running throughout the country. To find your nearest class visit: Click on ‘find a course' or call 0800 100 900

These sites list classes and courses in your area. Alternatively, ask at your local fabric shop.


Local fabric and sewing shops are good sources of supplies. You can also visit:

John Lewis 020 7828 1000 - for fabrics, cushion pads and sewing supplies

Laura Ashley 0871 983 5999 - for fabrics

Cath Kidston 020 7221 4000 - for fabrics

Ikea 020 8208 5600  - for fabrics


There are many websites selling fabrics, cushion pads and sewing supplies so it's definitely worth having a search around for the best prices. Try:

You might also like...

See all of our free online cushion sewing patterns

Find a new craft to learn

Pretty, practical home sewing projects


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