‘Fly by the seat of your pants’ cushions

When I first started patchworking and quilting, I wanted to make small simple projects which could be ‘useful’ around the house, like cushions. The trouble was, I could just about thread a needle, but not much else. I had a vague notion that cushion covers should be removable, so that you could wash them, but had not the slightest clue how to insert a zipper.

A clever person would have just looked up a video on YouTube … but I came up with my own solution. At the time I had a boyfriend who had donated some old shirts to my stash collection. Looking these over, I thought, ‘Hey! These come with their own fasteners!’

Ultimately, this resulted in the following project:


With apologies for the poor photography, as well as the crinkly state of the cushion – it now graces my sewing room and therefore gets flattened by my bottom quite a lot of the time!

What I clearly did here, is cut out the largest square I could manage from the front of the shirt before I hit the armholes. This then determined the size of the cushion. I used other bits of the shirt to complete the front.

Although the cushion is clearly not a masterpiece, I do like it, both because it embraces the ‘make do’ spirit that first inspired patchworkers and quilters, and because of the memories that are attached to it. The rosy fabric used to be a skirt of mine (a stretchy material, in fact, which you’ll be told you can’t use in patchwork … but why not, really?). I deliberately left visible the little ‘Oxford’ label below the buttons, because that’s where said boyfriend and I had met and lived at the time. Almost romantic …

But what if you want to use this quick cheat method, but want to make a larger cushion? Here the beauty of patchwork comes in. If your piece of fabric isn’t big enough for your purposes, you simply make it bigger!

The cushion below is a large floor cushion, again, rather well-loved and crinkly. Another old shirt placket has been used in the middle, and strips of other fabric (including, if you look carefully, the same shirt fabric as above! How frugal) have simply been added to the sides to reach the desired size.


IMG_5919 (1)

It’s dead easy, saves time, recycles materials and it works!





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