Made By Mrs M

Vintage Cushion Tutorial


I'm a bit of a bargain hunter. I love going to charity shops, junk shops, car boot sales and the like and picking up little treasures. We're lucky enough to have some very good charity shops near us and I regularly drag my poor son around them to rake through textiles and vintage ceramics.

On one such trip about 18 months or so ago I picked up this beautiful little piece of embroidered linen for just £1.50. The single bed sheet I cut into to make the rest of this cushion was 50p - so as I already had everything else I used to make it, the total cost to me was £2. This would make a perfect Mother's Day gift and gives you an excuse to buy that pretty little piece of fabric you're not really sure what to do with (go on!).

This is quite simply the easiest sewing project ever (as well as one of the most thrifty), so would make a perfect first project with the machine for a new sewer or a child. 

You will need:
  • Piece of vintage fabric for the front - a nice piece of embroidery like this or whatever you can find. The size and/or positioning of the embroidery will determine the size of your cushion. Once you have this size....
  • Three pieces of backing fabric (this is where I used the sheet) - one which is the same size as your vintage piece and two smaller ones which form the same size once overlapped (see images at point 3 below).
  • Stuffing or a cushion inner.
  • Sewing machine (although you could hand stitch this if you have the patience!).
  • Matching thread.

1. Give your fabrics a wash - they'll need this after languishing wherever you found them, but this will also enable them to shrink - some embroidered pieces might not have been machine washed before. I washed mine on a delicates setting just in case. Then give them a good press.

2. Lay out your piece of vintage fabric (this has been pressed if you'll believe it - needed more steam but it is linen after all!) and cut a piece of your second fabric to match it - this will back your vintage piece and give it extra stability - also means this project could work with lace or a fabric with holes in it.

3. Cut two pieces to cover the back with an overlap (for getting the cushion in and out). You can see the benefit of using an old sheet in the images above - I reused the old hem to save myself sewing a new one. If you aren't as lucky, you will need to turn over and hem the centre edges which will be exposed. 

4. Pin. Your pieces will need to be stacked in this order - larger plain piece, vintage piece (face up), larger small piece (with hemmed edge in the centre, wrong side up), final piece (with hemmed edge in the centre, wrong side up). 

5. Get the machine out. Stitch around the whole cushion and tie off your ends. I've used quite a large seam allowance here as the linen had edging and I wanted to sew just inside it - 1.5cm will be adequate. 

6. Trim the corners off to give a nice sharp finish.

7. Turn the right way around and give the corners a good prod with a pencil to make them nice and sharp.

8. Press again, then fill with your cushion inner or stuffing. Then you've finished! 

You could use a similar technique to make little lavender bags or heat packs if the vintage pieces you find are really small. I actually considered filling this one with lavender (I planned to put it between the linen layer and the sheet), but changed my mind at the last minute. This would be quite a nice touch with a vintage style cushion though as small cushions often came stuffed with lavender - I remember my Nan having one. 

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