How to make a scatter cushion with an invisible zip

With the Bank Holiday weekend fast approaching (and the inevitable chance that it’s going to be raining) I thought that today’s blog post should come in the form of a tutorial – giving you the chance to do something lovely and creative and then feel dead chuffed with yourself.

Although a great deal of my learning so far has come from books, the internet has been completely invaluable. If I don’t know how to do something I just Google it and hey presto! Loads of people showing me exactly how they would tackle the same thing. Clearly there are differences in how everyone will do something, but usually with a bit of guidance and a little trial and error you get there in the end. Today, I’ve decided to give something back…….and I’m really hoping that there isn’t the upholsterer’s equivalent of the Magic Circle about to strike me off for doing it.

Cushions! Brilliant for brightening up a room, changing a scheme with ease or using up left over fabric that isn’t big enough for a bed spread. I’ve made quite a few so far, some plain, some buttoned and some with piping (some square, some not so square and some that were only good enough for cleaning cloths in the end) but the one thing that I’ve been a bit afraid of is zips. My cushions so far have been envelope style with an open overlap of fabric to the reverse of the cushion. Now this is easy enough to do, but it does use more fabric and to my mind lacks a professional edge. So, the time had come to try a zip and guess what? It wasn’t all that hard! So here’s how to do it……. ready?

First things first, you’ll need to buy a zip. I’m going to assume you have a cushion and some material, quite frankly if you just buy a zip you’ll be disappointed with the results. The zip that I am using (and this was new to me) is a ‘concealed’, ‘hidden’ or ‘invisible’ zip. With this kind of zip, the teeth are on the inside and once it’s fitted you will only see the pull and a nice neat seam.  The zip needs to be shorter in length than your cushion by at least a couple of inches – I’m using a 16″ zip on an 18″sq cushion. Once you have this, cut your fabric panels for the front and the back of the cushion, allowing about 1cm or a little under 1/2 an inch all the way around for your seams. My panels are around 19″sq.

Try and get a coloured zip that compliments your fabric

The next thing you’ll need to do is prepare the zip – for this you’ll need to open it up and iron it flat. If you hold the zip with the teeth facing you, you should be able to roll the teeth away from you, flattening out the zip slightly and then iron it flat (being careful not to melt the teeth!). This will help you to stitch right up to the teeth and it will create a nice, neat seam.

Now you need to pin the zip to the fabric. Lay your fabric right side up and lay your zip along the bottom edge with the teeth facing toward the top of the fabric and the zip pull facing downwards (the back of the zip facing you). Pin it into place or you could use some tacking stitches if you didn’t want to be removing pins as you sew.

It’s stitching time! You are going to need a special foot for this (I probably should have mentioned this already shouldn’t I?) but they are easy enough to get. I found a universal invisible zip foot in my local material shop. Following the instructions for the foot and making sure that the zip is really flattened out, run the guide wheel right up against the zip teeth so that you are stitching as close to them as you can. Start at the open end and work toward the zip fastener getting as close as you can. Trial and error taught me that the foot needs to press quite hard on the fabric to avoid the zip and fabric moving at slightly different speeds and you ending up with a ‘rouched’ zip!

It helps if your pins face toward you so that you can pull them out more easily as you go

Ta-da! One side done! A celebratory cup of tea is optional at this stage.

And so we move to the other side, repeating what we have just done. I found it easier to lay my second piece of fabric face up with the zipped piece laying face down on top. Lay and pin your zip on to the second piece making sure that the teeth are facing toward the top of the fabric and the back of the zip is toward you.

Once stitched (in the same was as the first) you should have something that looks like this:

Almost done with the zip, we just need to finish it off on the sides. Put your fabrics face to face again and you’ll be able to see where the stitches finish, mine stopped an inch or so from the edge of the fabric. What you’ll need to do is run a straight line of stitches from the outside edge of the fabric toward the end of the stitches holding the zip in place. It’s best to use a normal zip foot for this so that you can get nice and close. It should look like this:

Be sure to hold the un stitched end of the zip out of the way while you stitch

So how’s it looking now?

Lovely and neat!

All you need to do now is pin together and stitch the remaining 3 sides of your cushion (face to face) making sure that you leave the zip open before you finish the last side otherwise you’ll never get back into it! Once you’ve done that, invert the cover, place your cushion inside, zip it closed and admire your work! Oh and if you’re anything like me, don’t let anyone touch it, sit on it or breathe near it.

Good Luck!


It looks dead-proper!!
This sofa is not for sitting on.








On August 31st Darren and I will be celebrating our Civil Partnership. I never really know what to call it, are we getting Civilised? Civilly Partnered? Married?

The last one is the interesting one; from the word go we were adamant that we didn’t want the day to feel like a wedding for no other reason than the lack of convention around Civil Partnerships meant that we wouldn’t be bound by the typical wedding structure – so why not do something more creative? We were also adamant that we would not get ourselves stressed out with the minutiae of the event as it approached, I could never understand why people would want to spend this time worrying when they should be looking forward to their special day*. (*Famous last words)

Last week a couple of things dawned on me. Firstly, the majority of my dreams in the past 8 weeks have been about table plans, ties and guest lists. Secondly, I’d not been in my workshop for nearly 3 weeks. had I become Groomzilla? Obsessed with our big day at the expense of everything else or was it just that I was a little naive in thinking that it would all just magically happen? I’m going with a little of both. It would appear that trying to move away from a traditional wedding format is actually quite hard. Firstly the ceremony itself sounds just like any wedding that I’ve ever been to, then we have to feed people and that involves sitting down (which needs carefully considered table plans) and then there’s the tables – we can’t leave them looking so plain can we? (so we need flowers and decorations), and what about recording the event? and entertaining people? and getting people there? And so it continues…… While I’m unbelievably excited about our event, I’m very conscious that I’ve taken a little upholstery holiday. That said, my creative energies have not gone to waste.

One of our amazing pre-wedding Photos by the wonderful Emma Pilkington. One of the other things we said we weren’t going to do! (but were glad we did)

2012 has evidently been the year for bunting with the Jubilee and the Olympics (can we also count Eurovision? Perhaps not) – you really can’t get away from it. So when it came to decorating our post ‘civil do’ lunch venue (a lovely country pub) bunting naturally came to mind. The internet is brilliant for things like this, and after watching a few tutorials on YouTube, I was straight over to the Husqvarna Viking! I have to say that making bunting has turned out to be quite therapeutic, even after making 20m of the stuff for our celebrations. I did cause some amusement in the material shop when I announced that I was attempting to make “masculine bunting” as quite clearly it’s a contradiction in terms, but I think I’ve gone some way toward pulling it off. Clearly the most masculine way to produce bunting is not even to think about doing it in the first place, but hey, I’m a modern man.

Masculine bunting?

So there we have it, another little thing learned, a great way of using up left over fabric, another product that I could offer and (even better than all of that) the ability to make my own wedding decorations rather than hiring or buying. Clearly everyone is getting bunting for Christmas this year. Except my Sister who got it for her Birthday. And what of the wedding plans? Well it looks like with three weeks to go we’re pretty much there and starting to really enjoy the run up to the big day. Oh, and I’ve even managed a couple of days in the workshop – the little armchair is now stripped and ready for new upholstery which is always an energising point to get to. Here’s to an exciting month!

I’ve never known so many staples come out of one chair