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.
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!
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:
So how’s it looking now?
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.