Something for the garden

Something for the garden

With the weather warming up, we have been looking for some garden furniture ever since the most severe lockdown restrictions began to lift in September, but almost all of reasonably priced wooden furniture has sold out and no-one knows when more will be delivered. Living at the bottom of the world has its advantages but access to products and materials while shipping containers are in disarray all over the planet due to the pandemic is not one of them. Most imported items, from cars to sofas, have been subject shipping delays of a year or more.

We ended up settling for a garden lounge set that isn’t as comfortable as some of the display sets we looked at, the seats are a little too long in the base but that is easily fixed with some additional cushions. I spent this weekend making a set of cushions and some matching fabric coasters / “wrist-warmers” for the the chairs.

Cushion covers are very easy to make and a great beginner’s sewing project so I thought I would share my method with you. I hope this isn’t too patronising for the more experienced sewers among you.

  • I started by cutting 2 squares of fabric, the same size as the cushion inserts, plus a 1cm ./ 0.5″ seam allowance on all 4 sides. A 60 cm sqare cushion needs 2 pieces of fabric measuring 62 x 62 cm.
  • Placing right sides of fabric together I stitched along what will become the bottom edge of the cushion cover, leaving a 1 cm seam. If the pattern on your fabric has a right way up, making sure this seam is on the bottom will ensure your zip is out of sight on the finished cushion.
  • Press the seam open with front of the cushion facing towards the table (I was lazy and pressed it open with my fingers rather than getting the iron out, as you can probably tell from the crumpled state of my fabric! 🙂 ):
  • Lay the zip, right side down, so the teeth line up with the line of stitching. Pin into place and using a zipper foot, sew down both sides of the zipper tape. Tip – the zip does not need to be the full width of the cushion, I think the zipper looks more professional if it stops an inch or two before the edge of the cushion. You can cut the nylon zips to make them shorter if you have one the right colour but it is too long.

Sew across the top and bottom of the zip so the zipper will not be able to run as far as the metal staple.

Using a seam ripper, remove the stitching holding the two sides of fabric together, stopping approximately 2 inches before each end (and before the line of stitching you placed across the zip).

Open the zip enough that you can easily pass your hand through the hole.

Fold the 2 squares of fabric so the right sides are together again, pin into place and stitch around the 3 reamining sides, leaving a 1 cm seam allowance from the edge.

Open the zip the whole way and turn the cover the right way out, I like to use a chopstick or pencil to push the corners out so they are nice and square.

Insert your cushion and close the zip! et voila!

I also made some fabric, wrap-around coasters to protect the arms of the new furniture from the condensation cold drinks often shed in our warm, humid climate. I started by making a sheet of felt and cutting it into four rectangles.

Then, using the chairs as a guide, I cut out a rectangle from each end so they would wrap around the arm either side of the upright piece of wood.

I cut a slightly larger rectangle of fabric and trimmed it so it was about a cm wider than the felt shape (see the piece on the left) before using fabric glue to fold over the edge of the fabric and tack into place on the felt.

Once the glue had dried, I stitched around the edge of each shape before attaching a piece of velcro to 2 tabs on each coaster and wrapping around the arm of the chair.

I am looking forward to spending the rest of the summer sitting in our “granny and grandpa” chairs on the veranda now 🙂  Fingers crossed the chickens don’t roost on the chairs and poop all over my new cushions….

17 thoughts on “Something for the garden

    1. Gosh you have good eyes! There are about 40 sheep in the paddock at the moment, out neighbour brings a few round to mow the grass every few weeks 🙂

  1. You took the words right out of my mouth Lyn! A fabulous view. I could sit and look at that all day.
    Teri, your bench seat, table & chairs do look good, so I hope that the lovely cushions you’ve made do make them comfortable. It’s amazing how many things that look good aren’t as practical as expected. What my husband calls “a triumph of fashion over function”.
    I really like that the colours in your cushions pick out the colours in the landscape, and the wrap around coasters are such a good idea – no scrabbling around on the floor for a loose one every time you raise your glass.

    1. We do feel very grateful for the lovely view and with the current tsunami warning, being so high up too 🙂

      One of our criterial for purchasing these chairs was that you could rest a drink on the arms but I quickly realised condensation was pooling on the wood from our cold drinks and the furniture “wrist warmers” were born! The cushions have made a huge difference to the comfort of the seats too, we are now out there at every opportunity 🙂

  2. Thanks for the instructions Teri. I am terrible with zippers and never manage to do them correctly. Your cushions look terrific and those bad chickens better not mess them up! Your view is gorgeous and I’m sure that you will now be really comfortable on your deck. Love the coaster idea too, very practical.

    1. Thanks Ruth, zippers are tricky aren’t they?!

      Don’t want to tempt fate but it has been a week and we are still poop free, unfortunately that may be because the little monsters have found my veg bed and been helping themselves all the tasty crops….

  3. One thing I love about this group is that it is open to all levels of expertise. Sometimes I feel intimidated by the amazing things that more skilled artists write about but your post is what I needed today.Now I have the confidence to pull out all the pillow forms I have collected and finally get them covered, hopefully with fabric that I have created.

    1. That’s wonderful to hear Marion, I am sure your cushions will be amazing and completely original. Do let us now how you get on and post a pic?

  4. A fabulous view. What a great tutorial. Every time I think about making cushions all the instructions put the zipper in the middle back or have the overlapping (impossible to get your cushion in or out of) back. What a simple and easy way to do the zipper, thanks. The wrap-around coasters are perfect. Trying to keep track of loose ones is a never-ending chore.

    1. Thanks Ann, I confess my zippers aren’t perfect but they are on the bottom of the cushion where no-one will see! 🙂

  5. First of all, serious envy on your fine weather and fabulous views. lol.

    Thanks for the instructions Teri. I invariably have issues sewing in zips so I really like your way. Makes loads of sense so I will have to give it a whirl. Love the idea of the arm cuffs too! It certainly looks like the additions have made the new garden furniture more comfy.

    I can appreciate where you are coming from regarding transport of materials. Does anyone ever mention the mess that was created on the Suez last year when the container got stuck. It played havoc with our garden furniture too (we were replacing our wooden set as one of the gang went right through a chair – thankfully the glass or two of vino had relaxed the individual so no damage was done to posteriors). We got a rattan set but it took a long time to arrive.

    Hope the hens are behaving. Enjoy the summer!

    1. Oh no, I’m sorry to hear your furniture got caught in the Suez canal 🙁 We were enormously relived to find our container had exited the canal a couple of days before that ship got stuck, thousands of people must have been affected as you were.

      Touch-wood the hens have not been on the new furniture….

  6. The wrist warmers are a genius idea! I’ve yet to try to sew invisible zippers, so watching your technique was really instructive. Enjoy the lovely weather, Teri. I hope you get to enjoy your new garden furniture often.

    1. Thank you Leonor, invisible zippers aren’t as difficult as you might imagine 🙂 We are out in the garden at every opportunity, making the most of the summer weather and new furniture!

  7. Teri,
    Your cushion method, makes sense to me! Hooray! I have seen other ways, that left me scratching my head. Your method is straight forward, and my question about the zip, was answered with a photo. Well done. 🙌🏼 I may make some pillows for our couch.


    1. Please do Capi, the cushions are really quick and easy to make, I ran up 5 in just a couple of hours. Took me longer to choose the fabric than actually make them! 🙂

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