My living room is full of earthy textures and fabrics. Jute, timber, wool, linen, suede. It’s probably time for a bit of counterbalance, to keep the place from looking too burrow-like — maybe some metal picture frames, and a striking floor lamp or two? That counterbalance isn’t happening today, though: I found this great wool knit sweater vest at Vinnies, and I had to turn it into a cushion slipcover. It’s pretty unwearable as an article of clothing, unless you are a lady golfer or cricketer, but this little recycled sweater cushion is brilliant as upholstery.
I used backing fabric to quilt the knit wool into place. This way the wool won’t stretch out or become misshapen, and the cushion will be hardier in the wash.
- Sewing gear – pins, seam ripper, thread, etc
- Fabric scissors
- Ball-point knit needles, 14-16 weight
- 1m x 0.5m [just over 1 yd x ½ yd] of backing material – midweight cotton will do, pref in a similar colour to the knit
- One extremely daggy sweater from your local charity shop of choice. (This one is a ladies’ 16, if you’re curious about size.)
1. Wash and iron your fabric.
2. Measure and cut into four 19” square pieces, for a cushion that will be 18” wide, with a half-inch allowance on all sides. You’ll have 2 pieces of knit wool and 2 pieces of backing fabric.
3. Quilting the wool: Start from the middle and work your way out. Run a line of pins down the centre and sew a straight line down. Repeat on either side, using your judgement on where to secure the wool. I just sewed along the existing straight lines in the knit, with gaps about 2-3 inches between lines.
Here, you can see how ends up looking quilted from the back.
4. Sew straight seams about ¼” from the edge and then run a zig-zag stitch over them, to help keep the wool ends from fraying. (Ignore this if you have a serger, aka overlocker. You already know what you’re doing anyway.)
So there’s your two finished sides, ready to come together and turn into a cushion cover.
5. Attach the zipper before sewing the other three sides together.
People much more experienced than me can clearly explain how to attach a zipper, but basically: attach zipper wrong-side-up onto the fabric wrong-side-up, sew and attach with about ⅛” clearance from the zipper itself. For extra credit, fold up the overlapping fabric ever-so-slightly and sew that in order to create a flap that hides the zipper better. I’m sorry, I know this explanation isn’t cutting it! Another option would be to attach tabs and buttons; it’d look really cute.
6. Once the zipper is in place, sew a straight seam ½” from the edge all around the three non-zippered sides. For extra security, go around the edge once more with a zig-zag stitch (or your serger, ooh la la).
Moment of truth: flipping it right side out. Success! I gave it an iron before stuffing it, to press the seams into place.
All done! This pillow is pretty sturdy. It’s ready to take a beating.
The front side was all one solid piece from the sweater, but the back side needed some extra care. Since I used a cardigan, I just sewed down all of the edges (including buttonholes) and used scrap pieces to fill in the gap. It took a bit of fiddling around but it looks all right.
Feels good, looks good.