Thursday, May 17, 2012

How to Recover a Window Seat Cushion using Window Curtain Panels

When we relocated to Atlanta, our son agreed on his new room, but with two major conditions:  That we would paint the room pronto - to cover up the existing pink walls - and switch out the floral window seat cushion, which was very girly.  This eight-year old boy was not at all interested in pink floral.
New room came with pink walls and floral window seat cushion
Why use Window Panels?

My son's room in Savannah sported  navy/burgundy plaid bedding and coordinating, burgundy curtains.  We moved my son's old bedding and window panels with us to the new house. I knew wanted to recycle the panels somehow because they were a great red, matched his bedding, and my decorating budget was meager (at best).  After pricing out custom window seat cushions (they are expensive!!),  I concluded that using the panels for the window seat cushion was our the best option.  

How to Sew a Window Seat Cushion

Materials needed for the project
  • Two Window Panels (I used 40" x 87" tab-top, brushed canvas panels)
  • Upholstery Foam (existing foam cushion measured 4" x 24" x 64)
  • Piping Cord (also called welt cord)
  • 1/2 yard Fabric (used to cover piping cord) 
  • Tape measure, quilting ruler, scissors, pencil or pen
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread, pins, seam ripper, etc.

General How To:
Measure and Cut Fabric 
  • Deconstruct existing cover using seam ripper.
The old cover became the pattern for the new cover.
  • Separate each fabric component to create a sewing pattern for top, bottom and box (side band, or gusset) of the new seat cushion.
    Note: The box (gusset) pattern consisted of four pieces, one for each side of the cushion.   
  • Lay window panel on large work surface, wrong-side up.  Place cushion-top sewing pattern on the window panel(s).  Use pen to mark new piece.  Use scissors to cut out new cushion top.
    Note:  If the pattern does not already include a 1/4-inch seam allowance, add one.   Mark this fabric, on the wrong side, with a T (for top).
  • Place cushion-bottom sewing pattern on the window panel(s) and use pen to mark new piece, including the 1/4-inch seam allowance as necessary.  Use scissors to cut out new cushion bottom.  Note:  Mark this fabric, on the wrong side, with a B (for bottom).
  • Place boxing sewing pattern(s) on the window panel(s) and use pen to mark new pieces,  including the 1/4-inch seam allowance as necessary.  Use scissors to cut out new cushion box pieces.  
    Note:  Mark each of the four pieces, on the wrong side, so you know where they go.
  • Iron all your fabric pieces to remove any wrinkles.
    Result:  All the main window seat cushion fabric is prepped and ready to assemble.
Create Piping Cord
The existing seat cushion incorporated a teal-colored flanged piping cord detail.  Flanged piping cord is just piping cord that has an additional 1/4 inch of flange for insertion into seams as they are being made.  Many varieties exist and it's available in most sewing/craft shops (use your coupons!).  You can also purchase undecorated piping cord (available in a variety of thicknesses) and cover it in whatever fabric you choose for a custom look.  I needed a lot of piping, and wanted to use about 1/4  inch thick piping.  Making my own seemed the least expensive route.  Below are the steps I took:
I used remnant fabric and cotton cording for the piping
  • Cut fabric for the piping cord.
  • Note:  I was thrilled to find a video tutorial that shows how to cut and sew continuous bias for welt cord.  The demonstrator created 18 yards of bias from just a 1/2 yard of fabric.  That was music to my ears.  I followed the instructions and had great results.  Watch the tutorial  on YouTube by clicking Part 1 and then watch Part 2.
  • Place fabric, right-sde facing down, on a flat surface and lay the cord in the middle.
  • Fold the fabric over the cord, keeping the cord centered, and match the edges of the fabric.
  • Pin to hold in place.
  • Sew the piping closed.  Remove pins as you go.
    Note:  On my sewing machine, the cord rested along the left-side of the foot.  Sew very slowly so that the seam allowance remains consistent.
    Result:  The piping is prepped and ready for assembly.
Sew the Seat Cushion Sides (Box)
  • Place two cushion box pieces together, right sides facing each other, on the short ends, and sew together with 1/4 inch seam allowance.
  • Repeat with each of the four cushion box pieces.
    Result:  The box, which matches the dimensions of the window cushion, is ready for assembly. 
Attach the Piping to the Seat Cushion
  • Lay cushion bottom fabric on large surface - right-side up.
  • Note:  I used my floor as a work area.
  • Pin piping to the right side of the cushion bottom so that edges match up.
    Note:  Clip the seam allowances of the piping to allow it to ease around each corner as you pin.    Be sure to leave about 1" tail free at the end.
Pin right side of cushion fabric to the piping seam allowance.
  • Lay cushion top fabric on large surface - right-side up.
  • Pin a second length of piping along edge of cushion top so that the edges match up.  
  • Note:  Clip the seam allowances of the piping to allow it to ease around each corner as you pin.   Be sure to leave about 1" tail free at the end.
  • Sew the cushion top to its piping.  Remove pins as you go.
    Note:  Start sewing about 1/2" from the raw end.  Allow your needle to follow the curve of the piping as you sew around the corners.  
  • When you get back to where you started, cut off any excess tail, leaving about 1" piping to work with.
  • Use a seam ripper to peel back the fabric and expose the cording.
  • Trim the cording so that it exactly matches up to the sewn-down cording.
  • Fold the fabric edge down (to make a clean edge).  Take the 1/2" of material left loose at the beginning and wrap the folded end around a bit.
  • Stitch in place.
  • Repeat these steps to sew cushion bottom to its piping.
    Result:  The Piping is attached to the cushion top and bottom.   
Attach Seat Boxing
  • Re-position the cushion bottom fabric on a large surface right side up.
  • Pin the cushion boxing along the cushion bottom so that right sides are facing each other and the piping cord is sandwiched between the cushion boxing and cushion bottom.
    Note:  Make sure all edges are matched up - especially the corners. 
  • Sew the cushion boxing to the cushion bottom.  Remove pins as you go.
    Note:  Allow your needle to follow the curve of the piping as you sew around the corners.
  • Re-position the cushion bottom fabric on a large surface right-side up.
  • Pin the cushion top along the cushion boxing on only three edgesso that right sides are facing each other and the piping cord is sandwiched between the cushion boxing and cushion top.
    Note:  Make sure all edges are matched up, especially the corners, and pin along three edges - two long and one short.
  • Note:  On fourth edge (a short edge), measure in about 2 inches from each end and pin.  This leaves an opening wide enough to fit the foam insert.
    Note:  The cover is getting cumbersome at this point.  Hang in there - it's almost finished.
  • Sew the cushion boxing to the cushion top.
    Note:  Allow your needle to follow the curve of the piping as you sew around the corners.
    Result:  You should now have a nearly-complete cushion cover!
Phew!  Take a moment to breathe - this was a lot of pinning and sewing. 

Assemble the Window Seat Cushion
  • Turn the cushion cover right-side out, straightening the corners as necessary.
  • Place the foam insert into the cover.
    Note:  Take your time, the fit will be snug.
  • Hand-stitch the opening on the fourth, short end to close
    Result:  Your done!!!  Place the cushion in the window and take a seat.
Window seat cover all finished and placed back in my son's room.
The window seat looks great and, most importantly, my son is happy.

Hard to believe that this was my first time ever sewing - I did not even own a sewing machine before attempting this project. Now, however, I am officially hooked.  See the throw pillows in the picture?  I used more of the window panels and an old quilt to create them.  Check back soon to learn how I did it!  

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