{How To} Turn an old shirt into a cushion cover.

{How to} Upcycle a shirt into a cushion cover 2

This simple twist on the classic envelope cover is a great way to give new life to an old shirt; 4 straight lines of sewing and someone has already done all the fastenings for you. Here’s how you do it…

You will need:

{How to} turn a shirt into a cushion cover, sewing, handmade

 

  • 1 shirt
  • 1 cushion inner – I bought mine but you could make your own.
  • measuring tape/ ruler
  • chalk/ pen/ pencil to mark out your pattern
  • pins (in the altoids tin!)
  • scissors
  • thread

 

 

I made my cover on a sewing machine but you could easily make this by hand.

You will not necessarily need to make your owl tape measure look like it is flying a kite, but it does help.

1. Find/ steal a shirt from unsuspecting partner/ housemate/ father/ brother. Mens’ shirts are probably best because they are bigger and tend not to be fitted. I got this one fair and square by helpfully offering to put it in the recycling box and secretly snaffling it away into the fabric stash.

appropriated shirt

2. Measure your cushion inner, mine is 45 cm (18 inches) square. To make your cover you need to add on 2 cm (1 inch) to the height and width for seam allowance.

Iron your shirt before marking out your pattern. Yes I know it is a pain but do it anyway, you will thank me when you have a beautiful square cushion cover.

3. Measure and mark out a square on the front and back of the shirt. For my inner this will be a 47 cm sided square.

front and back

This is where you get to choose. If you are lucky this will fit perfectly within the sleeves of your shirt. If not the choice is yours. You can:

a.) Just ignore the sleeve seams and cut right on through ( I think this adds to the upcycled-shirtiness effect)

OR

b.) You can just re-adjust your pattern making it slightly smaller to sit within the seams of the shirt. Cushion inners are squishy and forgiving to this kind of behavior.

4.) Decide that despite having gone out and bought an inner specially that your shirt would look much better as a bolster cushion than square and grab a cushion off the sofa to use instead. (Optional)

5.) Pin the front and back pieces together, right sides facing each other and sew the four sides together. I have allowed for 1 cm (1/2 inch) seams in my pattern, you can leave more if you wish. I used a line of straight stitch and then a line of zigzag stitch running parallel just to keep the edges from fraying too wildly.

pin right sides together

Once you’ve finished sewing you can turn your cushion cover inside out and iron it flat. (Yes, iron it again, it DOES make a difference.)

All that is left to do is unbutton the shirt, slip your inner inside and sit back and relax on your latest sewing triumph. Shirts will never be safe in your house again.

finished productIt doesn’t need to stop at shirts either. I made an old cardigan into a cover to fit the square inner, before finding yet another old shirt and now have more covers than cushions! They are so simple to make that all three of these covers only took me an afternoon.

 

The pockets are a handy extra too. You need never loose the remote control again…

Chandni Chowk shirt

 

 

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19.04.14

I am a hoarder of the worst order but having lived at five different addresses in three different cities in the last 7 years I have come to appreciate clearing out the inexplicably useless things I choose to hang on to. I love taking bags of stuff to the nearby charity shops and passing on clothes to friends, it’s all those other things that I feel the need to squirrel away that are the problem. Clothes that aren’t in any fit state to be worn but could add some lovely colour to that rag rug I’ve been meaning to make, I strip the zips, buttons and trims off everything and have miles of bits of ribbon taken off packaging.

In a recent clear out my Grandmother asked us all to let her know if there was anything any of us wanted putting aside. The house in question is the home where my Grandparents’ raised their seven children, which in turn was played in and visited by 13 grandchildren and with the eldest of the 12 current great-grandchildren being in his mid twenties and the youngest being only a few weeks old, serious hoarder goodies, I mean treasured family memories up for grabs.

I’ve been covertly coveting this tablecloth that Gran never had a chance to finish – I mentioned the proliferation of children in our clan right? – for years. It’s a beautiful combination of cutwork and embroidery made up of hundreds of Gran’s tiny, perfectly even stitches. Apologies for the crumpled fabric in the photos, I haven’t quite plucked up the courage to press it yet.

But that’s not all, oh no, this was a real hoarders-hand-me-down. In the bag with the tablecloth was a whole gold mine of embroidery patterns on canvas, transfers, all the wool and silks I needed to finish the projects, a book about needlework and something the like of which I have never seen before.

 

I really wish I had at least a tension square that I have created to show you, but I just can’t figure it out! Having only one needle does not simplify things, it seems to make knitting far MORE complicated. I will not be beaten by such a ridiculous article though. I hope in the end to be smiling like the guy in his cardigan from the pattern book, at the moment I think I feel more like the lady in her cardigan/ mini skirt combo!