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nicola cushion1

By Nicola Ogilvie, Just Sew

April - The sun has come out and the flowers are blooming. Thoughts turn to outside living, hurray, our outdoor furniture comes into focus and the sofa we bought 2 years ago, that we were so proud of, is looking somewhat shabby. The cushions are sun bleached and all different shades. So my mind turns how to refresh it.

Firstly I wanted to make some bright cushions that would smarten up the furniture. Thus the first problem! Where can I get fabric suitable to use outdoors at a reasonable price in Switzerland?  I went to the Internet and I found lots of options in the USA and some in the UK but as usual I wanted to do it today, not after waiting for delivery.  Then I found the solution, use a shower curtain! Problem solved and I am off to Ikea, and sewing that evening. Many of the designs were of water or ducks but I found a nice turquoise print, though I was also tempted by a couple of striped choices, cost under 15chf. While I was at Ikea I also bought some pillow pads, less than 5chf. On this occasion I bought synthetic, I usually prefer feather or down but for outside synthetic is a must as they dry easily and quickly if rained on.  

I put them on my sofa and although an improvement, the faded covers were still shabby.  What could I do? My first thought was to machine dye the cushion covers, so I set off to the shops to buy some machine dye. Unfortunately I could only find cotton dye that specifies a maximum of 20% synthetic content.  My cushions are 100% polyester, I was tempted to give it a try anyway but as polyester is basically a plastic and not at all porous it is unlikely to take any colour. So it`s back to the drawing board, or rather the Internet to see if anyone out there has a solution. I found a number of sites that showed good results with spray painting outdoor cushions. That seemed to be the solution, I had seen fabric spray so off I went to buy a can. Though I would have liked to change the colour of my cushions I thought it best to stick to the colour they already were, a dark grey. This was not available so reluctantly I went for black.

Arriving home with my 10chf can of fabric paint I set to it.  First I washed the covers.  A good tip for washing covers is to replace them onto the pads when still wet, they then dry to shape and creases are minimal. Next start spraying. The results were disappointing. An even coverage was difficult, the result very patchy and I barely covered 1 cushion with a tin of fabric paint. Given that I have 8 to do it might be cheaper to buy new cushions. I needed to come up with plan B. Since a lot of the spray paint had ended up in the atmosphere and not on my cushion I decided to try fabric paint and paint them. So another trip to the shop, to return with a jar of black fabric paint and a soft wide brush, cost of paint, 8chf. I diluted the paint 1 to 5 and began painting. It seemed to work!  Once dry I ironed them, leaving them on the cushion pads. 1 pot did about 2 covers. As you can see the results are a more even colour. For some reason the back cushions tool the colour better than the seat pads. I would recommend perhaps a stronger dilution, 1 to 4 maybe.  

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The outcome.
Do they now look as good as new? No!
Are they better than before?  Yes!  Although I am taking a trip to England next week and plan to return with some synthetic fabric dye.

Would I recommend doing this? Making new covers would be better, I think I will get one more year out of them, enough time for me to locate and purchase outdoor fabric and make some new covers.

If you would like to make cushion covers for any part of your house but don’t know how, I am running a cushion sewing workshop on Tuesday morning 12th May and Sunday afternoon 7th June. Check out the workshops section of my website for full information.  www.justsewgeneva.weebly.com

Author's bio

nicola220Nicola Ogilvie has been sewing as long as she can remember, and loves new challenges. From a very early age, she has attempted most things you can make on a sewing machine, from creating her own wedding dress and recovering a chair to quilting and embroidery. In her early career, she was employed by Courtaulds, working in a factory making underwear for Marks & Spencer!

Through her sewing business, Just Sew, Nicola now shares her passion with a new generation. She runs workshops, mostly for children, and teaches in the after-school program of a local international school. She loves the fact that even the youngest get a great sense of satisfaction from their completed projects. After a number of requests, she will soon be offering courses aimed at adults.

Although sewing is clearly Nicola’s thing, she admires all craftsmen and women, and loves to see how people use their creativity.