How to make your own cushion covers

Kate Thompson, author of Secrets of the Sewing Bee, shows you how to make your own cushion covers from scratch in a just few simple steps.

Kate Thompson, author of secrets of the sewing beeshows you how to make your own cushion covers from scratch in a few simple steps. 

Sewing and knitting are having a moment. heritage crafts have never been more fashionable, thanks to programmes like the great british sewing bee. but you don’t have to have skills worthy of a gbsb contestant to create something completely unique and wonderful from scratch.

Trust me, until a few months ago i had never even sewed so much as a button. here’s me getting started by sewing a tote bag with the fantastic ladies at sew magazine.

The end result may have had a few wobbly edges, but who cares? why not have a go yourself with one of our step-by-step guides to making your own cushion cover?

Kate's step-by-step guide to making a cushion cover

what you need


  • cushion pad
  • tape measure or ruler
  • pen and paper (sheets of newspaper work particularly well)
  • iron
  • pins
  • long, sharp scissors
  • fabric
  • needle and thread

Step 1

cut a square of paper the same size as your cushion pad. now cut two more pieces of paper: the first should be the same width and at least half the height, the second should be the same width and at least three quarters of the height. (don't add an extra 1cm all the way around for a seam allowance, as most patterns do, because when the cover is slightly smaller than the pad, the cushion appears plumper.)

Step 2

iron your fabric thoroughly before you cut it to get rid of any creases.

it's important to do this before you cut: a piece of wrinkled fabric will be a slightly different size and shape once pressed.


Step 3

take a good look at the fabric's pattern and choose a section you like for the front of the cushion. lay the first piece of cut paper on top. pin it to the fabric in all the corners, and once on each edge. then cut around it.

Step 4

pin the other pieces of paper to your fabric and cut around them. hem one long edge on each piece. lay the fabric right side down, fold one long edge over 5mm. iron to secure the fold, fold over 5mm again. press again and backstitch 2mm from the edge.


Step 5

now lay the front piece on a flat surface, with the right side facing up. stack the smallest of the back pieces on top, right side facing down: line up the un-hemmed long edge with the top edge of the first piece.

step 6

add the third piece, right side down: line up the un-hemmed long edge with the first piece's bottom edge. pin at the corners and once on each edge.


step 7

use a backstitch all the way around the cushion cover, 10mm from the edge. (to help keep your line of stitching straight, use a pencil or a piece of tailor's chalk to add a guideline first.)


step 8

once done, turn it inside out using the slit at the back. if everything looks neat and tidy, turn the cover back inside out again. snip each corner off, 2mm from the stitches.


step 9

finally, turn your cushion cover back the right way round, and use a pencil or chopstick to carefully push out each corner into neat 90-degree angles. stuff the cushion pad in, and it's ready for your sofa.


You can get kate thompson's secrets of the sewing bee on your kindle for just 99p until the end of June. 

Secrets of the Sewing Bee

by Kate Thompson

Book cover for Secrets of the Sewing Bee

Secrets of the Sewing Bee tells the story of the defiant and courageous women on the home front, from Kate Thompson, author of Secrets of the Singer Girls.

Orphan Flossy Brown arrives at Trout's garment factory in Bethnal Green amidst the uncertainty of the Second World War. In 1940s London, each cobbled street is strewn with ghosts of soldiers past, all struggling to make ends meet. For the women of the East End, their battles are on the home front.

Flossy is quickly embraced by the colourful mix of characters working at Trout's, who have turned their sewing expertise to vital war work. They fast become the family that Flossy has always longed for.

Things aren't so easy for Peggy Piper, another new recruit at the factory. She's used to the high life working as a nippie in the West End, and is not best pleased to find herself bent over a sewing machine.

Dolly Doolaney, darling of the East End, sets up a sewing circle and the ladies at Trout's play their part in defending the frontline as they arm themselves with their needles and set about stitching their way to victory. But as the full force of the Blitz hits London, the sewing bee are forced to shelter in the underground tube stations on a nightly basis.

In such close quarters, can Dolly manage to contain the secret that binds them all? And how will Peggy and Flossy cope as their lives are shaped and moved by forces outside of their control?