How to re-cover patio furniture cushions

I was sweating as we wrestled furiously on the carpet, each of us struggling to win. It was strong, but it was no match for me. With one final shove, I beat it into submission and fell back against the floor, exhausted.
Yes, you might say that sewing with waterproof outdoor fabric is a workout.

It all started when a neighbour asked if I would mind recovering their set of patio furniture cushions. The original cream-coloured cushions were getting dirty and worn from regular use at their lake cottage. The fabric was thin and ripped easily, so she was hoping to have new covers made from heavy-duty outdoor fabric.

I measured them and told her how much fabric to buy, and didn’t give it another thought. I hadn’t sewn with outdoor fabrics before, but I’d certainly made a lot of throw pillow covers.

When she dropped off the fabric, I was surprised by the weight of the blue waterproof one she’d chosen for the seat cushions. It was like carrying a roll of carpet down the stairs! I started to worry about my ancient Singer Simple, and if the little guy could handle something so heavy.



In the end, of course, Mr. Singer pulled through for me. It helped that each cushion cover only require two lines of stitching — just a straight line up each of the sides.

Outdoor fabrics can be pricey, but it’s usually still much cheaper to recover existing cushions than it is to buy brand-new ones — especially when you have a full set of furniture.

So if you have a set of worn-out patio furniture on your back deck this very minute, here’s how you can spruce them up with fresh new cushion covers …
1. Lie your first cushion onto your outdoor fabric (so the “good” side of the fabric is facing up). Make sure you have enough fabric above and below the cushion to overlap a little, just like you’re wrapping a present.

2. Trim up the sides, leaving 2-3 inches of fabric peeking out from either side of the cushion. The fatter the cushion, the more buffer you’ll want to leave so the cushion cover can contain its puffiness.

3. Fold the top and bottom fabric flaps over the cushion so they overlap, and use pins to close up one of the edges. Remove the cushion and set it aside.

4. Stitch up that side of the cushion cover, and trim off any excess fabric.
5. Stuff the cushion back into the half-sewn cover, and mark where you need to sew the other side. Repeat step 4.

6. Turn the cushion cover right-side out. If you’re fighting with heavy waterproof fabric, this step is tiring on the arms!

7. The front of your cushion cover should be neat and smooth, and the back should have an overlap which forms the pocket. Gently pull the pocket open and stuff the cushion inside. The thicker the fabric, the more you’re going to feel like you’re struggling to cram a hippo into a hamster cage.



If you’re making covers for a bunch of cushions at once, it’s much faster to do them in batches. Once you’ve tried one cover on your “model” (the cushion) and it looks good, turn it inside out and use it as a template for the others.

If it fits one cushion, copy it for all of them!

I like to line mine up next to each other, and just fold and pin the fabric so they all match up. Then — magic! They’re all done much faster.

Once all 12 cushion covers were finished, they went straight back to their home on beautiful Shortt’s Lake.

The bold colours will hide the dirt better than the old pale cream cushions, and the waterproof blue fabric on the seat cushions will dry quickly — always be ready for the next wet bathing suit.

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One Comment on “How to re-cover patio furniture cushions

  1. Be careful what outf
    Door fabric you get. I just covered pillows for outside, used them once for 15 minutes. Rested my arm on one and now have a nasty chemical burn on my arm, red and very sore. Three days later no relief after treatment. Found out fabric made overseas, and also many made in America that has a water resistant finish have been treated with formaldehyde! My covers are now in the garbage, I am wearing long sleeves outside in 85 degree weather to protect my sore arm, and I am reading all labels on fabric very carefully. Be very carefull.

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