What do you do with your children’s clothes when they outgrow them? Most are given away to someone else who can use them. But what about the clothes that you just can’t bear to part with; a favourite piece of clothing, a special gift, or an article of clothing that evokes fond memories. Usually, they are carefully wrapped and packed away in a cupboard, where no one sees them. Here’s how to turn a special t-shirt into a decorative cushion, which can be put on show for all to see. Please note that this is decorative cushion, not a pillow.
Double sided fusible webbing
5 x buttons
Polyester thread for attaching buttons
Cotton or polyester thread for the sewing machine
1 yard of fabric (for fabric with a width less than 50 inches)
¾ yard of fabric (for fabric with a width of 50 inches or greater)
14 inch x 14 inch cushion insert
Your t-shirt will have been washed many times, so will not shrink any further. Wash the fabric to be used for the cushion, to prevent shrinkage at a later date. Pre-washing will also prevent dyes from running. Ironing both the t-shirt and cushion fabric will make both cutting and sewing more accurate.
Cut the fabric
Two pieces - 15 inches x 15 inches
One piece - 15 inches x 8 inches
One piece – 15 inches x 13 inches
Roughly cut the t-shirt piece to appliqué. Cut a little larger than actually needed.
Cut the fusible webbing slightly smaller than the t-shirt piece, but larger than the finished appliqué.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to fuse the rough side of the webbing to the wrong side of the t-shirt piece. Basically, you are fusing the webbing to the fabric, by ironing. Set the iron to the correct setting for the fabric you are using, don’t use steam and press, rather than slide. Use an old cloth both under and on top to prevent glue from getting on the iron or ironing board.
You will now have your t-shirt on one side and paper on the other side. Trace the appliqué shape onto the paper, when it is cool, cut out the appliqué. Peel off the paper, leaving a thin film of glue on the wrong side of the fabric. Again, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to fuse the appliqué to the front of the cushion. Use an old cloth.
You can hand or machine sew the appliqué to the cushion front. This will prevent it from fraying. I use an appliqué foot on my sewing machine, because it makes it easier to see the stitching, but it is not necessary. Set your machine to a zig zag stitch and experiment with the width and length of the stitch. I used a width of 4 and a length of .8. Because the t-shirt is stretch fabric, I used a longer length than for non-stretch fabric.
If your machine has a knot stitch, begin with that. Otherwise do a couple of straight stitches and backstitch before you zig zag. If you need to adjust the material as you sew the rounded corners, stop the machine, with the needle in the fabric, on the outside of the zig zag. End the zig zag with a knot stitch on the machine or do a couple of straight stitches and backstitch. Take the cotton through to the wrong side and knot securely. Thread the ends through the zig zag stitch on the wrong side of the fabric.
Using 3 strands of embroidery floss, sew a running stitch around the appliqué, about an 1/8 inch away. Choose a decorative stitch on your machine and sew another line of stitching, about ½ inch outside the first. Using 3 strands of embroidery floss, sew a running stitch 1 inch from the edge, on all four sides of the cushion.
Place the second piece of 15 x 15 fabric onto the 15 x 15 piece with stitching, wrong sides together. This will make the inside of the cushion cover neater. Baste around the edges to hold together.
Using the 15 x 8 inch fabric, turn under ¼ inch on one long side, press, turn under ½ inch and sew. Using the 15 x 13 inch fabric, turn under ¼ inch on one long side, press, turn under ½ inch and sew.
Place the cushion front with the outside of the fabric facing up. Place the two back pieces, onto the outside of the cushion. The two back pieces will overlap and form an envelope. Stitch all the way around the 4 sides. Clip the corners, being careful not to cut the stitching. Finish the edges with a serger or zig zag. Turn the cushion right side out and you are finished.
I was really pleased with how my cushion turned out. It's still one of my favourites projects and was so easy to make. This tutorial was originally published by CRAFT last December.
Have you seen our Pillows and Cushions ongoing, themed link party?