Tuesday 6 October 2015

Differences in Cushion Inserts

Does the Shape and Size of a Cushion Insert Matter?

It's not often I get to go fabric shopping when someone else foots the bill. OK, my eldest son and his girlfriend chose the fabrics and they get to keep the finished project, but hey, I get to keep all the left overs.

Buying the right size cushion or pillow insert to make a cushion that is nice and plump and sits well ~ Threading My Way

They wanted a set of six cushions in bright, bold, geometric fabrics - two in each design. I should have had them sewn in no time, but I took longer than they had anticipated.

I baulked at starting the cushions, due to the invisible zipper closures. It certainly wasn't the first time I'd sewn invisible zips, but I hadn't used the technique for many years. A quick Google search reminded me what to do.

I must admit, the inside of the cushion where the ends of the zips are attached, is not as neat as I'd like, but from the outside, all looks fine. Never mind that the stripes don't match perfectly. Have you ever tried to match stripes and patterns on all four sides of a project? I figure it was more important for the tops to match.

I bought cushion inserts from a new to me company for this project and was very disappointed when the covers I made didn't sit properly on the new inserts. The corners in particular, just wouldn't sit right.

You can see they are nice plump inserts, which I had thought would be a good thing. They were advertised as being 40cm x 40cm (15¾" x 15¾") and this was pretty much spot on.

And they are roughly 5" in width.

No matter how much I tried to push and pull the inserts, I couldn't get them to sit nicely.

And so I bought another set of inserts, the standard ones I always use. They are advertised as being suitable for cushion covers up to 16" x 16" (41cm x 41cm). When I measured them, the actual measurement of the insert is 17¼" x 17¼" (44cm x 44cm).

You can see they are much slimmer than the first set - almost 2" narrower.

My cushion covers ended up at 15¾" x 15¾". With the slimmer, but slightly larger inserts, I was able to pull the inserts to fit the corners of the covers. As advertised, they fitted a cover up to 16" x 16", with the insert measuring 17¼" x 17¼".

Cushion cover (15¾" x 15¾") + cushion insert (15¾" x 15¾") resulted in an ill fitting cushion, as in the photo above.

Cushion cover (15¾" x 15¾") + cushion insert 17¼" x 17¼" resulted in a cushion which sits well.

The insert needs to be larger than the cover. Having always purchased my cushions at the same place, I'd worked out the formula for getting cushions that looked just right for me, varying the measurements slightly, to make each cushion the right plumpness. 

What I didn't take into account, was how cushion inserts are advertised:
  • inserts to fit cushion covers up to a certain size
  • an exact insert size
These are NOT the same thing. I'd previously purchased inserts that fit cushions up to a certain size, but in my head, I was seeing this as the actual insert size and so, when I ordered the new inserts, I thought I was ordering the same size.

I should have been more attentive to the specified details when ordering my new inserts. The website clearly stated to go up one size from the cushion cover size. Which means I should have ordered inserts that were 45cm x 45cm (17½" x 17½")

The cushion inserts need to be larger than the cushion covers. How much larger will depend on how plump you like your cushions to be and on how full the inserts are. My successful cushions have inserts that are 1½" larger and the new supplier suggests about 2" larger.

So now I'm left with six cushion inserts. I'll just have to make myself six cushions that are slightly smaller. Given that the inserts are fuller than I'm used to, I'll do a little experimenting. Stay tuned...

Have you ever made a mistake that is SO obvious, you end up shaking your head, wondering how you got it wrong? Keeping it real here at Threading My Way.

... Pam


  1. I make every sewing mistake that's out there - and usually on a daily basis! My latest one is forgetting to orient directional fabrics properly. Of course I don't notice until the project is completely finished. If a project went smoothly I'd wonder when the sky was going to fall, lol!

  2. What Sandra said. Attention to detail is not my strong suit. Why I chose sewing as a hobby with this particular personal flaw is something I will never understand! You brave woman trying to make those lines work on all four sides and not just a zipper but a hidden zipper! There would have been tears and cursing going on here if I had to do that.

  3. Matching up those stripes must have been eye goggling Pam, I am impressed at how well you did :)

  4. I never thought of this before.... And I am glad you pointed it out. I just recently bought some inserts and will have to keep it in mind while in the planning stages to make the covers. Thanks Pam!

  5. I have made just about every mistake imaginable. Of course, what I would do would probably not be what most people would do. I would probably be opening up those inserts and moving some of that stuffing from one insert to another to make it fill up the pillow better. Of course, you would probably wind up with one less pillow than you had intended. Truth is, I usually make my own inserts. I buy full size bed pillows(inexpensive ones), cut them open and resize them to make inserts to fit my throw pillow covers. It usually costs less, as those inserts can be pretty pricey. I save the left over filling and use it either to make another insert later or to stuff something else. Call me crazy/cheap!

  6. This is very interesting, I've made cushions before, filled them with an insert and wondered why they don't look quite right and why my corners are so pronounced, but I've never then followed the thought process through any further! So thank you, I will pay more attention to insert sizes from now on, which is very timely because I'm soon to be buying quite a few inserts for Christmas Fair cushions.

  7. I have been thinking about making some pillow covers and was concerned about the issues you raised. Pinning so I can check back with your post for tips. :)

  8. Tip sent to me via email...

    Regarding your post about making cushions, a tip I read is to angle off the corners so the corners don't end up so pointy. Using a ruler and rotary cutter, start about 2" from each corner and angle the corner in by about 3/4" - 1" on each side. I usually draw this line with a marking pencil first, then trim with my rotary cutter. Then you sew your cushion together as usual. I hope my description makes sense ... I can see what I'm trying to say, hopefully you can too! Although this makes better shaped cushions, I admit I also have struggled recently with getting inserts that fit! Sorry I didn't post this as a comment ... I'm not a blogger, and don't know how to post with any of the options given, unless there's an "anonymous" button as on some blogs. Anyway, I hope you find this tip useful, or at least interesting! Candy

    1. Makes perfect sense, Candy. Thanks!

    2. Hey, Pam! I'm about to sew my cushions and knew I needed to read this post again to do them well. Now I've read Candy's comment which sounds interesting, too. Unfortunately, I am challenged in this area. I cannot for the life of me understand how this Candy corner is done. I see it makes perfect sense to you, however (not surprising!). Maybe you could do a post on these corners sometime? Please, please. I know you are busy, especially this time of year with all the holiday sewing kicking in. Just sometime in the future if you run out of ideas. Okay, unlikely that will happen, but just in case!


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