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Friday, July 31, 2009

DIY to the Rescue: Custom Cushions

I recently purchased some new chairs for the kitchen table. I'd been on the lookout forever for some chinese chippendale inspired chairs at a more reasonable pricepoint than Jonathan Adler's, and finally found some locally at Miss Pixie's on 14th Street here in Washington (their "window shop" feature on the website is very handy!).
However, as with all decorating projects, there was just one hitch: the cushion covers were heinous. They were well made, and seemed fairly new (the chairs themselves are vintage and in excellent shape), but there was no escaping the fact that the fabric was not my cup of tea. It looked like something you'd find in the $2/yard remnants bin at the fabric store along with the 80's pastel florals. Case in point:

The print, with its blue and white flower vases on a geometric scroll background and its awful mauve flowers, took the Asian inspiration of the chairs a little too literally.
When I unzipped the covers to remove the cushion form inside, I had an Indiana Jones moment and unearthed the original cushions, which I actually liked a lot more!

The 70's inspired green and white bamboo-style graphic is totally chic! But for all I know the fabric was actually from the 70's, as it definitely showed signs of age. Plus, as Teresa from the Real Housewives of New Jersey would say, when it comes to sitting on used cushion covers of unknown origin, "I skeeve, I skeeve"! (Come on, you know you watch it too).

I'm a pro when it comes to cushions with a wooden bottom- pop the seat off the chair, whip out the staple gun, wrap the fabric around the bottom and cushioning, staple, and call it a day. However, these box cushions required a little more effort; namely, the sewing machine.
Using the old cover as a template, I cut out two 18"x18" squares for each cushion to serve as the top and the bottom, then a long, narrow strip that would go around the middle (which I had to piece together from two strips since I did not have a 72" continuous piece of fabric). Then, it was just a matter of sewing the pieces together. It really couldn't have been easier.

Remember, no sewing project is complete without ironing!

In an ideal world I would have added zippers to the back of the cushions, but being pressed for time (and patience) I opted to just leave part of one seam open in order to stuff in the cushion.

After inserting the cushions, I quickly stitched the openings by hand with a basting stitch to close the seam- no need to be fancy, as this seam will be placed on the bottom at the back of the chair and thus isn't visible.

My trusty assistant admires his handywork.

The before(s) and the after:

New cushions are the easiest way to freshen up a piece of furniture. For the same price as buying those generic seat cushions from Target or World Market, why not put in a little extra effort and really make them your own? You'll be glad you did!


Anonymous said...

Love your fabric choice! The close-up shot really shows off the interesting texture of the fabric. And note how the fabric changes the "look" of the bowl (hard for me to see exactly what it is) on the table. In the before picture, the bowl is of little interest. With the new fabric, it becomes much more a focal point and seems to "pop".
Great chairs. What a find!

Julie said...

I love your DIY posts - so inspiring! I love those chairs. I'm looking for some of my own.

Jeannine said...

What a find! And, what a cool store! We usually stay in Dupont or Logan when we stay over (we're not far, but after concerts, we generally stay over at a Kimpton Hotel somewhere in town) and I never knew we were so close to a cool second hand shop this that place. Might have to hit it up soon...

Dickie said...

Miss Pixies is the bomb. I've found some great stuff - from furniture to niknacks and all reasonably priced.

What's your take on Ruff and Ready?

Julie said...

Love your chairs. Great work.

The Matters of Style Girls said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone!

Anon- good point about the bowl- it's a bowl of corks, actually. I didn't realize till I read your comment that the cork color and fabric color really compliment each other.

Jeanine- You must stop by Miss Pixie's next time you are in the area. It's a fun place to browse and she's got some great inventory right now.

Dickie- I have mixed feelings about Ruff & Ready- there are some great deals to be had, but the place is awfully creepy. I ususally get overwhelmed after about 5 minutes, though I inevitably always stop by when I am in the area.

Happiness Is... said...

Love these!!!

I have never even attempted to sew, but you are inspiring me. I agree with you that the original fabric was way more appealing! :)

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