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Zip it up – Sewing a Cushion Top Part 1

I decided to put aside the snowmen for a day while I get my other project completed. Today I’m going to start to make a cushion with the fabric I created on the Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 960Q.

There are several ways to make the cushion cover so that it can be removed easily for washing or to change the cushion cover. I prefer putting a zipper in the back of the cushion cover – it’s easy and looks much neater than some of the other ways.

The other question I get asked is how to avoid those empty corners on a cushion cover. Stay tuned because we’re going to address that issue tomorrow and you’ll be very surprised how easy it is to fix that problem.

Today – we create the pillow top and start inserting the zipper.

Creating the cushion top

I have a 12 inch cushion form. I like the cushion cover to be snug on the cushion form. As with all things – there are cushion forms and there are cushion forms…

Some of the inexpensive cushion forms are very loosely filled and while they are technically 12 inches – they are not a “filled” 12 inches. The more expensive ones are much “fuller”. That is something to take into account when you determine the size to cut your cushion front and back.

In this case my cushion form is a good quality one filled with goose down. Therefore I don’t have to compensate too much on the size.  I’m going to make my unfinished cushion top and cushion back 12 1/2″ square. That leaves me a 1/4″ seam all around the cushion and it should fit snug on the cushion form. If I were using a less full cushion form – I would make the cushion top and back 12 inches. I don’t add any extra for the seams and that helps to make the cushion cover snug on the cushion form.

My piece of textured fabric that I made with a decorative stitch with the Sapphire 960Q on a piece of over dyed muslin
My piece of textured fabric that I made with a decorative stitch with the Sapphire 960Q on a piece of over dyed muslin

 

 

 

I used a square ruler to determine how much of the stitched piece was usable.

If you remember, I didn’t add a big enough piece of stabilizer (so that it extended beyond the fabric) and in some cases, I had to start the stitches inside the edge of the fabric to help match up the lines. So the outer edges were unusable. Another one of those “let’s change the design” moments.

 

Did you note that the diagonal line on my ruler is lined up with one of the diagonal lines on the fabric? YES - I use all the lines on the ruler to center things.
Did you note that the diagonal line on my ruler is lined up with one of the diagonal lines on the fabric? YES – I use all the lines on the ruler to center things.

 

 

 

The textured piece is now ready to be sewn into the cushion cover
The textured piece is now ready to be sewn into the cushion cover

 

 

 

From the remainder of the very mottled over dyed muslin, I cut two side pieces and the top and bottom strips.  I want my unfinished cushion top to be 12 1/2″. I usually cut the width of all four of these pieces a little larger than they need to be. It makes the math much easier and I can always trim so the center piece is exactly in the center.

From the remainder of the VERY mottled over dyed muslin, I cut two side pieces and the top and bottom strips.
From the remainder of the VERY mottled over dyed muslin, I cut two side pieces and the top and bottom strips.

 

 

 

The cushion top is now sewn together - notice I did not worry about the length of the top and bottom pieces - the entire piece will be trimmed to the appropriate size - in this case - 12 1/2"
The cushion top is now sewn together – notice I did not worry about the length of the top and bottom pieces – the entire piece will be trimmed to the appropriate size – in this case – 12 1/2″

 

 

 

I’m now using a 15 inch square ruler to trim up the cushion top. This time I used the horizontal and vertical lines to ensure that I had the same amount of border on all FOUR sides of the center panel.

Trimming the cushion top
Trimming the cushion top

 

 

 

Once the borders were on that central panel - I removed the stabilizer from the back. The type of stabilizer that I used is quite stiff and it changes the feel of the fabric. It was easy to tear it away.
Once the borders were on that central panel – I removed the stabilizer from the back. The type of stabilizer that I used is quite stiff and it changes the feel of the fabric. It was easy to tear it away.

 

 

 

Stabilizer is now completely gone
Stabilizer is now completely gone

 

 

 

Preparing the back of the cushion cover

To recap – I’m using a 12 inch cushion form and my cushion top is 12 1/2′” unfinished. The back of the cushion is cut the same width at the cushion top, but I add an extra two inches to the length. This is to accommodate the zipper.

The front and back of the cushion cover.
The front and back of the cushion cover.

 

 

 

Next cut the backing in half across the width. I usually make the top “half” of the cushion back bigger than the bottom “half” of the cushion back.

The cushion back is cut into two pieces across the width.
The cushion back is cut into two pieces across the width.

 

 

 

Oh that dirty sewing machine!

As I was getting ready to start sewing in the zipper – the sewing machine had a hiccup. Look at all that lint that came up from the bobbin case!  And I have only gone through two bobbins.

I won’t clean it out until I have gone through four – I want you to see how much lint can collect in the bobbin case. We would not want this kind of mess on our project. I did not pull up the bobbin thread and that’s why this mess happened.

I wish just once I could fault the Sapphire 960Q and not the operator!

Lint pulled up from the bobbin case
Lint pulled up from the bobbin case

 

 

 

Inserting the zipper

OK – so no burgundy zippers in the stash that were the right length. Black will have to do and it really isn`t a problem since this zipper is going to be completely hidden and it is NOT an invisible zipper. Just a regular one.

Notice the length of my zipper. The zipper is about 2 inches shorter than the total width of my cushion back. Center the zipper face down on the bottom half of the cushion back and pin. The zipper is about 1 inch in from the edge of both side edges of the cushion back.

Zipper pinned to the bottom half of the cushion back
Zipper pinned to the bottom half of the cushion back

 

 

 

See how that zipper snugs right up to the teeth on the zipper. I moved the needle slightly to the left so the line of stitching was closer to the zipper teeth.
See how that zipper snugs right up to the teeth on the zipper. I moved the needle slightly to the left so the line of stitching was closer to the zipper teeth.

 

 

 

It's difficult to sew right beside the zipper pull. So as I approach the zipper pull I stop and move the zipper pull behind the presser foot and I can continue to sew. If you sew beside the zipper pull - you'll always get a bump in the line of stitching as the presser foot bumps against the zipper pull.
It’s difficult to sew right beside the zipper pull. So as I approach the zipper pull I stop and move the zipper pull behind the presser foot and I can continue to sew. If you sew beside the zipper pull – you’ll always get a bump in the line of stitching as the presser foot bumps against the zipper pull.

 

 

 

The zipper is attached to the bottom half of the cushion back
The zipper is attached to the bottom half of the cushion back

 

 

 

Fold back the zipper as if it were a piece of fabric and press lightly to get a crisp edge. You may want to top stitch alongside the zipper, but I don`t bother.
Fold back the zipper as if it were a piece of fabric and press lightly to get a crisp edge. You may want to top stitch alongside the zipper, but I don`t bother.

 

 

 

This is what the wrong side of the zipper looks like
This is what the wrong side of the zipper looks like

 

 

 

Come back tomorrow and we’ll finish inserting the zipper and deal with those floppy corners on the cushion.

Have a great day!

Ciao!

Elaine Theriault is a teacher, writer and pattern designer who is completely obsessed with quilting. Elaine’s Tech Tips column (originally published in A Needle Pulling Thread magazine) is now available online in e-book format at QUILTsocial.com. When not quilting, she enjoys spending time with her two dogs, Lexi and Murphy, or can be found cycling across the country. Her blog is crazyquilteronabike.blogspot.com.

1 Comment

  1. Pauline

    Your tutorials are fantastic – thanks for showing so much detail.
    Pauline

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