Let’s Talk Sewing Cushions

Hi, Kim, from Kim’s upholstery here today. I wanted to talk to you a little bit about sewing cushions. One question I get asked often is ” I’ve sewn all three of my cushions and they look terrible. What did I do wrong?” The first word of advice as you sew, watch for things that are happening and resolve the issues before you’ve sewn all three cushions sounds simple, right?

My Corners Don’t Line Up… UGH

Do you find that your cushion corners aren’t lining up, and the top and bottom plates of your cushion fabrics don’t look smooth? Maybe you’ve got some puckering going happening.  These things can be caused by your technique,  the way you’re holding the fabric, you may be pushing the fabric through the machine or not letting the machine do the work for you. Pulling on the fabric too much can work against you.
It could be the size of your sewing machine needle.  It may also be the tension setting or your stitch length. Stitch lengths can vary depending on the thickness of the fabric. Adjusting this can sometimes solve the issues as well. If your fabric is stretching and pulling away from you as you’re sewing, like your cushion is hanging off the edge of the sewing machine table and pulling as you are sewing, that can cause you problems too.

The Right Tool For The Job

Keep your fabrics gathered up on the end of your sewing machine table and don’t let them fall down. Sometimes it’s just a difficult fabric and it takes some experience. And that’s one of those things that the more you do, the more you sew, the more you’ll understand the way the different fabrics work, and you’ll be able to control some of those issues.  Also having the right sewing machine, a walking foot machine can make a world of difference when you’re sewing cushions for upholstery or for slipcovers. And if your cushion corners aren’t lining up, when you do the first corner, don’t expect the next three to line up. So stop, backtrack, and figure out what’s happening with your fabric. Why it’s either stretching out or shrinking up, which, again, goes back to the technique. We discuss the techniques of sewing cushions a lot in our cushion videos, as part of the online class membership.


One other thing that I see too many times is inconsistent boxing, keep your seam allowances consistent. This will have a huge effect on the way that your cushion looks. If you look at the boxing on the front of a cushion, sitting on a piece of furniture and this edge is three and a half inches, and this end is at four inches, that’s not a good look. So really pay attention to your sewing. Make sure the edges of your fabrics are lined up and you’re not having the seam allowance uneven.

My stitches look all a mess, what is happening?

If your stitching doesn’t look right on the top thread that’s affected generally by the bobbin. If you’re stitching on the bottom, doesn’t look right. That’s affected by the top threading of your machine coming from the spool. These are all things that you wanna check as you go.
As these problems arise, just address them then, and don’t let them go so far that now you’ve got major issues in your cushion results.

Do you love roller coasters? Not when it’s a cushion.

Wonky cording. Now that’s another one. We hear a lot.  You’ve got your cushion also together and now you’re cording looks like a roller coaster instead of nice and smooth across the top of your cushions that could be caused by not cutting your fabric on the bias for your cording. It could be caused by inconsistent seam allowance as you’re sewing your cording, which then, in turn, bumps the cording out when you’re sewing it to the top and bottom plates. So consistent seam allowances are important here as well.  Another issue could be if you’re at the end of your cording.
You’ve got your cording that comes on a roll and you’re at the end of that roll, that cording is wound much tighter than it is at the beginning of the roll when the roll is large. This can cause problems too. Sometimes steaming can make it loosen up, you just wanna pay attention if you’re at the end of the roll and it’s really tight you are apt to have bad results.

Don’t just pull!

Also, this sounds really simple, but how you pull your cording off the spool can affect your project.  When you pull the cord off the top of the spool, it wants to stay coiled.  After you sew it into your fabric, it still wants to go back to its coiled state.  If you unwind the cording from the roll, you will have a much straighter-looking cording. It sounds pretty simple, but it’s one of those mistakes we all make until we figure out and pay attention to what’s happening.

Can you hear that?

Another thing. Is to get used to the sound of your machine. I’ve been sewing for so many years that I can hear when something’s going off on my sewing machine and can tell that there’s a problem. When I get close to the end of a bobbin, the machine sounds a little different than if I have a full bobbin.
You also want to make sure that you clean out the dust and broken threads from your machine. You want to clean the head of the machine, as well as out of the bobbin area of your machine. I  have a blower attachment that goes on my air compressor. I blow all the dust and fuzz out of my machine. Little threads that are caught in there, and dust that builds up can really affect your machine’s performance.

KISS, keep it simple stupid!

Change your sewing machine needles, this is the first thing I do when you have an issue with my machine. Do the simple things first like changing the needle. They’re not that expensive and could be dull, it could have a burr or maybe it has a slight bend and you just can’t see that. Sometimes that will be all it takes to make your machine sew better.  Check your bobbin to make sure it’s wound properly. Make sure the tension on your bobbin winder is set properly so that it’s not winding a loose bobbin or making a really tight bobbin that the thread doesn’t want to come out of.  Make sure there are no loose threads or fuzz in the bobbin case.

I hope this video has been helpful and that some of this is information you can use next time you have an issue. Don’t forget that in our online classes membership, you can post questions in the community and we can help you through these dilemmas with your cushion.

See you on the inside, Kim