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Advice on making my first ever piped box cushion, please

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  • Advice on making my first ever piped box cushion, please

    Hello, fabulous forum members. I'm looking for advice on making a piped box cushion, please. I've never done one before, so I've borrowed a couple of books from the library (by Heather Luke and Maureen Whitemore), searched this forum for information and looked at some YouTube tutorials. This research process has left me with some questions, so I hope I can pick your expert brains, please.

    The project is to make a cushion for a small chair, using fabric left over from the curtains I've just made for the room. The chair was used by my husband's mother to nurse her babies, so it's of great sentimental importance, and I want to make a good job of the cushion. I've attached a picture of the seat of the chair. And here come my questions!

    1. Ideally I'd like to follow the line of the chair's frame (ie the white-painted bit), which would mean all four sides of the cushion would be curved, and the back would have a stepped indent on each side to fit round the uprights of the chair back. Am I completely mad to contemplate this, when I've never done one before?

    2. I've bought a piece of firm foam for the cushion (which will never be sat on - the chair is purely decorative). Do I need to cover the foam with fabric before making the cushion-cover? The fabrics I have available are left-over curtain linings: a blackout lining and a Merrick & Day cotton lining that has one side brushed. If I need to cover it, would one of these be suitable?

    3. Should I cut the foam to the exact size of the chair and the fabric to the exact size of the foam, ie with no extra seam allowance? I've seen differing answers on this, and would like to be sure I'm getting it right, so the cushion looks firm and well-filled.

    4. Is it possible to use snap fasteners along the back of the cushion between the bottom layer of fabric and the gusset, to save me grappling with inserting a zip? Or would that get me drummed out of this forum?!

    5. What's the best size cord to use? I'm thinking not too big, as the chair is small. The foam is 5cm depth. Should I go for 5mm cord, or 7mm, or 8mm?

    6. I don't have a piping foot, so I'd be using a zipper foot. I note that Maureen Whitemore's book recommends using just one line of stitching that encases the cord and attaches the piping to the face fabric at the same time, whereas Heather Luke says to make the piping first, then attach it, while making sure the first line of stitching doesn't show. Given my lack of experience and piping foot, any views on which method is safer for me?

    7. And finally, any further tips that I haven't thought about, please? And many, many thanks in advance.

    Alison
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  • #2
    Re: Advice on making my first ever piped box cushion, please

    Hi Alison
    What a lovely idea, it's great to bring things back to their former glory!
    Answers to your questions, as you will find there are lots of ways to skin a cat!
    1 if you haven't done a boxed cushions before the indents are tricky but not impossible and it might be atrial and error effort before you perfect it, especially if its piped. Alternatively you could follow the line of the circular brown seat - the choice is yours and how brave you're feeling.
    2 it's good practice to cover the foam before making a cover, this might will give you the chance to practice the indent issue and its get you thinking about possible problems without spoiling your top fabric. This is normally made upon calico but lining will do, I wouldn't use the blackout .
    3 make a template for your foam first out of old wallpaper or newspaper . Fold the newspaper in half so each side of the cushion is the same. Use this template to mark and cut your foam. Add seam allowance for the lining cover and once you have fitted that onto the foam you will see how tight the fit is and give you an idea for your top cover, this can vary on the thickness of your top cover.
    4 . Yup do a zip .
    5 it depends on how thick the cushion is going to be but I'd go for the thinnest, do a mock up with your fabric and you'll see which looks best, if the fabric is thick then your piping will look fatter so a 10 cm mock up helps .
    6 zipper foot is good, if its adjustable you can make it quite loose when making the piping first and then when you attach it to the top fabric you can adjust it so you don't see any thread.
    I think as this is a family heirloom it deserves your attention, this isn't always the commercial approach as it is quite time consuming . I would try it out on some scrap fabric ( same weight as your top fabric ) to see the result. This chair is for keeps and once you have made the cushion you will have learnt a new skill
    Ahh yes and when you attach your border to the top and bottom of your cushion fabric remember to cut for obstructions at the corners on the border and piping not on the top and bottom part, this makes a nice clean turn. Attach the piping to the border first. Also double check your corners align to each other when attaching the border to the top and bottom cushion bits.
    Hope that's clear, it's tricky to write it down!
    Good luck, I would love to see a pic when you've finished it
    Jane

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    • #3
      Re: Advice on making my first ever piped box cushion, please

      Thanks, Jane, for that very detailed and helpful reply; so kind of you. Lots to think about there, so I will come back to it in the morning with a clearer head!

      Alison

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      • #4
        Re: Advice on making my first ever piped box cushion, please

        I always make up the piping first, then you have a secure edging to work with. As it is potentially a tricky shape and your first attempt at a box cushion, I would suggest tacking the layers together before you machine them. It takes longer, but not as long as unpicking machine stitching if you make a mistake!

        Good luck.

        Best wishes
        Liz

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        • #5
          Re: Advice on making my first ever piped box cushion, please

          I would cover the foam with wadding and stockinette. The wadding gives you the 'crown' and makes the cushion look soft. You can send your template away to one of many companies who will cut the foam to shape and wrap it in wadding and stockinette for you. It's quite tricky to cut the foam yourself, especially if it is a complicated shape. Use an electric knife and keep the blade at right angles to the foam for an accurate cut. You cut the fabric to the size of the foam.

          Use 5mm cord. The circumerence of the cord is 1.2cm. If you cut your bias strips 5.5cm wide, when the piping is made up you will have a 2cm seam allowance which means you just match up the raw edges of piping to cushion piece. I would stitch the piping to the cushion top and bottom pieces, rather than the border.
          Kind regards
          Pen Harrison
          Colly Brook Fine Furnishings

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          • #6
            Re: Advice on making my first ever piped box cushion, please

            Liz and Pen, those are really helpful tips, thank you.

            Liz, I will definitely go with tacking, as everything will feel more secure (including me!)

            Pen, the guidance on cord size and bias strip dimensions is so helpful, thank you.

            Could I ask your views on whether using snap fasteners would work, please? I'm concerned that using a zip would (a) give me another challenge, and (b) if the zip has to come round the corners from the back, it will be too visible, as the chair is side-on to the door of the room. I thought snap fasteners along the join between the border and the bottom fabric at the back would give me a big enough opening for the pad while being less obvious (and easier ).

            I'm still feeling a bit daunted, but considerably better informed, which helps. Thanks again.

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            • #7
              Re: Advice on making my first ever piped box cushion, please

              You could use snaps, I can't see why not. You could even slip stitch the opening closed, as it's for yourself.
              Kind regards
              Pen Harrison
              Colly Brook Fine Furnishings

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              • #8
                Re: Advice on making my first ever piped box cushion, please

                Slip stitching might even be neater than snaps......
                Louise


                sigpic Simply Sewing

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                • #9
                  Re: Advice on making my first ever piped box cushion, please

                  Pen and Louise, slip stitching is a brilliant idea. Thank you!

                  I've been wrestling with the foam and the template, as my dear husband had already had a go at cutting the foam *sigh*. Not only did he use my fabric scissors, he didn't quite appreciate the need to be accurate. Anyway, I'm sure it can be made to work; good job it's not a professional assignment. I've made a cover for the foam, and it actually worked pretty well, which has perked me up no end. I did it without seam allowances to see how it would look; it comes up a bit small, so I'll make another one now with a 1cm seam allowance. Onwards and upwards!

                  Alison

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                  • #10
                    Re: Advice on making my first ever piped box cushion, please

                    Well done Alison
                    Don't forget to pucsh the seam allowance along the border edge before closing , don't let it sit on the bottom or top. This makes a small difference but makes the box cushion stand up neater. Same when you do the top fabric.
                    Jane

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                    • #11
                      Re: Advice on making my first ever piped box cushion, please

                      Thanks, Jane - another great tip.

                      Alison

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                      • #12
                        Re: Advice on making my first ever piped box cushion, please

                        I always use a 2cm seam allowance. It's safer, especially if the fabric is likely to fray. You can always trim it around corners and in places where you don't want any bulk. It also makes it easy to put in your made-up piping, as Pen suggests.

                        Best wishes
                        Liz

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                        • #13
                          Re: Advice on making my first ever piped box cushion, please

                          Thanks, Liz - that makes a lot of sense. I've ordered the cord, and covered the pad in a way that I'm broadly happy with. Piping is next on the list!

                          Alison

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                          • #14
                            Re: Advice on making my first ever piped box cushion, please

                            So - I did it! It's not perfect, but I'm pretty pleased with the way it's turned out, as this was my first ever box cushion, and a small, fiddly shape. Many thanks to all those who advised me in this thread, and also to the lovely Schuhby, whose videos were incredibly helpful. I'd be lost without this fabulous forum.

                            Alison

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                            • #15
                              Re: Advice on making my first ever piped box cushion, please

                              Oh, well done! That's lovely, and an awfully good first attempt.

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