We have a lovely little paved area in a corner of our garden which is perfect for sitting and watching the girls play on the grass. However the old timber outdoor furniture we had literally fell to bits. To keep costs down the hubby and I purchased a second hand setting made of cast aluminium. Cast aluminium is fantastic for surviving all types of weather and will last forever if properly rust proofed. Our second hand purchase had four chairs and a round table but needed a bit of tender love and care. The previous owner had painted it green, which was an OK colour, but the paint job was a disaster! He must of just slapped it on, so a repaint was definitely needed.
He also threw in some round cushions for free, though my first thought when I saw them was, “yuk! throw them in the bin!”. They were covered in flowery plastic fantastic fabric straight from the seventies. I don’t have anything against the seventies, after all I was born in the seventies, so it couldn’t have been that bad 😜, but these were grimy and hideous. On closer inspection the foam inserts were in good condition, but the covers had to go.
In order to rust proof the cast aluminium, I decided to use a metal epoxy enamel paint in high gloss white. This paint is oil based and needs a special type of mineral turpentine to clean up afterwards. Usually I don’t have a problem painting with an oil based enamel paint, but this paint was really thin and horrible to paint with. I had sticky drips all over the place (including on me) and in hindsight I should have just used spray cans instead. It also took me 45 minutes to paint each chair and the table. As it needed two coats, I felt like I was painting forever! Add into the mix only being able paint while my youngest was having her afternoon nap and needless to say I was very happy when I finally finished. The paint job did end up looking nice, so I guess the pain was worth it!
After washing the cushion inserts in the washing machine on the hottest setting to kill any nasties and leaving them out in the sun to dry, they were ready to recover. I found a lovely thick durable canvas material which suited the furniture design but then had a minor panic attack. How on earth do you make round cushion covers with zips? There is so much online info on how to make square cushion covers, but none for round cushions. After some thinking (it made my brain hurt a bit) I devised a plan.
Instead of sewing in a zip on a curved circle edge, which would have been difficult, I would sew the zip into a strip of fabric which would go around the circumference of the cushion. Then I would sew two circles onto each side of the strip to finish the cushion cover. My first cushion definitely was not perfect, but the other three turned out quite well. The key for sewing anything difficult is to pin often and sew slowly; you’re less likely to make mistakes.
If you ever need to attempt making a round cushion cover, the following steps may come in handy:
- My cushion was 35cm in diameter, so my cut out circles allowed for a 2cm extra border (a diameter of 39cm).
- The width of the cushion foam was 5cm. I doubled the width of my fabric strip (10cm) to allow for the zip insert and sewing it to the circles. This strip was then cut in half (5cm) to sew in the zip.
- The length of the strip needed to equal the foam circle cushion circumference. Anyone remember their school geometry lessons? Multiply the cushion diameter by Pi (35cm x 3.14 = 109.9cm). Add an extra 2 cm at each end. Total strip length was 114cm.
- Use a lot of pins when preparing to sew your strip to the circle cut outs as you are attaching something straight onto a curved edge.
- I didn’t sew close the fabric strip circumference until after it was pinned to the two circle cutouts. This ensured that there was no puckering and that the seams matched up perfectly.
My thumb did end up a bit like a pin cushion after pricking myself constantly, but I’m really happy with the end result.
I think it’s time for a gin and tonic while sitting on my new upcycled outdoor furniture. Cheers🍸