July 28, 2011

#53-I Sewed Cushions for a Couch! (And the Big Couch Reaveal!)

Beyond all expectations, I somehow managed to build an outdoor sectional for my Screened In Porch by building the first piece, then cutting and building the remaining pieces, and finally sanding, staining and polying the sections.  And somehow, magically, it was actually looking good.  Real good.  But the next part is the one I was sure to mess up- sewing the cushions.  It's not that I can't sew.  I've sewn curtains for the Guest Bedroom and curtains for Ry's Robot Bedroom, as well as pillows for the Guest bedroom and Ry's Bedroom.  I've even managed to make a few dresses in my day.  The problem is that they never seem to turn out as professionally as I hope, and I always have a feeling that people can tell they're home made.  They are just staring at me, always judging, watching... (Sorry, a little 'Old School' for you there.)  That's all fine with me when it comes to curtains and pillows, but for an entire couch, not so much.

I started first by looking online, and was thrilled to see a 20% off sale for the West Elm cushions that go with the very Wood Slat Sectional that I was building.  They only had one color, Dusty Navy, but I figured that I could make it work.  That is until the reality of how many cushions I really needed added up.

Yikes!  I tried my local home improvement stores, and even (gasp!) Walmart, and it didn't take me long to realize that the only way I was going to be able to do this affordably was to sew my own. My luck turned around though when I stumbled across a  60% off sale on outdoor fabrics at my favorite discount fabric store Mill End, and I was able to come home with all this goodness for just $64. 

I decided that it would be best if the main cushions were a more neutral gray, and I could add color and fun with throw pillows, (and therefore change them out over the years and avoid having the sectional feel dated too soon.)

That's 11 yards of outdoor fabric at just $4 a square foot.  Whoo to the hoo!

Cutting is where I've always had difficulty in the past, but this time, I discovered the magic that is a  cutting mat and quilting wheel cutter.  (My 18 year old self just rolled her eyes in disgust by the way.)  My cousin left it behind at my house from a project we were working on together, and all I could say was, "where have you been all my life?"  The mat was a little small, (my seat cushions needed to be cut at  25" x 25" to give be 24" x24" cushions with 1/2" seems, and the mat was 18" x 24") so I also introduced a tool that I am much more familiar and comfortable with, my drywall T Square. 

Yes, that is a Corona with a lime in it with my supplies.  It was a warm Sunday afternoon and my kiddo was napping.  The real question is why wouldn't I have a Corona while sewing?

Just like measuring for drywall, I marked my lines and checked them for square before cutting, with the help of this handy little air erase fabric pen.

It took me an entire nap, 3 full hours, to cut all the pieces for all 15 cushions of my couch.  I need 15 because there are 6 bottom seat cushions for each of my pieces whose finished size would be 24" x 24".  Then I needed 9 backs, each at 24" x 12", 1 for each armless middle and 2 for each corner piece.  Not to mention the 5 throw pillows and another cushion and 5 additional throw pillows that I'll tell you more about in a second.  It was exhausting.

It wasn't until I was in the process of cutting all these pieces until I realized the 2 major items I was forgetting: ties for the cushions and zippers.  In order to keep these cushions secure to the sectional, each cushion would need a set of ties in each back corner, 4 ties per cushion, 60 ties total.  So I began the long and boring task of cutting (60) 3" x 12" pieces, and then folding and ironing them into strips.  Once again I found myself slaving by the iron like Cinderella.  Cinderella with a Corona... which 'aint too bad actually.

A small sample of my ties pile.
The zippers were a bit more tricky, but necessary if I ever wanted to take these pieces off and wash them. (Anyone that lives with both adult and child size men knows that removable slip covers are a necessity.)  I needed 27 zippers total for all the cushions and throw pillows I planned to sew, and at $2.79 a zipper, that would have been more than the cost of all my fabric!  Luckily a little Google search unearthed (50) 20" white zippers for just $19.99, shipping included, so after this whole project is over I'll be searching Pinerest for zipper project ideas.  While I waited 2 days for my zippers to arrive, I headed to JoAnn Fabrics, where I had been stalking their cushions for weeks waiting for the perfect sale.  As luck would have it their 24"x24"x3" cushions were 50% off, and with my 10% your total purchase including sale items coupon, the nearly had to pay me to take that stuff out of the store.  That's a dirty lie, the cushions still cost me a pretty penny at $120, but at a grand total of $207 for all my cushions, I was still coming in at almost $500 under the West Elm sale price. Plus I got an additional cushion and 10 throw pillows to boot!

 The sewing actually went much quicker than I thought, and as each piece was finished I sort of danced my way out to the porch to put them on an admire my handy work.  Which reminds me- thanks Hubs for putting up with me.  I realize that you're stuck with me for life, but I know I don't always make that easy for you.  You know, with all my prancing and fist pumping.

And for the big grand finale, here she is in all her chillaxin' glory:


For those of you spreadsheet nerds out there (Hi Builder Chuck!) my total cost of this 6 piece sectional was just $288!  For reference, had I purchased this exact configuration from West Elm including the sale price cushions, the total price would have been $2,224!  Yep, that math is right, nearly two thousand dollars more.  Plus, included in my $288 is this little bonus:

While I was at it I whipped up a bottom cushion and some back pillows for the Living Room Deck box we recently overhauled.  Fun right?  I still have a some more work to do to accessorize these spaces (I'm dreaming of a fun outdoor rug, a beverage tray stand, a round coffee table of some sort and some planters and end tables....) but right now I'm going to take a break and enjoy my little masterpiece.  Oh, and if you're wondering, the sectional is the most comfortable place in the house.  The other evening it was raining outside, so I head out there to curl up with a blanket and a glass of wine to listen to the storm.  I ended up falling asleep and spent the whole night out there until Hubs woke up the next morning and sent the search dogs out for me.  It was so comfortable I could have been sleeping on my own plush mattress.  With room to sleep at least 2, I can see this being a great spot for kid sleepovers in the future.

So what do you guys think?  Anyone else have any building projects on their list?  Or major sewing projects? I actually can't believe how fast this one went, and I'm so glad I did it.

Wanna rewind and see how it all came together?

Build the Couch Part 1
Build the Couch Part 2
Stain (India Ink) the Couch
Sew the Cushions


  1. Annie TroppleJuly 28, 2011

    Why did you ever think you needed my help Erin?! You are amazing at this stuff and I can't figure out how you find the time to do all of this! Very impressive. Hopefully I'll get to see your work on Saturday!

  2. You guys are my heroes! The couch looks amazing and I'm continually inspired by all of your projects!

  3. Absolutely amazing!!! You have inspired me to tackle my very first project from the Ana White website...can't wait to see everything on Saturday!!!