How To... Seafarer cushion - LoveKnitting blog

Published on July 21st, 2015 | by Elizabeth Bagwell


6 tips for making plump cushions

Dress your cushions in knitting or crochet. Elizabeth Bagwell has tips to make covering cushions easy and fun.

Penguin Pillow - LoveKnitting blgo

Above, Penguin Pillow by Whitney Webster

Cushions are a great project for any knitter. They’re typically square, so you can knit something as complex or simple as you like without worrying about shaping and they’re permanently on display. They also have fewer sizing issues than a sock or a sweater, and if you do need to try the half-knit item on, the model is generally pretty cooperative – something of a stuffed shirt, in fact! Here are a few tips to help you get the plump, magazine-worthy cushions you’ve been imagining.

1. Aim to make your cover the same size as the cushion
Ideally, you want your cushion cover to be slightly smaller than the cushion. As with a jumper, this negative ease will make it cling to every curve, giving the cushion a plump, pneumatic look (think 1950s sweater girls, in contrast to 1980s baggy knits). Aim to make the cover the size on the cushion label (e.g. 50x50cm) or slightly smaller if you’re using a stretchy stitch.

2. Choose your cushion before you start to knit
There’s a chicken-and-egg problem here, but as cushions tend to come in standard sizes and knitting doesn’t, it’s a good idea to choose your cushion before you cast on. That way, you can easily compare your actual knit to the final cushion size and adjust as you go.

3. Look out for pre-covered cushions in matching colours
Knitting – and particularly crochet – can gape slightly. Rather than having flashes of white peak through, look out for pre-covered cushions in a similar shade to your yarn. In many cases, these will cost the same as an uncovered white cushion. A contrasting shade is a great way to make lace stand out, which is ideal if you’re rescuing an older knit.

4. Turn well-loved knits into cosy cushions
Cushions are typically square, and so are many other pieces of knitting, including sweater fronts, scarves and baby blankets. If you’ve got a knit you adore that’s been outgrown, worn through or simply never fit quite right, consider taking drastic action, cutting it up and making a cushion. Just remember that knitting can unravel from any cut edge, so it’s a good idea to sew the fabric before you cut it.

5. You can knit a cushion cover in the round
A cushion cover is generally two squares sewn together on all sides. You can eliminate some of the making up by knitting a tube of the right size, and sewing across the top and bottom.

Seafarer cushion - LoveKnitting blog

Above, The Seafarer Cushion Cover, by Rebecca’s Room

6. You don’t need to make a cover removable, but it helps
Many knitters don’t like sewing up, so doing it once and for all seems more attractive than putting in a zip. Remember this isn’t the only choice: you can use tiny, near-invisible buttons, enormous, statement ones, toggles or even ribbon to close your cushion. Having a removable cover will make washing or spot cleaning easier.

7. You can just knit a front
If you’re using a pre-covered cushion, you don’t need to knit a complete cover. Instead, you can simply decorate it with a segment of knitting. For example, you could knit a lace front to dress up a plain cushion, cut the motif off an out-grown kid’s sweater or simply give up before you knit the back. Even if you’re using an uncovered cushion pad, there’s no rule that says front and back have to match. If knitting the front has worn you to a frazzle, knit a plain back and call it a design feature!

Don’t forget to upload photos of your favourite cushion projects to our fabulous Projects page!

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About the Author

Elizabeth is a keen knitter, occasional designer, enthusiastic traveler and a professional freelance writer. She spent three years working for British knitting magazine, Simply Knitting, and has also written for The Knitter and other craft titles. She blogs at:

Last updated: July 14th, 2016.

3 Responses to 6 tips for making plump cushions

  1. Kalli says:

    I have been knitting a cover for a lumbar support cushion which requires 4 sides. I made it bigger than the cushion to account for the curve and so my mum, who has severe arthritis, can easily take the cushion out for washing, as having a tight fit would make it impossible for her to do so. I also used velcro for the openable bit with statement buttons in a contrasting pattern so that it can be easily seen where to open it. It has taken me a couple of months and I still have to make up the sides, which I wanted to do last so that I could pick up the end stitches from the front and back for a custom fit. If only making a tube would have worked!! The only concession I made was doing the back and sides in a different colour rather than patchwork all around, mainly because I am making it to match chair covers and I could not stomach the idea of making squares ad infinitum.

  2. Priscilla Laybolt says:

    You said you were going to give tips for making plump cushions.
    There are no tips for making them plump.
    Maybe you could give a tip for that please?
    Thank you for everything else though !

  3. Dawn Finney says:

    Very inspiring – thank you!

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