Hands holding yellow and grey cushion

Sarah’s diary - how to make cushion covers from tea towels

Cushions are a great way of adding colour and comfort to your living space. I’ve just moved to a new house and these are the perfect, quick sewing project that will make my new house feel like a home. However, there’s just one problem – I’m on a very tight budget.

When I moved, a lot of people gave me housewarming presents, and I was given at least six different sets of tea towels. I cook a lot, but I really don’t need that many tea towels (does anyone?).

Looking at some seat cushion pads I already had (taken from some old cushions that had become too ripped and stained to be used anymore), I realised they were about the same size as the tea towels. Lightbulb moment!

I decided to use button closures for the cushions, as I like that vintage style. If you don’t like the button look, you could use zippers, poppers, Velcro or even just a fold over style. There are lots of videos on the internet showing you had to sew these different styles.

I spent a little time working out which tea towel pattern would look best on the cushion. Though some of them look good full size, the pattern fell awkwardly when placed on a cushion, so weren’t suitable. In the end I found that a repeated pattern worked the best, but why not get creative and try lots of different versions?

This is a quick and easy project that can be completed in under an hour.


You will need (for two matching cushions):

  • Four cotton tea towels – they don’t have to be matching
  • 2 x 40cm square cushion pads
  • Chalk
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Thread and matching bobbin
  • Iron
  • Four buttons
  • Automatic buttonhole foot, or buttonhole foot for your machine
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Sewing machine – we used the Brother Innov-is A80

Step 1

Place a tea towel right side up on the table and place your cushion pad on it. Place the cushion pad at one end, leaving 5cm at the end of the tea towel.

Step 2

Place your second tea towel right side down on the cushion and line up the end with the end of the bottom tea towel. Pin along the bottom and the sides, around the cushion pad.

Step 3

Fold the top tea towel over, so that is comes to 5cm shorter than the cushion pad. Mark where the fold is, plus a 1cm seam allowance. Take out the pad and cut along the mark. Pin the seam allowance in place and using a standard straight stitch sew 0.5cm from the edge.

TIP: Use a few backstitches at the beginning and end to secure in place.

Grey tea towel with yellow pin in hem on sewing machine

Step 4

Sew down the sides and bottom where both tea towels meet 0.25cm from the edge. Take out all the pins. You should now have an ‘envelope’ of material.

Step 5

Turn the cushion cover inside out and push the edges out. Iron seams flat.

Step 6

Place the cushion pad back in the cushion cover and fold the longer tea towel over the shorter one. With chalk, mark where your buttons will be placed (you can use poppers or add ribbon ties if you prefer).

Step 7

Replace your standard sewing machine foot with your one-step buttonhole foot and sew your buttonholes where marked. Or, sew buttonholes as per your machine’s instructions. You can watch a video of how to use a one-step buttonhole foot here.
Yellow material on sewing machine with button presser foot

Step 8

Hand sew your buttons on corresponding sides to the buttonholes. Repeat to create a second cushion.

TIP: Did you know you can use your machine to sew on buttons? Check your machine manual for more information.

Opening up buttonhole slit with seam ripper

What did I learn?

  • Because you’re working with smaller pieces of material, take time measuring and pinning to get it right. Once you cut, you might not have enough material to start again if you cut wrong/too short.
  • You don’t need to recycle cushion pads like I did, you can buy them new if you need to. But this is a great project to quickly give your home and soft furnishing a refresh.
  • Some tea towels can be quite thin, try and use ones that are made of a thicker cotton or linen, as they’ll be sturdier and stand up to lots of use.


What other homewares would you like me to show you how to make?

Grey and yellow tea towel cushions turquoise background
We can’t wait to see what you make! Remember to tag in Brother on Instagram and Facebook so we can share your makes and inspire others.

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