Cushion Tutorial

This is a really simple tutorial to help you make a simple cushion cover with a zip closure.

You can snaz it up by adding a pocket for a bedtime book, some embroidery or applique. Make sure you finish your decoration before sewing up the cushion cover itself. 


Firstly you will need to measure your pillow pad. My pad is 40cm (16 inches). Add a 1.5cm seam allowance to either side, in total add 3cm to the length measurement of your pillow. I will therefore be using a measurement of 43cm.

Using your chosen fabric cut 2 squares of fabric measuring 43cm (or your chosen measurement) on every side.  (Cut them more accurately than I bothered to for this example!)

Place the two pieces of fabric right sides together and match the edges. Pin or clip these together so they won’t shift.

There are two techniques for this nest bit. Either using a hand sewing needle and thread, sew a line of basting stitches along one edge of your pieces of fabric. I like to draw a line first to follow. Use a contrasting thread colour so you will be able to easily see these to remover them later. Your stitches should measure about a cm each.

Measure 6cm in from either edge and mark with chalk or a pencil.  Sew these 6cms from your marks to the outer edge of the fabric using your machine and a medium straight stitch.  Reverse the first 3 or 4 stitches to secure them firmly. Trim your thread tails at each stage throughout your work.

The second technique is to use your machine for the whole thing. Starting at one edge sew in to your 6cm mark, reversing over the last few stitches. Then increase your stitch length up to the maximum and sew along to your next 6cm mark. Return your stitch length to the original length, sew a few stitches, then reverse back over these, then sew up to the edge. 

Whichever technique you use, now move onto the next stage.

Take your fabric to the iron and press the seams open.

Take your zip and lay it right side up. Then take your fabric and lay it, with the seam over the zip line, right side up. Make sure the ‘teeth’ of the zip run along the centre of the seam. Keep your zipper in the middle of the zip somewhere. Pin the zip in place.

Remove your presser foot and attach your zipper foot on the correct side for the direction you will be sewing.

Take your fabric and place it right side up under the zipper foot. You will be sewing in a rectangle around the zip, starting 1cm from the top of one of the straight edges at the 6cm mark, and sewing as closely to the zip as you can. Use a medium straight stitch. Sew carefully over the short ends, I often just use the hand wheel at this point for fear of sewing over the teeth too quickly and breaking a needle. Remove your pins as you sew and remember to reverse 3 or 4 stitches at the end of your work, overlapping the beginning stitches to lock them in. You will need to snip a couple of basting stitches when you get to the zipper. Lower your needle into your work. Lift the presser foot. Snip a couple of basting stitches and slide the zipper past the presser foot. Lower the presser foot and continue sewing.

Remove your original basting stitches (or the longer straight stitches you did on your machine between the two 6cm marks) with your seam ripper and trim your zip ends off. Replace your zipper foot with your original presser foot.

Sew a line down the side of your work from the zip edge to the bottom edge using a 1cm seam allowance and making sure to smooth out your work to stop ripples.  Repeat for the other side.

Then, MAKING SURE YOU MOVE THE ZIPPER HEAD SO THE ZIP IS 10CM OPEN, sew your final seam along the bottom edge, again using a 1cm seam allowance.

Clip your corners, as shown.

Turn your work through to the right side through the opening in your zip.

You’re done!!

Next time you could applique a design onto the fabric pieces before you sew them together, or sew lengths of ribbon or ric-rac or piping to the fabric before sewing up the cushion for added interest! Enjoy.


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The Beast told me this morning as she was getting dressed that she needed new pants. Her old ones were looking a little small so I thought I’d rifle through my scraps bin to see what I could rustle up in a bigger size.

Whilst I was making them I thought I would take a few pictures to show a way of making the Speedy Pants pattern by Made By Jack’s Mum even speedier. It can be a bit fiddly fitting leg bands on the smaller sizes, particularly when you’re learning, so I basically cheat!

Firstly, you’ll need some 95% cotton, 5% lycra fabric with a 4-way stretch and good recovery.

Secondly, you’ll needs the Speedy Pants pattern by Made By Jack’s Mum. You can either buy it as part of the boxer’s pattern on Etsy or join her Facebook page and sign up for the newsletter at the bottom of the ‘Contact Us’ section of her website. When registered you’ll receive an email with the pattern for free.

Print and cut out the size you need according to the measurements given, we are making age 3 for my slim 3.5 year old. Follow the instructions for sewing together your main three pieces (front/back/liner) until you get this.

Stop here and don’t sew your side seams together yet. Take your leg band pieces and fold them wrong sides together along their long edge. Then take one end and clip it, right sides together and raw edges out to the end of one leg hole. Leave a little overlap of the leg band by about 5mm.

Repeat for the other end. Don’t twist the band.

Then clip the centre.

And at the two points between the centre and edge. Make sure you catch the gusset liner.

Sew the band on, slightly stretching the body of the pants to meet the length of the bands. Don’t overstretch the bands as it will ruin the look of the pants as they will go all wavy. The easiest way to do this is the stitch the bands on with the bands at the bottom and the wrong side of the main pants fabric facing up. It will help you stop overstretching the fabric. You may need to gather the fabric in your left hand a little to get round the corners.

Here’s your first band.

Repeat for the other side.

Then sew your side seams together, right sides together.

Sew your waistband on as per the original instructions and you’re done! Super speedy pants!

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The Reversible Tote Bag

Plastic bags are the stuff of Satan, on that we can all agree. Also, making your own tote bag means you can go full crazy on the fabrics. Unicorns anyone?

This bag is great for using up off cuts and leftovers. Jazz it up with some Ric Rac or some pom-pom trim and go to town.

Here’s a basic tutorial for a pattern and how to whack it together. Enjoy!
Pattern Pieces

You will want to cut a pattern piece measuring 14inch x 13.5inch square for the bag.

Plus a pattern piece 4inch x 22inch for the straps.

Using these pieces cut x2 bag pieces in your lining fabric, x2 bag pieces in your outer fabric and x2 strap pieces in whichever fabric you would like to use for the straps.


Straps first. Get the iron out. Fold them in half lengthwise, wrong sides together and press.

Unfold. Fold in either side to the centre and press.

Then fold it in half again and press.

Sew down both sides of your strap along the long edges, close to the edge but still catching both sides. Repeat for the other strap.

Then, back to the bag. Place your lining fabric, right sides together and clip (or pin).

Sew down the long side (14inch), across the bottom (13.5inch) and back up the other long side (14inch), using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.
When you get to a corner, lower your needle into the fabric.

Lift your presser foot. The needle is down so the fabric won’t move.

Pivot the fabric around the corner. Lower your presser foot and continue to sew. Repeat for the other corner.

You will now have three sides sewn. Repeat for the other outer pieces of fabric.

You now need to sew the corners to get the squared off edge. Pull the pieces of fabric apart at each corner, until the two seams come together. Then measure down 1.5inch from the corner seam and sew straight across, reversing the start and end of the stitching.

Repeat for the other corner of the lining. Repeat again for both corners of the outer fabric. This is what you should have.

Turn the lining pieces right side out, and place it inside the outer pieces. Match at the side seams and clip (or pin) together. Then take your strap pieces and place them inside, sandwiching them between the lining and outer bags, raw edges up. Place the straps in approx 2.5 inches from the edge, and clip (or pin) around the top. One strap on either side, obviously. Make sure not to twist your straps on the inside.

Sew around the top edge, using a 1/2 inch seam allowance. MAKE SURE TO LEAVE A GAP OF ABOUT 3 INCHES TO TURN THROUGH. Your choice where you leave the gap.

Turn your bag right sides out through the hole.

Push the lining down inside the outer section. You now need to top stitch round the edge, to seal the hole and finish it all off. You can either do a normal straight stitch, stitch with a twin-needle or do a decorative top-stitch like me.

Enjoy your brand new bag!! Remember, it’s totally reversible so when you get bored, flip it through!

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The free t-shirt dress

So, it’s still the middle of winter here but the days are getting longer and the spring is in sight. With that in mind I am starting to think about a summer wardrobe for my daughter.

My favourite, go-to pattern for a t-shirt is the free Raglan T-Shirt pattern by Duck Butt Designs. You can find her on Facebook and all the info about how to get the pattern is in the pinned post.

It’s a super simple and quick pattern to work up and the only alterations I make are to make the neckline a little bigger by cutting 0.5mm off the top of each pattern piece. 

I fancied making a simple t-shirt dress for The Beast and used the raglan tee as a starting point.

I bought a women’s size 12 vest top from the local Cancer Research shop for £2 and used that as fabric. The wonderful thing about upcycling a ready-made tee is you can use the hems from the original shirt, which saves so much time.

I used a seam ripper to (very carefully) remove the pocket. 

Then I took my back pattern piece and placed it in the centre of the tee. I wanted to add about 10cm length to the bottom of the tee to make it dress length. 

Take a ruler (I use a quilting rule) and give yourself a nice angle for an a-line dress, coming out from the underarm.

Cut out the rest of this side (don’t cut down the centre line). Flip it and repeat for the other side.

Then take the front tee piece, fold it, and the front tee pattern piece and cut off the extra for the front neckline.

Cut some arm pieces. I used a co-ordinating red and white stripe from my stash. You could either use some jersey fabric you already have or make use of another charity shop buy. I cut a 3/4 length for the spring/summer.

Now you need to put your tee together. I used an overlocker but you can also make this with a stretch/ballpoint needle and a zig zag stitch on a normal sewing machine. You won’t need to finish your seams if you are sewing with a jersey. Right sides together, sew the arms to the front pattern piece.

Repeat for the back. You should end up with this.

Hem your sleeves. I did a faux blind-hem stitch. Fold wrong sides together, then back on itself, right sides together. Sew along the edge. Unfold and you have a lovely hemmed sleeve.

Then, right sides together, sew in one line from the sleeve hem down to the bottom hem. Along the line where I have placed my clips, here. 

 Repeat for the other side, then turn it through. 

Now you just need to make the neckband. Take your tee and, without stretching it, measure the length of the neck opening. 

Mine measured 7 inches. Double it to get the full neck measurement (front and back). 14. Times by 80% = 11.2. Add one inch for seam allowance and you get 12.2 inches. Cut a neckband measuring 12.2 inches along the stretch, opposite to the grainline (being honest, I didn’t do this here, I cut along the grainline. The fabric was super stretchy in all directions and I liked the stripes going the other way), and 1.5 inches in width.

Sew it together, right sides together along the short side to get a circle. Mark it into quarters with clips. Mark the neckline into quarters using clips also, marking centre front and back and the centre of each side (remember this won’t be the middle of the arms because the front neckline is longer). Sew on the neckband. 

I sewed the pocket back on. Top stitched the arms and the neckline in a red and blue twin needle line.


Me: “I finished your dress, Pickle. Do you like it? It’s got stars on it!”

Beast: “Um…No. Can I have a banana?”

Enjoy. You can make something fabulous, but there’s no guarantee it will be appreciated!
You can find me:

Instagram : @theslippychickencompany


Unisex Children’s Clothes. Comfortable, Practical, Colourful and Cool. Clothes to inspire adventure. It’s what we do.

I also teach sewing at Crafty Baba in Ipswich, Suffolk. A great haberdashery that sells everything and teaches everything else.


Upcycled Harem Romper Pyjamas

Next on the list for the Winter Upcycled Challenge was some pyjamas. The Beast is currently completely in love with Superman. She found a DVD box set in the bookcase last week and would not stop asking to watch it. After endlessly telling her she couldn’t as there was fighting in it her Daddy finally gave in and showed her the clip of Superman saving the kitten on You Tube, and there was no going back. I think she is in love with Christopher Reeve. So, when I saw this T-Shirt in a local Cancer Research charity shop for £1, I couldn’t resist.

I had bought the MBJM Harem Romper pattern a few weeks ago and had been waiting to try it out.
This seemed like a good time. So I printed and cut the pattern in an age 3 (the beast wears 18-24 months but is long) and set to work.

I lined the pattern up over the T-shirt, which was a men’s size small. And it looked like I could use the existing neck band. I’m all for an easy life, so I just basically cut up the sides and around the crotch. Leaving the shoulder seams as they were and not trimming the bottom hems.

That then left me with this.

Then I opened the T-shirt out, right side up and pinned the arms around the arm holes and stitched them on using my overlocker. You can use a regular machine if you don’t have an overlocker, just use a stretch stitch.
The fabric used for the arms was just a 4 way stretch, cotton/lycra jersey that I had in my stash.

Hemming the arms was next. I’m going to show you a trick for this, which is a total game changer. A fake cuff. You fold 2cm of the edge of the sleeve fabric wrong sides together, then fold it back on itself another 2cm, like this.

Stitch along the edge, like this.

You get this on the wrong side.

You get this on the right side.

See what I mean? Game changer and it takes seconds.

Then you have to sew it all up. From the arm cuffs, along the under arm and then down to the leg cuffs.

Repeat for the other side. Then sew the crotch together. 

Weave in your ends and you’re done. That’s right, it’s finished. 
Mine took half an hour and cost £1 plus a little bit of fabric from my stash. However, if you bought a long sleeved T-shirt you could just reuse the arms.

The Beast loves it and is currently snoozing in it all snuggled up in bed.

If you’re wondering, as my husband did, how to get it on your child. It has an adult sized neck, so you just step into it through the neck hole. Brilliant! Alternately, you could follow the MBJM Romper Pattern instructions for making neck poppers or crotch poppers, but I was basically looking for quick and easy.

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