A Guide To Purchasing Cushion Covers On eBay

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Antique-inspired Textile Designs

First, let's consider the function of cushions - on a more obvious level they give comfort and support whilst sitting down, supporting the hollow in the small of the back or providing a head rest.  Large cushions are also useful for sitting on the floor, but, just as important, they add colour, pattern and texture to a scheme.  Accent cushions can be used to provide splashes of bright colour here and there to emphasise other colours in a room, or to contrast with them.  Cushions are often used today to dress a bed and give a luxurious look to the boudoir.

There are many different cushion designs listed on eBay, but to help you in your choice the following are the main points to consider:

  • Piped or not?  Piped cushions give a formal, tailored look to a scheme, but expect to pay more.  The process requires more skill/time/fabric than a standard cover, however, if the fabric is not cut on the cross the piping will not sit well.
  • Zips or envelope backs?  Both enable the cover to removed for laundering which is highly desirable.  Skill is required to insert a zip neatly, and its cost has to be recovered in the selling price.  A zip that is too small is a false economy as it will prove difficult to insert some types of filling.  It should also be an upholstery zip, not a dress zip (these will not stand up to the wear and tear received).  The zip should be concealed on the lower edge of a standard cover so that it is not visible when placed in position on a chair, etc.  Envelope backs can give a bulging effect on the finished cushion and need a generous overlap to be successful.  They do, however, avoid child safety issues and prevent scratches occuring on leather suites, but, unlike a zipped cover, they cannot be reversed to extend wear.
  • Do ensure that the design is correctly positioned; after all, flowers do grow upwards!  Ideally, designs should be centred and identical on sets of covers.  With some luxury fabrics costing £35 a metre and more, this is often not realistic on eBay (the wastage is too great).  In other words, you get what you pay for!  Whether you opt for a plain or self-patterned back is up to you.  For a plain back expect to pay less, but you can ring the changes and some patterned designs may look too busy when the same fabric is used front and back.
  • Also, be prepared for the covers you receive not to match exactly with the photo' on the listing.  Most sellers will indicate this somewhere, but it is not always understood.  It takes too long for a busy seller, to photograph, edit, and upload the image of each set for it to be practical.  An archive photo' is usually used instead.  Large designs/repeats also have the potential to be disappointing and some sellers may avoid these which is why you may not find your favourite design on eBay.  Colours may vary slightly - it is not always possible to portray colours accurately on photo's and monitors can vary in their display too.
  • Sizing - choose a cover that is smaller than your cushion pad/insert.  This will give the correct degree of plumpness.  I cut out the fabric to the standard UK sizes and, with the seam allowance taken in the making-up, this results in a slightly smaller end product.  Hence I sell as, 'to fit 18 inch pads', etc.  Feather pads generally give a better appearance than man-made ones, but cost more and some people are allergic to feathers.  Man-made pads are inexpensive and readily available on the High Street so don't waste money paying postage on them!
  • Overlocked seams are desirable as they prevent fraying, extending the life of the cover, and give a neater finish inside, but do require a specialist machine.  Zig-zagged seams are not as efficient but, after all, once the pad is in place the seams can't be seen.
  • Finally, do consider whether your choice of covers will launder easily.  Dry-cleaning bills are expensive, but many fabric manufacturers are very conservative when care-labelling their products.  I have successfully hand washed, albeit with care, covers labelled dry-clean only (with the exception of chenille).

Thanks for reading this far.  I hope I have been helpful in assisting you with your choice of cushions/cushion covers and not alienated too many fellow cushion cover sellers in the process!!  I have endeavoured to be honest and fair.  There are some excellent sellers out there, with prices not to be beaten!


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