How to Repair Cushion Covers

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How to Repair Cushion Covers

Cushions and their covers are a fabulous way to accessorise a room and tie a decorative theme together. In order to maintain a fresh and attractive home decor, it is advisable to undertake minor repairs, based on the fabric the covers are made from, ensuring that any rips, tears or stains do not worsen.

Cotton

A natural fibre, cotton is used in a wide variety of home furnishings as it is strong and resistant to wear, is known for its ability to 'breathe' and is easy to wash. It has a tendency to wrinkle which has led to the increased popularity of cotton blends, most notably the cotton/polyester blend, but is still one of the most common fabrics to be found in the home.

Linen

Another durable, natural fibre, linen is stronger than cotton and becomes softer to the touch with every wash. Often L-shaped tears appear as any damage will follow the direction of the weave. Linen can suffer from shrinkage so, as with cotton, linen blends have become popular so as to benefit from the best qualities of both base fibres.

Polyester

A strong and durable synthetic fabric, polyester is often used as a blend with other fabrics to lend wrinkle resistance, particularly with cotton. It dries quickly but tends toward permanent staining and does not benefit from the 'breathe-ability' of fabrics such as cotton.

Silk

A delicate fabric that needs careful handling, silk will be damaged if exposed to chemicals or acidity. Unless otherwise stated by a manufacturer’s label, it will be damaged by dry cleaning. Holes or tears may be repaired with fusible fabrics or patches, but repairs to silk are rarely invisible.

Tapestry

Tapestry is used to describe a fabric, usually of worsted, that has been decorated by hand. Also a term used for embroidered fabrics, tapestry cushion covers (unless stated otherwise by the manufacturer’s label) should generally only be dry cleaned.

Repairing Rips and Tears

Although most common household fabrics can be repaired, the type of fabric the cushion cover is made from will dictate how noticeable the repair will be. It is therefore best to know what damage would be best fixed by stitching, and which would require a patch.

Cotton

Small tears (for example, less than one inch in length) can be darned with a needle and thread. Match the thread colour to the fabric and use a running stitch to close the tear. Make sure that the stitch is tight enough to neatly ‘hold’ the fabric, but not so tight that it causes puckering. Alternatively, use a zig-zag machine stitch to close larger rips. Holes will require decorative patches, so place the patch over the hole, right side out, and gently iron the area until the adhesive backing has fully engaged. For extra support, sew around the perimeter of the patch and secure loose thread ends inside the cover. Small holes are easy to mend and unnoticeable after repairs. Larger holes are more noticeable, but can be disguised by the artful application of a decorative patch. Use a slightly lighter thread shade than the fabric to achieve the best blend if there is a problem matching thread colour to the cotton cover.

Linen

Like cotton-made items, linen covers can be repaired by using a zig-zag machine stitch, or by hand-sewing a loose running stitch to close the tear. Again, use a slightly lighter thread shade than the fabric to achieve the best blend if there is a problem matching thread colour to the linen.

Polyester

Rips and tears in polyester covers are best repaired with patches. Either an iron-on patch designed for use with polyester fabrics will disguise the damage, or a polyester-specific fabric patch can be stitched into place. Both types of repair will extend the life of the cover but be mindful of the fact that polyester can be easily scorched and melted, so all ironing must be undertaken with caution.

Silk

Measure the rip with a ruler and cut a piece of one-sided fusible fabric half an inch longer. Use the thinnest fusible fabric possible as silk is generally thin and fusible fabric will be detectable under the silk. Cut any jagged edges away, and turn the cover inside out. Pull the edges of the rip as close together as possible without bunching or puckering the fabric. Use an iron’s silk setting and, using a pressing cloth, iron the edges of the tear flat. Put the fusible fabric patch over the rip, adhesive side down. Spray the pressing cloth with water and place it on top of the patch. Carefully iron the pressing cloth, and then check that the adhesive of the fusible fabric is fully engaged. Remove the cloth and turn the cover right side out again.

Tapestry

Select yarns or threads similar to those in the tapestry. Always use natural wool or cotton, never synthetic fibres, and try to match the colours. Turn the cover inside out and pin a small piece of linen over the tear. This will ‘back’ the tear and ensure that the torn area is strengthened, allowing for an effective repair. Turn the cover right side out and make running stitches across the width of the hole, stitching into undamaged fabric, through the linen. When the rip is secured, darn across the running stiches (using the appropriate colours), weaving the new thread through them until the repair is complete.

Treating Stains

Particularly when dealing with stains, it is best to repair damage according to the type of fabric the cover is made from.

Cotton

To treat stains, place two teaspoons of liquid detergent on the affected area before putting the cover in the washing machine. For stubborn stains, put the two teaspoons of detergent on the affected area then, without agitating, put the cover in a small basin of cold water. After soaking the fabric for 20 to 30 minutes, gently rub the stain with an old toothbrush or short-bristled brush. Rinse the cover with cool water then wash as instructed by the manufacturer’s label. Although ironing with a high steam setting will remove wrinkles, ironing over a stain will permanently 'set' the damage into the cover. Ensure, therefore, that any staining has been treated and removed before ironing.

Linen

Soak the fabric thoroughly in cold water, wring out the excess moisture and then lay the cover on a flat surface with the stain facing up. Use enough liquid detergent to totally cover the stain, then gently rub the detergent into the affected area and leave for 30 minutes. Rinse with cool water then wash as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Polyester

Soak the cover thoroughly in cold water, wring out the excess moisture and then lay the cover on a flat surface with the stain facing up. Use enough liquid detergent to totally cover the stain, then gently rub the detergent into the affected area and leave for 30 minutes. Rinse with cool water then wash as usual. To keep white polyester from yellowing, add a half cup of vinegar to cool water, soak for 15 minutes, then wash as usual.

Silk

Use lemon juice or vinegar to clean difficult spots or stains but test an inconspicuous area first to test for possible discolouration. To keep silk from yellowing, add a half cup of vinegar to the rinse water when washing.

Tapestry

Stains should always receive specialist treatment, but should liquid be spilled on the cover, use a soft cloth or clean towel to absorb the liquid. Use a dry piece of cloth every time excess moisture is lifted.

Find Cushion Covers on eBay

To buy cushion covers, go to the eBay homepage. Open the All Categories tab, click on the link for Home, Furniture & DIY and chose Home Decor from the drop down menu bar. Then click on Cushions and search the available item listings, or narrow the search further by using the options that appear on the left hand side of the page. Alternatively, try entering specific terms into the search bar at the top of any eBay page. For example, to find a blue cushion suitable for a bedroom, type “blue cushion bedroom” into the search field.

Conclusion

A cushion cover can be an effective way to update a home’s decor. Available in many materials, colours and sizes, cushions can be used to add the finishing touch to a decorative theme. Whether it be a bolster or a traditional square, choosing a suitable fabric and colour will be important to the cohesion of the interior design. By making fabric repairs, a cushion cover will provide many years of aesthetic comfort.

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