It’s the time of year when I find myself itching for an interior update. As Spring slips into Summer, I seem to covet pastels and floral patterns – even more so than usual, and that’s saying a lot! After a recent trip to the bluebell woods in Edinburgh (wearing my vintage Laura Ashley dress, no less), I’ve had shades of blue on my mind. Summer is also a good time for craft projects: not necessarily re-designing a whole room but making wee updates! When I acquired this bench second hand, I thought it would look great as a window seat in a nice pale blue to lighten up the room. I documented my efforts for the Laura Ashley blog, and they very kindly sent me the beautiful fabric and paint – it was so much fun to work with both as the quality is second to none!
It’s made for a perfect reading nook in our bedroom, but likewise this would work well for a garden bench – especially as many of the Laura Ashley fabrics come in more durable finishes such as PVC like this lovely polka dot one. I’m also coveting this strawberry print fabric for some curtains in my kitchen so think I already have my next sewing project!
Firstly, I prepped my bench. It was already sanded, so I gave it a clean before painting a white undercoat to stop the dark wood showing through. Once this had dried, I applied my first coat of the gorgeous Laura Ashley duck egg furniture paint, which was a joy to work with – smooth and with a lovely matte finish. I left it to dry for four hours, then applied a second coat. I let this dry overnight before getting to work on my bench cover.
To make the cover, you will need:
A piece of foam to fit your bench (I got mine from an independent shop in Edinburgh)
Fabric (measurement depends on the size of your foam pad – wrap it around the pad and leave a two centimetre seam allowance for the length. I used the pussy willow duck egg curtain fabric)
A sewing machine
Thread to match your fabric
An iron for pressing as you go
1) Turn your fabric onto the wrong side (the ‘back’ of the fabric, without the pattern) and wrap around the foam pad. Pin your fabric along the middle of the longest edge, right sides (the side with the pattern) together – this will form the back seam of your cushion cover.
2) Carefully remove the fabric from the foam pad and set up your sewing machine, being sure to choose a needle and set the tension appropriate for your fabric. Straight stitch along the line you’ve marked out with pins, back-stitching at beginning and end to finish.
3) Trim any excess fabric from this seam, leaving enough on each side to fold the fabric over and zigzag stitch along the edge to finish. Press the seams flat.
4) For each of the shorter ends of the cover, fold the edge of the fabric inwards one centimetre, then over again so the rough edge is concealed and pin along the fabric to create your hem. Straight stitch on the machine.
5) Now you want to create boxed ends so that the cover will fit the foam nicely. Measure the depth of the foam. Still working with the right sides of the fabric together, pull the corner open from both sides to make a triangle, with your old corner point at the top of the triangle and the seams in the middle of the front and back of the triangle (so that the corner seams match when you turn it right side out).
6) From the peak of the two seams, measure in the distance equal to half the depth of your foam. This is where you draw across from one edge to the other, and pin off this triangle. Your old corner seams are now a line that runs from the middle of the base of a triangle up to its peak, with the length of the base of the triangle equal to the depth of the foam. Straight stitch along where you’ve pinned, back-stitching to finish.
7) Repeat with the opposite corner. When you turn the cover inside out it should now look like a seat cover!
8) Insert the foam pad and then it’s up to you how you finish the open end, also to create a box shape; I wrapped mine like a present and slip-stitched by hand for ease. If you’ll be removing the cover often then you could sew poppers or create button holes and add buttons.
9) Place your seat cover on the bench and admire your handiwork!
I also made cushions from Laura Ashley fabric to add a finishing touch – there’s a tutorial for an easy-peasy all-in-one envelope cushion cover on my blog, or there are plenty of lovely ready made co-ordinating cushions like the Nigella cushion or the Garden Birds cushion to dress your window seat. You can never have too many cushions! Thanks for having me on the Laura Ashley blog and for the beautiful fabric and paint; my new old bench has given our room the perfect Summery update.
What are you crafting this Spring? Have you made anything with Laura Ashley fabric lately?
Fabric and paint c/o Laura Ashley but love of duck egg blue and pretty florals entirely my own.
Breakfast tray also Laura Ashley (a beloved birthday present from my Mum last year); all other props: vintage.