Transform Your Tea Towels!

Shark Alley Tea Towels Make Stunning Cushions

When I got my first batch of tea towels printed, one of my first thoughts was gosh, this is almost too pretty to use as a tea towel.  Maybe it should be a flag.  Or popped into a frame.  Maybe it should be . . . a cushion cover.



These tea towels are miraculously the perfect size for bed pillows.  I seem to have lots of old pillows stuffed into various cupboards, so now - hurrah - they can come out and be useful again.  Below is a step-by-step guide to making these simple cushions.  I am not a professional seamstress by any means, so if you are handy with the needle, do feel free to re-interpret any of these techniques and stages.

You Will Need
1x tea towel per cushion
Home dec weight cotton fabric for the backing
Pinking shears
Tape measure or a long ruler and a pencil

Cotton thread

Sewing machine (or you can sew this by hand)


Step One
Decide what sizes you need to work with with your tea towel and pillow pairing. Each tea towel and pillow may vary very slightly in size, but I used a width of 72cm and a height of 45cm. Using a pair of pinking shears to minimise fraying, cut the tea towel down to the desired size.  If you need to increase the size for some reason, unpick the hems and iron the fabric out flat.

Step Two
Next, prepare the backing fabric.  I used white to match the tea towels, but you could choose another plain colour to match or contrast with the animal design.  The cushion cover is a simple envelope style and requires no zip.  Measure and cut two pieces of fabric 35cm high by 72cm wide (or whatever width you are working to) with the pinking shears.

Step Three
Now you need to hem one of the long edges on each of the pieces of backing fabric.  Make a fold of about 0.5cm all along one long edge and press with the iron (it might be easier to pin this first). Remove pins and fold over again, then pin and press. Repeat with the other piece.

Step Four
Sew each hem down close to the inner edge of the fold, removing the pins as you go.  Give each piece, plus the tea towel, a really good iron before moving on to the next stage.

Step Five
Lay the tea towel down face up, and put one of the backing pieces over it, wrong side up (ie with the fold of the hem facing upwards) with the un-hemmed edge lining up with the top of the tea towel.  Put the second piece over the first piece (again, wrong side up) with its un-hemmed edge lining up with the bottom edge of the tea towel

Step Six
Pin all the pieces together about 1cm from the edges and then sew all the way around.

Step Seven
Remove all the pins and turn the cover right side out through the opening in the centre.  Press out the seams to get a nice crisp look. If you want to, you can add a popper or a cute button and loop to the centre of the backing pieces for a more secure fastening when the pillow is inside, but this is not essential. 

Tuck the pillow inside the cover and - voilá - your cushion is complete! If you find that the cover is a little too baggy at this stage, remove the pillow, turn the cover inside out again and sew some new seams a little bit further in from the edges.  Trim off the excess with the pinking shears.

These cushions look fantastic on a bed or a big squishy sofa.  Pop a couple on a garden bench to make summer lounging more comfy, or scatter a few over a blanket for a decadent picnic, Roman emperor-style. If you do make one, I'd love to see pics!  Email me here :)


Not got your tea towels yet? Choose from Hare, Fox or Badger (or all three).

Shark Alley animal designs and cushions ©Sarah Kelly 2019.  These are designed as a fun personal project for tea towel purchases and not for retail production and onward selling. Thank you for your understanding.