Using fabric to make outside more inviting

Guest post from Mum in the Mad House

Living in the North East of England it is not often that we get to spend much time outside but during this heatwave we have eaten alfresco every night.

Our outdoor furniture is starting to look rather tired and dated, so when Terry’s asked me to take a look at their fabric offering and use it to jazz up our outdoor space I jumped at the chance.

Fabric on table with ruler and scissors

I wanted to recover our cushion pads, but with two messy boys’ I wanted to make sure that they were removable and washable. I also wanted to add a table cloth to cover the tired wooden table and make it much more sophisticated. Whilst I was at it, I decided to make place settings and washable napkins too.

I wanted to use fabric that blended well with the garden and wouldn’t date so I opted to use a sage green as my base colour and then found some fabulous curtain fabric in co-ordinating colours but with very different sized prints on them. I wanted to play with scale and love a mid-century style pattern.

Even though I love to quilt, I wanted to make things that were easy to replicate, so no zips and straight line sewing only. In fact, the only time I went a little crazy was on the napkin hem’s where I picked one of the never used fancy stitches on my sewing machine and just had fun.

Rather than give you measurements I am going to tell you how to work with the fabric to fit your furniture.

Firstly I took the fabric I wanted to use as a table cloth and laid it out over our table. I decided that I was happy with the width and rather liked the Selvidge edges and wouldn’t need to hem them. Then I decided how much hang I wanted on each end and added 2 inches to that for hems and cut my fabric and took it to my ironing board.

DIY fabric place mats and tablecloth

I wanted a double hem, so I turned under ½ an inch and pressed it and then turned it over another ½ inch. I did this at both ends and then took it to my sewing machine and stitched each end, making sure that I did a small reserve stitch at the beginning and end to secure. If your table is narrower then you will need to do the same for the sides too. It is as simple as that!

The napkins were super simple to make. I cut out 12.5 inch squares and turned over a single hem of ¼ of an inch and pressed it all the way round. Then I stitched around the circumference with a decorative stitch. It was really fun to pick which stitch to use and also, I used a contrasting thread. I tested out quite a few on an off cut of the fabric before decided on which one to use.

The size of the place settings was dictated by the pattern on the fabric. I knew I wanted them double sided, so I cut out one piece with the pattern and one with the plain green.

Then I sewed them right sides together with a seam allowance of ¼ inch. I didn’t sew all the way around, I made sure that I left an opening of about 4 inches in the middle of one of the sides to turn them the right way round.

Then I pressed them taking care to make sure the opening was neat and tidy before top stitching all the way round about 1/8 of an inch in. You could use a decorative stitch here like on the napkins, but I decided a straight stitch worked well.

DIY fabric cushions, doing the finishing touches

For the seat covers, I decided to make slip covers and use the existing ties on our current pads. So I measured the seat pad (ours was 16 inches) and then made sure that I added half an inch for the sides and 3 inches for the length.

On the longer side a created a double hem of an inch, so fold over an inch and press and then fold again and press then straight stitch. I did this for both the patterned and plain fabric. This is for the rear of the cushion cover which will be the opening for the pad to slip into.

Then I stitched three sides right sides together leaving the hemmed ends open. Make sure you secure each end by doing a small reserve on your sewing machine.

Then turn your cushion cover right side out. I used poppers to keep the cushion pad in the cover. One at each end, one in the middle and then one either side of the ties. This means that you can remove the cover easily for storage or for washing.

I love how half a days sewing totally transformed our outside space and we have already used it a number of times and can’t wait to have family round for a BBQ to see what they think.

Outdoor garden table with DIY table cloth