Saturday Sewing Session – My first cushion

About three years ago I went to John Lewis and bought a sewing machine. It was a gift from my elderly grandmother, who lived in Australia and has sadly since passed away, and at the time I was really keen to try sewing again. Back at secondary school, Design & Technology had been one of my favourite subjects (along with Maths and Ancient Greek, a strange combination I know!), and I had especially loved Textiles. My mum even still has a pair of silk trousers I made for her over 13 years ago. Sadly until this morning despite all kinds of good intentions my lovely sewing machine has sat in its box, stacked away on the shelves in the hallway cupboard.


My first proper cushion with a concealed zip, cut and sewn all by myself (with some expert guidance)

But today, thanks to Saturday Sewing Session, I made a cushion! While I was on holiday over Christmas and planning on the various things I wanted to do in my new home, sewing my own cushions and other furnishings was right at the top of the list.

I toyed with jumping straight in to piped cushions, thinking that maybe I could handle an intermediate course, but thankfully reality hit, and I signed myself up for their Saturday Zip It Up Beginners Comfy Cushions class. Its a 3 hour session where they take you through the basics of setting up, threading and using the machine before teaching you to make a cushion with a concealed zip. At £50 with all fabric, cushion padding and machine if you want included, I thought it looked like a good deal…


Proud of my crafting!


The Saturday Sewing Session studio – crammed full of lovely sewn goodies

And now, having taken the class this morning, I know it was! I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of numbers of attendees etc. and as I headed down there I did wonder if perhaps it would be a little like a school class where there were twenty of us all sat in rows. But I arrived to find this beautiful little studio, cramped full of amazing fabrics, threads, patterns and little sewn bits and pieces, and a workspace set up with just three machines. Our teacher Joelle was absolutely brilliant, very clear, highly patient and excellent fun to chat to over a cup of tea and a sewing machine.

Much like riding a bike, I found that once I got back onto the machine and overcame those first few mistakes where something isn’t working, but you’re not quite sure why, everything I’d learnt in my school sewing lessons came flooding back.


Practicing straight lines, turning corners and a zig zag or two. As you can see from the sample on the right my first attempts weren’t quite so successful, thanks to a snagging bobbin.


Brown isn’t a colour I’m usually drawn to but I loved this print. Its very reminiscent of Cath Kidston who I adore and I thought the blue-purple of some of the smaller flowers matched brilliantly with the lilac cotton for the back.









It was a great morning. We cut our cushions, Joelle taught us about finding the right side of the fabric and going with the grain line, and I kind of mastered sewing a concealed zip. This was probably the hardest bit, not suprisingly, and I found that in one or two areas I went a bit too close to the zip. Still, given it opens and closes and it was my first go, Joelle said it was a really good result. Plus, I’ve just flipped over one of my store-bought cushions to compare and its not completely perfect either!


Complete concentration as I sew my first concealed zip

This was the first class of its kind I can remember doing, but having done a few cooking courses, I have to say there’s something incredibly rewarding about having learnt a new skill and coming away with something that you’ve actually made. I might practice a few more times on cotton before I tackle any more expensive fabric, but I think I’m well on my way now to feeling confident enough to fill my new home with lovely cushions I’ve made myself. And to help me get there even more quickly I think I might even have to book myself onto one more of their courses and learn how to make cushions with piping…

If you’re interested in booking in yourself, head over to their website at The course I did was the Zip It Up Beginners Comfy Cushions – they also have a beginners class for making cushions with button or ribbon detail, though personally I thought it would be more valuable to learn to sew zips. As mentioned, its £50 for three hours with everything included in the price, including tea and biscuits. Given the class was only two people when I attended which meant I got a huge amount of one on one tuition from the wonderful Joelle it was more than worth it.

6 thoughts on “Saturday Sewing Session – My first cushion

  1. Lauren says:

    So lovely – and given the price of cushions in JL, you can save a fortune making your own. I’m so looking forward to seeing what you do with your new home. Any progress on the big move?! X


    • abirtles13 says:

      Thank you! Thats exactly what I was thinking. Plus I’ve picked up lots of lovely fabric from my travels (blog post to follow soon on fabrics!) Getting closer. Fingers crossed its exchange this week, complete a week on Friday! X


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