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  • Writer's pictureSew Retro

DIY dyeing - Sew Retro's top tips & a free tutorial for Scatter Cushions.

Spending more time at home, has made me look again at "tired" items of clothing and soft furnishing, and think about how love and be excited by them again.

I collected a old pillow and old pillow case case, some used fabric, an old cushion, and a dress I made but hadn't worn for ages. The dress would make gorgeous new scatter cushions. I found in my stash as small amount of bobble trim, not enough for a whole cushion but enough for both ends. The old pillow could be washed, then the fabric upcycled into the cushion pad and the filling into new filling for the scatter cushions.

Dying at home, with a commercial or home-made dye (onion skins, purple cabbage turmeric or my favorite for a stunning vintage look tea bags) is the perfect way to upcycle soft furnishings or clothing.

I used a Dylon home dye for the washing machine to upcycle the fabric, cushion cover and pillowcase. I love dying fabric and clothing and though I would share with you my top tips for an even all over colour. But before you start be warned its VERY addictive.

Scroll past the Top Dying tips for the step by step tutorial to make the scatter cushions.

1. Identify if possible your fabric composition of the items you wish to dye.100% cotton will achieve the colour on the packet, it is still possible to dye i.e. 50% cotton 50% man made fibres, but you will get a reduced colour, for example a deep red, could dye to a pink.

2.Weight your fabric, if you exceed the recommended weight of fabric/clothing, that’s ok but you will get a reduced depth of colour. If that's not the look you are after, you could consider using another packet of dye, double the dye double the fabric you can dye. Don't overload your washing with fabric and dye otherwise you could get a patchy result, it would be better to do to separate batches in your washing machine.

3. If you are dying fabric, overlock or zig zag raw edges to stop excessive fraying.

4. Wash all items to get rid of any finish to new fabric/clothing and to ensure old fabric/clothing is stain free.

5. If you are using dye and salt that needs to go into the washing machine drum, before you add you clothing watch both these videos.

6.All items that you want to dye need to be equally wet. If you add a wet top and dry cloth (for example) the dye will be adsorbed at a slightly different times and could result in an uneven colour.

7. Make sure the items you plan to dye are not folded when you add them to the washing machine or pot /bucket of dye (if cold water dying).

8. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to clean the washing machine, but I would make my next wash after cleaning the washing machine a dark load to be on the safe side.

I used this dye, which has the salted added and you put the pod into your washing machine with your wet unfolded items you wish to dye. I was very pleased with the perfect results.

Scatter cushions with and without a zip, and the cushion pad

You will need

1 old pillow (washed)

a small amount of bobble trim.

some left over fabric or an item of clothing

matching tread

zip 40 cm approx,

pins, chalk, sewing machine.

Seam allowance = 1cm

RS = Right side of the fabric WS = Wrong side of the fabric

Cut 2 x52cm x 25cm in main fabric for the cushion

Cut 2 x 52cm x 25cm in lining fabric for the cushion pad. You will need to store the filler while you use the fabric to make the new cushion pad.

50cm of bobble trim per cushion.

Cut out the cushion and the cushion pad, following the instructions as given above.

The Cushion Pad

Pin the RS of the lining fabric together, leaving a gap, as shown to turn the cushion pad to the RS.

Using a 1cm seam allowance stitch around the cushion lining.

Clip the corners.

Turn to the RS.


Fill with toy filler.

If you needed to wash your old cushion or pillow you will need to fluff the filler (by pulling it apart) before inserting it into the new cushion pad.

Keeping the 1cm seam allowance, folding the raw seam into the cushion pad, pin the gap together and

using a hand sewing needle and slip stitch, stitch the gap together.

How to slip stitch - Tie a small knot at the end of a length of thread and thread it on a needle.

Bring the needle from the inside of the cushion and exit through the fold seam, leaving the knot tucked inside the fold. Take a tiny stitch directly across from the spot where the needle exited the fold.Now pick up about 0.5cm of fabric.

Pick up another tiny stitch right across from the last exit point, then travel back through the fold, inserting the needle directly across from the tiny stitch.

Continue back and forth in this manner along the seam. Tie a knot at the end.

To make a Scatter cushion with a Zip.

1, *With the RS of the cushion fabric facing you. Pin the bobble trim onto the short seam(25cm)with the bobbles facing into the cushion as shown.

2. Change to matching thread on the sewing machine, and the zipper foot. Using the zipper foot to attach the bobble, allows you to sew easily much closer to the bobbles.

3. Machine stitch into place, sewing as close to the edge of the tape with the bobbles attached as possible* .Repeat from * to * on the remaining end of the cushion.

4. Lay the cushion on a flat surface, and with RS together pin the two layers.

5. You made need to cut off a bobble that end at the edge of the fabric so you can pin and then sew using a 1cm seam allowance.

6. Leave a gap in the middle of the bottom seam as shown to insert the cushion pad.

7. Clip the four corners.

8. Turn your cushion to the RS, press. Insert the the cushion pad.

9. Pin the gap together. Using slip stitch and matching tread close the gap. Well done, you have just made a scatter cushion from upcycled items.

To make a Scatter Cushion with a zip.

Follow the instructions from 1 to 3. Now insert the zip following the method shown HERE for cushion NO 2 with an invisible zip.

Follow again from 4 to 8, omitting the instructions at no 6.

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