Making Summer Cushions Wabi Sabi Style

By Susan Fletcher
Boro Cushion for summer

Every spring I need new summer cushion for the deck.  

And every spring I have a new(ish) pile of stitchings and part-projects that were never made into anything.

They start as a tidy stack back in the winter, fall over and quietly slide to the floor by spring.

"Ah ha!" I say to myself when the return of spring wakes my brain, "the time has come to get some of these used up!"

So this weekend past, I took out this owl panel, and a long strip of scraps that I had stitched together in February for no particular purpose except the desire to stitch, and I made this cushion.

Owl  and boro cushion

Sometimes these randomly stitched boro fabric pieces lay around here for a long time before they find a home. This long blue strip turned out to be perfect to make side borders for the owl panel. 

Okay, occasionally I go 'old school' on them (my boro stitched bits) and use them as rags, but that seems fair.  Boro, in its plainest definition simply means rag.  It was the 'last gasp' use of the cloth scraps. 

But I digress.

Here is a closer look at the boro strip which is on both sides of this owl panel 

Here is the reverse side of this cushion:

boro cushion

Why put this on the back of the owls cushion?

I have a LOT of stitching to use up! And not nearly enough room since we moved from the house in Gibsons to this Condo In Maple Ridge.  I love this easy to keep Condo, but it is challenging for the compulsive maker of things that I am to figure out where to put the things I make!!

Until I realised every cushion and every quilt has two sides! Two sides, two projects, but only one object! Perfect!!

Better than my previous method where I just put the new cushion cover over the previous one. Truth. You can peel my couch cushions. They are like Bartholomew's hat, every time you take one off there is another one underneath! 

Here is the 'other' side of this cushion before the stitching started:

one way to plan and pin a boro cushion

and while being stitched

and because I was really pleased with these fabrics together I made Boro Kits, you can buy here ( same fabric but all the 6" firemen's coat squares in them are different from each other, just so you know :-)

Boro cushion kits

Two more thoughts about cushion making. 

Did you know that if you sew the corners of your cushions in a curve instead of at right right angles, the corners will not have that sharp poke-y out corners problem? Instead they will look straight and square. Try it. 

I didn't do that on this the cushions above so they have pokey-out corners.  

Well wabi sabi!  These are going to be soft squished up outdoor cushion soon anyway.

hand sewn with sashiko thread

In this photo you can see the curved corner seam  which will make the cushion appear square when turned and stuffed. (I'm not making two seams here, the cover was bit too big, so I took a second deeper seam. I'll trim off the outer one.)

This may look like an awful way to sew if you are in favour of straight and tidy machine sewing, or controlled and lovely hand stitching, but it is a fast, relaxed, and entirely enjoyable way to make a summer cushion if you just plain enjoy hand stitching.

Wabi-Sabi & Zakka Sewing

This is  Wabi-Sabi sewing, this imperfect, but very enjoyable and charming sewing that is perfectly good enough for its purpose :-)

Or you could also call it Zakka Sewing, which is the hand making of things for your home that have a certain 'hard to identify but delightful charm'. You see them, you feel a smile inside, that's  Zakka.

Here is the cushion made with the curved corner seam.   The top edge looks  much better than the owls and Boro cushion corners which poke out awkwardly.

summer cushion

If you are trying to figure it out the Sashiko thread hand stitched seam, here is how:

I stitch around the whole thing twice in large running stitches. The first time tacks the fabric together, the second time I make it more secure by staggering the stitches to be between the first round of stitches.

I find this much easier and faster than making small stitches. I do take a back stitch maybe every  8 or 10 inches so that if a stitch should break the seam will not split very far.  Since I like to stitch, I don't really mind if I need to make a mend now and then, but in truth, these seams will rarely split.

Enjoy your summer sewing and stitching, whatever your way of doing it is :-D 

Talk again soon,