What the???

Has some random dude taken over the SewBusyLizzy blogging space??

Fear not! This is perhaps my most random and left-of-field project to date! Yes, weirder than my aprons (although no Harbour Bridge or Opera House). I’m OK with that (even if you are freaking out right now!). I swear there are pretty dresses just around the blogging corner, just bear with me.

Ages and ages ago I blogged that I had a huge pile of men’s shirts that were too good to throw out but I didn’t know what to do with them. Lots of people made great suggestions but I didn’t feel motivated. I just have plenty of gorgeous fabric in my stash!

I left the pile of shirts in the corner of the lounge room for… errrrr…. some time….
Then as I was cleaning up the loungeroom and moaning about the grotty cushion covers, I had the oddest idea.

No I didn’t think about WASHING the covers – that would have been boring and not involve sewing. Dur.

I looked at the shirts and I looked at the cushions. And THE MAN CUSHION was born.

The Man Cushion Family


It’s not a design masterpiece. It’s not even a sewing masterpiece. And I don’t care. Yes as outrageous as that is – I don’t. They are fun to make, cheap to make and hugely useful!

This is just DIY home decor for zilch expenditure.

As it turns out… they are rather cute set – in a checkered/manly kinda way and the kids love them. They have pockets which you can store all manner of things in. The remote control, your favourite toy, notes and more. I know, this is revolutionary! Home decor with pockets. I am a sewing rock star!! (Pause for the street parade, confetti, trumpets and presentation of the key to the city).

The best thing of all with this mindlessly simple project is the cushion cover has a built-in opening – you do not need to make a buttonhole, stitch on a button or insert a zip. Yes people, it’s already there! (More celebration and accolades). Are you sold yet?

Here goes the most obvious sewing tutorial in the history of sewing blogs…

SewBusyLizzy gives you THE MAN CUSHION…

The Man Shirt

Step 1: The Man Shirt. Iron it first (yes, painful but it makes life easier)

Man Cushion: Layout options

Step 2: Layout options. This is my plan for Man Cushion No. 5. Yes radical button placement.

Man Cushions: Layout Options 2

Step 2: Layout options. I’ve decided to make the buttons off-centre for this Man Cushion. This saves unpicking the pocket and re-sewing it. If you centre the buttons, you will find that the pocket ends up in the seamline of the cushion. You also need to be mindful of the armhole seams, buttons and collar/neck when deciding your placement.

Man Cushions: Cutting out the cover

Step 3: Cutting out the cover. Use your old cushion cover as a guide. Remembering to add 5/8 inch all around for your seams.

Step 4: Now flip one of the pieces over and place the two pieces right sides together. Adding the tags into the seamline if you like, folding them inhalf and matching the raw edges.

Step 4: Now place the two pieces, right sides together and pin around the edges. If you like the tags, unpick them and sandwich them between the pieces with the raw edges matching.

Step 5: sewing it together

Step 5: sewing it together. Don’t forget to remove the pins as you go. There is no need to pivot at the corners, just sew from end to end – you can even run off the end if you are feeling crazy. I don’t worry about pins when I make these cushions covers but if you are not an experienced stitcher you might feel more confident if you pin all around the edges of the cushion first. You can double stitch the seams if you think they need reinforcing.

Step 6: Finished!

Step 6: Finished! Now just undo the buttons and slip in your cushion insert….
Note: I used contrasting thread so you could see the stitching. I also ran this through the overlocker for the sake of neatness this is not necessary.

Man Cushion Complete! Some of the 'finer' details...

Man Cushion Complete! Some of the ‘finer’ details…

The Man Cushion Family

The Man Cushion Family. We have a brown leather couch. It’s boring but a heaven-sent when you have small messy children!

I have visions of these in a Hawaiian shirt series, cowboy-style with press studs, a lumberjack-style flannelette set and more. How cool would these be in a holiday house, a man cave or for your camping/picnic set?It’s perfect use for those old business shirts with slightly stained collars and cuffs because you just chop them off, beloved shirts that are really past wearing in public but can’t bear to part with – give them a new useful life!

You could get fancy and sew trim into the seams, put the buttons at the back – either way I just prefer the kookiness of these as they are. It’s quite hilarious when people sit down, stuff a cushion behind their back, pull it back out and go ‘hey… is this… like a shirt or something??‘.

Miss 9 loves these so much, I got a large female shirt from the charity/op shop and some old fancy serviettes (it had no chest pocket – outrageous, wardrobe discrimination!). I’m working on a girly version for her bed. Watch this space….

And I WILL draw that McCalls jacket pattern giveaway this weekend. I will!!


59 thoughts on “SewManCushions…

  1. Dam! Should not have taken those man shirts to the op shop late last year… I justified it with a “I’ve got so much lovely fabric in my stash and no inspiration of what to do with these shirts”. Little then did I know about MAN CUSHIONS…

  2. Fantastic idea!!! You truly deserve the “street parade, confetti, trumpets and presentation of the key to the city”! I have some of these lurking in the “fix it and finish it” bag in my cupboard… wonder what husband will say if he finds his shirts are now cushions……

  3. Love this – and the built in pocket makes them even better! Hmmm, I have some worn cushions on the couch in my basement. I think I need to check out what’s in my husband’s closet later today.

  4. Love love love them. I love the pocket and that you left the tags show on the denim one. I never thought of that. I made a similar project with a vintage Hawaiian shirt last spring, they were a big hit. I was actually in Value Village (our goodwill) yesterday looking for a container for a fairy garden with no luck. So while I was there I looked for another Hawaiian shirt, again no luck. I think they are getting too popular. Nice way to re-purpose a shirt and I love the ‘kookiness’ too Lizzy, awesome.

  5. It’s a great idea. I have to say it wouldn’t work in our house only because shirts get worn past any part being able to be retrieved for such wear-intense activities as cushion covers (yes, even the button bands have usually been mended several times). Also, and this is the real deterrent, I would need a shirt with as many pockets as remotes. Six or seven? Something like that (it’s no wonder I never watch TV any more, I’ve no idea how to run the thing!) and we’ve just acquired yet another. 🙂

  6. Very cool and such a great way to rid of those shirts. I love that they have the opening all there ready….simple! I could imagine lumberjack cushions being really cosy too….we have a leather sofa but I find cushions don’t stay put. My biggest bugbear. They slide around. I’m thinking of a crochet blanket to fix it. Thinking only at this stage…

  7. this is the best thing i have seen in a long time! so clever! makes me want to go to town and grab those bargain 3 pound shirts I saw today! AND we would never lose the remote ever again! 😛 thanks for the awesome idea!

  8. My favorite part about this is that you don’t have to fiddle with zippers or overlapping panels or slipstitching any openings–you can just use the buttons! Brilliant!

  9. Awesome! I absolutely love the cushion with the pocket for the remote control/s. I could use one of those myself… especially in my bedroom. The remotes are always getting lost in the covers. In fact, I even destroyed one when it got lost in the sheets and landed in the washing machine.

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