The Round Retro Cushion - Pattern Chart & Tutorial

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Now that we've bought our very first home, I'm itching to get in and make it our own. Ever since I joined Pinterest, I've been furiously pinning inspiration for when when it eventually happened and having a round retro cushion (or two or three!) was high on the list.

I've always loved the round retro cushion, but I just couldn't justify the expense of buying one - cushions are serious investments these days! So, I decided to make one and show you guys just how easy it is to make your own as well!

Make sure you download the pattern chart I've created to go along with the tutorial below. The pattern chart is not to scale, but explains in black and white the pattern markings you need to make on your fabric to make making the Round Retro Cushion a breeze.

 JLV Round Retro Cushion Pattern Chart

The bulk of the cushion is hand-sewn, so it does take longer to make than your traditional square cushion cover, but the results are simply gorgeous (the centre grid on this cushion took me about 2-3 hours to hand sew one evening). It also gives you a chance to practice your hand sewing and it's really quite forgiving if you're a bit rusty.

While the cushion itself looks complicated, I've hopefully made the process much easier to understand and once you get the hang of it, it's a little like knitting with it's repetitive stitches which makes it great t.v sewing.

  • Free Downloadable Pattern Chart
  • Rectangle of fabric measuring 22inches width by 47inches length
  • Matching Thread
  • Hand-sewing Needle
  • Pillow Inner (Round - 40inch circumference or Square - 15x15inches)*
  • Pins
  • Ruler
  • Fabric Marker of your choice (I used a ball point pen)
  • 2x 2inch Buttons (or similar)

*Use these measurements as a guide only as they really depend on how 'full' you want your final cushion to be. For reference, I used a square 15x15inch insert in my cushion.


1. On the wrong side of your fabric, measure out your grid according to the pattern chart download. You should end up with 46boxes in length (with 1/2inch SA on each side) and 8boxes width.

Note: You will not be able to see the underside of your cushion. So while you can use a fabric marker that will rub off like tailors chalk, I've gone for a black ball point pen here because I didn't want my markings disappearing half way through sewing.

2. Draw in your diagonal lines according to the grid in the pattern chart download.

3. Double thread your needle and tie a knot securely at the end. Use a length comfortable for you as you'll need to re-thread several times throughout the project.

4. Starting at the corner of your first box (Point A on the pattern chart), thread your needle into the corner pulling the thread through to the end.

5. Then take your needle and following the diagonal line you drew in, thread the needle through the opposite corner (Point B on the pattern chart).

6. Draw your two diagonal corners together tightly with the thread so that they are touching, then thread the corners together one more time to secure and tie a knot in the thread (don't cut your thread off).

7. Now that your first box is secure, take your needle across to the corner of your second box (Point C on the pattern chart) and keep this thread loose! You do not want it tight. Tie a knot at Point C.

8. From Point C, take your needle and follow your diagonal line to the corner at Point D and draw C and D tightly together (as you did for A and B). Thread the corners together again as you did at step 5. and tie a knot.

9. Continue in this manner up your first row (down your second, and up your third) drawing your diagonal lines tightly together so they are touching and keeping your horizontal lines loose.

Note: If you accidentally make your horizontal lines too tight, don't worry! Because you've been knotting your thread in each corner as you go, you can snip this thread without worrying that your sewing will come apart.

As you sew up your first row, this is what the right side of your fabric will start to look like - it looks a little like you're plaiting your fabric!

And this is what the underside of your fabric will look like - 

10. Once you've finished hand sewing your centre grid, with right-sides together, pin your 1/2inch seam allowance together at the side, taking care to match up your 'plaits'.  Sew together using your sewing machine.

Note: your seam allowance will want to 'bubble', but try as much as you can to sew them together with no bumps or gathers in the fabric. If you can't manage to sew the seams flat, don't worry too much as your side seam does become hidden in the folds of the fabric.

11. Once your side seam is sewn up, you'll end up with a tube of fabric. Turn it right side out and prepare your pillow inner.

Note: in the photo below, you can see my side seam (centre of the photo). You can see already that the seam has almost disappeared into the 'plaits' in my cushion. It will also be hidden on the top and bottom with the pleats.

12. Insert your pillow inner. Make sure the 'plaited' centre of your pillow case is going around the circumference of your pillow inner.

Note: you'll notice that my 'round' retro cushion is actually kind of square. That's because I used a square insert that I already had on hand. Feel free to use a square, rectangle or round insert depending on what shape you want your final cushion to end up as.

 Looks a bit like a bug here, no?

13. With your pillow inner in place, pick a side and start pleating the fabric into the centre. Pin your pleats in place.

You'll notice that your pleats will form quite naturally and easily from the plaits around the circumference of your cushion. Just make sure you angle all of them to the centre and they should fall into line. Adjust as necessary until you are happy. Repeat with the other side.

14. Once you are happy with the position of your pleats, secure them in place with a few hand stitches. You don't need to be too neat as the stitches will be hidden with a button, but do make sure they are secure.

Once both sides are secure, run your needle and thread back and forth through the centre of each side of the pillow and pull tight. This will give your cushion that lovely indent in the centre making it look plush and soft.

15. Nearly there! Finish off both sides of your pillow with a button to hide your hand stitches. It can either be a self covered button or a contrasting button.

If you are using a standard button with holes in the centre, it's best to sew these in. However, if you are using a self covered button or a button with the shank on the underside (and not visible) you can go down the lazy route and glue them on with either a hot glue gun or fabric glue.


You now have an awesome retro cushion ready to adorn your couch, chair or bed!!!

This kind of sewing project is great to take everywhere with you as you don't need a sewing machine for most of it. Do it while waiting for the bus, take it on holiday with you or simply have it around for when you have a spare few moments to sew but don't want to set up your machine. It's just as portable as knitting, if not more so!

Feel free to get creative and add or omit rows of 'plaits' or even change up the size of the squares in the grid - you may want 2inch boxes or half inch boxes! Do note however, that changing the grid sizes may change the size of fabric or pillow inner required.

These cushions also make great gifts as they look really complicated, but in reality, the most complicated part is making the time to do it.

If you do give one of these a go, please let me know!! I'd love to see them.


ps) Making and writing these tutorials takes a butt-load (technical term) of time. If you do make one of these and blog or write about it, please make sure you link back to me! Thanks!
21 comments on "The Round Retro Cushion - Pattern Chart & Tutorial"
  1. Thanks for the awesome tips! I've always wondered how they got that cool look :D

  2. This pillow is just adorable! If we didn't already have an exorbitant amount of pillows, much to the chagrin of the hubs, I would be making it right now! :)

  3. Thank you so much for taking the time to make this! I might give it a go when I can find the time (probably in the summer when it is too hot to machine sew) since I've been in want of some new couch cushions.

  4. Oh my gosh, this is gorgeous, thanks for sharing. I'll certainly have a crack at this :)

    1. Yay! Would love to see it when it's done :)

  5. Oh my gosh, this is gorgeous. I'll certainly have a crack at this! :)

  6. Cute pillow! The fabric is great for that design.

  7. This is gorgeous! I will have to try this sometime!

    1. If you do, let me know, I'd love to see it!

  8. Wow! That is amazing, like fabric origami. Congratulations on the new home xxx

  9. Ooo love it! Make me one?! Hahaha :)

    1. Hehe! I totally would if I had more time!!

  10. Congratulations on the move. Your cushion looks great.

  11. Very lovely, I have seen some tutorials on youtube too. I really want to try this draping, but I think I would use it on dress or something like that

  12. I'm moving in a few months and I will so make these for the new place. :D They're very chic.

  13. I'm going to be brave and give this a go! I'll be back to let you know how I go! Thanks Jen :)

  14. The cushion looks great! But I still doubt that I would be able to do that, it seems a bit too complicated to me. :D

  15. Wow this is great! I am getting my OWN sewing room in our house soon, and seriously needed something like this. I am envisioning a lovely little couch filled with these lovelies now :) Hope I can find the time!

  16. I remember my mom making a couple of these (a round one like this and a square one without the button in the middle) when I was a kid, so I'm going to give it a go!

  17. I love that! So pretty. My grandmother used to make some that were very similar (though I think yours is a bit fancier on the sides). Seeing this reminded me so much of her. I may have to try it!

  18. I remember these & had always wondered how they were done. Thanks! I really like the way the square inner pillow shaped the finished project.


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