Saturday, July 30

Patio Perfection

Remember when we built this outdoor sectional?

Once it was finished I went on the hunt for cushions to make it nice and comfy. I considered making my own, but once I counted the cost of foam and fabric (even if I waited for a half-off sale at Joann Fabric) I realized it would still be pretty pricey to go that route. So I kept my eyes open for pre-made cushions and finally found some on sale at Walmart. For $25 each it was more than I originally hoped to pay, but they were a better deal than I was finding anywhere else so we went for it. Oh, and they were green. :)

The only problem was that the first day we put them out it was super windy and we were afraid they were going to blow away! So I went digging in my ribbon basket and found some white ribbon (that says "happy holidays" on one side) that I got in an after Christmas clearance last year. Then I did something I try to avoid at all costs - I got out my needle and thread to sew them hand. Ugh. I'm not of fan of sewing by hand, but it was the best way I could come up with to get this done. It actually wasn't as bad as I expected and I had all of them done in one evening while we watched Monk. Then I felt silly for letting them sit in the kitchen for over a week just because I was putting off sewing them. Oops. :)

Then it was back out to the patio to tie them on. Much better. Those babies aren't going anywhere!

I could have bought matching back pillows for the same price, but I knew I would have a lot more options when it came to these than I did with seat cushions and I could find a way to make something much cheaper. I've been collecting regular throw pillows at yard sales that could do the trick. I'm up to 7, and have only spent $1.00 total on them so far! I've been picking up any I found for a good price without worrying about color because I planned to make matching pillow cases for all of them anyway. I also have a few throw pillows from the house that I added to the mix.

Then when I found a whole box of white fabric at a yard sale for $4 I bought it planning to dye it yellow to make curtains. I started with Lemon Yellow for $3 and followed the directions on the box to dye the fabric. It came out looking a little neon, so I went back to the store and picked up Golden Yellow on sale for $2.

I'm still not sure if it's what I want for the curtains, but I thought it would be perfect for the patio pillows (and I only used about 1/4 of the dyed fabric so I should still have enough left for curtains if I decide to use it).

I made my pillow cases using the same technique I show in this pillow cover tutorial. It's super easy and a great project for a beginner. My pillows were all standard 17" pillows so my cases would all be the same size. The easiest way to make a bunch of things that are the same size is assembly line style! I started by measuring and cutting my first pillow case, then used it as a template to cut the rest to save time measuring. I also cut two layers of fabric at a time to make it go even faster. (The dark color of my pillows was going to show through the yellow so I also cut white fabric to line the pillow cases. I just sandwiched the two layers together and sewed it all at once). Then I ironed all the edges, then did all the sewing. I also played around with the decorative stitches my sewing machine can do to dress them up a little.

I really like how bright & summery the yellow looks, and it goes with the yellow dots on the other pillows. I think I'll look for a water-proofing spray to make them more durable for outdoor use. I'm glad that this project is done so we can just enjoy the space for the rest of the summer! 

Here is the final cost breakdown for the whole project:
Furniture: $130
Seat cushions: $125
Back Pillows: $10
Total:  $265

If we had bought the same thing from West Elm, we would have spent over $1600! Want to save tons of money building your own sectional? Ana White has free plans to build your own Corner Sectional Units and Middle Sectional Units (you can also build an ottoman/coffee table and, while you're there, search "outdoor" to find all kinds of other plans for patio furniture).  Here are my modifications to build the sectional with 2x4's instead. And here is the tutorial I used to make pillow cases for my seat back pillows. Enjoy!


  1. Great job! I love the colors and I know that it will get a lot of use :)

  2. Looks so inviting. Love the yellow pillows. Beautiful job. (We might have the same brand sewing machine, since I used that stitch to embellish a twirl skirt for my granddaughter.)

  3. Thanks everyone!
    This was the first time I used the decorative stitches, they are great! I think my machine is a New Home. Unless that's the model, I'm not really sure! :)
    And the "dream" pillow was my first attempt at hand embroidery!

  4. Love your version using 2" lumber. We need to have a heftier build so we will be using your modifcations for sure, thanx for posting. I just bought my cushions last night (haven't even built this yet) from Costco and I'm quite excited. I have one question. I noticed over on Ana's site, somebody mentioned that they felt they sat too upright. Have you found this to be an issue? I thought since you are using different pillows (closer to what I'll use) for the back, I would ask you.

    1. Thanks! It's actually really comfy with the loose pillows around the back and a great place to lounge (although I do end up laying down most of the time). :) I did find that it wasn't comfortable if the pillows weren't thick enough just because the seat is so deep that I had to lean back awkwardly, but adding more pillows fixed the problem. Hopefully that made sense. :) Let me know how it turns out for you!