Buttoned Grain Sack Cushion

This is my favourite thing I've made recently! I know it's just a cushion cover, but the fact that it's made from an antique grain sack makes it extra special to me. 

The House that Will | Buttoned Grain Sack Cushion Cover

Grain sacks are widely used as a textile in the States, especially in what is known as "farmhouse" decor, and they are growing increasingly popular here too. Most are sourced in eastern Europe, where they were once used by farmers to take their harvest to the mill. They are usually made of hemp (or a blend of hemp and linen) and are either natural or white in colour with bands of black, blue, green, or red running through the centre.

The House that Will | Buttoned Grain Sack Cushion Cover
Selection of grain sacks at The Gaiety Antique & Vintage Store

The most precious ones have hand-embroidered monograms which would have identified which farmer the grain belonged to.  

The House that Will | Buttoned Grain Sack Cushion Cover

The House that Will | Buttoned Grain Sack Cushion Cover
Reverse side detail of monogram

Materials

  • Grain Sack
  • Buttons (I chose 4x wooden ones)
  • Sewing Machine - ideally with a buttonhole making function, but it's not necessary
  • Basic sewing supplies: scissors, needles, thread, pins etc.
  • Stitch ripper

PIN THIS!

The House that Will | Buttoned Grain Sack Cushion Cover

Making the Cushion

If you want to make a zipped cushion, see Cushion Cover: Hidden Zipper.

I started by ripping open the stitching at the sides of the sack to yield one continuous piece of cloth.

The House that Will | Buttoned Grain Sack Cushion Cover

Then I cut from that the two pieces I wanted for the front and back of the cushion and sewed them together around three sides, leaving one short side open.

The House that Will | Buttoned Grain Sack Cushion Cover

On the open side, I folded in the selvedge (the uncut woven edge of the cloth) and stitched it to give it an even edge. 

The House that Will | Buttoned Grain Sack Cushion Cover

This next step is optional. I did it because I wanted more definition around the edges of the cushion. So, with the cushion cover lying flat, I stitched a line through both layers of fabric about 0.5cm (¼") from the edge around the three closed sides. This created the effect of a raised border. 

The House that Will | Buttoned Grain Sack Cushion Cover

Making the Buttonholes

I measured out the positions of the buttonholes on the front of the cushion and marked them using pins.

The House that Will | Buttoned Grain Sack Cushion Cover

Having a sewing machine with an automatic buttonhole function made this bit so much easier. But don't worry if you don't have this as I give an alternative option below.

The House that Will | Buttoned Grain Sack Cushion Cover

Just pop the button you're using into the dedicated buttonhole foot.

The House that Will | Buttoned Grain Sack Cushion Cover

Using the appropriate setting, the sewing machine then automatically makes the buttonhole for you!

The House that Will | Buttoned Grain Sack Cushion Cover

Here's an example in a contrasting thread colour so that it's easier to see:

The House that Will | Buttoned Grain Sack Cushion Cover

Then all that's needed is to cut a slit in the fabric between the rows of stitching.

The House that Will | Buttoned Grain Sack Cushion Cover

And, like magic, the buttonhole is the perfect size for the button.

The House that Will | Buttoned Grain Sack Cushion Cover

I got a machine that can do these buttonholes for the first time just a couple of years ago and I highly recommend it if you make - or would like to make - a lot of buttonholes.

If you don't have a automatic buttonhole function on your sewing machine, you can use the zig-zag stitch instead, but the tricky thing is to make the buttonholes the right size: too big and the button will keep popping out, too small and the button won't fit through at all. To be honest, I never really mastered that technique, so my preference would be to handstitch the buttonhole instead.

Hand-Sewing Buttonholes

Start by marking the size of your button onto the fabric using straight pins.

The House that Will | Buttoned Grain Sack Cushion Cover

With a handmade buttonhole, you cut the fabric before sewing.

The House that Will | Buttoned Grain Sack Cushion Cover

Then you simply stitch around the perimeter of the buttonhole using a buttonhole stitch. If you are familiar with blanket stitch, it's very similar, just on a much smaller scale. Stitch over the edge of the hole but, before you pull the stitch tight, thread the needle through the stitch.

The House that Will | Buttoned Grain Sack Cushion Cover

Then you can pull the stitch through.

The House that Will | Buttoned Grain Sack Cushion Cover

The House that Will | Buttoned Grain Sack Cushion Cover

And it's as simple as that! Just continue the whole way around the buttonhole to prevent the fabric from fraying.

The House that Will | Buttoned Grain Sack Cushion Cover

Sewing on the Buttons

There are also sewing machines that can do this for you but, honestly, it's so quick to do by hand that I usually do it that way. Plus I'm convinced that the button is more secure when hand-sewn.

The House that Will | Buttoned Grain Sack Cushion Cover

The buttons should be sewn on the inside of the cushion to correspond with the buttonsholes.

The House that Will | Buttoned Grain Sack Cushion Cover

Finishing

Fill the cover with an appropriately-sized cushion filler. It is better to use a filler that is slightly too large than too small as a plump cushion is preferable to a skimpy-looking one.

The House that Will | Buttoned Grain Sack Cushion Cover

I really love the texture and simple rustic style this brings to our newly-renovated sun lounge.

The House that Will | Buttoned Grain Sack Cushion Cover

The House that Will | Buttoned Grain Sack Cushion Cover

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As always, if you try this project or something similar based on it, please do post it to social media and tag me to let me know. I would love to see it!

You may also enjoy:

Cushion Cover: Hidden Zipper

Cushion Cover with Piping

One Room Challenge: Sun Lounge Reveal