DIY: Ombre Shirt Cushion Covers

Uni holidays see DIY projects that have been bubbling away in my mind come to fruition.

I was chatting to a girlfriend who is into home decorating on a budget and she mentioned that she had used an old men’s business shirt with buttons as the back of a cushion cover, rather than bothering with extra material and zips.

At my local op shop all shirts were $1, so I picked up some plain white thinking that I could maybe I could save some $$ by using half the amount of an expensive fabric and also cut out the cost and effort of sewing in a zip.

I have also had a packet of magenta dye lying around with the intention of giving Ombre dyeing a go, so it clicked in my head – why not just use the material from the shirts and dip-dye the cushion cases?

It was such a simple DIY if you have a sewing machine, and I love the results!  The cushions have completely brightened up our lounge room!


Large men’s business shirt – use one that is being thrown out or a cheap one from the op shop (the whole point is to save money)
Sewing supplies – thread, scissors, measuring tape, chalk/lead pencil
1 packet of dye
rubber gloves
table salt
Cushion inserts

  1. Wash and iron the shirt
  2. Do the buttons up, turn it inside out and pin the two layers of the shirt together
  3. Decide on the size of cushion you want to make, taking note of standard cushion insert sizes. I decided on a 50cmx50cm insert, and find that making the cushion with 50x50cm measurements makes for a plump cushion especially if using cheap polyester inserts
  4. Measure from the button line towards the outside, half (25cm) each way, marking the shirt with lead pencil or chalk
  5. Measure from close to the bottom hem, (as low as possible to cut a straight line – most shirts have a curved hem), up 50cm from the line, marking. Ensure that your lines don’t overlap on the shirt buttons
  6. Pin the two layers together within the markings, and cut the double layered fabric along the markings.
  7. Straight stitch along each side, about 1cm in from the edges, backstitching at each end
  8. Clip each corner to allow for sharp corners when turned right way out.
  9. Zig zag along each edge to prevent fraying.
  10. Unbutton the shirt and turn right way out and iron flat, pushing out the corners.

Either put inserts in at this point or continue on to ombre dip-dye instructions.

  1. Ensure you have rubber gloves, boil the kettle, grab a timer, get a big (12L) bucket. Grab the things you want to dye, as well as some of the scraps left over when cutting to do a trial run (highly recommended so you can see how the colour will turn out)
  2. Prepare dye according to package instructions. The dye I used actually has instructions for ombre dying on their website, and I followed them pretty closely, adding salt to the mixture (I forgot the dishwashing liquid and it didn’t seem to make a difference).
  3. Once dye is made up – using your practice piece of material and wearing gloves:
  4. Wet the material completely with hot water
  5. Dip the lower 1/4 to 1/3 of material into the dye, wiggling around, leave for 5-10 min depending on desired darkness
  6. Lower the next 1/4 to 1/3 and leave for another 5 min
  7. Lower the next 1/4 to 1/3 and wiggle around for about 1 min
  8. If you want to leave the top white, remove at this point
  9. If you want to have a light gradient to the top, quickly dunk the fabric before removing from the dye bucket
  10. Rinse the material in hot water, starting at the lightest portion so the dye runs out via the darker portion
  11. Continue rinsing until the water runs clear, squeeze out excess water and lay out to dry in the sun or hang on the line (again light side at the top)

Check to see how this turns out and then tweak your process for your cushion covers. My scrap material had very distinct lines of dye, so I moved my material around every couple of minutes during the 5 min timer as I wanted a more gradual gradient. The bottom was also extremely dark so I just started with 5 min for the first timer.  Also – depending on the material the dye will react differently, so check each material separately.

Don’t forget that the colour will be much more subtle when it is dry than when you look at it wet.

I used a large bucket in my laundry sink to contain the mess, so that I can save the dye to use for other projects and so that I didn’t drip anything across the room for rinsing.

I couldn’t go past dip dying a plain white T-shirt!

I absolutely love the result, especially considering the extremely low price, particularly when you split the dye over numerous projects!

Looking at these photos I probably could have gone for a bigger insert, or a slightly smaller case to fill out the corners, but you certainly don’t notice when you are sitting on them!

Have you got any money saving home decorating DIYs?  I’d love to hear all about them, and I have a furniture re-vamp project to share with you soon!


Photos from: my camera

4 thoughts on “DIY: Ombre Shirt Cushion Covers

  1. Sweet Lime and Spiced Tea

    An awesome idea jaz! I love all things ombre so will be trying my hand at those cushions.

    As for my own DIY skills – I make my own exfoliant from brown sugar + olive oil + lemon, super simple and works a treat!

    x jas


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