Finished projects

Japanese Seat Cushion Covers

Where am I? What year is it? Happy 2019, everyone!

I wish I could come up with a wittier title and a cooler project, but that’s about all I have to share right now. We have entered deep winter in Japan and I’m in a particularly snowy and wet area. There is no insulation in the buildings and it’s miserable. I know I’ve mentioned the lack of insulation before, so forgive me for harping on it.

Woo, what a great start to Sew RED-y 2019! Sorry y’all, after the winter blues and frozen toes go away, it’ll be all sunshine and kittens barfing rainbows here.

So anyway, I made something! A few months ago! In Japan! Yes, seat cushion covers!

There’s another cushion for another chair, but I only photographed one

I moved into an empty apartment last summer so there was a big rush to furnish it as quickly and cheaply as possible. Usually for people on the JET Program, they take their predecessor’s place and therefore “inherit” most things left behind. I had no predecessor, so I had to start from scratch.

I bought a very small kitchen table and chairs so I wouldn’t have to eat on the floor anymore (what a game-changer!). The chairs are fine, but after sitting in them for an extended period of time, the bum tends to get numb. Side note: It’s the only “real” furniture in my apartment… we can’t fit a Japanese style couch, so the kitchen table is our main lounging area.

Obviously the chairs needed some padding, so I went to Nitori (like a smaller, cuter IKEA), and bought plain seat cushions for less than $5 USD. I wanted to use some of the beautiful cotton fabric I bought in Japan on vacation in 2016 to cover them and add ties so they don’t slide off the chairs.

At first, I wanted them to have a zipper so I could wash the covers if things got messy, but I couldn’t wrap my head around making it work along with 2 ties to anchor them to the chairs. So we’re just keeping our fingers crossed we don’t have any big spills.

I didn’t have a detailed plan – I just figured it out as I went along. I basically laid the cushion on the fabric and cut a square around it, leaving a hearty seam allowance. I sewed 3 sides and checked how the cushion fit into it. I readjusted the sizing by taking everything in an extra inch since I cut the fabric too large. I made ties by sewing thin strips and using a loop turner. I sewed the 4th side a little on each end to catch the ties, then stuffed the cushion inside and hand-sewed the rest of the seam shut. Done and done!

Even though it’s not as exciting as another pair of jeans or another Game of Thrones costume, I’m happy with my little Japanese cushions. They provide some color and beauty to an otherwise utilitarian room. And our booties are much happier!

Life in Japan:

I got a little burned out from studying SO MUCH, ALL THE TIME, so I’m taking a small break from studying Japanese until I feel mentally ready again. I feel like my comprehension has suffered, but I think that’s always an ongoing battle when you’re learning a new language. Some days you think you’re fluent, other days you can’t form a complete sentence.

DD and I took a quick trip to Osaka over the new year holiday. Osaka is a fun city and has a very different vibe from Tokyo. Tokyo = black business suits; Osaka = fun and casual clothes. I enjoyed window shopping and imagining myself in all the cool Japanese fashions. We went to a heavy metal themed bar and enjoyed good conversation and delicious cocktails with the bartender, who had the most headbang-worthy mane of hair. I also enjoyed nightly trips to the hotel onsen (hot spring) and was able to kick my case of chilblains.

As I’ve said, we’re in deep winter now so it’s tough, especially since DD and I were born and raised in the warm south. We know how to dress for the weather but we are ready for the temps to rise so our skin can breathe again (yay for wearing 3-5 layers at all times!). But we’re staying busy karaoke-ing and saying “yes” to some opportunities that come our way. For example, I enjoyed making metal art while being a “model” for a magazine. Being non-Japanese opens up a few opportunities when towns are wanting to attract more foreign tourists. 😉

We will be heading back to our hometown New Orleans this weekend so I can be the Matron of Honor in my best friend’s wedding! It will be a short trip but I am looking forward to seeing her happiest day, seeing all of our friends to celebrate, eating all the delicious food with my family, and most of all, seeing my cats after 6 months of separation! My heart aches for them and I know they’re wondering where “Mom” went. I can’t wait to see their reaction when DD and I see them next week. We’re coming soon, boys!!

As for everything else, that’s a whole other blog post for another time. 😉


OK, no sewing has been happening, but I have been hand-embroidering again. I’ll share those once they’re complete! I’m going for something different this time…”painting” with thread. It’s been fun and a good stress reliever. 🙂

I am finally back to stalking my WordPress feed and trying to keep up with the new sewing patterns that came out recently. I have a long to-sew list once things warm up a bit and I am determined to make time for sewing after my apartment defrosts!

I hope you all are having a good start of the new year!


4 thoughts on “Japanese Seat Cushion Covers

  1. I was JUST thinking about you! (Now I’m wishing you were warm!)
    I would like to make my husband a cotton yukata. The Folkwear pattern I have uses very narrow fabric, which I haven’t seen for sale. Do you know of any Japanese suppliers who ship to the US? (I have seen expensive ‘vintage’ fabric for sale.)
    Hope you have a great trip home!


    1. Haha thanks for the warm wishes! I’ll be warm soon enough as I’m about to head to the US and New Orleans will be in the 70’s F!

      Hmm I don’t have much experience with Japanese suppliers but I have ordered Japanese fabric from “Miss Matatabi” on Etsy. The prices are a little steep and the shipping is steeper, but I was happy with my purchases. I live in the boonies so there’s nowhere around me that would do something like that and the pickings are slim here. Sorry I can’t be better help! Good luck!


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