Re-covering the Garden Swing: The 2016 Edition

It’s become a bit of a hobby of mine. I like re-covering the garden swing every year.


I just finished sewing my third cover, not counting the original, for my beloved swing.

garden swing cover 2016

Garden swing cover, the bed sheet edition

I blame the squirrels. I’m not being mean here. I have photographic proof of the carnage. It’s become a bit of a neighborhood tradition to dismantle parts of my swing cover each year. Apparently they haul it off and line their nests.

My boys gave me this swing for Mother’s Day in 2009. I love it! It’s a relaxing place to hang out during the warmer months, and it gives me a wonderful view of my garden.

garden swing may 2009

Mother’s Day, May, 2009

The swing came with a tan-colored cover, suitable for the outdoors. It lasted a few years, but weather and time took its toll. I decided to buy some nice upholstery fabric to make a colorful slip cover for the swing. I bought contrasting pink fabric and soft, cotton piping for trim and fashioned my pattern after the original.

garden swing cover

My first swing cover, 2012

It turned out well.

Then one 4th of July I came home to a squirrel chewing on the back of the swing. She was after the soft cotton piping. How she knew it was there under the fabric is anyone’s guess. She chewed through the fabric to access the cord, then pulled it out and was on her way. Our block party was under way, so I couldn’t stay long. I came back inside, found the leftover piping and cut it into smaller strips. I draped them over the back of the swing, and sure enough, they were all carted away by the following day. Sadly, they didn’t stop there and by year’s end they had damaged the slip cover AND part of the original cover, this time after the fluff.

aqua swing cover collage

Garden swing rehab using a thrift store shower curtain, 2015

Last summer I went with a quick and easy cover. I found a blue cotton shower curtain at a thrift store for $4. Instead of putting a lot of time into sewing a cover, I simply attached a few ties to the back using a scrap of material on hand and called it done. Of course I had to re-stuff and repair the swing seat first, which I did using an old pillow and a tired looking tea towel.

My shower curtain fix worked for months, but eventually the squirrels got to it as well. Not quite as bad, but chewed nonetheless.

Off I went to my favorite thrift store, but this year no luck. I couldn’t find any shower curtains or fabric remnants that would work. I drooled over some pretty fabric at JoAnn’s Fabrics, but left after coming to my senses. I finally settled for a set of soft, cotton sheets from Target.

I used the fitted sheet to make the cover and bought some $3 bias trim in a coordinating color to trim the bottom edge. Now I have a second sheet to use next year and a pair of pillowcases for another project. Score!

I removed the elasticized edge of the fitted sheet and set it aside. In order to keep the sheet cover from slipping, I stitched the elasticized pieces together into one long length, then tied it at the back of the swing.

garden swing elastic

Removing the elastic from the fitted sheet

garden swing cover sewing machine detail

Stitching the lengths of elastic together to hold the swing cover in place

garden swing cover detail

This holds the cover in place, staying hidden under the fold

Here’s the definition of a hobby:


an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure.
“her hobbies are reading and gardening”

Using this definition, it makes perfect sense that I would “regularly” make a garden swing cover “in my leisure time” while the squirrels laugh at me “for pleasure.”

Little stinkers!

squirrel closeup on umbrella

27 thoughts on “Re-covering the Garden Swing: The 2016 Edition

  1. Such a pleasure to have a post from you tumble down the email tubes just as I am finishing first coffee Alys – and a giggle too, though sadly at your expense thanks to those wicked little cuties! I am really impressed with the way you made the elasticised part of the fitted sheet do duty as a holder-in-place – now that is genius!! So, swing cover mark III – you’ll be able to complete this annual hobby in your sleep in no time at all. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good morning, Pauline. It’s so nice to find you here. I love the image of an email tube. That made me smile. I’m glad you giggled. Honestly, the squirrels are cute and clever along with being self-centered and destructive, so I’ve learned to take the good with the bad. I have to say though, that as I was struggling to keep my thread from breaking (I finally switched thread and all was well), then adding the finished edge, I realized it was in far too deep for something that may be in tatters again in a few months. Once I got going though, it was hard to stop. Next up: recovering the cushions, essential for napping on the swing on hot days. Those two are made from thrifted material and an old bed pillow and for whatever reason have been left alone. Stay tuned!

      Love to you, Orlando, Siddy and both daughters.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I’ve come to look forward to this annual project of yours! I’ve liked every incarnation of your apparently immortal garden swing. You’ve become quite an expert re-coverer, and I admire your skill and creativity, as well as your frugality in sourcing materials. I chuckled at the fact that you’re already anticipating the swing’s need of repair next year, and have a second sheet stored for that! Nice bonus to have the pillow cases for some other use, and I’ll look forward to seeing where they end up! You are a marvel, my dear — and invincible. I enjoy watching your squirrel sagas unfold (unravel?), amused and impressed by the perseverance displayed… yours and theirs!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You made me smile, Alicia. After swing cover 3.0 I’m resolved to my lot. This year though I’m resolved to keep a ready supply of nesting materials nearby, going as far as marking my calendar so I don’t forget.

      Slinky may be the recipient of the pillow cases. She’s back to her summer pattern of snoozing on her little pile of blue pillows. If I use the covers, I can wash them frequently, without having to wash all four cushions, then waiting for them to dry. She’s been more disoriented this week. I don’t want to rock the boat.

      It is such a pleasant surprise finding your comment here. xo


  3. I love that first cover! And somehow I guessed this year’s was a sheet! How clever you are with your sewing. And those squirrels. Well, rats with furry tails…I don’t care what Boomdee says!


  4. You’re nothing if not determine and persistent (and we could say the same of the squirrels!) Do they damage all neighborhood furniture or do they have special taste only for your swing?


    • It’s the swing cover! Crazy, eh? In fact I’m about to cover the cushions for the deck furniture, simply because they’re looking tired after so many summers in the sun. The squirrels leave them alone. Location may also play a part: we have an orange tree in our back yard with three squirrels nests and a neighboring, overhanging, pine tree that serves as a play ground and a place to find a mate, or perhaps both. Also, the swing is tucked out of the way in the back garden, whereas the deck gets constant activity.


  5. Instead of throwing away your dryer lint, try putting out a can in the garden so they can use that instead. They may take a path of least resistance and leave your cover alone; if it helps, then just keep it stocked.

    I don’t know if this would work, but if you ever decide to try piping again I would run some flexible wire through the casing or even source some round electrical cord (preferably plastic encased) and sew that into the casing to act as your piping. It’ll be flexible enough and stand up to the weather. I would think if they chow down on that they wouldn’t appreciate the metal – but then again, if they’re anything like mice it might not make a difference.

    If I ever ran into the problem of having cushions torn up on patio furniture, I’d invest in an outdoor fabric and try using Roxul ComfortBatt – which is a stone wool-based insulation material that rodents won’t chew – as the stuffing. It know it sounds crazy, but it has a low absorption rate and is resistant to water, rot, mold, mildew and bacterial growth. I think in combination with the outdoor fabric, it might be an option. My sister has this problem and I’m tempted to stitch up one cushion and give this a try if we have some leftover insulation from our basement reno! I would definitely put it in the garage though if a heavy rain storm was forecast!

    The first cover was so pretty; such a shame they ruined it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sara, thanks for all the great tips! I used to save my dryer lint and put it out for the birds but after taking a class at the wild bird store I stopped. They said it would compact when wet and wouldn’t provide insulation. Go figure. It took the wind out of my sales, as I always thought it was great re-purposing.

      Thanks for the tip on using Roxul. I’ll have to look that one up. Please let me know if you test your theory on a pillow for your sister.


  6. Love your creative use of sheets. Do you think it would help to have a box nearby with off cuts or suitable nest materials for the squirrels…..a little place they could search for nesting treasures. Perhaps they would still consider the swing a better option!


    • Funny you should say that, because I did just that. I put a heavy pot next to the swing for most of the summer and filled it with some of the old batting from the original swing along with scraps of fabric. It sat and sat and sat, and then one day most of it was gone. But for whatever reason, I rounded the corner one day and there was a squirrel chewing the corner of the cover. I even bought a hanging cage with fluff from a wild bird store (it’s still in the tree!) and added cotton piping to a yarn wreath (which they took). You have given me an idea though, and that is to spread parts of last year’s cover, the former shower curtain, since someone enjoyed chewing the ends.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. As long as there are squirrels, you will be making new covers. There is a new generation each year and they each need a nest. You are so kind and generous to help them with their construction. I look forward to seeing next years cover. Hope it’s as pretty as this years. You have nothing else to do, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Oh, you’ve got to laugh at their persistence, though! Looking on the bright side – at least you don’t get chance to get bored by the covers before having to update them with new ones:)


  9. I do hope this cover lasts a while for you Alys! I suppose some consolation is you get to watch the antics of the squirrels, and get a new cover for your seat every couple of years too! ๐Ÿ˜‰


  10. Snicker. Rascals one and all. If you were 12, you could honestly say a squirrel ate your homework. That’s a dear photo of you and young M in your Mothers Day swing. Does it seem like yesterday for you? Your boys are so tall now, it’s hard for me to imagine them little but there’s mini M. What a cutie ๐Ÿ˜€
    Oddly enough, every time you’ve made a new swing cover, I like the fabric more. I suppose they make them beige so that they’ll match any decor, but really, pretty humdrum right? I too used to gravitate to florals, it was my english cottage phase. I’m liking more the graphic designs now and this Target sheet looks like an expensive ‘block’ print fabric. I recognize their signature colour. Drats, I wish they were still here. They had the perfect Tissue box for my bathroom, a nice aqua colour, .99 cents a box. I should have kept the box and just kept replacing the tissue inside, LOL.
    Your sewing skills are wonderful, it looks totally custom like expensive swing couture. Oh la la xoxox


  11. As soon as I saw the title for this post, I remembered last year’s! Those darn squirrels!
    What a great idea to use sheets. My mother and grandmother would use inexpensive sheets for tablecloths. You are so clever!
    Perhaps this will be the final, final, as I’m sure you have other hobbies that you’d like to spend time with.


    • LOL. Yes, other hobbies would be nice. That made me giggle. My mom made curtains out of bed sheets when we were girls. They were an affordable way for her to spruce up our apartment. I’ve used bed sheets to make a duvet cover as well, with matching curtains. It’s a great, affordable way to get your hands on wide fabric.


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