Garden Swing Cushions: Version 3.0

Reworking the decorative cushions, along with the cover for our garden swing is now a seasonal tradition.

Let’s stay in bed fingertip towel

The swing sits below an umbrella and the shade of the orange tree but the fabric is still no match for the hot San Jose sun. The swing cover also needs regular reworking as it proves irresistible to the neighborhood squirrels. The cover often ends the season with chew-marks, big and small.

Chewed but still serviceable (former shower curtain)

I’ve reused the same retired bed pillow as a base for several years as it holds up surprisingly well. It’s easily washed and dried and ready for the next season.

I cut the old bed pillow in half and made two smaller cushions for decorative purposes and for impromptu napping.

One year I covered the two pillow halves with a thrift store pillow sham.  The color-coordinated cover is also a thrift store find: a cotton shower curtain pictured below. The squirrels enjoyed working them over as well.

A thrift store pillow sham remade it to cushion covers

The next iteration embraced our mischievous squirrel’s personalities.

I enlarged a couple of my squirrel photos and printed them on inkjet fabric sheets designed to pass through a standard printer. I bought a yard of heavy muslin, cut it in half, and made a simple envelope-style pillow cover. I attached the squirrel photo using fusible tape, then ran a piece of trim on either side.

Squirrel Pillow

My garden oasis (note basket of fabric and fluff as an offering in the nearby orange tree) This year’s cover: a bedsheet with some bias trim

The squirrel pillows lasted four years, but the bedsheet, above only lasted for two. Alas, those cute squirrel faces have faded badly. They look more tatty than vintage so off they go.

Now-faded squirrel print

Faded squirrel photo

The good news is that once again, I’m reusing the same bed pillow and I’ve also reused the muslin and trim. I bought a couple of fingertip towels with a clever play on words last year at a fabric store. I gave one as a gift but I saved the other two towels to once again refurbish the swing cushions.

Muslin finger-tip towels: Let’s stay in bed and Talk dirt to me

Spring 2020: Shower curtain swing cover and reworked cushions

Muslin cushions made with finger-tip towels and recycled trim

My 2020 swing cover is a rerun from last summer: a retired cloth shower curtain. My garden-pun, finger-tip-towels turned cushions give it a fresh new look.

The first time I made a cover for my swing, I spent time and dollars buying beautiful garden-themed upholstery and contrasting trim. I made a bias trim for the peplum and covered cording for the edges. We were celebrating my husband’s birthday with a garden party that year and I wanted it to look nice.

My first swing cover made with outdoor upholstery fabric, contrasting bias trim, and covered cording.

Then a squirrel came along and chewed the entire corner to get access to the soft cotton cording inside. How did she know? I thought at first it would be a simple repair, but she returned to gnaw the bottom half of the swing. That squirrel had a super-soft nest that year.  In the end, the swing cover was a complete loss.

You can’t outsmart nature and you will *never* outsmart a squirrel. Instead, I find inexpensive ways to revive my little oasis from year to year.

Napping on the swing

36 thoughts on “Garden Swing Cushions: Version 3.0

  1. What a lovely way to start my day, Alys (I am sitting in bed with my morning cup of tea!), reading about your adventures with squirrels. Also, I enjoy how you are able to take something humble, like a shower curtain, and magically transform it into another life. You, your family and friends will, one day, be able to sit together on your swing seat, knowing it is refurbished for another year.


    • Anne, you say the nicest things. I’m enjoying the image of you propped up in bed enjoying a hot tea. I’ve just enjoyed a cup myself, but it’s late afternoon here.

      What was initially disappointing (the loss of the original swing cover) has turned into something fun: an excuse and a challenge to brighten the space spending as little cash as possible.

      Thank you for your well wishes. I was just thinking about the friends that have joined me on that swing. Mike and I sit together there, and the cats mull in and out between our feet. It’s also an irresistible place to nap! xo


  2. I love the way you persist creatively each year. I think the squirrels left alone their own faces!!!! The new pillows are great–I love those towels, both the art and the double entendre.


  3. ‘Fingertip towels’ is a new thing to me. Though I must tell you I still love and use the big muslin tea towels you have gifted to me over the years – also not available here unless I wish to make my own (which I don’t) I enjoyed those puns – they are great! I think it is wonderful how the squirrels encourage you to remake your swing cover on a regular basis. And a marvelous way to recycle used shower curtains too if you have friends with them to pass on. You napping on the swing looks a most enjoyable way to enjoy a warm afternoon or evening!

    Liked by 1 person

    • So true, Pauline. It’s nice to have the constant of yearly squirrel repairs. 🙂 I’m happy to hear that you are still enjoying the muslin tea towels. I miss browing that wonderful shop, and no doubt they’re struggling along with all the others. I looked up fingertip towels, and they are as frivolouse as they sound. I think they were a “thing” for awhile, when you wanted the perfect towel presentation in your guest bathroom: large towel, hand towel, fingertip towel, each showing a pretty border. I like my towels to be simple and absorbent.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Surely those are Squillows…?
    Cheeky little blighters. I’d probably leave a nice big chunk of batting for them to chew on and destroy, only to have it ignored in favour of my repurposed duvet cover and pillow case swing cover and cushions. If we had squirrels here, that is. The possums don’t seem to be interested.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, Kate, Squillows! That’s perfect. I’m glad your possums pay them no mind. Our possums, which I know are different from yours, don’t seem interested either. The squirrels love them. I filled that basket one year with shredded cotton, some remanants of wool, soft dryer lint and other bits of soft material. It sat for weeks, then it seemed to mostly disappear all at once. I thought I had it made, but alas, they were back. No worries. They’re adorable.

      Liked by 1 person

    • That’s dissappointing. I think some do a better job then others. Here they sell vinyl shower curtains, vinyl shower curtain liners, and cloth curtains that require a liner. I’ve also seen heavy-duty nylon liners, similar to those used in a hotel.


  5. I wish there were a “Love” button on this. You hooked me with the very first line: “The swing sits below an umbrella and the shade of the orange tree…” To this Maine woman, it sounds like something out of a dream. The post continued with one delight after another, and finally to the picture of you napping on the swing. Time for a Maine “wowsah!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laurie, you are so dear. Thank you. It’s easy to take for granted the warm, California sunshine. I was born in Ontario, Canada, but we moved here when I was young. I do remember the winters though, and how good it felt to finally be outside again.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I think “fingertip towels” are like our “small bathroom hand towels” …. the stories of the seemingly innocent squirrels are intriguing because I have a friend in Montana who has issues with squirrels on garden furniture, and their needing to extract the “stuffing” each winter… WHY I say innocent, you see I’ve never seen a squirrel in person, we don’t have them in New Zealand…


    • Here is what turned up when I searched “fingertip towels”

      “Fingertip Towels for Daily Use. … It is a small towel that provides people with an easy and convenient way to dry and wipe fingertips and hands quickly. It is small than a hand towel but a bit bigger than a wash cloth. A fingertip towel has is multifaceted as it can be decorative or functional or both.”

      From the squirrels point of view, they probably assume the soft material is simply another item from nature to use in a nest. I’ve seen birds pull laundry lint from a vent and I also found a nest in the bushes at a clients house, lined with the black fur from his dog! My approach to nature is this: we’ve encroached so much and for so long on their world. They’ve been forced to adapt to ours. So while I don’t like having my swing torn up, I fully understand it.

      I loved my time in New Zealand. You’re doing an amazing job, too, with COVID-19. Well done.


      • c/19 yes it seems to be tripping along well to “stamp out” for now…but there is the uncertainty of what happens when the borders are reopened. To date there appears to be no public community transition … a lot of people disobeyed the alert rules though. Next Monday we find out when and if we will move to Level 2, which mean a good proportion of the work force and education will come back on line.

        I’m in the vulnerable level and I’m actually a retiree – which means I can’t truly go wandering about until we are back to ‘normalcy’ … I believe now it’s called Level 1…

        The economic aspects are getting to be a big part, especially since we rely tourism for the majority of that…which is probably a similar stance to most countries in the world…



  7. and just like that, what’s old is new again 😀 The cushions are darling as are you napping in the garden. So nice to not get eaten by mosquitos while doing so. None here yet but they’ll be think about emerging after this week ahead when we’re scheduled for lots of rain. I can’t wait to smell it ❤


    • I love that! Thank you, Boomdee. That swing has magical powers, I swear. Chris goes out there in the evening to sit and read, I sit there and enjoy the garden (and nap!) and we sit together, the two of us in the evenings as well. Wish you were here. Sorry about the upcoming mosquito season. Ugh. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Alys! I loved coming to your blog and seeing a familiar story of the swing and the pillows. I think these pillows may just be my favorite. So pretty!
    It is so fun to realize that blogging friends really get to know one another to the point of remembering past blog posts. It was sooooooo good to “see” you the other day! Next time I won’t cut you off 🙂


    • Laurie, thanks for stopping by the ‘ole blog. It’s fun to realize we met this way, and simply amazing to realized all the places we’ve connected together including California, Virginia, DC, and New Zealand.

      It is fun remembering past blogs. Thanks for organizing our Zoom this weekend. It’s exactly what I needed. xo


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