Need to make a box cushion? This straightforward tutorial shows you exactly how to sew a box cushion, even if you’re a sewing beginner!
I knew from the moment I started making my recycling bin/bench combo that I was going to want a burgundy cushion to sit on the bench portion.
I figured I would have to make it- I doubted I would be lucky enough for burgundy cushions to just happen to come in the exact random bench size I needed.
So, when it came time to make the cushion, I made my way over to Joann’s in search of a cushion-like object to act as the filling. I thought it would be white. I thought it would have some sort of a fabric exterior, and would magically be the size I needed.
Turns out, such an object does not exist, and I left Joann’s ten minutes later with the realization I was going to have to do a bit more research if I wanted a functional cushion.
Clearly, I had no idea how to make a cushion at the beginning of this project. I also have barely mediocre sewing skills. Like, I can thread the machine, but then I’m pretty much running on luck. So if you have any sewing skill whatsoever, you can probably manage this project. It’s that easy.
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Part 1: Making the Cushion
This is what I used to make my cushion. Not necessarily the best choices, but definitely the most inexpensive ones!
To Make the Cushion, You’ll Need:
- Upholstery Foam – Check out my free cheat sheet for finding cheap upholstery foam if you don’t feel like paying a fortune at your local craft store!
- Batting- There were lots of different types of batting in the store. I just picked one that seemed large enough. It happens to be “low-loft,” or “2,” which I’m sure means something related to the poofy-ness, but I’m not sure exactly what. I don’t think it really matters.
- Fabric adhesive- I used Fabri-Tac because it was on sale at Joann’s, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It was difficult to get out of the container, and was not terribly spread-able.
Update: Since doing this project, I made another cushion for my barstool project using 3M General Purpose Spray Adhesive. It was much easier to use, and is what I’d recommend for this project.
- Something to cut the foam with– An electric knife is the proper and recommended tool, but I certainly don’t have one of those, and had no plans to purchase one. So I just used a bread knife and sawed at the foam. It wasn’t the smoothest cut, but it got the job done. Other options include a rotary cutter (which was more precise, but slow going; I tried it) or a box cutter (not tried.)
Step 1: Cut the Foam
The length of my foam was cut for me at Joann’s, so I only had to do one cut to make my foam the dimension I wanted (24 1/2″ by 15″).
This was good, since cutting the foam with a bread knife is definitely not ideal. Regardless, I measured my line, then sawed back and forth with the knife. (Edit: I have since learned there is a way to do this neatly.)
Note: In this project, I paid a fortune for my craft store foam. I’ve since figured out there are much affordable places to find cushion foam. Check out my Budget Cushion Foam cheat sheet so you know where to go!
You’ll notice in the photo above that the bread-knife-method led to a very uneven cut. I wasn’t too worried though; the purpose of batting is to even out things like this, so I was pretty confident that this wouldn’t be seen or felt in the end product.
Step 2: Attach the Batting
I figured out the best way to do this is to act like you’re foam is a present that you’re wrapping with wrapping paper. Really.
Cut the batting as if it were wrapping paper, and then wrap the foam as if it were a gift. Then pin the batting into place, noting where you’re putting pins so that you don’t accidentally leave any pins in your foam!
I didn’t wrap my first layer like a present… see how ugly it looks??
Once you like the way you’ve arranged the batting, glue down the batting, removing the pins as you go.
Repeat this for the second layer of batting.
Look how pretty my second layer looks! Present-wrapping method, for the win!
Step 3: Set the Cushion Aside
No, really. You’re done with the cushion, and now you can move on to making the cushion cover!
Part 2: The Cushion Cover
To Make The Cushion Cover, You’ll Need:
- Fabric- Enough of it to cover your cushion, and maybe a little extra to make you feel better about life. I purchased one yard for my 25 1/2″ by 15″ cushion. The fabric I used in my cushion was Joann Fabric’s Signature Suade in Wine.
- Velcro- You’ll need a strip almost the entire length of your cushion for opening/closing the cover. I used some Industrial Strength Velcro I had sitting around the house, but the adhesive backing kept sticking to the needle on my sewing machine and causing problems. When you purchase your velcro, make sure it specifies that it’s for sewing purposes.
- Matching Thread- If you choose to use a thicker fabric, make sure you pick thread that is strong enough to handle it.
- Sewing Materials- Sewing Machine, pins, scissors/rotary cutter, etc.
We’re going to have two main pieces of fabric here: the top “plate” that covers the top and sides of the cushion, and the bottom “plate” that covers the bottom of the cushion. Ultimately, we’ll sew those two things together to create our cover.
Step 1: Cut Out the Bottom Plate
It will be wider than your finished cushion to account for the overlap of the velcro. Because the velcro does not the affect the length, the length will be your finished cushion size. You can use the following formula to find your width:
(Ideal Cushion Width) + (Width of Velcro) + 1 inch = Width of bottom plate piece
So, as an example, I wanted my width to be 15″. My velcro was 1″ wide. So therefore I should cut my piece to have a width of 17″.
I actually messed up when I laid my fabric on the cutting board, and cut the piece to be 16″ instead of 17″… To make up for it, I cut my velcro in half so it was only 1/2″ wide.
Step 2: Cut the Plate into Two Pieces
This is so that they can attach with velcro and the cover can be removed for cleaning. However, you won’t be cutting the piece directly in half.
Instead, one of the pieces needs to be the width of the velcro longer than the other. So, since my piece was 16″ wide, with a 1/2″ piece of velcro, instead of cutting each piece to be 8″, I cut so one piece was 8 1/2″ and the other was 7 1/2″.
Step 3: Hem One Length of Each Piece with a 1/2″ Seam Allowance
Right now, you have two pieces of fabric, both with rough sides. Three of those sides on each piece will be hidden because they’ll sew into the top plate, but the side with the velcro will be exposed, so therefore we need to hem it.
Remember in Step 1, when we added in an extra inch? That was so we could have a half inch hem along each length.
Step 4: Sew on the Velcro
You’ll be sewing the velcro onto the length that you just hemmed. Your ultimate goal is for the two pieces to attach like this:
Therefore, the rougher piece of velcro will attach to the right side of the smaller piece of fabric. The softer piece of velcro will attach to the wrong side of the larger piece of fabric.
One you’ve pinned the velcro in place and are satisfied with how it matches up, sew.
Step 5: Cut Out the Top Fabric
I used the dimensions I wanted my cushion to be (25 1/2″ by 15″) to draw an outline of the cushion on the wrong side of my fabric. Then I outlined that drawing by 3″, the height of my sides.
It’s a little hard to see my pen marks, but on the right you can see how I drew the inner outline and the corners.
From there, I cut out my outline using my cutting mat and rotary cutter. But I wasn’t done! I then cut out the corner squares, since they would not be necessary in the forming of my cover’s corners. See picture below.
Step 6: Sew the Corners with a 3/8″ Seam Allowance
I pinned the corners together, right sides together, so that after all four corners were done, the cover looked like this:
Note that your cushion is still inside out, because you pinned the right sides together!
Close up of the corner.
Once you are happy with how you’ve pinned your corner, sew!
Step 7: Sew the Bottom Plate to the Top Plate
Once again, this will be with a 3/8″ seam allowance, and right sides together. Pin everything in place first, doing your best to align corners. The velcro of the bottom plate should be velcro-ed while you do this.
Once you’re done pinning, you should have an almost-cover-like-thing:
The cover is still inside out!
Sew. When you reach each corner, raise your presser foot while keeping the needle embedded in fabric to turn your fabric 90 degrees.
When you’ve finished sewing, you have a cushion cover! Turn inside out, and insert your cushion.
I didn’t do a DIY cushion to save money, but instead because I needed a size that wasn’t easily purchasable. Regardless, I’m always curious to see if I actually did save any money by making the cushion myself. Here was the cost breakdown:
|Foam for Cushion||$17|
Everything I purchased was either on sale or purchased with a coupon. Additionally, I have teacher’s discount that gets me an extra 15% off my entire purchase (which was included above.. I teach math.)
An Amazon search of full length bench cushions shows that they tend to run between $20 and $80, so from a cost prospective, it probably only makes sense to make your own if you require a certain size or pattern.
I also notice that my biggest expense was the cushion foam. You could save a ton by recycling an old cushion around the house you no longer need – or getting a cushion from a thrift store. I have a free cheat sheet dedicated to finding cheap cushion foam; check it out if you need ideas!
And if you’re on a budget, also check out our Bargain Shopping Guide, which will show you all the insider secrets for buying home goods on the cheap!
I love how my cushion turned out… but it was a ton of work and not necessarily a bargain.
Definitely work doing if you have a custom-sized bench that needs padding, but not necessarily a project I would do for fun! What about you? Think you’ll give it a try?
If so, be sure to save this project to Pinterest so you can find it again later!
Monday 20th of July 2020
Thanks for the instructions and pictures. I've watched a few videos so I pretty much know what I'm doing but will find out when the cutting and sewing begin! Many instructions provided by others have the velcro (or zipper) along an end or back of the cushion but I was planning to put mine on the bottom so all visible sides of the cushion (this is for a bedroom bench that doubles as a bench for the dining table) look neat, You have the velcro on the bottom - perfect!!! I'm thinking of adding a "sticky" bottom piece so the cushion won't slide off the bench, or maybe adding some straps to wrap around the underside of the bench and velcro together to hold the cushion in place.
Wednesday 29th of July 2020
Those sound like excellent ideas!
Friday 31st of January 2020
I am making 2 bench seat cushions. I tried the 3M General Purpose Adhesive Spray. It didn't work that well. I had to "overspray" the foam cushion part and it looks terrible. It dried very hard and I am afraid if I continue making this cushion, the fabric may get damaged over time. I will stick with hand sewing the batting in place.
Tuesday 4th of February 2020
I'm so sorry it didn't work out.
Monday 25th of November 2019
Do you add seam allowance to all pieces when originally cutting them out? It seems like you just cut the fabric to the exact dimensions of the cushions? Or did I miss something? Thanks so much!!
Monday 25th of November 2019
So, I added seam allowance to the bottom plate, but not the top. I can't think of a good rational for this, other than I just forgot when cutting the top. Hope this helps!
Saturday 26th of October 2019
Making window seats using your pattern. In past have had zipper and cording but really wanted simple. A true challange as two pieces are triangle. The other two rectangles and one square. I cut all pieces and wait till I get my Velcro to start sewing. Thanks for posting pattern idea.
Monday 28th of October 2019
Good luck!! I've never made triangle seat covers, but it sounds like a real challenge, so I'll be thinking of you!