How To Sew a Box Cushion | Super Easy Tutorial
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 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
To Make the Cushion, You'll Need:
- 3 Inch Foam
- 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"). Which 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.
You'll notice in the photo above, this 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!
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.
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: Making 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".
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.
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:
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:
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......$17.00
Total Cost: $44.51
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.
One last thought: I 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- taking off the old cover and cutting the foam to the size you want. Alternatively, you might be able to find a cushion at thrift store that could serve your purpose for a fraction of the cost as well.