Last week I posted about the custom storage bench I built for the alcove in my bedroom and I was so excited to share it. The bench was just not complete without a comfy cushion so I did my favorite thing and started hitting fabric stores. Actually not true…first I measured the bench and cursed a few times at how long it was and how much a foam cushion would cost me! Then I got online researched for a few hours too long and finally ordered one. FINALLY I hit the fabric stores, relieved to have the foam insert purchase behind me. I always stress a little when spending more than a few bucks on something in case my experiment goes wrong. The help I found online (and I will put the links at the bottom) was spectacular and I had nothing to fear. This tutorial will take you step by step through the process including a number of tips that I think will help ease you through the process with no snags.
Lets talk fabric- one of my favorite things! Now…there are lots of ways to get a large piece of fabric cheap. I recommend checking out shower curtains (especially if you want something waterproof for an outdoor seat), drapery panels, and even sheets/duvet covers. You never know what you will find on sale and with a long cushion you can avoid a seam if you go that route. I wanted something unique but when I found this awesome upholstery fabric in a khaki basketweave for $11 I couldn’t pass it up! I decided to go more funky with the window shades but more on that later. The cushion was not hard at all, before I started though I made a mountain of piping. For instructions check out this nifty piping tutorial http://momprojects.com/piping-tutorial/ , you can make piping all day long for next to nothing!
Before you start I think it is always helpful to make sure you have all your supplies on hand. So Surf, shop or rummage through your house and find these items.
Fabric- how much depends on the size of your cushion, you need a front panel a back panel, 2 sides, 1 front edge and 2 back edges (for a pocket)
Thread- to match your fabric
Piping- make some using the tutorial I linked to above
Foam Cushion Insert (I used 3″)- see my notes below on where I bought mine.
Velcro- again, the amount depends on your cushion I thinkI used about 16″ for a 60 in cushion to give you an idea
Sewing machine with zipper foot
Notes on the foam insert:
The priciest piece of this project was the foam insert, you could probably get away with something thinner than 3 ” however make sure you adjust your measurements as this tutorial assumes a 3″ cushion. I purchased mine through http://www.thefoamfactory.com/seatcushion/seatcushion.html . After much research I chose them because the price was good, they cut it exactly to the right size and you can order it covered with batting which makes it extra soft. I have no relationship with that company though, this is strictly my opinion. You can also buy them at your local craft store and with a coupon it probably will cost about the same amount.
Let’s Make this Puppy!!
Fold your fabric (or whatever soft flat substance you chose for your cushion) in half and cut a 3/4″ perimeter around it.
Lay Out Cushion On Fabric
Cushion with 3/4″ panel cut
Cut along the fold to create 2 pieces, you will use on for the top and one for the bottom of your cushion.
Cut on Fold To Create 2 Pieces- top and bottom
Now cut your side and front/back pieces. The back will actually use 2 pieces that will form the pocket with velcro. Here are the measurements based on a 60″ X 18″ cushion.
Front Piece: 4.25″ X 62″ (width + 1.25″, length +2″)
Side Pieces: 4.25″ X 20″ (width + 1.25″, length + 2″)
Back Piece: 5.5″ X 62″ (width + 2.5″, length +2″)
Back Flap: 3.5″ X 62″ (width + .5″, length + 2″)
Label all Pieces
Labeled Side and End Pieces
The first thing to do is assemble the side pieces, you cut 5 but for this step will only use 4, leave the narrow back piece out for now. We will get to that later. Assemble the strips around your cushion with the RIGHT side of the fabric facing in and pin the edges. The back piece is wider, you should line it up on one edge so that it’s 1.25″ higher on the other side. You can see what it should look like in the back part of the photo.
Pin Side Pieces
Carefully remove this pieces from the cushion and stitch together. When you get the the back piece that is taller, fold the fabric over so it is level with the rest and stitch along the back strip’s folder over fabric to secure it and create a finished edge. For future reference, lets refer to this piece you just constructed as the “rectangular edge piece”.
Stitch Sides Together
Stitch along back fold
I recommend putting it back on the cushion afterwards to make sure it fits snug but doesn’t pull or wrinkle. I know…annoying but trust me it is more annoying to get deep into this and then realize it doesn’t fit properly.
Time to Pin the Piping!!
Now it gets exciting, you will take the top panel and with the right side up, pin the piping around the edges with the raw edge of the piping facing out. I am SURE you measured everything perfectly but here is a tip that helped me immensely. Before pining the piping and sewing it, remeasure the “rectangular edge piece” and make sure you pin the piping so that is matches up exactly with it. The best way to do this is pin one corner of piping and hold it next to the “rectangular edge piece” as you move along pining the rest of the piping. If all 4 corners line up you should be good. I didn’t do this and sewed the piping on. It was a little off and so it took me some extra time to pull it all off and try again (ok lots of miserable extra time). Learn from my mistakes, and save yourself!
Sew the piping on with a zipper foot. When you get to the end, cross the end of the piping over the start to create a continuous rectangular shape. I pinned the piping on the top panel first and sewed that on. Then fit the cover on the cushion and pinned the piping on the bottom panel. I was able to get the to line up almost perfectly this way.
Stitch piping onto top panel
Fit the top of the cover over the cushion and pin the piping onto the bottom piece. Remember, pin it onto the right side of the fabric with the raw edge facing out toward the edge.
Pin Piping so it aligns with rectangular edge piece
Follow the same steps you did on the top piece to stitch the piping onto the bottom. Before you attach the bottom piece to the rest you will need to add the back flap. Take the narrow strip left over and stitch a hem on each of the 2 short sides and one of the long sides. You should fold each side over twice to make a nice finished hem. My fabric was so thick this was tough on the small sides so I just folded it over once. It didn’t show in the finished product- phew!
Pin, Iron and hem 3 sides of the narrow back flap
Pin the back flap onto the back edge of the bottom panel assuring all of the raw edges are facing the same direction. it should hang over each end slightly. These ends will eventually be tucked into the cushion. Sew the back flap on using the zipper foot.
Pin and sew back flap onto back endge of back panel
Ok….getting close! Now turn the top piece (the one with the sides attached) inside out and put the cushion in it. It should fit snug as a bug in a rug. With wrong side facing up, set the bottom piece on top and pin the edges to the sides right along the edge where you sewed the piping on. Leave the back side (side with the flap) unpinned to you can get it out.
Pin the bottom panel to the side panels
Leave side with back flap open
You can see that I cut my fabric a little too big, I am SOOO conservative! If you also find yourself with lots of extra fabric/piping around the edges it will make life easier to trim it off now. The corners you should trim at an angle, it will help the cushion fit more neatly.
Trim excess fabric
Now, remove the cover from the cushion carefully, I think I was poked with a pin about 100 times! Not good to bleed on your cover! Luckily (I guess) I am one of those people that do not bleed easily. It’s a nightmare getting a blood test, they look at me like I am some kind of bloodless freak.
Careful not to get poked!!
Stitch along the 2 sides and front of your cover being careful not to sew on top of the piping. This part is a little tricky but trust me, once you get the hang of it it is not too bad. The trick is to sew as close to the piping as possible without sewing on it. Leave the back side open, this is how you will get the cover on the cushion and where you will sew the velcro.
Now the REALLY exciting part, turn the cover right side out and put the cushion in the cover….that feels so good!
Put the cushion in the cover and scream with happiness!
Dealing with the back flap is the last part.
You should have an opening like this
Pull the wider side over the back flap to ensure a snug fit
Cut the velcro into 4 smaller strips 3-4″ long and sew them along the outside of the back flap (right side) and inside (wrong side) of the back piece. They should line up. Remember- put the hook part of the velcro one one side and the loop part on the other to ensure the stick together to hold the cushion shut.
Apply velcro onto backside of cushion
Make sure hook and loop are on opposite sides!
Insert Cushion and Velcro the back shut
Did I say earlier that this was easy…ok, maybe not difficult but it takes some endurance! This takes more than a naptime to finish but I think it is worth it. I love the clean look of piping and I have to say this is a super comfy cushion that I plan on resting my momproject butt on for many years to come!
Need Help? Here are some great resources! Feel free to email me or leave a question in the comment form!
If you are going to make this I would suggest reading through this tutorial first along with some others that I found really helpful.
I learned from Brittany, aka pretty handy girl. Not only is she pretty and handy but she is an inspiration to me! Check out her tutorial for sewing a bench cushion with piping as well as her other posts. The purpose of her blog www.prettyhandygirl.com is to empower you to complete your own project and boy does she do that! Seriously…absolutely one of my favorite blogs ever ever ever!
I also scoured the internet for the best piped cushion tutorials I could find and I highly recommend the following….
Definitely swing by Courtney’s blog www.apluslife.net . She pulled an adorable cushion off for $35!! Below is a link to her DIY bench cushion with piping, I recommend checking out the rest of her blog, especially if you have kids and need a good laugh, she is hilarious! Her daughter Abigail is one of those adorable little cherubs that make you want a house full of girls!
Natalie at www.sophisticatedyellow.com has a casually elegant style (if that is possible) and is a sheer genius with texured neutrals! She can construct, sew, refurbish and garden all on a totally reasonable budget. I want to try so many of her ideas it makes my head spin!
Ok, now go pipe a cushion and send me some pics!! I love hearing from you and seeing what everyone is doing!