diy chair cushion

Piece of cake DIY: How to make chair cushions

So you’re sitting down to eat and think, wow, I do love this uncomfortable chair.

Just kidding–that’s literally never crossed your mind!

I do bet you’ve thought how can I make this chair more comfortable and add a little bit of color?

That’s why we’re talking about how to make chair cushions. It’s a basic upholstery, piece of cake DIY that’ll give your chairs some much needed softness for your backside.

And because we’re making tie on chair cushions, you can easily move these cushions from one spot to another. Any chair can now be your favorite one!

So let’s bust out the piping and get to work.

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How to make chair cushions supplies

  • 4 yards of bias tape
  • 4 yards cotton cording
  • 1 Nylon zipper 14-16″ long
  • 1 foam chair cushion,  2″X15″X17″
  • 3/4 yard of home decor fabric or other heavy fabric (denim, wool, canvas, twill)
  • Dacron or other high loft polyester batting
  • muslin or lightweight cotton fabric
  • spray adhesive
  • zipper foot and piping foot
  • ruler, chalk, scissors

A quick note on materials

Foam for chair cushions

Note that foam comes in tons of sizes. Cutting foam is zero fun, so I would recommend buying a pre-cut cushion. JoAnn has several options. I’m using the 2″x15″x17″ which is a good size for most chairs, but there’s bigger and smaller options.

Whatever size cushion you choose, add 1″ to every dimension for your fabric pieces when you go to cut.

Piping for chair cushions

Usually the piping that’s best for upholstery is a little thicker than what you might want to use on a garment.

It also comes in varying diameters. Use what you have, but a good diameter for a cushion like this is 3/16″ like this cotton cord.

On to the cutting…

Cutting pieces for your DIY chair cushions

Top/bottom2 pieces18″X16
Sides2 pieces3″ X 18″
 2 pieces3″X16″
Ties2 pieces2″X18″

How to make chair cushions

Prep the foam insert

First you need to wrap the foam insert. This way the foam and the inside of the fabric cover will be protected from literally getting rubbed the wrong way.

First lightly spray the foam top and bottom with a little spray adhesive. Next wrap the foam inside the muslin like an envelope. Press the fabric in place, then cut off any excess.

Repeat the adhesive and wrapping with Dacron.

Ah, Dacron!

Wait, what is Dacron?

Glad you asked. Dacron is an upholstery batting. It makes cushions smooth and lovely from the right side. Dacron is bonded so it’s dense and holds up to the wear and tear cushions go through.

It’s a must have for any DIY upholstery projects. In a pinch, you can substitute high loft polyester quilt batting.

After you’ve wrapped the cushion, set it aside to let the adhesive dry and air out. Spray adhesive is stinky!

Sew the side assembly

Take the side pieces and alternate them: long side to short side to long side to short side.

Match the short ends right sides together in this order. Next, sew a 1/2″ seam down each of these short sides. Press the seams open.

Now you have the sides of your box cushion. Set this aside.

How to make piping for cushions

You can of course skip this step and use packaged piping, but handmade piping is way more fun.

First, cut strips of bias 2″ wide. You’ll need about 4 yards total.

If you’re short on fabric, try making continuous bias instead of cutting strips with how to make bias tape.

3 ways to make bias tape

Because packaged bias tape is Boring with a capital B.

Pinterest image: "How to make bias tape 3 ways to do it yourself" with image of cutting bias tape

From there, match the strips right sides together and stitch the ends together. Trim the seams down to 1/4″. Press the seams open, then press the tape in half widthwise.

Next, fold the bias tape around the cotton cording. Let the cord sit right against the fold. With a zipper foot stitch through both layers of the bias tape. The foot will ride along the right edge of the piping so there’s no danger of stitching through the piping itself.

making piping for diy chair cushions

From there, measure along the stitching line with a ruler and draw a chalk line 1/2″ away. Trim anything past that point. This will make for even piping all the way around your cushion.

Let’s add this fab piping to the chair cushion top and bottom.

Adding the piping to the cushions

Pinning the piping to the cushion

Pull the cording at one end of the piping out of the bias tape. Cut off about 1″ of the cording only, then tug on the piping. This will keep the bulk out of the end.

trimming ends of cording on piping

Start pinning the piping to the cushion top from the trimmed end. The raw edge of the cushion should meet the raw edges of the piping.

pinning corner of piping on cushion

When you get to the corners, clip into the piping seam allowance to help the piping bend around the corner.

ends of piping

When you get back to where you started pinning, cut the end of the piping a couple inches past the exact end. Next, pull out the end of the cording just like you did before. Trim off 1″ of the cording and tug on the piping.

pinned piping on cushion

Overlap the ends of the piping and fold them up and out of the way.

Sewing the piping to the cushion

Next, stitch the piping to the cushion 3/8″ from the edge.

pinned piping on cushion

Repeat pinning and stitching down the piping for the cushion’s bottom, but only add piping to the short sides and 1 long side. You can let the piping ends hang off the long edge.

How to make chair cushion ties

Fold the raw edges of your tie pieces towards the center of each tie. Clip the corners of each end. Fold the edges together and press again.

Stitch down the folded ends of each tie. To finish, fold each tie in half and press in the middle.

Baste each tie at the edge of the piping on the cushion bottom.

Adding the zipper

Next step in how to make chair cushions: adding the zipper for the cushion.

Take one long side of the side assembly and match it right sides together with the side of the bottom without the piping.

Stitch a 1/2″ seam. Use a regular length stitch from each edge to the end of each tie and a basting stitch between the ties. Press open the seam.

Center your zipper over the basted seam between the ties. Next, stitch the zipper tape to the seam allowances with the zipper foot.

Flip over the cushion to the right side. Topstitch the zipper from the right side down the sides and across the bottom. After that, use a seam ripper to open the seam over the zipper.

Stitch the sides

After that, match the sides to the other 3 sides of the bottom piece. Be sure to match the corners of the sides to the cushion. Use your piping foot to stitch around the cushion. Take care as you turn the corner to follow the edge of the piping.

sewing sides to bottom of chair cushion

When you’re done with that, open the zipper. Match the right sides of the side assembly to the top cushion. Pin at the corners, then sew the sides to the top with the piping foot.

sewing sides to top of diy chair cushion

Stitch all the way around the top side of the cushion. Slow down again on the corners to make sure the foot is following along the piping edge.

When you’ve stitched all the way around the cover, turn it right sides out through the zipper.

Pop the foam into the cover

To finish up, pop in your foam and zip it up. Tie your new cushion on your favorite chair.

So that is how to make chair cushions with ties. You can make a set for your dining table or make a stand alone cushion to take with you anywhere. If you want to make an outdoor version, you could add a layer of water resistance with some DIY laminated fabric.

More easy sewing projects:

4 thoughts on “Piece of cake DIY: How to make chair cushions”

  1. Elizabeth, the slide show isn’t coming up in order for me! I was wondering how you did the zipper. I didn’t notice it until I got home. Thanks again for such a lovely pillow.

    Date: Tue, 3 Feb 2015 17:30:17 +0000

    1. I constructed it like a lapped zipper, but it’s topstitched at the bottom and the top of the zipper (unlike a lapped zipper in a garment).  The slide show should come up after you’ve clicked on the first picture…I’m not sure why it wouldn’t…

  2. Pingback: Recovering couch cushions - Elizabeth Made This

  3. Hi Elizabeth,
    Great detailed instructions which are also easy to follow. Hopefully the one I make will turn out as nice as yours.
    Thank you for providing the instruction.

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