DIY Bench Cushion Cover
Nothing pulls together a space like fabrics; from upholstery to pillows, drapes, or cushions. If you can’t find exactly what you are looking for or you don’t want the high cost of custom, you can make most of these items yourself. Today I will show you how to make a DIY bench cushion cover with custom piping.
This project is all about connecting panels of fabric. It’s that easy. It does take some planning and patience but anyone can do this! If you are a beginner sewist, you may want to skip the cording until you get your confidence up. The tutorial includes a velcro closure, not a zipper, therefore it is also much easier and beginner-friendly.
Piping is a cording detail or trim that you can add to any edge of your cushion as an accent. It is made of strips that are cut diagonally on the fabric, also called the bias. Bias cut strips can curve and wrap much better than those cut horizontally or vertically, or the cross or straight grain.
If you do want to add a piping trim, you can purchase a variety of premade sizes and colors at most fabric stores or you can make your own. To make your own custom piping, here’s a tutorial to follow. The instructions walk you through creating continuous bias strips, connecting them, and then wrapping them around cording to make the piping you’ll use for your cushion. It is very easy to do and you can then pick any solid or pattern fabric or for added interest, you can contrast the fabric of your piping to your cushion.
Decide On the Size of your Foam Insert and Where to Buy
Let’s get started by taking measurements for the foam cushion insert. Measure your bench seat or chair. You will need the width, depth, and height of the cushion that would fit your project. Because not all foam insert sizes are readily available, it’s probably best to go online next to see what heights and dimensions will work the best.
I first chose a 1-inch but then upgraded to a 2-inch thick soft support cushion foam (24″ x 72″ x 2″) from JoAnn Fabrics. It cost roughly $40.00 with a discount applied. Many cushion sizes are available at fabric stores, Amazon.com, and other online retailers. This foam insert is similar to the one I ultimately used. HERE (affiliate link)
Determine how much fabric is needed for your Cushion Cover
Next, you’ll want to figure out how much fabric you need to purchase. Using your bench seat or chair measurements, draw each shape on a piece of paper, add in all of the dimensions.
You’ll need 7 different fabric pieces for the design I will show you today. The top of the cushion, the bottom of the cushion, 2 side panel strips, 1 front side panel, 1 back side panel, and a flap for the backside to create an opening to slide the cushion in. Also, remember to add a seam allowance for each piece. I used a 1/2 inch seam allowance. See the drawing below for reference.
Here are the sewing materials you will need for the cushion.
Project Supplies needed for your DIY Bench Cushion
Affiliate links in blue below.
Fabric for Cushion
Piping Fabric, optional
Piping Rope, optional
Closure Mechanisms, such as Velcro Tape, Snaps or Buttons
Sewing Scissors or
Sewing Board or
Safe Cutting Surface
High-Density Foam Cushion
Electric Knife, optional
Polyester Batting, optional
Multi-Purpose Spray Adhesive, optional
Scotchgard Fabric Protectant, optional
Selecting And Purchasing Your Fabric
It’s time to get your fabric and supplies. You can take the drawing with your measurements to the fabric store if you need help determining the yardage to purchase. Their staff will help you figure out the best way to layout the pattern on the fabric and how much fabric you need.
Many fabric retailers have home decor departments with great upholstery fabric suitable for use inside or out. I purchased my fabric at a discount fabric store, SR Harris. (FYI: Worth a trip if you visit the Twin Cities!)
As you shop, consider the amount of use the bench will get. You may want a washable or easy to clean fabric. You could also use a fabric protectant such as Scotchgard (affiliate link) to protect it further.
Fabric types to Consider for your Bench Cushion Cover
There are so many wonderful fabrics to choose from. Take time to pick the right type for your cushion. Consider where it will be used and how much it will be used.
Cotton canvas is a great fabric to use for both indoor and outdoor cushions. It is strong, resilient, and also resistant to weather damage. Waterproof outdoor fabrics, like Sunbrella, are available to buy by the yard. You can also buy long-term fabric protectors such as Scotchgard Protectant (affiliate link) and do it yourself.
Cotton and linen
These fabrics are commonly used in cushions. They are attractive, washable, and hard-wearing. Be aware that some linens tend to wrinkle more than others so consider getting a swatch to test first.
Manmade fabrics, such as microfiber can be a great choice as well. They are usually hard-wearing, washable, and durable which makes them a perfect choice for high traffic areas in your home.
Silk or Wool
Luxurious fabrics can be a gorgeous choice for areas in your home that get less traffic or for furniture that is more decorative. These fabrics are generally more expensive and more delicate so they may not wear as well and require special dry cleaning.
Cutting The Foam Cushion Insert
Use your dimensions to cut your foam to size. With a ruler and a straight edge, mark off the cutting lines with a Sharpie pen. The easiest way to cut your foam cushion is to with an electric knife. If you don’t have one, a Xacto knife or sharp scissors may work if the foam is not too thick.
If you are using an electric knife, work in a safe cutting area and on a protected surface. Hold the electric knife straight up and down vertically.
Following your markings, cut the foam to size. This is very easy and kind of fun! The good news is you do not have to be perfect. Your cushion cover will cover most jagged cuts or flaws.
More good news, this DOES NOT destroy your electric knife. And yes, you can reuse your knife for food. No worries, it cleans up very well. You can also reuse the foam cushion and recover it as many times as you want.
Prewashing and Preparing Your Fabric
Once you have purchased your fabric, pre-wash it. This will prevent future-fit problems. After it is dry, if it is wrinkled, ironing it will make the next step much easier and the cutting more precise too.
Layout and cutting fabric
It’s time to cut out your fabric. Measure out your pieces and think thoroughly before cutting. Consider the direction of the pattern or stripes so they run the way you want, and connect well to the other sides of the cushion.
Remember to add a seam allowance
A seam allowance is an area between the raw fabric edge and the stitching line on the pieces of material being sewn together. They can range from 1⁄4 inch (6.4 mm) wide to as much as several inches. It’s up to you how wide you’d like to make yours. I will be using a 1/2 inch seam allowance for this project.
Below are the instructions for each photo numbered 1-6 above.
1 Purchase or make custom piping. DIY Piping Tutorial HERE, but piping is optional. Your cushion will look great either way!
Back Of The Cushion
2 Prepare the opening on the back or one end of the cushion. This is where you will insert your foam piece. I am leaving the opening on the back length of my cushion so it does not show, but you could also use the end instead.
With the upper piece of the opening panel, fold under the raw edge (I used a 1/2 inch fold). Press the full length of the panel. If desired, you can finish the raw edges on both the upper and the lower panel with a serger, zigzag stitch or pinking shears. I am leaving mine unfinished. See below.
Topstitch the whole length of the top panel to secure the flap. Overlap and align the upper and lower so together they are the same height as the other side panels. Treat this as your “one” back panel moving forward.
Topstitch the two pieces together where they overlap, at each end leaving an opening in the middle, large enough to comfortably insert the foam. Apply or sew the Velcro, snaps, or button closures in place.
Sewing the Side Panels Of The Cushion
Now, with right sides together, sew all of the side panels together at each end. You should have a continuous, looped “rectangle” when finished.
3 If you are adding a bias piped trim, pin, then sew the cording to the upper and lower edge of the side panels, all around the perimeter of the “rectangle”. Ending and starting the piping application in the back so it is hidden.
Bring the two roped edges together neatly. First, expose the cord by gently pulling back the fabric cover on both ends. Cut one or both rope edges so there is approximately a 1/2 to a 1-inch gap between them.
Now extend both fabrics out over the rope to cover. Tuck and fold one raw edge under. Now, take that folded edge and overlap the other raw edge. Pull together so it is hugs it tightly. Pin and then stitch in place. See the image above for reference.
Connecting The Top and Bottom Fabric Pieces to The Side Panels
4 With the right sides together, stitch the top panel of your cushion to the rectangle side pieces. Then sew the bottom panel of your cushion to the other side of the rectangle.
Turn the cushion right side out. Give your bench cushion cover a good pressing. Pull it over an ironing board if possible. This gives the cushion cover a nice finished quality. To press into the corners use a tailor’s ham or a rolled-up athletic sock if necessary.
Polyester Batting to Soften the edges of the cushion
5 For a softer-edged cushion, wrap your cushion in batting or cut individual pieces of batting for each side. Batting prevents slipping and provides a smooth appearance. The thickness of batting ranges from very thin to 1/4″ thick. It is available in cotton, wool, polyester, or a blend. Use a spray adhesive such as Scotch 77 Multipurpose Adhesive Spray (affiliate link), to attach the batting directly to the foam and hold it secure.
Inserting The Foam Cushion Into Your Cover
6 Now insert your foam cushion into the cover, gently tucking into each corner, smoothing the bumps as you go. Keep working it until it fills out the cover nicely. Sometimes it requires a bit of adjusting and patience.
Congrats! Your cushion is ready for primetime.
Please let me know if you make a DIY bench cushion cover in the comment box below. I would love to hear what you are working on or answer any questions you may have! For finished projects, please tag me @bebraveandbloom or use #bebraveandbloominspiration
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