Today I am going to show you how to cover a bench with fabric, and share an inspiring example done by my dear friend Deb!
Typically if a project involves a tool other than my sewing machine I am somewhat intimidated. This project does involve a staple gun but it is ridiculously easy, fast, and inexpensive. You can do it!
Seat Cushion Ideas and Inspiration
For your fabric inspiration and some overall cushion basics, here are other kinds of cushion projects on my site.
Okay, are you properly inspired? Let’s get started!
Cushion Cover Supplies Needed
Here are the materials you will need to cover your seat or bench pad.
Affiliate links below in blue.
Rotary Cutter or Fabric Scissors
Instructions for Covering a Bench with Fabric
Below are the steps to covering a cushion, in order.
Remove Old Upholstery
If you are reupholstering a seat, you will probably need a Phillips or flat screwdriver, pliers, and possibly a staple remover.
Turn the chair or bench over so you can remove the hardware and disconnect the upholstered top from the base.
With a screwdriver take out the screws and place them in a place you will remember.
Then, use pliers or staple remover to remove any remaining hardware holding the top in place.
Remove the worn layers, that you will be replacing. Follow below for the parts you need to restore.
Cut a Wooden Base
First, you’ll need a wood base if you do not have one. Cut it with an electric saw to fit your seat. Three-quarter-inch plywood works great.
Cut your High-Density Foam
Next, foam! If you do not have the foam cushion already, cut yours to size. You can cut your poly foam to size, using an electric knife, scissors, or a bandsaw. There are two styles I explain below.
For the style of the seat where the foam cushion sits completely on top of the base, cut the foam slightly larger than the wood base.
Making the foam larger adds an extra side softness and protection of edges.
A good measurement is making it approximately one-quarter-inch larger than your wood base on all four sides.
Wrap around Cushion Style Cushion
Alternatively, if you are using a thinner foam cushion, for example under 1/4 inch high, you may choose to wrap that around the edges and staple it underneath the wood base.
If so, follow the directions below for stapling on the batting, using the foam layer. It is an identical process.
Cut out your Batting and Fabric
If you are reupholstering, use the existing pieces as size templates for your newly cut pieces. Cut your fabric and batting to the original size, unless you see a need to change it.
If you are starting from scratch cut your fabric and batting to fit your cushion plus the other materials it will wrap around.
You’ll need to measure the stack height (wood base + batting + foam cushion), so you know how wide your perimeter will be.
For the batting, I like to leave a margin of the TOTAL HEIGHT of the stack PLUS a minimum of 2 INCHES to wrap around to the bottom wood base. For the fabric, I typically just 1/4 inch more than the batting.
You can always trim any extra batting or fabric later, but this gives you something to grab on to and securely staple.
If you’d like to fold under the raw edges of the fabric on the underside of the seat, for a more finished look underneath, you may want to allow even more fabric.
With more experience, you may prefer less fabric, but if you are a beginner more is better.
1 After cutting your fabric and batting pieces, place the fabric upside-down on your work table then stack the batting, foam, and wood on top. In that order.
Now the moment of truth. 😃
Staple your Batting to Wood Base
2 Have your staple gun ready. If you are using batting, first, position that in place. You will need to staple that all around the cushion stack, keeping it pulling it taut as you go.
Start with one staple in the center front, then one on the back. Follow that with a staple in the center of each side before proceeding with staples on all four sides.
3 Then work outward from each center. Place a staple every inch or two, until you reach the corners.
4 Finish the corners by stapling the fabric on both sides of the fold at a 45-degree angle. Cut off any excess batting. Wrap the remaining batting over the corner and staple again.
Stapling your Fabric to the Wood Base
Next for the fabric. If you have a directional print on your fabric, you should mark the front and back center before you begin, to help you keep it aligned. Mark with a marker or cut a slit in the fabric to identify. This will mark will wrap around to the bottom and won’t be visible.
Measure your base to find centers then align the center front and back to your cushion stack.
Start with the middle front of the cushion. Keeping fabric in place and secure underneath, wrap to the back and staple them to the bottom of the wood base. You can also fold the raw ends and tuck them under if you want. Staple the fabric across the front side. Stop stapling about 2 inches from each corner.
After the first side is stapled, tightly stretch the other side around, adjusting the tension where necessary. Don’t be afraid to pull a little tighter, because after it is used, it will loosen up a bit. Try to keep the tension the same all the way around the cushion.
Now do the same with both sides. Work from the middle of each side panel out to each corner.
Here are two methods for finishing your fabric corners.
Squared Cushion Corner
For a more squared-off style corner, pull one side across and tuck it down behind and under the other. Kinda like tucking in a sheet on your bed…in reverse though.😁
After you tuck one side in, tightly pull the other side up to the wood base.
Cautiously trim off excess fabric as you go, to reduce bulk. Play around with the fold until it is smooth. Staple to secure.
Clean up any other stray fabric ends by trimming or stapling down also.
Rounded Cushion Corner
To create a slightly more rounded corner, pull the squared corner diagonally up to the wood base and trim off the corner excess fabric with a straight or slightly arc-shaped cut.
Pull the center of the arc tightly up to the wood base and staple down. Next pull each side, one at a time over the top of the center, and stapling down, adjusting the fold as you go to get a smooth “pleated” finish.
Reattach the cushion to the base
Position the newly upholstered seat on your furniture piece. Review all sides to be sure it is fitting correctly.
Turn the furniture over and screw the top and bottom together again.
Use Scotchgard to protect your new masterpiece!
Now you know how to cover a bench with fabric. And how EASY it really is!
Enjoy your new look!
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