How to Make Chair or Bar Stool Cushions
We all love ourselves some Pottery Barn, right? To be honest, most times I walk away with a whole lot of inspiration instead of an actual purchase. Sorry PB! I just love all the home decor accessories and ideas they show in their stores. A beautiful home is in the heart … and the details. For instance chair cushions. They lend that perfect touch of personality, color and comfort to a room. Keep reading as I show you step by step how to make your very own custom chair or bar stool cushion. It can make your favorite room bloom! It really is easy and a great little detail for your home. Not to mention you’re backside. 😉
Making a Pattern
First things first; you’ll need to measure your chair or bar stool. Any kind of paper or cardboard will work. I love the medical paper on Amazon (affiliate link) to use as pattern paper but in this case, I chose a large piece of cardboard because it was stiff and would lay flat over the curved seat of the chair. To make sure that my pattern was symmetrical, I cut out half of the cushion shape and flipped it over, then repeated it.
Next, grab a sheet of paper. You’ll want to draw all of your pattern pieces out, with their corresponding measurements to calculate yardage. You’ll need five pattern pieces. The top of the cushion, the bottom of the cushion, the side panel strip (based on the height of your foam insert), a back strip piece (this will act as an envelope flap for the back of your cushion), and two ties to secure your cushion onto your chair.
IMPORTANT: Remember to add a seam allowance. This is the 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 typically use a 5/8 inch (1.5cm) seam allowance.
Decide on the height of the cushion based on what foam insert you want and what is available for purchase. Make note of the length of the ties you’ll need as you measure. As you draw each shape on a piece of paper, add in all of the dimensions. This process will ultimately help you determine how much fabric you need to purchase.
Take these dimensions or your drawing itself to your local fabric store. 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!)
Related Tutorials on Bloom
Here are 2 other cushion cover tutorials on my site you may want to check out!
Okay, now back to the tutorial.
Selecting and Preparing Your Fabric
Okay, let’s get back to your project. It’s time to get your fabric. As you shop, consider the amount of use the chair or bar stool will get. You may want a washable or easy to clean fabric. You could also Scotchgard (affiliate link) the fabric to protect it further. For added interest, you might want to contrast the fabric of your ties to your cushion.
Once you have your fabric home, pre-wash it if you intend to wash the cover later. This will prevent future-fit problems if your fabric shrinks. Gather the rest of your materials. Here’s what you’ll need.
Materials and Sewing Supplies
Fabric for Cushion and Ties
Cutting Board (or a safe surface to cut fabric on)
Pencil with Eraser
Fabric Scissors or Rotary Cutter
Straight Edge (to help draw the pattern out)
Paper or Cardboard for Pattern
It’s time to cut out your fabric. Layout your pattern 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. Okay, don’t overthink it tho. Go for it!
The Cushion Ties
It’s time to begin your sewing! Let’s prepare the ties first. With right sides together, fold each tie piece in half lengthwise. Stitch across the length of the tie and just one end, leaving the other end open. Turn the tie right side out and press. Pulling each corner out with a pin if necessary, to square it up. On the open end, tuck the seam allowance under and press closed. Topstitch both ends to finish.
The Top and Sides of the Cushion
First, sew the side panel pieces together. You’ll need one continuous strip long enough to go all the way around the cushion.
With the right sides together, sew the top cushion piece to the side panel all the way around the cushion edge. Stitch both ends of the side panel together so it is closed in the back.
Attaching the Fabric Ties to the Cushion
Pin the middle of each tie to the back corners of the cushion. Sew the tie to the cushion, with a vertical line of stitching. Stitch again to reinforce.
Attaching the Back Strip
With the right sides together, sew the top of the back strip to the bottom cushion piece between the dots. Reinforce at the dots on both ends by backstitching. The tails of the back strip should extend just long enough to tuck into the cushion cover and hide the foam insert.
After you’ve stitched, press the seam open. Pin both tails on each end toward the center of the cover. This is temporary, so they do not get caught in the stitching in the next step.
Sewing the Bottom to the Cushion
Now, stitch the bottom panel to the side panel but this time don’t sew between the dots. Remember to backstitch at each dot to reinforce the edges. These areas need to be strong, they will get a lot of tugging and pulling. This opening is where you will insert the foam cushion.
Finishing with Your Iron
It’s time to give your cover a good pressing. Pull it over an ironing board if possible. Press open as many seams as possible. This gives the cushion cover a beautifully finished quality. To press into the corners use a tailor’s ham or a rolled-up athletic sock. Preferably clean. 🙂 In the back, press the raw edge on the side panel flap, under a quarter inch so the raw edge is not showing.
The Foam Cushion Insert
It’s time to cut your foam cushion to size. This is SO easy and actually kind of fun! I purchased my cushions at Joann Fabrics. With their coupon, I paid roughly nine dollars per foam insert. I can reuse them and recover them as long as I own the chairs. The Airtex 2x15x17 inch size worked out perfectly for my Pottery Barn bar stools. I guess sometimes I actually do make a purchase at the PB. 😉Place the pattern piece for the top cushion directly on the foam insert. Trace around the pattern perimeter, on the foam with a Sharpie marker.Holding the electric knife vertically, cut on the marker outline. It does not have to be perfect.It’s also worth noting, this DOES NOT destroy your electric knife. Yes, you can reuse your knife for food. We received our electric knife for a wedding gift 27 years ago. It’s seen many Thanksgiving turkeys, Easter hams and a handful of cushions over the years. (Just don’t tell my family.) No worries, it cleans up well. 😉
Inserting the Foam Cushion into your Cover
It’s time to put your cushion into the cover. Fold the foam in half, then flatten, and gently tuck foam into each corner, smoothing the bumps as you go. Keep working it until it fills out the cover nicely. The only thing I can say is. take a deep breath. It requires a bit of finessing and lots of patience. You can do it. Good luck!
Finishing the Back of the Cushion
There are many ways to close the back of the cushion. It’s completely up to you what you choose. Since the back is typically not visible, you are free to do whatever is easiest for you. If you plan to wash the cover, choose a closure that is easy to open, close and remove the insert.
Here are a number of options; You could sew Velcro strips or snaps to both sides of the closure flaps, add a zipper, use safety pins or hand stitch to close.
Tufting Your Cushion
If you’d like to tuft your cushion, as in adding a button detail in the center, see this wonderful video tutorial by Dritz. Click here
WA-LA are you are done! You now you have a professional-looking and comfy perch! Enjoy.Please let me know if you sew your own chair or bar stool cushions in the comment box below. I would love to see your projects! Are you inspired to BLOOM & SEW? Tag me @bebraveandbloom or use #bloomandsew
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