Learn how to make DIY chair or bar stool cushion covers for your home. And your backside! 😃
Custom cushions lend a touch of personality, color, and comfort to a room.
I do love Pottery Barn. But, I typically walk away with inspiration instead of a purchase.
Besides the furniture, what makes PB so inviting is the fabrics and accessories.
These covers are inspired by Pottery Barn!
A beautiful home is in the heart and the details. Let me help you make some beautiful details for your home.
DIY Chair Cushions
First, you’ll need to measure your chair or bar stool.
For the pattern, any paper or cardboard will work.
I chose a large piece of cardboard because it was stiff and would lay flat over the curved seat of the chair.
To ensure that my pattern was symmetrical, I cut out half of the cushion shape, flipped it over, and then repeated it.
Meanwhile, grab a sheet of paper.
Seat Cushion Pattern
You’ll want to take notes for all of your pattern pieces, with their corresponding measurements, to calculate yardage.
You’ll need five pattern pieces in total.
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.
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.
However, how wide you’d like to make yours is up to you. I typically use a 5/8 inch (1.5cm) seam allowance.
After that, decide on the cushion height based on the foam insert you will purchase.
Note 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 lay out 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!)
Custom Cushion Covers
Here are two other cushion cover tutorials on my site to check out.
It’s time to get your fabric!
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 with 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. (Affiliate links are underlined below)
Fabric for Cushions & Ties
Cutting Board or safe surface
Pencil with Eraser
Sewing Scissors Gingher
or Rotary Cutter for Fabric
Straight Edge to draw the pattern
Paper or Cardboard for Pattern
How to Make a Cushion Cover
Now the fun part, let’s start cutting and sewing.
It’s time to cut out your fabric. Layout your pattern pieces. 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.
Let’s prepare the ties first. With the right sides together, fold each tie piece in half lengthwise.
Stitch across the tie length and close one end, leaving the other open.
Turn the tie right side out and press. Pull each corner out with a pin, if necessary, to square it up.
Tuck the seam allowance under on the open end and press closed. Topstitch both ends to finish.
Top and Sides of the Cushion
You want one continuous strip long enough to go all the way around the cushion.
If you don’t have one long enough, you can sew multiple strips together by pinning the right sides of each end together and stitching.
If possible, try to have the seams in the back of the cushion. After sewing, press the seam(s) open.
Next, with the right sides together, sew the top cushion piece to the top edge of 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.
Sewing the Fabric Ties to the Cushion Cover
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 Top Back Panel
With the right sides together, sew the top of the back fabric strip to the bottom cushion piece between the dots.
Reinforce 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 Panel to the Cover
Now, stitch the bottom panel to the side panel, but don’t sew between the dots this time.
Remember to backstitch at each dot to reinforce the edges.
Most importantly, these areas need to be strong, as they get a lot of stress when you insert the foam pad.
It’s time to iron your new cushion cover. Pull it over an ironing board if possible.
Press open as many seams as possible. This will give the 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.
Next, 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. I paid roughly nine dollars per foam insert with a coupon.
The Airtex 2 x 15 x 17-inch size worked perfectly for my Pottery Barn bar stools.
I can always reuse the inserts and recover them as long as I own the chairs.
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 along the marker outline. Don’t worry if it is not perfect.
It’s also worth mentioning this DOES NOT destroy your electric knife. You can reuse your knife for food.
We received our electric knife as a wedding gift 30 years ago.
It’s seen many Thanksgiving turkeys, Easter hams, and a handful of cushions over the years. (Don’t tell my family.)
No worries, it cleans up well. 😂
Inserting the Foam 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 with it until it fills out the cover nicely.
The only advice I have is to take a deep breath. It requires a bit of finessing and lots of patience. You can do it!
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 can do whatever is easiest for you.
If you plan to wash the cover, choose an easy closure to open, close, and remove the insert.
There are many options.
For example, you could sew Velcro strips or snaps to both sides of the closure flaps, add a zipper, and use safety pins or hand stitches to close.
Tufting a Cushion
If you’d like to tuft your cushion, like adding a button detail in the center, see this wonderful video tutorial by Dritz. Click here
WA-LA, you are done. You now have a professional-looking comfy perch! Enjoy.
Please let me know if you sew your own chair or bar stool cushions in the comment box below.
In addition, I would love to see your projects! Are you inspired to BLOOM & SEW? Tag me @bebraveandbloom or use #bebraveandbloominspiration
Find more cushion inspiration and tutorials via the links below.
Bench Cushion Cover
Bench Seat Elastic Cushion Cover
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8 comments on “How to Make DIY Chair or Bar Stool Cushion Covers”
Can you post the steps you used to make the lovely bows/know when attaching your cushion to the chair? Our cushions and ties are all laminated so, getting a nice bow is really difficult. Regular bows look messy. Thank you
Hi Sam! Actually these are not bows, they are knots. Just tied once. I made the ties short enough and tied them so it looked like a bow.😁
The only thing I would add to this is to cover the foam with poly batting first. A professional told me about that step when I was buying foam from an upholstery shop.
Hi, Maisy! I will add that to the post for people to consider. I do use batting with my bench cushions, but I don’t feel it’s necessary for the smaller chair cushions. See my 2 bench seat tutorials where I do add batting. DIY Bench Seat Cushion Cover Tutorial and DIY Bench Cushion Cover. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you for this! I was recently quoted $95 per cushion to have them made, plus material, so I decided to see if it was worth having a go myself. Super helpful. I do have a question: how did you finish the back of the cushion in the photo? I know you said there were several options…it looked like an envelope fold/flap – but I wasn’t sure if there was fabric from both sides?
Thanks, Allison! Yes, there are 2 fabric strips in the back. You’ll use one continuous strip long enough to go all the way around the cushion for the main side piece, but one more short strip for the back that is sewn from the bottom of the cushion. Look at the photos again, there is one angle that shows the back. I hope that helps!
I’m looking for measurements for the ties. I tried to use every bit of my fabric, and the ties, after folding, are 7/8″. I tried 1/4″ seam and couldn’t begin to turn it. I did another seam at 1/8″. Now I’m ripping out the 1/4″ seam. I’m assuming my fabric should’ve been more than 1-3/4 wide to start with? Please help! This is my first chair pad.
Hi Karen, The measurements really depend on your cushion size and personal preference. Since you don’t have a lot of fabric left, I would make them as wide as possible. You could try another method to make the ties that does not involve turning. Click here, it’s in my post called “How to make Fabric Ties” It’s much easier for skinny ties. Don’t make the folds into the center so wide and that should save you some fabric.