DIY chair cushion on an office chair

How to Make Chair or Barstool Cushions

Custom cushions lend a touch of personality, color, and comfort to a room. Learn how to make DIY chair cushions for your home. And your backside!😃

We all love Pottery Barn. Most times I walk away with inspiration instead of a purchase. What makes PB so inviting besides the furniture is the fabrics and accessories.

A beautiful home is in the heart and the details. Let’s get started on a beautiful detail.

DIY Chair Cushions

First, you’ll need to measure your chair or bar stool.

For the pattern, any kind of 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 make sure that my pattern was symmetrical, I cut out half of the cushion shape and flipped it over, then repeated it.

DIY bar stool cushion at kitchen island

Meanwhile, grab a sheet of paper. 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 total. The top of the cushion, the bottom of the cushion, the side panel strip (based on the height of your foam insert), and 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, it’s up to you how wide you’d like to make yours. I typically use a 5/8 inch (1.5cm) seam allowance.

5 pattern pieces needed to sew your own custom chair or bar stool cushions

After that, decide on the height of the cushion based on the foam insert you will 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 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 2 other cushion cover tutorials on my site to check out.

A fitted cushion cover for a bench seat AND a custom cushion cover for a chair.

Click Here  or  Click Here

Decorator Fabrics

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 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.

materials needed to sew your own chair or bar stool cushions

Sewing Supplies

Gather the rest of your materials. Here’s what you’ll need.

Fabric for Cushion & Ties
Cutting Board or safe surface
Straight Pins
Matching Thread
Pencil with Eraser
Paper Scissors
Sewing Scissors HERE 

or Rotary Cutter for Fabric
Straight Edge to draw the pattern
Sewing Machine
Paper or Cardboard for Pattern
Foam Cushion
Sharpie Marker
Electric Knife
Iron Rowenta

How to Make a Cushion Cover

Now the fun part, let’s start cutting and sewing.

Cutting Fabric

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.

Making Ties

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 close one end, leaving the other end open.

Turn the tie right side out and press. Pull 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.

Ties to attach your custom chair or bar stool cushions

Top and Sides of the Cushion

You want one continuous strip long enough to go all the way around the cushion. 

How to sew chair or bar stool cushions

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. Try to have the seams in the back of the cushion, if possible. 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 a DIY chair cushion

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.

DIY chair cushion with ties

Instructions to sew a chair cushion

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 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.

How to sew chair or bar stool cushions

Sewing the Bottom Panel to the Cover

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. Most importantly, these areas need to be strong, as they get a lot of stress when you insert the foam pad.

How to sew chair or bar stool cushions


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.

tutorial for bar stool cushion

Foam Inserts

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 out perfectly for my Pottery Barn kitchen bar stools. I can always reuse the inserts and recover them as long as I own the chairs. 

Pattern for DIY chair cushion with foam insert

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.

foam cushion insert for a DIY chair cushion

Holding the electric knife vertically, cut along the marker outline. Don’t worry if it is not perfect.

cut out a foam cushion insert with an electric knife for a DIY cushion

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 29 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.😂

cut out a foam cushion insert with an electric knife.

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 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.

There are many options. For example, 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.

DIY chair cushion closure

Tufting a 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 have a professional-looking comfy perch! Enjoy.

DIY chair cushion in a home office

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


Cushion DIY

Find more cushion inspiration and tutorials via the links below.

Bench Cushion Cover
Chair Covers
Bench Seat Elastic Cushion Cover

Explore More

SHOP for info & resources to buy
RECIPES for more recipes
INSPIRATION for creative project ideas

START HERE for blog home

The blue-colored type contains affiliate links. See the shop page for more information.

8 comments on “How to Make Chair or Barstool Cushions

  1. 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.

    1. 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.
      Good luck!

  2. 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?

    1. 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!

  3. 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.

    1. 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!

  4. 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

    1. 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.😁

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