A few years back, a family friend had purchased some new bar top furniture for her kitchen. She was in love with them but wanted an extra pop of color and texture.
She knew I sewed so she asked if I could make her custom foam seat cushions.
Now up until this point I had done many projects involving foam but I hadn’t made seat cushions before.
The first step in the process was to design them! There are many different ways I could have made the cushions so I wanted to be sure she knew all the options.
Options such as piping, buttons, water proofing, thin or thick foam, shape of the seat, etc.
After a day or so to mull it over, she got back to me with the details of the cushions. She decided she wanted piping, ties and buttons. This was a long the lines of what she was looking for:
Her chairs were an interesting shape so I had her take some paper and make a template for measurements.
So that she could pick out the exact fabric she wanted, I sent her a list of the materials to purchase. I also advised her to pick a fabric that was “all weather” or “outdoor” since it was going to be used in the kitchen.
Since I was making all the trim and “extras” custom for the cushions, I needed more than just fabric and foam.
Here are the materials I used:
- Outdoor fabric (waterproof almost- a thick weave)
- Matching thread (white)
- Large roll of 2 inch foam
HOW I MADE THEM
Step one was to cut the foam. Like I said above, the chairs were an interesting shape. They were a bit of a long, trapezoid shape. I used the paper measurement template to trace the shape onto the foam and away I cut!
Cutting foam that thick would probably be easiest with a long, thin power saw. Sadly, I didn’t have access to one so I just cut it with a serrated knife. Don’t use scissors as it will pinch the fabric more than cut.
This will leave strange, jagged edges to the foam.
Once I had all 6 foam pieces cut out, I moved on to cutting my fabric!
If you’re new to sewing, make sure you have REALLY sharp scissors when cutting your fabric. You may just want to purchase a pair so they’re very sharp and never been used. I’m sure you’ve heard the jokes about crafters and their rules with the craft scissors!
Even though I had foam pieces to use as a template, I still used my paper template for more precise measurements. The paper template laid nicer than the foam pieces which made it easier to trace around it. (Since the foam came on a roll, the foam was still a bit curved.)
To make it simple, I cut only two pieces of fabric per cushion. A top piece and a bottom piece. They would “sandwich” the cushion with the piping in between them.
KNOW HOW THICK YOUR FOAM IS
Because I was sewing in piping and the foam was 2 inches thick (or tall), each piece of fabric needed enough extra fabric on the sides for the seam as well as the piping.
Because of this, I gave a 2 inch border around my paper template on each piece of fabric. This way I could have a 1 inch seam and both pieces of fabric would, together, have 2 inches to cover the sides of the foam.
Now for the piping!
When using piping, you don’t necessarily need to have it wrap the entire border of the cushion. I decided to have it start an inch or two in from the back corner of the cushion. So the piping wrapped the entire cushion except the center portion on the back.
You’ll also need to leave this portion of the cushion cover “empty” so you can shove your foam insert in through this opening.
First, I took the piping rope and wrapped it around the foam. I held the rope where it was going to start and wrapped it to where it would end. I measured out 6 pieces of piping rope (and made sure to have a few inches of some extra slack on each rope just in case).
To “wrap” the piping, I cut strips of fabric and sewed them together to make a longer strip. Next, I measured out each rope along the strips of fabric and cut them accordingly.
Once I had measured and cut the fabric for each piece of rope, I wrapped the fabric around it and fed it through the sewing machine. Make sure you are holding the fabric pretty tightly when feeding it through the machine. This way the cord is sewn in tightly. (Be sure to not sew the rope itself! Have the seam run NEXT to the cord.)
Next, I made the ties for the back of the cushion. I did this by cutting thick strips of fabric and folded them to make a thick, long strip. Once I had pressed them with the iron for good, creased edges, I ran them through the sewing machine.
Each chair needed 4 ties, 2 on each side. (Don’t attach them quite yet.)
The next step was to pin all the layers together. Make sure to turn your fabric inside out! Lay the two large pieces of fabric with the side you DON’T want seen on the outside.
(You’ll be turning your cushion cover right side out once it’s all sewn up and you don’t want the wrong side of the fabric on the “outside” of the cushion.)
Take your piping and lay it along the border of fabric in between the two pieces. Make sure there’s about an inch of fabric on the outside of the piping for a good hem.
Next, pin the ties next to the two back corners of the cushions near the start and end of your piping. (Make sure you have two ties on each back corner!)
Once everything is pinned together, run it through your machine taking pins out as you go. If you’re new to sewing, I LOVE having a magnetic pin cushion handy. It allows me to just drop the pin close to the pin cushion instead of having to pin it directly.
Make sure to sew as close to the piping as you can so you catch the strip of fabric and it’s flush to the seam. Otherwise the piping may not get sewn in or the piping will stick out too much, showing it’s own seam.
The next step is to stuff the cushion covers you’ve made! Shove in the foam through the small opening you’ve left in the back. I found it easier to fold the foam like a taco and pull it through.
Now that all of the cushion covers have been sewn (including the piping and the ties) and stuffed, it’s time to make the buttons!
The button kits are very easy to use. They usually come with instructions. Basically, you’ll cut a circle of fabric wide enough to be tucked up under the bottom part of the button. You snap the bottom of the button on with the button maker kit and you’re done!
Once I had made 4 buttons for each cushion, I made another paper template. This template was square to make sure the buttons were sewn in an even pattern.
I used the template to mark the four corners of the paper on the cushion where the buttons should be sewn. Make sure the template is centered when you make your marks.
Next, sew your buttons on the marks you’ve made! I hand sewed mine all the way through the foam and made a thick knot on the underside of the cushion. To make it extra secure, I’ve often used a small, clear button on the underside to act as an anchor for the knot.
Once your buttons are sewed on, you’re done! Go tie those babies onto your kitchen chairs! I’d love to see how they turned out! Shoot me an email if you tried this project too!
– – – –