How To Sew A Chair Cushion (Using Scrap Fabric)
Aaand this week we are BACK ON the scrap fabric train. The zipper seams of my fabric box burst open not too long ago, so I decided I really needed to try and get rid of some of the fabric that's been sitting in there for years. Not even kidding: YEARS. Hence this week's post on how to sew a chair cushion!
But first. You may remember from earlier this year that I was on a serious roll with using up the old scrap fabric in my sewing box. It started as Spring cleaning with using scraps for the Naoko Tank, the Tartt Racerback, and the DIY patchwork pillow project. (Just to name a few.)
And it's started to develop in to a habit. A habit where when I'm brainstorming the month's content, or designing a sewing project.. I start to think: What fabric can I use from my sewing box?
Which, unlike most habits, is a pretty good one to develop, IMHO. SO. After my fabric box burst open in all its glory, I decided that when I was planning out this month's content, I really needed to get in a post where I used up some of that scrap fabric.
It had to be something that I haven't covered how to sew already, but could potentially be helpful for other seamstresses out there..
And then it hit me: A cushion for my sewing stool!
I started using a sewing stool earlier this year because my left knee was KILLING me after a full day's work of standing up pattern drafting & sewing. And I'm a runner (it's basically my only form of exercise) so having a bum knee is not an option.
So I bought my stool! My cushion-less, incredibly uncomfortable stool.
And while it helps my knee, my back now starts to ache after sitting on it all day. And once my back starts hurting I usually just grab a pillow from the bedroom and sit on that.. But if you think about it, #gross. I'm not particularly fond of sitting on a pillow all day, then sleeping on it that night.
SO in comes this post on how to sew a chair cushion!
And of course, this particular post is customized to fit my stool. But I feel like the stool I have is a pretty common one.. It's tall enough for pattern drafting & sewing tables (I think they are the same exact chairs that were all over the FIDM classrooms) and also fairly cheap. I purchased mine from Target, but I feel like this same stool is available pretty much everywhere.
BUT if you do have a different chair that you need to create a cushion for, you can still follow the basic instructions of this post. Just tweak as you need to (i.e. measurements and/or general shape) and you'll have a brand new chair cushion in no time!
So. Let's get started, shall we?
How to sew a chair cushion: Tools & materials
To start, you only need the most basic of tools. Below is a list of what I needed for this project:
- Measuring Tape
- Square & Curved Rulers
- Seam Ripper
- Hand Sewing Needle
- Sewing Pins
- Fabric Scissors
- Sewing Machine (Obvi!)
And that's it! If you already have a sewing kit built, then you should have all of the tools needed for this project.
The materials that I used for this project were also pretty simple. (And I had them ALL already in my box of scrap fabric! #winning) Below is what I ended up needing for my chair cushion:
- 1/2 Yard Self Fabric (The fabric that will be used for the outside of the pillow. I chose a pretty thick upholstery fabric that I have no idea how I ended up with.. Actually not the best option because it was so thick. My fingers are raw from hand sewing!)
- 1/2 Yard Lining Fabric (The fabric that will encase the stuffing for the pillow, inside the self fabric. I just used a basic thin knit that I had in my box. Doesn't have to be anything special, but I would recommend using a knit fabric rather than a woven one.)
- 1-2 Yards Stuffing Fabric (The fabric that will be used for the actual stuffing of the cushion. I would recommend using a lightweight knit for the stuffing.. But the choice is yours! You are the one that will be sitting on it.)
- Matching Thread (Obvi!)
And again, that's it! Ready to get sewing?
How to sew a chair cushion: The prep
So first, we need to prep the cushion for sewing.
To start, measure out the size of your cushion. (For example: The width of the top of my stool was about 12" x 12", and the diameter 15.5".)
On the back of the self fabric, draw a cross. Mark the width & length on the cross, then draw diagonal lines through the center of the cross following the diameter measurement.
Create a basic square, then make any necessary adjustments. (i.e. Rounding out the corners like I had to do on my cushion!) Add seam allowances around the entire cushion. (I prefer to use 1/2" seam allowances, but the choice is yours!)
NOTE: Also make sure to add in any construction details that your cushion may have.
Cut out this first piece (with all of the measurements drawn out) and lay it against the chair that the cushion is for, to make sure that it fits.
If the cushion needs to be bigger or smaller, make sure to adjust accordingly when cutting out the final pieces. (This is why I prefer to cut my cushion slightly bigger than the actual chair. It's always easier to cut pieces smaller, rather than having to recut them bigger.)
Once the initial piece matches the size of the chair, cut out another piece in the self fabric, as well as two more pieces in the lining fabric. For the stuffing, I simply cut the knit fabric I had into 1" wide strips, about 5"-10" long each.
This ensured that the strips weren't too thick or too long, and that they would fit inside my tiny cushion. Cut out the strips 1/2 yard at a time--You can always go back and cut more strips if you need more stuffing.
And with the two self pieces, the two lining pieces, and the stuffing all cut out.. It's time to start sewing!
How to sew a chair cushion: The sewing
While the overall sewing of my chair cushion was fairly simple, it did take some time. Specifically when it came to the keyhole in the center of the cushion--Not as easy as I expected it to be!
So go slowly and take your time when it comes to the sewing.
To start, sew together THREE sides of the self fabric pieces together, right side to right side. Repeat with the lining fabric pieces.
If sewing a keyhole (like with my chair cushion) leave it open for now. Press the seams for both the self cushion & the lining cushion open.
Hand stitch the keyhole of the lining cushion closed, from the RIGHT side of the cushion. (If not working with a keyhole, then you can skip this step.)
Insert the lining cushion INSIDE the self cushion, then hand stitch the keyhole of the self cushion closed using a basic slip stitch. (Not sure how to hand stitch? We have you covered with two separate hand stitching tutorials! Check out Part One & Part Two here.)
With the keyholes closed, start stuffing the lining of the cushion with the fabric strips. Stuff until the cushion is full, then hand stitch the last side of the lining cushion closed.
And finally, hand stitch the self fabric of the cushion closed as well. And that's it! You have a fully sewn keyhole chair cushion. There are just a few finishing touches..
How to sew a chair cushion: The final touches
I chose to add ties to my chair cushion because I wanted it to be securely attached to my stool. I'm really not a fan of constantly picking up cushions (or anything really) off of the ground.. Hence the added cushion security. And while adding ties to your chair cushion may not be entirely necessary.. It 100% was for me.
After finishing up with my cushion, I placed it on my stool and (using a measuring tape) measured out how long the ties needed to be. You can follow that same process or just cut out really long strips of fabric--The choice is yours! My fabric was on the shorter side, so I didn't have the luxury..
On the wrong side of the self fabric, draw out the strips for the ties. I made my ties about 1/2" wide, after sewn together with 1/2" seam allowances.
But because my fabric was stupid thick, I ended up having to hand sew the sides & ends of the ties together.
Not ideal, because it took way longer than it should have, but it worked.
Once all four ties were sewn together, I pinned each tie on to the bottom of the chair cushion and hand stitched them on there. You can also stitch the ties INSIDE the self fabric when sewing the actual cushion up.. But I prefer it this way.
Again, the choice is yours! With the four ties attached to each corner, your chair cushion is officially complete and ready for sitting.
How to sew a chair cushion: Are you ready?
And that's it! Not too bad, right?
And now, not only will you have a brand new cushion, but you'll also get rid of some of that scrap fabric that's just been sitting in your sewing box for years. Talk about a win-win!
Now, keep in mind. Using scrap fabric for this project (rather than an actual foam cushion) results in a much denser, heavier cushion.
So if you're looking for a fluffy, lightweight cushion, then just go buy the foam or some fluffy stuffing from a craft store.
And I'm actually kind of in to the fact that the cushion for my sewing stool is a little firmer. I think it will help me sit up straighter, as well as ensuring that the cushion doesn't go flat after a month of use.
And the obvi: I LOVE that I used up three different scraps of fabric that was just sitting in my sewing box. I seriously have had the brown knit that I used for the stuffing for over FIVE YEARS. It has just been sitting in my box, taking up space. So glad to have put it to use now!
Do you guys have any questions on how to sew up your own cushions? Would love to hear your thoughts below!