Make Your Own Outdoor Cushions!

Do you remember the cozy outdoor space that we created at our studio years ago?

Josh made amazing bench seating to give us a place to lounge, and we decided to add some thick outdoor cushions to make the seating area more comfortable.

Here’s how we made our own outdoor cushions:

Sew your own outdoor cushions

Make Your Own Outdoor Cushions! (click through for tutorial)Supplies:
canvas twill or outdoor fabric
outdoor cushion filling
-standard sewing machine
zipper the width of your cushion
fabric scissors and sewing pins
waterproofing spray

Make Your Own Outdoor Cushions! (click through for tutorial) First, I measured the width and depth of each seat to see how big the cushions should be. The cushion filling I bought was 4″ tall, so I knew that number would be the height of my cushion.

Make Your Own Outdoor Cushions! (click through for tutorial) To figure out the fabric dimensions for the cushion panels, take the width and depth measurements and add 1″ to both numbers to allow for a 1/2″ seam allowance all around. These measurements are for the top and bottom panels of the cushion.

To determine the side panel length, add the original measurements (the numbers before the additional inches for seam allowance) of all four sides of the large panel together.

Add 1″ onto that big number to allow for a 1/2″ seam allowance. The height of your super-long side panel is the height of the cushion filling with 1″ added for a 1/2″ seam allowance. 

Take these dimensions and cut your top and bottom panel and your long side panel accordingly.

Make Your Own Outdoor Cushions! (click through for tutorial) Make Your Own Outdoor Cushions! (click through for tutorial) Use fabric scissors to round the edge of your fabric corners on your two larger panels.

To connect your long side panel strip and make one big continuous loop around the edge of your cushion, fold the panel in half (with the right sides facing each other), and sew 1/2″ from the edge to connect the ends.

Line up the edges of your side panel loop of fabric with the edge of the top panel (with the right sides together), and pin the edge in place.

Make Your Own Outdoor Cushions! (click through for tutorial) To make the corners easier to sew, add some “V”-shaped notches around each corner.

Make Your Own Outdoor Cushions! (click through for tutorial) Use your machine to sew all the way around the edges with a 1/2″ seam allowance. 

Make Your Own Outdoor Cushions! (click through for tutorial) Pin the bottom panel to the side panel in the same manner as the top panel, and make notches on all the corners.

Make Your Own Outdoor Cushions! (click through for tutorial) Before you sew all the way around the bottom panel, you’ll want to add a zipper at one of the ends so you can insert your cushion filling.

Place the zipper face down onto the right side of the fabric at one of the ends of your bottom panel. Pin the zipper in place so that the zipper will be installed 1/2″ from the edge. 

Watch the video below to learn how to install your zipper:

Make Your Own Outdoor Cushions! (click through for tutorial) Use a zipper foot on your machine to sew the right side of the zipper in place.

Make Your Own Outdoor Cushions! (click through for tutorial) Repeat the process of pinning and sewing the other side of the zipper so that you have a functional zipper installed.

Now you can sew all the way around the rest of the bottom panel (starting at the end of the zipper and stopping when you reach the beginning of it).

Make sure to leave your zipper open a few inches before you sew all the way around so you can get back in later! Flip your cushion cover right side out, and you’re ready to add the filling!

Make Your Own Outdoor Cushions! (click through for tutorial) Use a ruler and a marker to measure the appropriate width of your cushion filling.* If you aren’t able to buy a cushion long enough that’s in one piece, you just use as many pieces as needed to fill the cushion length.

*NOTE: I would highly suggest making the width and length of the insert a little bigger than your actual cover dimensions (maybe add an inch to both). This way, the insert will fit snugly into the cover and you will have a full-looking cushion.

Make Your Own Outdoor Cushions! (click through for tutorial) Now, I’ve heard that some people use jigsaws or even electric turkey carving knives to cut foam and filling, but the thing that worked the best for me was actually a plain handsaw. Weird, right?

The saw was able to do most of the cutting pretty easily, but I did use some fabric scissors to clean up the edge a bit.

Once my filling was cut to size, we folded the filling in half like a taco shell and inserted it into the cushion cover through the zipper opening. Use your waterproof spray to seal your fabric, and you’re done!

Sew your own outdoor cushions

Sew your own outdoor cushions Sew your own outdoor cushions Throw in some outdoor pillows (or you can make your own) a few concrete planters, an outdoor rug and your space is ready to go!

Having these cushions on the outdoor benches makes the space look much more finished and one million times more comfortable.

Once you get this cushion-making technique down, you’ll be not only able to update your outdoor space, but you can also apply the principles to making cushions for lots of other seating options as well.

Happy sewing! xo. Laura

Looking for more ways to elevate your outdoor space? Check out …

Make Your Own Outdoor Cushions

Keyword outdoor cushions

Equipment

  • standard sewing machine
  • fabric scissors
  • sewing pins

Ingredients

  • canvas twill or outdoor fabric
  • outdoor cushion filling
  • zipper the width of your cushion

Instructions

  • First, I measured the width and depth of each seat to see how big the cushions should be. The cushion filling I bought was 4″ tall, so I knew that number would be the height of my cushion.
  • To figure out the fabric dimensions for the cushion panels, take the width and depth measurements and add 1″ to both numbers to allow for a 1/2″ seam allowance all around. These measurements are for the top and bottom panels of the cushion.
    To determine the side panel length, add the original measurements (the numbers before the additional inches for seam allowance) of all four sides of the large panel together. Add 1″ onto that big number to allow for a 1/2″ seam allowance. The height of your super-long side panel is the height of the cushion filling with 1″ added for a 1/2″ seam allowance. 
  • Take these dimensions and cut your top and bottom panel and your long side panel accordingly.
  • Use fabric scissors to round the edge of your fabric corners on your two larger panels.
    To connect your long side panel strip and make one big continuous loop around the edge of your cushion, fold the panel in half (with the right sides facing each other), and sew 1/2″ from the edge to connect the ends.
    Line up the edges of your side panel loop of fabric with the edge of the top panel (with the right sides together), and pin the edge in place.
  • To make the corners easier to sew, add some “V”-shaped notches around each corner.
  • Use your machine to sew all the way around the edges with a 1/2″ seam allowance. 
  • Pin the bottom panel to the side panel in the same manner as the top panel, and make notches on all the corners.
  • Before you sew all the way around the bottom panel, you’ll want to add a zipper at one of the ends so you can insert your cushion filling.
    Place the zipper face down onto the right side of the fabric at one of the ends of your bottom panel. Pin the zipper in place so that the zipper will be installed 1/2″ from the edge. 
  • Use a zipper foot on your machine to sew the right side of the zipper in place.
  • Repeat the process of pinning and sewing the other side of the zipper so that you have a functional zipper installed. Now you can sew all the way around the rest of the bottom panel (starting at the end of the zipper and stopping when you reach the beginning of it).
    Make sure to leave your zipper open a few inches before you sew all the way around so you can get back in later! Flip your cushion cover right side out, and you’re ready to add the filling!
  • Use a ruler and a marker to measure the appropriate width of your cushion filling.* If you aren’t able to buy a cushion long enough that’s in one piece, you just use as many pieces as needed to fill the cushion length.
    I would highly suggest making the width and length of the insert a little bigger than your actual cover dimensions (maybe add an inch to both). This way the insert will fit snugly into the cover and you will have a full-looking cushion.
  • Now, I’ve heard that some people use jigsaws or even electric turkey carving knives to cut foam and filling, but the thing that worked the best for me was actually a plain old handsaw. Weird, right?
    The saw was able to do most of the cutting pretty easily, but I did use some fabric scissors to clean up the edge a bit.
    Once my filling was cut to size, we folded the filling in half like a taco shell and inserted it into the cushion cover through the zipper opening. Use your waterproof spray to seal your fabric, and you’re done!
    • I would make a little drawing of each panel you’ll need for your shape (top, bottom, and sides with seam allowance) and then see what length and width your chosen fabric comes in and kind of map out on paper how many yard you need to fit everything. You can also ask for some help at the fabric counter if you have your drawing with you!

      Laura

  • I am making 21” cushions for my patio. Does this mean I need 85” for my side panel? This is a lot of fabric per cushion and I need to make 6. I need the measurement to be exact. They will be 4” in height also. Please help ASAP, for I am in the middle of cutting my fabric now.

  • I’m a little curious about how you actually measure the fabric for the panels. I understand measuring the length and width of the foam insert and adding 1/2’ on each side for seams, but then at the end you suggest making the cushion cover smaller than that so that the insert fits tightly. To make it an inch smaller in each direction, wouldn’t you then just cut to the exact width and length of the panels and take the 1/2”seam allowance on each side to make the panels an inch shorter in each direction?

    • Sorry, having a tough time understanding the exact question, but I think I was suggesting to make the top and bottom largest panels a little smaller than the exact width/length of the foam so that it’s a snug fit when you stuff it in…

      Laura

  • Just found this before embarking on a similar project, I’m a bit of a beginner and I’m struggling to make sure I order the right type of fabric, I want it to be nice to sit on so not plastic coated. Could you help? 🙂 I’d usually go into a shop and look but it is not possible at the moment :p

    • Look in outdoor fabric sections of fabric stores for more weather proof material! They should have a section that’s suitable for outdoors 🙂

      Laura

  • This is awesome! I’m making couch cushions for a pallet couch I built with my sister. What thickness of foam did you use? We’re going with 4 inches but I’m not sure if thats good! Also, what kind of zipper did you use? Thanks!

    • I would do at least 3″ tall cushions and a basic zipper should work, maybe a plastic one if it will be exposed to a lot of wet weather…

      Laura

  • Love this! We are making our own deck chairs and finding 25″ x 25″ cushions isn’t easy and the ones I did find were expensive and not what I wanted. Hopefully I can find the zipper size I need. Looking forward to making them. TFS!

  • My cushions are old but in good shape. The most at risk is the foam. We live in a very dry climate and the lining has basically disintegrated. What fabric can I use to cover the foam that will withstand the heat/dry climate, dry quickly and retain the life of the foam?

    • You should be able to find a fabric that has a plastic coating on one side (or is heavily waterproofed) and that would help keep rain off of the foam! Check fabric stores in the outdoor section

      Laura

  • Great information! This is really a nice idea and I am curious to be a part if it.

  • Many many thanks for this step by step guide. I used to couch basketball to my neighboring kids in the afternoon. So, their parents come to my backyard where the basketball court is located. I was searching for a budget solution to make a comfortable bench for those guests and I’ve found your tips which is very easy to follow. Moreover, your images makes the process 100% clear. Thanks again!

  • Another alternative for a kids’s bed room is bunk beds or a raised bed on stilts.
    Rather the mattress rests directly on top of two adjacent bases making the
    entire bed system much more compact and neat.

  • Thanks for the tutorial!

    Is the foam you linked to pretty firm? I would be using these cushions on top of pallets and I’m afraid if the foam is too soft it’ll compress too much and you’ll be able to feel the boards.

    • That green foam is a little more firm but if there’s a lot of space between the boards you may want to put another board down first

      Laura

  • What a lovely seating area you have created! ? The colours of the pillows similar to what I have made. And that brings me to my question, where did you get the amazing carpet? I have been looking for one with all these colours and have yet to find one. I realize this posting is a couple of yrs old, but a carpet like that could till be out there for me, lol!
    Keep up the good work girls!

  • This post is awesome. It gives me an idea on how to make a diy cushion. Moreover pacific outdoor fabrics is at good choice such as the color which is a good combination. It complements well which makes the place comfortable to stay with.

  • Great post! Is that a red patio heater or little grill in the corner? Where did you get it? Thanks!

  • Hi, the cushion looks great! I was wondering if you used waterproof or outdoor foam, or just regular foam for the insert. I can’t get over how much more expensive the outdoor foam is… If I use outdoor fabric, can I get away with using regular upholstery foam?

  • You guys must be mind readers… I’ve just been planning out cushions for my outdoor area to start making in spring (it’s winter here in Aust atm) 🙂

  • This outdoor space looks amazing 🙂

    http://champagnelifestyleteabudget.blogspot.co.uk/

  • Hi Dija! Not yet, but stay tuned for a blog post 🙂 – Jacki

  • The cushions look great! I don’t know if I missed this anywhere but is there a tutorial on the benches themselves?

  • These came out awesome! Would totally have you sent you some outdoor fabric for this project 🙂

  • Oh my goodness. Do you think you could make these without a sewing machine? I’ve been looking for the perfect cushions for my flat for aaaages.

    xx

    http://www.annadorabel.com/

  • The spray I linked isn’t Scotchgard and I don’t notice an unpleasant feel after I sprayed it. Give it a try!

    Laura 🙂

  • We don’t have anything under there at the moment, but we aren’t too worried about the wood getting wet since it’s already an outdoor space 🙂

    Laura

  • It probably took about 3-4 hours to make one cushion, but they are really big, so smaller cushions wouldn’t take as long (and you get faster on any other ones you make)…

    Laura

  • Glad to see you used gray and white striped fabric for your cushions! I’m so into these colors for summa time right now! Looks uh-mazing 😉

  • This is an awesome project. My husband was after these just recently. I had no clue how to make these. No I know. Thanks guys!

  • You guys can literally make anything, wow! I love love love this <3

    xx,
    Mona

    http://somethinghere-somethingthere.blogspot.com

  • What waterproof spray? You mention it only as a last step. I generally find Scotchgard somewhat unpleasant to touch – do you have an alternative, or how did you use Scotchgard, or how is this supposed to work? It looks interesting, and the general info on making cushions is appreciated, but I’m uncertain about the waterproof part.

  • So helpful! I’m about to make pillows to match a picnic blanket to sit on and this is perfect.

  • These look so amazing!! I am so gonna try to make them. I am a little bit clumsy but you guys made it seem so easy so I think I will be able to recreate them :p

    Lovely post!

    xx Sofie

    http://sealoffashionsofie.weebly.com/my-blog

  • I love making my own pillows! It’s more fun when they’re customizable, plus it’s also fun to make! 🙂

    http://everydayingrace.blogspot.ca/

  • This looks amazing! Love this DIY.

    http://www.mystylediary.eu/

  • This turned out fantastically! Absolutely adore the cushions and this entire space!

    xoxo
    Taylor

  • Love this! Love the bright colors and fun patterns you chose! So darn cute!

    http://sometimesgracefully.com

  • Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! These outdoor posts are really making me hate the fact that I live in an apartment with no yard but maybe it will inspire me to do something fresh with my front porch like I did a couple of years ago. It’s time for a makeover 🙂

    Sincerely,

    Laurali Star

    http://www.thesecretsurprisinista.com

  • this is so perfect because my husband & I just bought an old outdoor couch that needs new waterproof cushions. hellooo perfect timing. thanks girls!

  • beautiful photos and these turned out amazing. I’m going to try making yellow + gray mix and match pillows for my patio set! I think they’ll look fab!

  • Very nice! The benches and chairs are usually there a lot longer than the cushions. Great project!

  • Love this! I always have fun with ABM posts bc I always try to guess who’s writing the article simply by the tone of writing, photos of hands, and post content. I guessed this one right! (I usually get it right :o) Creepy? I think not ;o)

    Do you also happen to put anything under the cement pots to protect the wood?

    • The cement planters I have on my deck I bought some of the stick on felt that you would put under furniture, applied some glue to make sure it stayed put. You may have to replace it every year or so depending on exposure to weather but it worked for me here in NY!

  • Out of curiosity, how long does it take you to make one cushion? I love how they’re homemade. My sewing machine has been abandoned for far too long!

    http://cindismusings.blogspot.co.uk/

  • You guys are so talented – I would be way too intimidated to take this on myself! It looks great though – loving the stripes! Xo, S

  • This will come in handy very soon! I’ll be making my patio furniture soon and nay good tutorial helps.

  • So cute! Perfect for my patio seats!

  • I always have trouble with corners so I think this will help! Love the stripey fabric – especially against the pattern and plain cushions.

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