In total learn-by-DIY’ing style, I set out to accent my newly refinished patio furniture with a set of handmade chair cushions. This time of year it’s not too hard to find nice outdoor pillows and seat cushions, but they can get pricy, and often you’re forced to sacrifice color or design to get the number of matching pieces that your patio set requires.
This is a new-ish territory for me; I’ve made my share of pillowcases (both felt and cotton), but creating a flat seat cushion is a little different both in purpose and in construct. I’m no seamstress, but I wanted to give it a try. If you ask me, there’s always something nice about trying to make them yourself, especially when you’re trying to tie in your design to existing home decor like a bright yellow umbrella and a purple back door.
By using simple materials and basic construction, I achieved what ended up being pleasantly comfortable seats for our summertime outdoor dinners.
Looking to refresh your own patio furniture? Check out this simple tutorial and try it for yourself!
I started by gathering materials:
- 3 yards of fabric (I used heavy outdoor canvas in a plum-purple tone that with a coupon only cost $15)
- Sewing machine with thread (with heavier fabrics, I like to pair up with a heavier thread, and this kind was a dark brown spool that’s strong enough to be used with upholstery fabrics)
- 4 foam seat cushions (15″x17″x2″ thick, $7/each)
- Accent thread (optional)
Step 1: Cut your foam seats to size. I lucked out with the seat surface of the outdoor chairs being exactly 15″x17″, but if you find efficiencies in buying a larger piece of foam or have smaller seats to fill, it’s easiest to cut foam to size with a serrated knife, like I can be seen doing here in a different foam-seat project that’s still in-progress and will eventually be shared on my main blog, merrypad. Sneak peek time!
Step 2: Once your foam is cut to size, you can trim pieces of fabric which will account for both the top and bottom of the cushion. I cut mine to be 17″x19″ to allow for a generous seam allowance.
Step 3: Sew three sides of the fabric pieces together to form a pillowcase.
Step 4: When closing the fourth edge of the cushion cover, I folded the rough edges inwards, and sewed right over it. I also pinned two sets of fabric strips into the seam line to serve as ties to attach the cushion to the chair legs.
Because I’m sealing it fully, it means that I won’t be able to remove the cover like a slip cover and wash it, but using buttons or a zipper alternatively would make it easily removable from the foam seat. The first of the four cushions looked like this:
Step 5: It’s really ready to use at this point, but because I wanted to add in a little color, I took it up a level and added some hand sewn accents using a sewing needle and contrasting thread.
The finished cushions are cute; not as flawless and taut as I may have hoped, but you’re actually seeing the best of the four; I got better as I went.
I don’t leave the cushions out on the deck chairs while it’s rainy, because although they’re an outdoor fabric, I have a hunch that the seat foam I used isn’t as high-tech as the quick-dry filler used in manufactured cushions. Hopefully they’ll live out there for many hot and dry summer days.
Now, would it stop raining for long enough for me to really enjoy them on the deck?
Catching the home improvement bug at an early age, Emily Winters is a now a devoted DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects she covers on her blog Merrypad range from painting a wall to building a deck, so it’s only natural she landed at DIYNetwork.com. You can follow Emily on twitter at @merrypad and like her on facebook at facebook.com/merrypad.