Requests for this overstuffed bench cushion tutorial have been rolling in since I first shared our Cozy Reading Nook reveal. It took me almost a year to put one together, but hey, better late than never right? There are so many cushion tutorials out there, but most of them are pretty thin and flat, with loose-fitting covers. When I set out to make a cushion for our nook, I knew I wanted it to be thick, overstuffed, and ready for hours of comfy sitting. I’m happy to report that our cushion has held it’s shape for almost a year now, and I predict it will still look and feel good for many years to come.
Note: This cushion is THICK, and made our bench seat almost too high for comfort. We are a fairly tall family, so it’s okay for us, but I would encourage you to consider your finished seat height before creating your cushion. If you are still building your bench seat, maybe consider lowering it a few inches. If you’ve already built it and you’re afraid this thickness might be too high, you can use 2-inch foam instead of 4-inch, and still wrap it for that overstuffed look without the added height.
- 4-inch Foam
- Dacron Upholstery Batting
- Quilt Batting
- Fabric of Your Choice
Tools Needed (Sewing Option):
- Stapler and Staples
- Sewing Machine
- Thread to Match Your Fabric
- Seam Ripper
- 30-inch Zipper
- Spray Adhesive (only if you can’t find the exact dimensions of foam you need)
Tools Needed (No-Sew Option):
- Stapler and Staples
- Hot Glue Gun and Glue Sticks
Overstuffed Bench Cushion Instructions:
- Assemble your bench cushion. If you can get your hands on 4-inch foam (or whatever size you determine you’ll need), that is preferred. I had to use spray adhesive to glue two pieces of 2-inch foam together, and I had to piece together the end of one of the layers. Joann’s was out of 4-inch foam, and I was too impatient to order online, so I grabbed what they had and improvised. If you have to do the same, rest assured, it does not affect the integrity of the cushion. Also, I’m sorry for the unsightly yellowing on the edges. When I was spraying the adhesive on the cushions, there was overspray, and it changed the original color of the foam.
- Wrap your cushion in Dacron. This step is the secret to rounded edges. Upholsterers achieve what’s called a crown on cushions by using this wrap. You only need one layer around the whole cushion, and once again, it’s okay to piece it together if needed.
Once you’ve wrapped the Dacron around the foam, pull the two edges together tightly and staple them with a regular desk top stapler.
- Trim off the excess Dacron. I’m going to tell you now, and remind you throughout the instructions, that these staples will not be felt at all when you sit on the cushion. I know it seems like they would poke through the fabric, but they won’t, so staple away.
Here’s how it should look when you’re finished wrapping, stapling and trimming.
See how each edge is rounded? That’s the crown you see on professionally-upholstered cushions that will set your project apart from run-of-the-mill DIYs.
- Wrap your cushion in batting. Here’s where the overstuffed part comes into play. I used polyester quilt batting because it has a lot of air pockets, which create nice volume for that rounded, overstuffed look. Each length of batting wrapped around my cushion twice, giving me four layers of batting all the way around the cushion.
You’ll just wrap it around until you run out of batting, and then use your stapler to attach the end of the batting to the body of the cushion.
This layer does not need to be neat and tidy. Just get it all wrapped and connected with staples.
This is how it should look-ish after the first batting wrap.
- Wrap your cushion in another layer of batting. This final step is what will take your cushion to the next level. Repeat Step 4, and join all the edges as neatly as you can. Just remember, you don’t need to hide the staples or make things look a certain way. You just want as much uniformity as possible so your cushion cover won’t show any lumps. I’m giving you a ton of step-by-step pictures because I know some people are very visual, and the more pictures the better. Plus, the corners on this layer need to be as smooth as possible, so I thought I’d show how I did mine. Feel free to skip ahead to the instructions for the cushion cover if you’ve got this step down.
This is how the finished cushion should look once you’ve wrapped it in Dacron and four layers of quilt batting; nice and overstuffed.
No-Sew Cushion Cover Instructions:
- Measure and cut your desired fabric to fit around the cushion. Once you’ve done this, lay the fabric out on the floor, and place your cushion on top of the fabric so you can wrap it around.
- Wrap fabric around the cushion. This step will allow you to make any adjustments to where your seams will end up, and it will ensure that the fabric will cover each end fully.
- Hot glue your seams. Start by hot gluing the short part of the end seam directly onto the batting (like wrapping a present). I almost never advocate for no-sew options, as I am a purist when it comes to sewing. However, I know there are a lot of people who don’t know how to sew, and/or don’t care to learn, but still want the affordable option of making their own cushion. It was kind of fun figuring out how to do it this way, and I can assure you, if you choose to use this option, it will hold up, especially if three sides of the cushion will be hidden, like ours.
Then, glue one long side down directly onto the batting. Remember to pull tight as you go, in order to ensure that overstuffed look at the end.
When you’re ready to close your end seam, work in small sections with the hot glue. Glue the top of the fabric, and then fold it under and hold it down on top of the other piece of fabric, like in the photos below.
When you’re done with this step, your end seam should look like this. Feel free to make it even more neat and tidy than mine. Repeat this step on the other end, and then close up the back seam the same way, and you’re done!
In case you’re afraid that a no-sew option is going to look like a badly-executed DIY, take a look at how it looks in my reading nook. If I didn’t sew, this would totally pass muster for me.
See how it looks overstuffed, with that nice crown, and substantial thickness? If you create your cushion this way, be proud of it. It looks really good.
Sewn Cushion Cover Instructions:
- Measure and cut your fabric. In order to get rounded edges and corners with my fabric (so that everything was stuffed tightly into the seams), I cut my fabric out while it was laying on top of my cushion. I basically cut it in the shape I wanted it to be in the end, and added a few inches for the seam allowance. The top piece is shown below, but the bottom piece is a carbon copy of it, so cut out another piece of fabric the exact same size and shape.
Then you’re going to cut a long strip that wraps all the way around the edge of the cushion. This will join the top and bottom pieces together like a sandwich. Remember to leave a little extra room for the seam allowance. Also, if your fabric will not go all the way around in one continuous piece, feel free to sew three lengths together in order to get the length you need. Just remember to put your seams for that long piece on each side of the cushion, as they will be hidden that way. This is what I had to do, and it’s what a lot of professionals have to do. I bet if you look at your couch cushions, you’ll see side seams.
- Pin top layer to center layer. Place your top layer right side down on top of the cushion. Then, place your center layer right side down on the edge of the cushion and begin pinning them together. Start at the center of the cushion, and pin the top layer to the center layer all the way around to the back. Then return to the center and repeat on the other side, so the top layer is completely pinned to the center layer.
- Sew top layer to center layer. Take your pinned fabric off of your cushion and sew the two layers together.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 for the bottom and center layers. Once you get to the back part of your cushion, as you’re pinning the bottom layer onto the center layer, you’ll need to cut a slit in the center layer so you can remove and insert your cushion as needed. This will be where the zipper goes. If you do not plan to add a zipper, skip this step, but leave about a 36-inch portion of one of the seams open in the back so you can take the cover off to sew it, and then put the cover back on.
This was how the back of mine looked. I had overlapping tails on my center layer, and I just sewed them together vertically before closing the horizontal seam.
Time to add a zipper! This part is hard…I’m not gonna lie. I’ve inserted dozens of zippers, but putting one onto a cushion cover is just plain tricky. If I could do it over, I probably would have just sewn the seam completely closed, so if you choose to do that, just know there’s no shame in it, and you’re probably better off. If you do follow my instructions for adding a zipper, my encouragement to you is, don’t worry about it being too perfect. It’s going to be hidden, so focus on functionality.
- Pin one side of your zipper to the upper part of the opening…upside down. This is where things get tricky, but if you can learn how to do this, you’ll be set for all other zippers. Basically, you need to unzip the zipper, turn it upside down, and pin the bottom side of the zipper to the top side of your opening. If that sounds confusing, look carefully at the picture below.
The reason you attach it this specific way is so that when you flip it down, it has a nice finished edge, and the white fabric part of the zipper is hidden.
- Sew your zipper onto the fabric. I don’t use a zipper foot, but if you have one, use it. Also, if you need to watch a video on specifically how to sew on each side of the zipper, please do. I didn’t document the sewing part because I assume if you’re attaching a zipper, you’re experienced with sewing. Once you’ve sewn on one side of the zipper, attach the other side the same way. My zipper actually came fully apart, making it easier to sew on. If you use this type of zipper, you should be able to do the same.
Again, once it’s flipped back over, the white fabric part of the zipper should be hidden.
This is how it will look once both sides are sewn on and before you reattach the end of the zipper together and flip it over.
Once the zipper is reattached at the end, you’ll see how it naturally folds inward.
I always like to test the functionality of the zipper at this point before I close up the ends (notice the hole at the end of the zipper…this is what you’ll close up next). If you need to make any adjustments in the placement of the zipper, do it now.
- Close up the ends of the zipper. Again, you may need to consult a YouTube zipper insertion tutorial in order to fully understand this step, but basically you are sewing across this end before the zipper head so the zipper will stop when you open it.
I’m pretty sure this isn’t the proper way to do this step, but I’ve been sewing for over thirty years, so I sort of just improvise and do what works. Once you close up each end of the zipper, you’re done and ready to put your cushion cover on. You’ll have to bend and squish your cushion to get it inside the cover, but you want that tight, stuffed look, so the more snug the cover, the better.
And as you can see below, it makes absolutely no difference whether or not I inserted the zipper the right way or added a zipper at all. It’s just a nice, overstuffed bench cushion that is comfortable, cozy, and cute.
Whew! I know that was a long post with so many photos, but I hope it was thorough and detailed enough to help you create your own overstuffed bench cushion. This style of cushion is classic and comfortable for hours of reading, watching TV, or the occasional nap. Plus, it won’t flatten or lose it’s shape the way so many cushions do.
If you make an overstuffed bench cushion, and you’re on Instagram, I’d love to see it! Just tag me and I’ll check it out. And, if you want to see our reading nook all decked out for Christmas, go read this post. It’s the best our nook has looked yet. Then again, Christmas makes everything look it’s best.
Until the next DIY…
I love your little nook! I have one that I’m making a cushion for and my tip is to do zipper first…I just cut the side fabric strips for the back side in half lengthwise, add the zipper then cut to the same width as all the other side pieces. I find it easier to do this way they to try to sew zipper into the almost complete cushion.
That is a GREAT tip! I hesitated to even share that step because I know it’s not technically correct. When you’ve been sewing your whole life, you kind of just take shortcuts and get impatient with the process (at least I do). I totally should have done the zipper first! Thank you for the tip!