Diy Home Accents: How To Make A Bench Cushion

Put your home sewing skills to use by making a bench cushion with these tips and instructions. Make a hard bench a more comfortable seating area with a homemade cushion.

Turn a hard bench into comfortable guest seating with this easy-to-make box cushion - a purchased foam cushion enclosed within a handmade fabric cover. If you have even a little sewing experience, you will be able to complete this project in a day or two. If this is your very first sewing project, you may want to practice your technique by sewing some sample stitches and seams on pieces of scrap fabric.

Before you begin, make sure you have the basic sewing supplies on hand. You will need a sewing machine, straight pins, scissors, a suitable cutting surface/work table, a fabric-marking pen with disappearing ink, and a tape measure or yardstick. Materials specific to the project are: upholstery foam cut to the desired dimensions, home decorating fabric, cording, foam adhesive or rubber cement (optional), zipper foot attachment, thread, and a hand sewing needle.

Measuring for the Cushion and Cover

First, you will have to measure the bench in order to determine both the required dimensions of the cushion foam and the amount of fabric needed for the cushion cover. Measure the length and width of the bench. The foam will have to be pre-cut to these dimensions and can be any thickness you like.

To determine the fabric yardage required for the cushion cover, add 2" to both the length and width measurements. Multiply each dimension by two and then add the cushion's thickness to each. This is the amount of fabric you will need. For example, if your bench measures 40" X 20" and your cushion is 4" thick, you would make the following calculations: 2(40" + 2") X 2(20" + 2") = 84" X 44". 84" + 4" X 44" + 4" = 88" X 48". For a bench with these dimensions, you will need approximately 2 1/2 yards of any home decorating fabric that is wider than 48". Most home decorating fabric is 58" - 60" wide.

Inserting fabric-covered cord into the seams will give your cushion a more finished, professional look. To calculate the yardage required for cording, use the following calculations: 4 (L) + 1" + 4 (W) + 1". Continuing with the 20" X 40" bench example used above, 4(40") + 1" X 4(20") + 1" = 161" + 81" = 242". You would need a little less than 7 yards of cording for this cushion.

You can purchase ready-to-use upholstery cording that compliments the color of your chosen fabric or you can make cording that will be an exact match. If you choose the latter option, you will need a length of plain, white upholstery cording (as previously calculated) and enough extra home decorating fabric to cover its length. Since you will be cutting the fabric strips for the cording on the bias (at a 45-degree angle to either the lengthwise or crosswise grain of the fabric), you will need more fabric than if you were simply cutting a strip from the edge of the fabric. Cutting the strips on the bias will allow the fabric to stretch as it moves around corners. Plan on purchasing one extra yard of fabric for the cording and have this length cut separately from the rest of the yardage.

Choosing Materials for the Cushion and Cover

Suitable cushion foam is available at any upholstery supply store and some fabric stores. Different grades of foam are available - you'll have to test each one in order to determine which you prefer. If no foam is available in your desired thickness, you can always glue two pieces together with a foam adhesive or rubber cement.

Choose a home decorating fabric that will coordinate with the color scheme of the room in which the bench will be placed. You don't need to find identical colors, just complimentary ones. When choosing a fabric, take into consideration the type of wear that this cushion is likely to undergo. If the bench is for everyday use, then choose a fabric with the weight and structure to sustain a great amount of wear and tear. Denim, corduroy, and similarly weighted fabrics are good choices. If the bench will be used very infrequently, choose any weight of home decorating fabric you desire. Choose coordinating upholstery cording (if not making your own) that has a 1/2" seam allowance.

Choose a thread that matches your home decorating fabric. If you are unable to find an exact match, then choose a color that is one shade darker.

Pre-wash and dry the cording and fabric according to manufacturer's instructions (located on the end of the fabric bolt). Even though the cushion is not removable, therefore not washable beyond a bit of spot cleaning, pre-washing the fabric will remove any stiffener (sizing) or excess dye. You don't want any residual color rubbing off onto your guests' clothing!

Covering the Cording

If you have chosen to cover a length of upholstery cording with the same fabric as the one you're using for the cushion, do this before you begin constructing the cushion cover. If you will be using a cording that is already prepared, cut it in half and move on to the next section.

Lay out the one-yard length of pre-washed and ironed fabric onto your cutting/work surface so the uncut selvedge edges of the fabric are to your left and right. Make sure that the cut edges of the fabric are trimmed as evenly as possible. Bring the right edge of the fabric up to meet the top edge and press into place. Notice that the resulting folded fabric edge now runs diagonally, at a 45-degree angle to the grain of the fabric. You will be using this line as a guide to cut bias strips from the fabric.

Use a yardstick and fabric-marking pen to mark out a line that runs 2" in from the diagonal fabric edge. Mark out a second line that runs 2" in from the line you just made. Repeat this until you reach the point where two layers of fabric turns into one. Leave the fabric folded and cut along the lines you've just drawn. Each section will become one long bias strip. Sew the strips together, end-to-end, until you have one long strip that equals the length of the upholstery cording.

Fold the strip in half, lengthwise, wrong sides together. Position the cording inside the folded strip so that it is pushed up right against the fold. Using the zipper foot of your sewing machine, stitch as close as you can to the cord from the folded strip's raw edges. Stitch all along the length of the cording. Trim the cording's seam allowance to 1/2" and cut the length in half.

Making the Cushion

Lay the pre-washed and ironed fabric out onto your work surface and use a yardstick and fabric-marking pen to mark out the appropriately sized fabric pieces. Measure and mark 2 pieces that are each equal to L + 1" X W + 1" (the top and bottom), and 1 piece that is equal to 2 (L) + 1" + 2 (W) + 1". Cut out the fabric pieces.

Pin one section of cording to either of the largest sections of fabric (with the right side of the fabric facing up). Pin in place so that the edge of the cording's seam allowance lines up evenly with the edge of the fabric. The cord portion should be facing toward the fabric's center. Pin the long fabric strip (right side facing down) to the fabric, over the pinned cording. Sew a 1/2" seam all the way around. You will have to re-adjust the fabric and clip seams as you sew around corners. As you sew towards the edge of the strip, turn the excess fabric under and stitch into place.

Repeat the above process with the remaining large fabric section and the remaining cording. Stop approximately 6" short, however, of the end of your sewing. Carefully insert the foam through the gap and then use a needle and thread to hand stitch the opening closed.

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