Make Cushions for Sofas

Sofa Cushions

Make cushions for sofas to update your look or give a tired piece of furniture a new lease on life.

The sofa is one of the hardest working pieces of furniture in your home. Once you've worn it in and cleaned it a few times, it may start showing some wear, particularly in the cushions that see the greatest use. Instead of trading it in on a newer model, consider taking a greener approach by replacing the cushions instead. You can make a set of cushions for your sofa in a weekend and if you're replacing a set of existing cushions, the hard work has already been done for you.

Make Cushions for Sofas - The Basics

Choosing Fabrics and Tools

The hardest part of making sofa cushions is matching fabrics. Where the most desirable and difficult approach is to try to locate more of the original fabric, this can be disappointing and expensive. Even if you locate the fabric, chances are that your sofa fabric has faded a little over time, making an exact match almost impossible. Another option is to reupholster the sofa or try for a mix-and-match look with your existing upholstery and a complimentary fabric for the cushions.

When considering sofa fabric:

  • Always use upholstery fabric and opt for the best quality you can afford.
  • Consider stain resistant fabrics or fabrics you can treat with stain repellent yourself.
  • Always ask for a sample first and test it in your home. Different lighting conditions can have a big impact on the appearance of textiles, particularly if they have a nap or embossing. Get a large enough sample so that you can test it in your sewing machine too. A double thickness of the fabric, plus the layers you may be using for cording, can create bulk so make sure that your sewing machine can handle it.
  • Measure your existing cushions or cushion pattern and add a generous fudge factor. Shop for fabric with a pretty clear idea of how much you will be buying for the project.
  • Match your contrasting cording fabric, thread and any other items when you buy the upholstery fabric. This will save time and energy. If you do have to buy everything at different times and in different stores, don't forget to take swatches with you.
  • Use a stitch length of 8 to 10 stitches per inch. To determine which is best, try stitching a mini-pillow to test the fabric, cording, fill, thread and stitch length to make sure they all work well in combination.
  • Leather and slick fabrics, as well as cording, zippers and ruffles will need special sewing feet, so take a look at your sewing machine's operating manual while you're in the planning stages and use it as a reference when buying the accessories you need.
  • When replacing an existing cushion, save the covered buttons, cording and zipper. You may be able to reuse them.

Tips and Tricks

Learning to make cushions for sofas isn't hard, but it is detailed and can get frustrating if you don't prepare properly. The old adage, "Measure twice and cut once," was never so true:

  • Reuse the foam fill on existing cushions if you can. If they have lost some of their loft, wrap them in polyester quilt batting to give them more volume. If they smell musty, set them outdoors on a sunny morning or put them in a closet or box with a dish filled with white vinegar for a day to lose the odor.
  • If you do have to buy new cushion foam, cut it to size with an electric kitchen knife. It's a neat way to curve corners and remove bulk.
  • To reduce raveling, cut pattern pieces using pinking shears, or run them through a serger.
  • Sew upholstery fabric with a special needle designed for heavy duty work. A jeans needle may work, or you can ask the fabric store for their recommendation.
  • Foam should fit snugly into cushions to avoid creasing, shifting or a flabby look. If the cushion looks like a flat tire, it needs more fill.
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Make Cushions for Sofas