Sew Your Own Couch Cushion

outdoor couch cushion

Austin recently made this awesome outdoor couch from reclaimed lumber. All it needed was a cushion and a few pillows, but we found it impossible to find anything that fit our basic criteria:

  1. Fit the couch dimensions
  2. Thick enough to be comfortable
  3. Made out of non-hideous fabric
  4. Reasonably priced

I found a great tutorial online and set out to make my own cushion. We wanted it to be one single cushion instead of two. That way we could take naps on it without the annoying seam in the middle.

DIY Couch Cushion:

For 66 x 24 x 6 cushion
(Adapted from Honeybear)

  • 3-4 yards of indoor or outdoor fabric (depending on your couch size and location)
  • 2.5 yards of zipper tape (cut from a roll of continuous zipper)
  • 1 zipper pull
  • foam cushion for outdoors

To fit your own cushion, measure the length, width and height plus seam allowances. Add an extra 12 inches to the front side piece to allow for the 2 zipper pockets.

Measurements below include 5/8 inch seam allowance where necessary:

  1. Top and Bottom – cut 2 – 67.25 x 25.25
  2. Front Side – cut 1104 x 7.25
  3. Back Sides – cut 2 – 91.25 x 4 (for zipper section)
  4. Zipper Tape – cut 1 – 90 inches

all pieces

zipper roll

We bought some 4-inch, dense, outdoor cushion foam and cut it to fit the couch. It turned out to be much firmer than we wanted. Luckily I had a softer 3-inch piece of foam that I cut to fit on top. If you are layering, or using really soft foam, don’t forget to make the fabric cover slightly shorter so it fits snugly.  We figured with compression, the height of the fabric case should be 6 inches, (not 7”) and it worked out perfectly. However, as with everything in life, never expect perfection.


Before beginning a new project, I like to give myself full permission to screw it up.


It’s a much more reasonable expectation to set than plowing forward under the flawed assumption that everything will go perfectly, and then stressing out when it does not.

For example: I ordered 3 yards of outdoor fabric, which I thought would be more than enough. Due to the length of the pieces needed for a couch of this size, it wasn’t. Oops.

I never thought I’d use Illustrator for sewing, but it helped a lot! I made the artboard the same size as my outdoor fabric, and then created rectangles to the sizes of the fabric pieces I needed. It quickly became obvious I had a problem!


illustrator pattern preview

Unless I wanted to buy a whole new piece of fabric and more than double my costs, I had to improvise with the 3 yards I had. The simplest solution was to cut the side pattern pieces in half and then sew them together to end up with the length of the original sizes.  I added a 5/8 inch seam allowance to each of the 6 new side pieces so I wouldn’t come up short when I reattached them later.

illustrator pattern preview

It only takes a few minutes to assemble them back to the originally intended lengths. (I tried to match up the pattern somewhat.)

match pattern near seam

Pry apart one end of the zipper and slide on the zipper pull. Zip it up a few inches and then whipstitch across the bottom to create the end stop. Using a zipper foot, sew the zipper face down onto one of the narrow side pieces. Turn the zipper edge face up and iron the crease flat.

sew zipper step 1

Pin the second narrow side piece to the zipper, with the right side facing the zipper teeth and sew. Turn and iron.

sew zipper step 2

finished zipper side piece

Whipstitch across the top of the zipper to prevent it from sliding off.

whipstitch top of zipper

zipper installed with skull and crossbones pull

Make sure the finished zipper side piece is the same width as the front side piece. Mine was a bit wider, so I trimmed off the extra to make it easier to sew later.

To create a small hidden pocket for the zipper, fold the front side piece under twice as pictured below. Lay the zipper side piece on top so that from the front, the zipper will be overlapped slightly. Pin and sew.

sew side zipper pocket

Now that the side is one continuous long piece, it’s time to sew it to the top fabric. Starting about 12 inches (halfway) up the short side of the top fabric, pin the side to the top, with right sides facing. (You want the zipper to run along the long back edge, and evenly halfway up each short side.) Pin all the way around and clip the corners so they will lay more flatly when sewing.

clip the corners

When you reach the other side where the sides piece connects, repeat the process above and fold under the front side piece twice, making sure it covers the zipper end. Sew the side to the top.

sew side piece to top fabric

Turn the top and sides right side out and check the fit with the cushion. If anything needs adjusting, go back and re-sew that section.

preview top and side to fit cushion

Pin the bottom fabric to the sides, with right sides facing. Line up the corners first, then pin and sew.

sew bottom fabric to sides

Turn it right side out and iron the seams. Zip the foam inside, and you now have a couch cushion cover!

couch cushion side view


couch cushion top view

Austin on his couch. It looks bigger when someone is sitting on it.

Austin on his couch

The best advice by FAR is to measure twice before you cut.

When working with large pieces of fabric that are bigger than your cutting table, it’s easy to miscalculate. I avoided at least two potential disasters by following that rule. :)

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