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How to Make Rocking Chair Cushions

Updated on June 28, 2014

You Will Need

$$$: $50-$60

Time: 4 hours or less

You will need:

foam, fabric, matching tread, a needle, push pins, fabric marking pin and a sewing machine.

After 5 years and 2 babies, my old rocking chair cushions were tired and lumpy. If I was going to use that old chair, I was going to have to do something about those cushions. I set out to make brand new cushions and covers for my little chair. It was surprisingly easy and it turned out beautiful.

Here's how you can do it too.




Cut New Foam Cores for the Chair

How to Make a Template for New Cushions

If you don't have the old cushions, or want to make cushions for a chair that didn't come with a cushion, you'll have a little more work to do. You'll need to make a template out brown paper bags. Lay the bag onto the chair, pressing into the corners. Trace around the chair's perimeter and cut away the excess paper to make your template.

Don't forget to check this template before using it.

Cutting New Foam Cores for the Cushions

Now that you have your templates, either the old cushions with cover removed or the paper template, take some quick measurements so you know how much foam to buy. It is fairly expensive so you don't want to buy more than you need. You can purchase foam at any craft store. Trying to be economical, I used 2" foam for the seat and 1" for the back, but for a cushier seat, you could use 3" or even 4" foam.

Set the old cushion or template on top of the new foam sheet and trace around it. Cut out the cushion using a sharp utility knife or scissors.


Notice how the pin is placed very close to the foam insert but not actually touching.
Notice how the pin is placed very close to the foam insert but not actually touching.
Sewing along the blue sew line.
Sewing along the blue sew line.

1.5" or Thinner Cushions

Iron the fabric and fold it in half. Lay the cushion on top and trace around cushion leaving a space about the cushion's width between the cushion and the cut line. Cut out the fabric and center the foam piece between the two layers, right-sides together. Pin the material around three sides of the foam piece, leaving the back open.

Take the foam insert out from between the fabric. Using a fabric marking pen, trace around the needles to mark a sew line. Remove the foam insert and sew the pinned sides together, removing the pins as you sew.

2" or Wider Cushions

For wider cushions, cut the material as before and pin the right and left sides together, leaving the entire front section, and about 2 inches on each side unpinned. Remove the foam insert and sew only the pinned areas as before. With the material still inside out, insert the foam back into the material and check the fit.

Cut a new strip of material about 1.5" wider the cushion depth and long enough to wrap around the sides about 3" on each side. Pin the strip, right side in, into the foam core. Then, pin the strip's top and bottom to the rest of the cushion material, working around the corners to where the top and bottom pieces of fabric are sown together.

Remove the pins that hold the front strip to the foam insert.

As before, use a fabric marking pin to trace along the needles to create your sew line, remove the foam core and sew the material together.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Cutting excess material away from the seams.Material turned right side out.  Finished seat cushion.Finished back cushion
Cutting excess material away from the seams.
Cutting excess material away from the seams.
Material turned right side out.
Material turned right side out.
Finished seat cushion.
Finished seat cushion.
Finished back cushion
Finished back cushion

Finishing the Cushion

Insert the foam core back into the material and check that it fits correctly. Trim away the excess material along the seam lines to 1/4 inch.


Remove the foam core and turn the material right side out. Replace the foam insert and adjust the material around the foam core.

Working on the back end of the cushion, turn the top and bottom material in and pin closed, tucking in the corners. With foam core still in the cover, sew the back closed.


Click thumbnail to view full-size
Thread is gently but tightly pulled to create an indention in the cushion.This know will go through the fabric, and become lodged in the foam.Finished Tufting. Completed chair cushions with tufted back cushion.
Thread is gently but tightly pulled to create an indention in the cushion.
Thread is gently but tightly pulled to create an indention in the cushion.
This know will go through the fabric, and become lodged in the foam.
This know will go through the fabric, and become lodged in the foam.
Finished Tufting.
Finished Tufting.
Completed chair cushions with tufted back cushion.
Completed chair cushions with tufted back cushion.

Creating Tufting in the Cushions

Now, you could call your cushions finished, but this last step is well worth the extra time, giving your cushions a more polished and professional look. It's called "tufting," and it is creating little indentations in the cushions that help hold the foam in place and keep the cushion material from looking sloppy. It's really easy to do.

Use push pins to plan out where you will put the tufting. I did 4 rows of 2 for the back cushion.

Thread a needle that is at least as long as your cushion in deep, doubling the thread for strength. Tie a small knot at the end. Push the needle though the cushion, trying to go straight up and down and pull the thread through the material until the knot goes just through the fabric into the foam core. Thread the needle back through the cushion pulling tightly until the cushion just starts to indent. Holding the end of the thread tight, so that the cushion stays compressed, thread the needle back through the cushion, pulling tightly until the cushion compresses even more.

Continue this process several more times, creating a little X pattern, keeping enough tension on the thread so that the cushion stays indented. After several passes, the cushion should stay indented even when you release the thread. Sew two more passes and tie a knot in the end of the thread. Pull the needle through the material once more and pull the know just into the core.


© 2014 Sarah

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