Guide to Reupholstering Seat Cushions

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As quarantine is (hopefully) nearing its end, now is the time to shake out the old and freshen up your living space. With the days of back porch dinners and daytime sunbathing upon us, we can’t think of a better time to update those outdoor furniture cushions. You know– the ones that have endured mold, pollen, and are faded from sun exposure? It’s time to throw out those drab fabrics and slip those cushions into something new. So why not do it yourself?

Why Recover Instead of Buying New?

While it’s easy to purchase brand new cushions and throw out the old, there are a few reasons to get crafty rather than replace them.

1) Cost Savings: You bought them once, why do it again? Extend the life of those pricey cushions by simply replacing the fabric.

2) Customization: Make them personal. Give your furniture flair that can’t be found anywhere else. Everything is in your control: color, texture, print, theme. Thinking of a coastal upholstery fabric theme? Check out our Seaside Casual collection for coastal fabric combinations.

3) Fun & Satisfaction: Nothing beats your own experience at being creative. Take some time to slow down and see what happens when creating your own aesthetic by doing it with your own hands.

What You’ll Need:

1) Outdoor Fabric

2) Tailor’s chalk, disappearing fabric pen, or soft-leaded pencil

3) Measuring tape or ruler

4) Tracing paper or newspaper

5) Scissors and seam ripper

6) Sewing pins

Step 1: Determine how much fabric you need:

  • Measure the width from side to side (arm to arm if it’s a single cushion for a chair or loveseat). Then multiply that by 2.
  • Measure the height/thickness of the cushion and multiply by 2.
  • Measure the depth from front to back.
  • Add these three numbers together to determine square yardage needed
  • When you have an estimate for one cushion, multiply by the number of cushions you need to recover.

Remember: Measurements of cut yardage are based off of 54” fabric. As you are purchasing your fabric by the yard, it’s always better to buy an extra yard or two to make sure you have enough if you make a mistake!

Step 2: Remove old fabric from the cushion:

Look for the seams and open them by cutting along the seams with scissors or a seam ripper. Try to keep the rest of the fabric intact, because this will become the basis for your pattern. Take the foam batting and cushions from the inside of the pillow and put them aside.

Step 3: Trace your pattern:

Take the pieces of old fabric and lay them on your paper. To make your pattern, simply trace around the old fabric pattern with your pen. Cut out the pattern pieces with scissors.

It is possible to skip this step and trace the old pieces of fabric directly into the new fabric, but you may get less precise results due to fabric slippage. If you do decide to go this route, you’ll need to add about a ½ inch of seam allowance.

Step 4: Pin your new fabric to your pattern:

On a wide flat surface, like a dining table or floor, spread your new outdoor fabric, wrong side up. You can begin to pin the pattern pieces one at a time, laying them out to maximize your use of fabric. If you’re using a directional pattern like a stripe, plaid or check, make sure you’re happy with the pattern placement.

As you pin each piece, measure a seam allowance around the pattern piece and mark it with your tailor’s chalk or pencil.

Step 5: Measure twice, cut once:

Double check your pattern placement and seam allowances. Once you’re happy with placement, start cutting out each piece.

Using sharp scissors (preferably designed for cutting fabric) will make the process faster, easier and ensure that you’re getting a clean cut without fraying or unraveling. When the pieces are cut, you can unpin them from the paper patterns.

Step 6: Sew new fabric to the cushion:

After you have cut your pieces of fabric, you can hand sew them together using a needle and thread or sewing machine, ensuring that the seams are even. Once the fabric comes together to make a cover for the foam and batting, much like a pillow case, decide how you want to fasten the cover. This can be done by sewing in a zipper or Velcro, to secure the fabric to the foam cushion.

Once everything has been stitched together, simply slip the foam and batting from the old cushion into the new fabric, secure it and voila! You have brand new cushions ready to freshen up your outdoor living area!

Reupholster With Phifer Outdoor Fabric

So now that you have all the steps on how to reupholster your cushions, the only step left is to decide on which fabric you want to use. Luckily, the Outdoor Fabric Visualizer is a great way to play with color scheme and experiment with textures to get an idea of how your vision will come together. Check out some of our other collection pages as well, such as Looking Glass: Casual Cool, for more inspiration as you are selecting the perfect fabric. When you find the perfect hue and pattern, shop our selection of outdoor fabric and get started today.

If you have any questions or need more guidance, Phifer is here to help. Get in touch with us! We’re always happy to answer your questions over the phone, email or live chat!

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