How to Make a Zippered Chair Cushion

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Green rocking chair with cushions

We were gifted this great classic rocking chair when we found out we were pregnant. The only problem was that there weren’t any cushions, and sitting on the hard wood for extended periods of time was leaving me with a numb and tingly butt. No one wants a numb butt! I needed some cushions, but with the seat being on the larger size I knew it would be hard to find something premade that fit the chair well. Fortunately custom fitted cushions aren’t terribly difficult to make.

Materials:

  • Upholstery fabric
  • Upholstery foam
  • Padding & spray adhesive (optional)
  • Zipper

How to Make a Chair Cushion

1. Start by measuring your chair. If it’s a simple square you can just measure the length and width, but if your chair is a little more complicated like mine, make a template to fit out of paper.

Chair cushion paper template

2. Mark the foam with your dimensions.

3. Cut your shape out of the foam being careful to cut the sides straight and even. Try different cutting tools to find what works best for you. I had the greatest success using some heavy duty scissors, but a sharp knife or serrated blade might work well too.

Foam rocking chair cushion

4. If you are adding padding, cut out two pieces the same size as your cushion, one for the top and the bottom. Padding helps soften the edges and can give the cushion a fuller look. Use a spray adhesive specifically made for foam to glue the padding to the top and the bottom of the cushion. I chose not to use padding for my cushions.

5. Measure and cut out your fabric for the top and bottom of your cushion. Pay attention to directional fabric. You want to add an additional 1″ so that you can sew ½” seam allowances. You can also be lazy like me and trace around your cushion then loosely cut the seam allowance making sure to leave at least ½” of fabric. Then when you sew you can just pin and sew at the lines to make a perfect fit.

6. Measure and cut a long strip for the sides. Again the width should be 1″ wider than your cushion. For example, I used a 2″ thick cushion, so I cut a 3″ wide strip. The strip should be long enough to wrap around three sides of the cushion plus a little extra so that it can wrap around the corners on the back of the cushion. I also like to add a little bit of length for some extra wiggle room. If your fabric isn’t long enough to cut just one strip then sew two strips together, but try to make it so that the seam isn’t prominently in the front.

Measuring foam cushion

If you’re marking the seam line, remember to mark it on the strip as well.

7. Cut a strip for the zipper section. Your zipper should be slightly shorter than the back of the cushion. The fabric should be at least 2″ longer than the zipper (I always like to err on the side of extra fabric), and 2″ wider than your cushion. My strip was 4″ wide.

Cut the strip in half lengthwise, which gave me two strips 2″ wide.

8. Baste the two zipper fabric panels along the length. Press the seam open, center the zipper face down over the seam and stitch in place using a zipper foot. Carefully rip the basted seam open.

9. Center the zipper section on the back of the top, right sides together. Sew, leaving 1″ or more at the beginning and the end to allow space to sew the side pieces together.

Zipper panel on cushion

10. Sew on the side section, leaving a bit extra fabric at the beginning for you to connect to the zipper section. Start at least 1″ away from where you sewed the zipper section. Sew all the way around until you reach the other side of the zipper section, again leaving at least a 1″ gap. You may need to snip the corners to get the fabric to fit smoothly around.

Sewing side of chair cushion
Pin and sew along the lines to give your cushion a perfect fit

11. To connect the zipper section to the side, mark where the sections connect, pin, and sew. Trim off any excess seam allowance. Repeat on the other side of the zipper section. Sew the gaps shut.

Sewing edges of chair cushion to zipper
Sewing edges of chair cushion to zipper

12. Make sure to open the zipper before this next part! Attach the bottom piece by sewing all the way around with right sides facing together. Make sure you match up corners. If you are adding ties, don’t forget to attach them. You can reinforce the seams over the ties by backstitching over them as you sew.

13. Turn the cushion cover right side out and squish the cushion to fit it in through the zipper. Zip it up and you’re good to go!

Green dot rocking chair cushion

Now you have a super comfy chair and a happy butt! I made mine extra cushy by adding back and arm cushions. My kids love it too – I’m constantly having to fight over the chair with them!

Green rocking chair with cushions
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