Category Archives: slipcover tutorials

The Slipcover Maker’s Guide to Detaching Back Cushions

Slipcover over attached pillow back cushions on a chair or sofa and you’ll likely end up with a sloppy fit.

The fabric never stays put. It shifts and poofs out around the cushion every time you sit down. Straightening and tucking the slipcover becomes a daily thing.

I rarely pin fit a piece with attached cushions. Too much work, poor results. Instead, I detach the cushions (when possible) and cover each one individually.

Below is how I detach a pillow-style back cushion.

Tips for Detaching Chair Cushion

  1. Remove the seat cushion.
  2. Pull the top of the back cushion away from the chair to see where it’s joined to the inner back. You’ll see a seam that attaches the cushion cover to the chair all the way around the cushion.
  3. Cut the cushion cover 1/2″ away from the join seam. Be sure to cut the cover not the inner back. Do not rip out the join seam. This method leaves the back of the cushion cover attached to the chair. No need to patch a gaping hole.

Back Cushion Detached

After removing the cushion it will look like this (above).

You can see the back of the cushion cover remains on the inner back of the chair. Pin fit over it as-is with your fabric.

Use the front of the detached cushion as a pattern to create a new cover. Add boxing, welt cord and zipper placket based on the measurements from the original.

Below is how this chair looks after I slipcovered it in indigo denim. The back cushion is now loose and has a removable cover. It’s shaped and sized just like the original.

Indigo Blue Denim Slipcover

Not all attached back cushions should be detached. For example, cushions on the loveseat below are not pillow-style. Instead, they sit flush to the inner back and appear joined or upholstered to the frame.

Detaching them would create big holes behind the cushions and perhaps compromise the  structure. Major patching would be required. No thanks.

Loveseat with Attached Back

For this type of design I slipcovered over the cushions. It’s a lot of work! I boxed and corded them at the top, sides and bottom.

Slipcover Example of Attached Cushions

Attached Cushions with Boxed Panels

Before deciding to detach back cushions from your furniture be sure to inspect how they are attached. Don’t assume all back cushions can be cut off with good results.

Keep in mind construction might vary on attached pillow-style cushions. The important thing is to always cut into the cushion cover not the inner back when detaching.

DIY Box Cushion Cover Tutorials

DIY Box Cushion Cover Resources

Hello DIY slipcover makers!  Today I want to share a few good resources for making your own box cushion covers.

I know the thought of measuring, cutting and assembling all of those pieces — top, bottom, boxing panel, welt cord and, ugh, the dreaded zipper panel — stops you in your tracks.

When I made my first boxed cover I felt like it took FOREVER. The corners didn’t line up, boxing pulled and seams puckered. But after following a good tutorial and making just one cover I got the hang of it.

Below are my favorite cushion cover video tutorials.

If you’re a visual learner like me I think you will find these super helpful.  Practice a bit and have fun! You will be whipping out good fitting covers in no time.

Sailrite’s video tutorial demonstrates how to use existing cushion covers as a pattern to make new covers.  It walks you through how-to measure, cut and sew a cover for a T-shape box cushion and a partial box back cushion with cording and zipper opening.  Their professional instruction also includes tips for trimming a foam insert, matching a print and adding stuffing to a back cushion.

Follow Peg Baker’s video series for creating a basic box cushion with welt cord and a zipper. If you are a beginner sewer and new to to making a cushion cover I think you will appreciate her easy to follow step-by-step tutorials broken down into 10 videos.

Kim’s Upholstery tutorial is a short video showing how she assembles the pieces for a box cushion. Her speedy method is commonly used in professional workrooms. Great for you advanced sewers who can manage the short cuts.

DIY Cushion Refresh for Your Sofa and Armchair

How To Refresh Sofa Cushions

Compressed Cushion InsertBack cushions on a sofa, or chair, lose their shape and support overtime. It’s a common problem especially on older furniture. The loose fill inserts compress, shift and get lumpy causing the covers to sag.  Sound familiar?

Fortunately, there is a quick, inexpensive fix. Here’s how I refresh back cushions to make them look and function new again:

Cushion Insert with BaffleStep 1:  Remove insert from cushion. Rip out seam at one end. When you open the insert you will see one or two baffles. A baffle is a divider that creates compartments for the loose fill. There is no foam piece in this type of back cushion.

Filling Sofa Cushion With New Fill

Step 2:  Using polyester cluster fiber fill, stuff each compartment (on both sides of the baffle). The amount of fill will depend on the cushion size, level of compression and desired firmness. Example: for the 3 back cushions shown in the photo above I used a total of 4.5 pounds, which created fairly firm cushions.

The poly cluster fill mixes well with other types of poly fill and feathers. It’s light and springy. I like it much better than poly batting.

You don’t have to remove the old fill.  Just add the new fill to the hollow areas. Make sure to stuff the fill into corners — that’s where most of the compression occurs.

Step 3:  Close insert by hand stitching along original seam line. Now it’s ready to slip it into the cover.

TIP: The insert shell is cut larger than your cushion cover on purpose. Don’t pack in the fill too tight. When you’ve added your desired amount of fill the insert should feel fluffy, slightly dense and pliable.  If your insert won’t fit back into your cushion cover you’ve over stuffed it and will need to remove the excess.