Reverse Applique Flower Pillow–{Twin Dragonfly Designs}
July 26, 2011
Linkup Here for the Sewing Challenge!
July 28, 2011

Piped Bench Cushion Tutorial

My Piped Bench Tutorial:

Hi, CSI Project readers! My name is Brittany (aka Pretty Handy Girl).

Normally I don’t look this clean. I usually have sawdust in my hair or paint splatter on my elbows. I write a blog full of tutorials for everything from crafing and sewing to building and home repairs. Today I have a tutorial for making a bench cushion with piping. Before we get started I wanted to let you in on a little secret: The bench cushion and side table fabrics you see below are actually shower curtains!

You read that right. Shower curtains are not only inexpensive, but they are durable and can stand up to moisture. This makes them perfect for outdoor use. I bought both of these at Target for under $20 each!


Let’s go to the next step…

Preparing the Foam Cushion

Lay your foam on top of the bench. Mark a line where you need to trim.

Use an electric carving knife to cut through the foam.

Wrap batting around your foam. Then trim the edges down to size. I had enough to put two layers on top of the foam and one layer on the bottom. This will make for a cushier and less “squared” cushion.

Cutting out the pieces:

1. Lay out your fabric (err, I mean, shower curtain) folded in half. Place your cushion on top. Trace around the cushion about 3/4″ wider on all sides.

Cut through the two layers. This will give you the top and bottom panels for your cover.

2. Next cut out four strips of fabric for the sides. Cut your lengths 2″ longer than your cushion. If your foam is 3″ and you use 1-2 layers of batting, you can use these measurements for your strips:

  • Front: 4.25″ wide by length + 2″
  • Sides (left and right): 4.25″ wide by length + 2″
  • *Back: 5.5″ wide by length + 2″
  • *Back Fold Over Flap: 3.5″ wide by length + 2″

*The back is wider and has two strips because we need to sew an overlapping flap and velcro to make the cover removable.

Assembling the Sides:

1. Wrap the 4 strips around your cushion right sides facing in. (Reserve the back fold over piece for later.) Pin the edges where they meet at your cushion corners. The back strip should line up with the sides on the one edge. But, the other edge will extend 1.25″ taller than the rest.

2. Remove the sides and stitch where the pins are. When you get to the back strip, fold over the excess so it matches the same height as the rest of the strips.

Then stitch along the back strip’s folded over fabric to secure it.

Set your sides aside for now. It is time to pin the piping to your cushion top.

Adding the Piping:

1. Lay the top panel right side up on top of the cushion. Pin the piping on top of the fabric. Line up the piping with the edges of the cushion. Be sure the raw edge of your piping is facing the raw edge of the fabric.

When you reach a corner, snip into the raw edge of the piping all the way (but not through) the rope piping. Then turn your piping at a clean 90 degree angle and continue pinning.

When you reach the beginning of your pinned piping, simply overlap the two about 2″ and cut off the excess.

Your top should look like this:

2. Set the top panel on your sewing machine and sew the piping into place. Your needle will be very close to the piping, but it shouldn’t stitch into the rope. This is where your zipper foot really helps!

Carefully sew and backstitch over the place where your piping overlaps.

Connecting the Top and Sides:

1. Lay your top panel onto the cushion. Pick up your sides and begin pinning them to the top of the cushion. The hem on the back side should be facing up and away from the piping. Position your pins close to the piping but not on top of it. Try to line up the corners of your sides with the 90 degree corners of your piping.

2. Stitch the sides onto the top piece. Again, your needle will be very close to the piping but not over it. This is a little trickier because you can’t see the piping, but you can feel it. Just use your fingers to guide you. (Piping shown by the red arrowed line below.)

Turn your top cover right sides out and test the fit on your cushion.

Repeat the steps above for “adding the piping” for your bottom cover.

Final-Adding the Back Flap:

1. NOW, pick up that back fold over strip that has been sitting all by its lonesome. Fold the edges over twice on three sides (2 short and 1 long) to hem your flap. Press the hem with an iron.

Go ahead and stitch along the folded hem to secure it.

2. Center and pin the flap along the back edge of the bottom panel (right sides together) as shown. The raw edges should be facing out.

3. Stitch the back flap onto the bottom panel next to the piping. About an inch or so of the panel will extend on both ends. Leave it loose so it can tuck inside the cushion.

3. Turn your top panel and sides wrong sides out and put your cushion inside it. Then lay your bottom panel on top as shown.

Pin the bottom panel to the sides just like you did for the top panel. This time leave the back side unpinned (where your two flaps overlap.)

4. Now is a good time to trim any excess from your previously stitched seams. (There will be a lot of fabric on the sewing machine, and this is just one less piece that could get caught while stitching.)

Trim off the corners at an angle.

Ever so carefully, peel the pinned cover off the cushion.

5. Stitch along the two sides and front of your cover. Leave the back length of the cover open. Remember, use your fingers to feel for the piping.

6. Turn the cover right side out and slide the cushion into the cover.

Check the fit and make sure you don’t have any stray fabric that might have gotten caught while sewing.

You should have an opening in the back like this.

Adding the Velcro Closure:

1. Take out your coordinating velcro tape.

Pin the hook and loop velcro tape onto the back side and the back fold over flap. I used 4 strips of 3″ velcro evenly spaced along the length of the opening.

2. Stitch the velcro onto the cushion.You can use a zig zag stitch for extra strength (if you have destructive little boys like I do!)

Check the fit of the velcro.

3. If everything looks good, you can turn the cover inside out and trim off any excess raw edges. Then turn the cover right side out and insert your cushion.

And that’s it! You are done. Now you have a professional looking, washable, piped slipcovered cushion! Phew, say that 10 times fast.

Won’t you come have a seat with me on our trash to treasure screen porch! And, may I get offer you a tall glass of sweet tea?

Thank you so much to Amanda, Beckie, and Jen for having me over today. I can’t wait to see your sewing entries on Thursday!

You can find frames for sofa beds and also style ideas for different patterns from Amazon.

]Queen Size Savannah Futon Sofa Bed – Frame Only


  1. JC Allen says:

    Good photos and instructions!!! Give them more of your expertise!!!!

  2. marlee says:

    Very nice work!

    Do you have advice for a u-shaped cushion? I have a porch swing that is u-shaped in the back, and straight across the front. Can’t figure out how to size and cut the foam…

  3. Kel says:

    I can do this!

  4. Katharina says:

    This looks unbelievable… I am sure going to try – but am not sure wether I have the patience to do sew it this exact and good! Thank you for taking time to photograph and put a post together! Katharina from Germany

  5. tut says:

    And where did you get this great shower curtain?

  6. pryia says:

    Where did you find the foam?

  7. Jolynda says:

    I need to know if you have measurements for the strips if batting is not used. Love the tutorial, I think I can actually do this.

    Thank you

  8. Jolynda says:

    btw, I am using 3″ foam.

  9. Harriet says:

    For Marlee, you can make a template using wrapping paper (everyone usually has that on hand!) Try pressing into place and then even/clean up curve as needed and cut to size. Lay template on seat and double check curve is right and you’re good to go…

  10. jan says:

    I found this project after I found a shower curtain to use for an entry way bench. The only change I made was for the back strips, rather than cutting them and then sewing the edging down, I cut them from the edges of the shower curtain and used their finished edges. One less step. Worked out great.

  11. Linda says:

    I think that’s the prettiest piped cushion I’ve ever seen. I absolutely LOVE that (shower curtain) fabric color and pattern. I makes your already beautiful headboard bench look absolutely stunning!

  12. Sheila Kaur says:

    Britanny – you are insightful and truly wonderfully talented! I cant really sew very well but have always wished I could whip things up in a flash – with clean lines and a perfect fit …. aah well. Anyways, just wanted to say this is a brilliant project and the finish looks exceptional – Hugs, Sheila in Singapore!

  13. Janet Harris says:

    Best instructions ever, thank you very much.

  14. Steven says:

    what a beautiful project! your tutorial was so detailed. piping has always been somewhat intimidating for me but you make it seem so easy.

  15. Eileen says:

    Love your handy work! I am re-doing a 1972 Frolic camper and had to ask my father in-law to re-cover my cushions for me. You make it look so easy – and I know it’s not! I made curtains for the camper and it took every ounce of patience I had – lol… Great blog too!

  16. Sheryl says:

    I have been admiring and dreaming about doing this project for over 6 months! I finally found fabric that I love (which took way longer than it should have) BUT… I don’t have enough to cover the length of my foam piece in one strand. So I was wondering for any kind of input for what might look good to fix that problem. I was thinking of combining 2 separate pieces to cover the length and possibly add a ribbon over the seam. Or even combining three pieces with two pieces of ribbon to make it look a little more on purpose. Any thoughts? Thanks so much! And thanks for this amazing DIY project!!!

  17. Richard says:

    I make boat upholstery for a living , you’ve done a pretty good job there. What we do for a real snugg fit is cut the foam 1/2″ larger all over, then pattern the fabric the exact size of the foam. When you sew a 1/2″ seam allowance the size comes back down to the correct size and you have a really nice tight cover. When you have cut your top and bottom fabrics lay them exactly on top of each other good face to good face and make reference marks on both pieces. That way there is no need to pin the fabrics together when sewing the boxing, just go ahead and sew the piping and boxing to one side and join it when you get to the end making a complete boxing, then transfer the reference marks from the cover plate to the opposite side of the boxing this way both sides will align giving you a nice square cover.

  18. Thanks so much for your EXCELLENT tutorial! I made a window bench cushion and could absolutely not have done it without your instructions and photos. Much, much, MUCH appreciated!!

  19. Marcia says:

    most likely you wont be able to eliminate this paint over spray on the

  20. Box cushions have always intimidated me. And piping. But she makes it look so easy!

  21. Penny says:

    Thanks for the toot! I needed a refresher coarse.

  22. Sharon says:

    Just finished my beautiful cushion for my new utility room bench, not yet made. Don’t see how to include a pic ill try again. Thx for instructions.

  23. Diana Shirley says:

    *Sigh* If only I could sew….. that is sooo awesome!!!!

  24. Ok The idea is awesome, the tutorial fantastic, pictures fantastic but all of that aside the bench is bloody Gorgeous.

  25. AJ says:

    I love the material. Went to Target and on line and can’t find the pattern. Already bought some red and white material but now I want blue and white. Going to Milwaukee next week and hope to find something similar to yours. What size batting did you use? 4 oz, 10 oz? Did you wrap it twice?

  26. Yes, yes, yes! I too used shower curtains for those same reasons. Only I just wrapped foam and used duct tape to secure on the underside–Ha! Thank you for the detailed photos! I am encouraged to try again 🙂

  27. Janet says:

    So many great tips. I will do this. The only thing I might do differently is put the Velcro on a short side, slip the covered foam into a plastic garbage bag (open end going into the cover first), then slip it out when the cover is on. I learned this years ago when making couch cushion covers, and it makes it go so smoothly, with no frustration. I also loved the idea about duct tape (LOL), which would be great if you wanted a temporary cover for a birthday or other party theme – use cheap vinyl tablecloths). thanks for being there.

  28. teresa says:

    this was an amazing idea, so much cheaper than buying waterproof material. I love it.

  29. kat says:

    thank you! really well described and instructed. i’m feeling confident enough to diy my new cushions!

  30. Spalover says:

    I recently brought some wicker furniture home from my shop. Naturally the fabric which looked lovely in the shop just was awful in my house, even on the porch! I used your wonderful shower curtain idea and great tutorial to make over a love seat and two chairs. They look fabulous! Thank you so much for your help!

  31. Courtney says:

    How much fabric do you use per cushion. I’m ordering the fabric online so I just want to make sure :).

  32. Meg in NE says:

    … I love the seat covers… but I love the bench too… it looks like it was made from an old bed? Did you makeit?

  33. Debbie Perkins says:

    Love the tutorial. Great instructions, fabulous photos. A shower curtain? Get outta here, why haven’t I thought of that. It would be a whole lot cheaper that Sunbrella fabric, for sure. I have a tip for you. If you put your foam insert inside of a garbage bag or some type of plastic bag, it slides in much easier. I tend to get my stuff pretty snug, so the bag helps me out. I have a twin mattress under by beach house, waiting for the hubs to make me a swing bed. Target, here I come for a couple of shower curtains. I could make a fitted sheet with those for underneath my house, hmm, pillows too. Thanks for the tips.

  34. Barrie says:

    Oh my gosh! This is absolutely amazing. you did a fantastic job!

  35. Katrina says:

    Do you use a a plastic shower curtain? And can I glue the fabric together instead of sew or velcro

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