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. Melissa says:

    Thanks for posting this easy tutorial. I haven’t sewn a big project like this since home ec 27 years ago! I made my own piping using your tutorial and my cover is coming together nicely. I can’t believe how easy it is. Sadly my zipper foot (plastic) broke on my 1969 Kenmore and I have to wait to get a new part before I can finish and put on my bench.

    Thanks for sharing your instructions. They will be used many times over…already figuring out what else around here needs cushions.

  2. Courtney says:

    Excellent tutorial. Most importantly – where did you get those fabulous cushions with the blue flowers on them?

  3. Kat says:

    Thank you so much for this. I followed your awesome guidelines to create 2 bench seat cushions for our home made canpervan. I’m a total novice but they turned out great – maybe not as straight as I’d hoped but I love them all the same.

    Thanks again from the UK. x 🙂

  4. Katie says:

    What a great tutorial! Planning on doing this once we get our actual window seat built…I’ve been searching for material, but it’s soooo expensive! I was thinking of buying a chenille bedspread, but the shower curtain makes more sense with pets and grandchildren! Thank you so much! I’ll be following your blog from now on!

  5. Shannon R says:

    Just wanted to share my sewing experience…which was NON existent about 2 weeks ago!! I had an older sewing machine and got it out because I needed to sew fabrics together which consisted of just 18″ straight lines to sew. Took me longer to how to figure out how to thread the machine than it did to actually sew the fabric !!
    Fast forward 2 weeks….and I found your tutorial…..and I did it!! We are looking to make an outdoor living area and i wanted a very large lounging area. Used a bunk bed matress and covered it with outdoor fabric.
    Looks FABULOUS..even if i did it!! I knew i was never going to be able to find the size etc etc I wanted at a store…so i made it myself!!

    So bottom line, if someone that only took up sewing 2 weeks ago can do this… have some FABULOUS instructions and picutres 🙂 Thanks so much!!

  6. Peggy says:

    thank you

  7. Betty says:

    Love this tutorial. I made the homemade piping with coordinating fabric and it is going to look awesome. One question…if I use 4 inch foam how much do I incease for the front, sides and back pieces?

    You have the following for 3 inch foam:

    ■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″



  8. Candice says:

    Thanks so much. Can’t wait to make these this weekend

  9. Donlei Darnell says:

    How wonderful! I told my daughter-in-law that I would make cushions for their new home’s window seat….21 feet long. Nightmares followed but after seeing your instructions, I know I can do it. I think I will make 5 foot plus cushions, making one entire cushion first and then do the rest together.

    Wish me luck!!!!

  10. Emily says:

    Fantastic!! I’ve been wondering how to do this for a while now. Thanks for sharing!

  11. maryann Waterman says:

    I have a 92 inch long window seat to cover. Am I better off gluing to pieces of foam together for 1 long cushion or make 2 separate, or 3 separate cushions? Thanks for the great tudorial- the best I have seen on the subject!

  12. Alison says:

    Thank you for the tutorial! I have been wanting to make a cushion for my husband’s childhood toy box which is now in our living for throw blanket storage. It would have taken me ages to figure out the fabric measurements, but I was able to make the cushion in no time! Now we have beautiful historic storage piece that doubles as extra seating when we have company!

  13. Emily says:

    Wow…Can’t wait to try this! Nice work and awesome tutorial!

  14. Lori says:

    Thank you SO much for this tutorial! My husband just made beautiful storage benches in our tiny condo kitchen, and buying cushions were so expensive (not to mention they were not a standard size)! My cushion turned out great, which is amazing considering I haven’t sewed this much since middle school! The piping was super easy to make, and makes the cushion look extra fancy. My cover turned out a little loose, but I just added a few extra layers of batting and it was perfect! the step by step pictures made everything really manageable. Thanks again!

  15. sophie says:

    I’m already a follower of pretty handy girl but actually found this post via pinterest – Great amount of detail for a novice sewer like me! Tried it myself on two separate projects here
    Great tutorial. Thank you CSI and Pretty handy girl!

  16. Cathie says:

    I’m making my first ever seat cushion for an end-of-driveway (aka free) chair and after searching several sites found your tutorial to be the easiest to follow and applicable to my project. Now I have a Christmas idea too…window seat cushions for my mom. Thank you for sharing your talents!

  17. Irina says:

    Hi, I have featured this lovely idea in a blog post called 20 ways with piping. Please check it out if you’d like.

    Best regards

  18. Audra says:

    I am so thankful that I found this tutorial! I am making my daughter’s enormous toybox/chest into a reading nook and just pruchased foam and fabric today. I really wanted sides and piping, but couldn’t find any good step-by-step tutorials until I found yours. So glad that I won’t have to make the standard “pillow case” shape. I am a little confused about the width of the side fabric. My foam is 2″ thick and I will not be wrapping it with batting (I like the crisp, sharp edges). Would you mind telling me the width of the fabric that I should cut for the sides? I love to sew, but I am better with patterns…winging it is always a challenge.
    Thank you so much…and for the DIY piping tutorial. I need 18 ft and couldn’t afford that at $10 yard. Now I will make my own.

  19. Valerie says:

    This tutorial couldn’t have come at a better time!! This is EXACTLY what I want to do with my front porch bench! Thanks for sharing! I filed this at

  20. sherry says:

    Hi, I am visiting you through Centsational Girl and I am glad I did! This is a great tutorial, I am definitely going to be needing this how-to tutorial in the near future. Thanks for sharing!

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