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Make your own REVERSIBLE Patio Chair Cushions

You have no idea how happy spring makes me.  It’s the welcoming committee for summer.  It’s proof that warmer weather exists.  It encourages new plant growth.  It beckons my children to come outdoors.  It encourages my pasty white winter skin to make an appearance. ;)  I just love it!


 We inherited an old patio set from my brother a few months ago (thanks Greg!) and let me tell ya……..we have enjoyed many days this spring, sitting in those patio chairs and having picnics up to our new hand-me-down table.  We’ve never had a patio set before but it’s actually kinda nice to have outdoor furniture to use while enjoying this beautiful spring weather.


The fabric that was on it was fine.  A little faded……..but still holding up really well.  However, you know me and fabric.  We start dreaming together.  So, I decided to recover the cushions with a happier print.


But I couldn’t decide on just one fabric.  So, I picked two……and made the cushions REVERSIBLE!!  You know, so that my chair cushions can change with my mood.  Ha!





Goodbye old seat cushions…..HELLOOOOOO new ones!!!





I kinda love that you get a partial view of the other fabric on the back, even when it’s not in use.





Now, if you don’t have existing cushions to recover, I’ll share how to make them from scratch…… worries!  The shape and technique is pretty simple.  Anyone can give this reversible seat cushion technique a try! :)







And in case you’re worried about fabric outdoors……this is an “Outdoor Fabric”.  So it’s pre-treated and nice and thick.  And perfect for our little patio chairs.






Oh, how I love the new punch of color this gives our back patio!  Makes me enjoy my favorite parts of spring, twice as much!





Would you like to recover some chair cushions (or start from scratch)?


***Remember, if you don’t have existing cushions, you can still make these from scratch.  I’ll show you below.***



If you have existing chair cushions that are in pretty good condition and the foam inside is still comfortable, just cover them.   It will speed the process up for you.




Just remove them from your chairs and take a look at them.  Most likely, they’ll be a rounded rectangle with some ties on them. 


Measure your cushion length and width.  And make sure when your measuring, to flatten out the foam a bit so that you can get an accurate measurement of the existing fabric.  My cushions were 20 inches wide and 37 inches tall.




However, if you don’t have cushions, measure your chair back height, seat depth, and chair width.  This will give you some measurements for your own rectangle shaped cushion.  Be sure to determine how high you want your cushion to go on the back and how much of the seat you want to cover.  I would have liked for the existing cushions to have more seat depth to them…..but I didn’t want to reconstruct them, so I just went with it.  But if you’re making from scratch, you get to determine that.  Also, the chair width is only a guide.  You may want your cushions a little wider.  My chair width is 17 inches but my cushions are 20 inches wide.  Also, when you fold the pads in half and place them on the chair, it takes some length away.  So, you may want to add a few inches to the length of the cushion to account for that. 



TIP FOR THOSE STARTING FROM SCRATCH: The easiest way to determine your fabric size is to cut your foam first. My foam is about 1 – 1.5 inches thick.  You don’t need super plush (and if it’s too thick it will be hard to sew through) but adding a little foam adds comfort to your cushion.  Hold your foam up to your chair, fold it to contour with the chair and trim down if necessary.  Now you can determine your fabric sizes by measuring around your foam piece.  (Just be sure to add a bit to the length and width, to account for the 1 inch or so foam thickness.)




After you have the cushion length and width measurements that you need, add an inch for seam allowance to both of those numbers.  So, my existing cushion measured 20 x 37 inches but after adding an inch, I knew I needed to cut out pieces at 21 x 38 inches.


Cut out 2 different pieces of fabric in the size you need.


 ***I purchased this fabric at Joann Fabric and I needed about 2.5 yards of each color to make all 4 seat cushions.  The fabric is OUTDOOR fabric and has been pre-treated to withstand weather conditions.



Now, you could leave the cushions square but that may create very pointy corners with such stiff fabric.  So, rounding them helps with that.  Fold your fabric in half and round off two corners at the same time.  Just take off a little so that the rectangle shape is still there but there’s no more pointy corners.




Then fold it in half the other way and use the rounded corners as a guide for the other corners.  (This will assure all curved corners are exactly the same.)




There you go……a rounded corner rectangle piece of fabric.




Now, place together with the other piece of fabric (right sides together), match up the sides, and cut each corner exactly like the top piece.  Trim any wonky edges if needed, so that both pieces match up.







Now, leave those pieces together and start cutting strips of fabric for the ties.  Each of my ties were about 12 inches completed.  But I added 2 inches to that for seam allowances.  So, I knew I needed 8 total ties per cushion at 14 inches long and 2 inches wide.  That’s one long piece of fabric that’s 112 x 2 inches.  You can make each strip in separate pieces but it’s easier to make it in one long piece (or 2) and then cut them after turning into a tube, etc.





Then, because this fabric is so stiff (and would have been hard to sew into a tube and turn right side out), I folded it in half lengthwise, opened it up, and folded those edges in towards that center fold and ironed again. You know, just like making Bias Tape.



Then I sewed the strip closed, making it about a 1/2 inch wide.



Then, I cut my long strip into 14 inch long pieces.



Next, I folded an end over a 1/4 inch, another 1/4 inch, and then sewed into place.  You only need to do this on one end per strip.  The other end will be attached to the cushion and doesn’t need to be finished off.



Then, determine where your strips will go.  I just added mine exactly where they were on the previous cushion.  But, if you don’t have existing cushions, go look at your chair and see where you can tie the cushion on.  The bottom ties should sit right above where the fold of the cushion will be.  Then, take one of your fabric rectangle pieces and pin your ties right to the sides.  (If you’re starting from scratch and your chair is like mine, the chair back is taller then the seat is long…….so be sure to measure your chair and determine how tall you want the back section to be, compared to the seat.  My seat cushion is divided so that the top section is 20 inches tall and seat portion is 17 inches……just to give you an idea.)



Be sure to pin the unfinished ends right along the edge of the fabric……and then sew in place, using a 3/8 inch seam allowance.



Then, place your other rectangle piece right on top (with sides together) and match up all the sides and corners.  Pin in place.



And then sew around the entire thing, using a 1/2 inch seam allowance……….but leave a large opening along the bottom.



Turn right side out and lightly iron flat.  And I say lightly because you don’t want hard crisp lines because this has to curve nicely around the foam.



If you’re using your old cushions, cut the old ties off…….



……and slide right into the new covers.



Adjust until it fits nicely inside.



Then, fold the edges of the opening towards the inside, a 1/2 inch.  And then hand-stitch the opening closed.



Now, determine where the old center fold was (where the cushion folds in half) by feeling with your fingers…..



…..and then mark with chalk or pins.  (If you are starting from scratch, just mark where you want your cushion to fold.  If your chair is like mine, the chair back is taller then the seat is long…….so be sure to measure your chair and determine how tall you want the back section to be, compared to the seat.  My seat cushion is divided so that the top section is 20 inches and seat portion is 17 inches……just to give you an idea.)



At the sides, I pleated the fabric inwards to help with the fold of the cushion.  It’s fine if you skip this but after it’s folded in half on your chair, it will poke out a bit.  So, pleating it inwards about a 1/2 inch will help eliminate that.



Pin the pleat in place.



And then sew all the way along the center of the cushion, including the pleats at both sides.  (I used my regular sewing machine and had to really help it through.  Just be patient and go slowly.)  Be sure to follow along the pins or the chalk line that you drew, so that your cushion fold is even.  However, if your line wavers and isn’t exactly straight (like mine on the left), it won’t really matter after you fold it.  You can’t really see it (like show on the right).



My cushions had horizontal lines sewn into the seat back portion and the seat base.  It just helps keep the cover in place……so I decided to do that again.  So, I felt for the line of stitching, added pins as a guide, and sewed right on top, just like I did above.



And thats it!!  Brand new seat cushions to enjoy! :)


Now go and enjoy your good weather!





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Ashley Johnston

Administrator at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with the craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!

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Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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