Perfectly Portable Cushion Tutorial

Perfectly Portable Cushion Tutorial

Make a Box Corner Cushion. This is the simplest & fastest method for sewing a cushion cover.

I love having handles on each side of the cushion, making them portable to carry wherever you go, your backyard, the park, the beach, a tailgate party, wherever. I love them so much I just carry them around the house!

The zipper on one the side allows for easy removal to clean the cover or replace the foam cushion as it wears out.

Perfectly Portable Cushion Tutorial


    Fabric for top and bottom of cushion, gusset and piping. Go wild and choose three different fabrics. A heavy weight fabric such as home dec wt. is recommended. For the pink and red floral cushion I used three different Martha Stewart dishtowels.

    Foam insert. You can buy foam inserts or foam by the yard at most fabric stores or you can recover an existing cushion.
    Heavy weight interfacing for handles
    Zipper– Choose a zipper that is at least 4 inches longer than the back of the cushion.
    Rotary Cutter and Mat
    Denim Needle (helpful for sewing through multiple layers of heavy fabric)
    Zipper Foot
    Pencil or fabric marker
    Fusible tape or Elmer’s school glue

    The amount of fabric needed will depend on the size of your cushion. For this tutorial I am covering a 15 inch square piece of foam that is 3 ¼ inches deep.

    To determine how much you’ll need, measure the length, width, and depth of the cushion you’ll be covering.
    To determine the amount of cording you will need add the length + width of your foam cushion and multiply times four. Cording is fairly inexpensive, I usually buy it 20 yards at the time so I always have some on hand.

½ ” seam allowances unless otherwise specified.

Cut your fabric
Cut one top and one bottom piece (length + 1″ x width +1″)

For gusset cut one: (length + width + 1″ x depth + 2″) cut one (length + width +1″ x depth + 1″)

For handles cut two of fabric and two of heavy weight interfacing 4″ x 6″.

Cut bias strips for piping
This is the best method I’ve found for cutting bias strips. I first saw it described in one of my aunt’s quilting books and I’ve seen it around online. It’s one of those things I file under how did they figure that out? Who was the first to say, hmmm…. I think if you cut this like that and sew this here and cut again, you’ll get a continuous strip of bias cut fabric.

It looks kind of strange but after you’ve done it a time or two, it’s a breeze. What I love is that it yields a lot from a small amount of fabric. I’ll demonstrate using a 13.5″ square of fabric and end up with about 3 yards of 1 ½” bias strips.

Start with a square of fabric, fold it in half and press. Cut in half along the fold.

Pin with right sides together and sew using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Press seam open.

Mark lines on the wrong side every 1.5″ (If you use this same method to cut bias strips for binding or if you have thick cording, you will need to adjust this number accordingly).

Now, this next part seems awkward as all get out to me, but trust me, it works. Bring the fabric together to join the ends of the lines you marked. Skip the first line, as shown in the picture (a critical step).

Stitch, using 1/4″ seam allowance.

Press seam open.

Your lines should meet and if you skipped that first line like you were supposed to, you will be able to cut along the lines and end up with a very long bias strip.

Now all you have to do is cover your cording and you will have lovely custom piping for your cushion. Of course, you could buy piping already made, but how boring would that be?

Prepare your cording

Turn under one short end of the bias strip; encase the cording by folding the bias strip around it– starting the cording about 1/2″ from the end. 

I like to use pins every few inches to keep the fabric even around the cording, but you pin haters can skip that if you like. I don’t judge.

 A zipper foot or a cording foot is pretty necessary for this, it allows you to stitch right next to the cording, encasing it tightly in the bias strip. Continue stitching staying very close to the cording. When you are finished, admire your beautiful custom made piping and wonder why you haven’t done this before.

Attaching piping

Pin the folded end of the piping to your cushion top piece. Start in the center of one side, placing a few pins to hold things while you start stitching. I don’t pin all the way around, but you can if you like. Begin stitching about ¾ from the beginning keeping your stitches along the line of stitching next to the cording.

When you reach the corner, pull the piping around the corner, clipping the seam allowances of the piping to allow it to ease around the corner. Allow your needle to follow the curve of the piping.

When you reach the end clip the piping so that it meets the cording at the beginning, tuck it into the folded edge and stitch in place.

Again, marvel at your beautiful work and be amazed how easy it was to apply your own piping. When you’re done admiring, do the same thing for the bottom of the cushion.

Now let’s make a gusset.
Take the wider of the two strips and fold it in half the long way, press the fold in place. Cut along the fold.

Lay the fabric wrong side up and center your zipper on the fabric. Make a mark on your fabric at the zipper pull and stop.

With right sides together, stitch, using ½ inch seam allowance. Machine baste between the marks you made by selecting the longest stitch length on your machine. Backstitch at the beginning and end of the basting stitches. Use regular length stitches before and after the marks.

Press the seam open. Apply a strip of ½ inch fusible tape to the seam allowances. If you don’t have fusible tape, you can run a very thin bead of Elmer’s school glue along both sides of the seam allowances. 

Place the zipper teeth side down centering it between the lines with the teeth over the seam. Press to fuse in place. 

Using your zipper foot with the needle positioned to the right, stitch down both sides and along the top and bottom of the zipper. 

Turn fabric to right side and remove basting stitches. Marvel yet again, at how easy it was to insert a zipper. Why have you been so afraid?

Sew the gusset pieces together at each short side to make a tube. Press seams open.

At this point, I like to place the gusset on the foam to be sure everything is fitting nicely.

Arrange it like it will be once completed, and make a mark on the wrong side at each corner.

Remove the gusset and stitch a line (about an inch or so) ½ inch in from the raw edge at each corner mark. Clip the corner up to but not through the stitching.

Place the gusset back on the foam, wrong side out and pin the top piece to the gusset.

Stitch the gusset to the top piece using the zipper foot so that you can stitch right next to the piping. It may be helpful to sew with the seat piece on top so that you can follow the stitching line made when you applied the piping.

We’re in the home stretch now. Place what you’ve just sewn back on the foam to check fit and mark for your handles (the portable part).

I guess we should make those handles first though.

Making the handles
Cut two pieces of fabric and two pieces of heavy weight interfacing 4″ x 6″.

Fuse interfacing to wrong side of each piece.

On each 4″ side, fold the raw edge under about ¼ “. Fold in half the long way, press. Open and fold each side in to the center. Press again.

Fold in half so the raw edges are hidden.

Stitch along both sides.

Repeat with the other handle.

Find the center of the sides of the gusset, where you would like to place your handles, and make a mark on the fabric at either end of the handle. Pin in place. The marks will be a guide, just in case the handle were to shift between pinning and sewing, and end up crooked, even though you had them pinned and thought they were straight. I’m just sayin’. 

Stitch the handles in place. (I made a square with an X in the center at each end to be sure the handles aren’t going anywhere.) 

Can you believe it? We’re almost done. Just to sew the bottom in place and you’ll be sitting pretty. Pin the bottom to the gusset. Very crucial step: UNZIP the ZIPPER first! Now pin and stitch just like you did the top piece.

Now prepare to really marvel! Place your foam insert into the magnificent cover. Close that zipper and admire your beautiful, perfectly portable cushion. You can be sitting pretty (and comfortably) wherever you go!

Perfectly Portable Cushion Tutorial

Perfectly Portable Cushion Tutorial

Perfectly Portable Cushion Tutorial

Perfectly Portable Cushion Tutorial

Perfectly Portable Cushion Tutorial

Perfectly Portable Cushion Tutorial

Perfectly Portable Cushion Tutorial

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