Follow by Email

Friday, November 25, 2016

Politics and Nesting Totally Mix: DIY Chair Cushions

Step 1: The Decision
Sometimes sentiment dictates what décor ends up in our homes. For example, I inherited the chairs for my breakfast/dining table from my grandmother. They aren't necessarily my style and they aren't the most comfortable, but they have sentimental value and I love them. However, I did want to make them fit into my home and life a bit better and that meant making them more comfortable for daily use. I needed to make seat cushions.

A contributing factor to this decision was that November 8th was approaching and I knew I needed something to occupy myself while I watched the election results. Nesting is soothing for the nerves. So, on November 8th I drank whiskey sours, made seat cushions, and watched the votes come in. Given the amount of shouting, pacing, and whiskey flying around that night I'm actually quite pleased with how well the cushions turned out and how few times I stabbed myself with my sewing needle.

Step 2: Reconnaissance 
After my initial decision to make the cushions I had to address the facts that I don't have a sewing machine and that my hand-stitching skills are more "serviceable" than attractive. I needed a way to cheat. "Just buy seat cushions," you say? Neither my budget nor my nesting nature would stand for it.

A chance encounter in the sale aisle of Home Goods provided the solution. I found a set of 4 placemats on sale for $8.99. I liked the fabric and the material was both heavy and stiffened, making it ideal for daily butt traffic. The placemats were also double sided, meaning all I had to do was take out the stitching along one side, stuff some batting in between the layers, and sew the opening closed. I returned home triumphantly with my spoils.

The 16"x16" placemats were the perfect size for my chair seats and the mudcloth-eqsue look was exactly what I wanted.

Step 3: Stuffage and shapeage
Remove the stitching from one
side to create a pocket
The first order of business was to use sewing scissors to remove the stitching from one side of the placemats, creating a pocket. Think of it like preparing to stuff a piece of pita.

I had some spare pillow batting, salvaged from a husky attack on two throw pillows during Saffi's puppyhood, and I used this to fill the cushions. It took a few tries before I found the right amount of batting: too much and the cushions looked too puffy on the chairs, too little and their purpose was moot.

Next, the rounded backs on my chair seats meant I needed to do some shaping. I folded the back two corners in to create an angle and sewed them to fit (more or less) the shape of the chair seat. I then sewed the cushions shut.

Step 4: Anchorage
The last step was to add ties to anchor the cushions securely to the chairs. I had recently bought a lipstick at Anthropologie and the pearl-grey cotton handles of the bag they gave me for my purchase was perfect for my purposes. Upcycling, indeed!

I cut each handle in half to make 4 ties and singed the cut edges to ensure they wouldn't unravel. Be careful here: there is a fine line between cauterizing and flambéing. Then I folded each piece in half again and sewed the centerline to the back cushion corners.

Step 5: Congratulate yourself 
Et voilà! Instant chair cushions with minimal sewing required. Our butts and those of our friends have already reaped the rewards, and no one has even suspected they were made from placemats and shopping bag handles. Which is good, because the election results are going to make for some looooong dinner conversations!


  1. What no matching throw over the back of the chair????

  2. Matchy matchy is soooo 2010, Danielle!