These boxed floor cushions, with their piping and tufted buttons, are a home décor classic. But many otherwise hearty sewists shy away from attempting the style because it's three-dimensional. But if you're only willing to attempt flat projects, you're missing all kinds of fun. Floor cushions make great extra seating for holiday gatherings and game nights, so we knew we had to make more than one. We selected big, bold prints in non-traditional colors and patterns to make a festive stack of four so they work great through the holidays and beyond. Then, we added a clever harness to bundle them together, making it easy to carry the whole stack from room to room. The harness also works to keep the stack stable when used as a handy foot rest.
This is a great project to perfect your piping skills... and we don't mean bagpiping! With piping on the top and bottom of all four cushions, you'll be working with over 700" of bias strips and cording. Don't be afraid! Not only is it great practice, you can set up an assembly line to cut, seam, wrap, and baste – cranking out those inches in no time.
This project is a true fabric showcase. It's a great excuse to use those dramatic motifs that always catch your eye but aren't right for a smaller execution. For these cushions, you want impressive patterns and colors, and it's fun to experiment with combinations of non-traditional colors and designs. You'll want to select a light to mid-weight canvas, duck, twill or similar. Standard quilting cotton is not the best option.
Our original fabric selections are from within several past and current collections from Premier Prints, not all of which are still readily available. Below is a new combination we spotted that has a similar blend of color and style. Click on a swatch for details.
Each of our floor cushions finishes at approximately 22" x 22" x 4".
Sewing Tools You Need
Fabric and Other Supplies
NOTE: Supplies shown are for FOUR cushions and one harness strap.
- 1 yard EACH of FOUR coordinating, 50"+ wide bold print fabrics in a light to mid-weight canvas, duck, twill or similar
- 1¾ yards of 44"+ medium weight solid fabric for the piping
NOTE: We recommend using just one coordinating solid coor for all the piping if making all four; it helps blend them altogether as a set. We used Organic Cotton Twill in White.
- THIRTY-TWO 1" - 1½" covered button kits; we used Dritz 1⅛" Cover Button Kits
- 4 yards of thin polyester batting or one pre-cut king size batting piece; we used a King Size cut (120" x 124") of Soft & Bright Polyester Batting by The Warm Company
- 5 yards of 2" deep x 27" wide NU-Foam® by Fairfield Processing; this densified polyester product comes in pre-cuts as well as as large rolls; we used a 27" x 2" x 5 yard roll. As you'll see below in the Getting Started section, we stacked two cuts to achieve our 4" height
NOTE: NU-Foam® was our choice for its firm density and ease of use. However, there are certainly alternatives, such as standard pre-cut foam as well as standard fillers such as polyester fiberfill or polyester cluster fill - although these last two options will give you a much softer cushion.
- 5½ yards of 1½" Belting/Webbing to coordinate with your fabrics; we recommend Dritz 1½" Belting – we originally used red
- 21 yards of ⅜" piping cord
- FOUR 1½" surcingles (these clasps are found most commonly for belts as well as for horse tack)
- TWO 1½" heavy belt sliders
NOTE: We found our hardware at The Rain Shed, which specializes in outdoor fabrics and supplies. The links above take you to our exact selections, however, you could substitute double D-rings and plastic side release buckles.
- Hand sewing needle or a curved upholstery needle
- 12"+ straight upholstery needle for tufted buttons
- One small spool of waxed button/upholstery thread
- All purpose thread to match fabric
- See-through ruler
- Measuring tape
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Iron and ironing board
- Straight pins
- Spray adhesive
- From EACH of the four feature fabrics, cut the following:
TWO 23" x 23" squares
TWO 5" x 45" strips for the sides
NOTE: As we mentioned above, big and bold motifs are best for these pretty cushions, so take the extra time to do a nice fussy cut for each square, centering your design(s). If you are new to this technique, check out our fussy cutting tutorial.
- From the fabric for the piping, cut enough 2" wide bias strips to yield at least 752" of piping (yep... we said 752").
NOTE: If you are new to working with piping in general or bias strips in particular, take a look at our detailed tutorial, How To Make and Attach Piping.
- From the batting, cut FOUR 55" x 35" rectangles.
- Cut the webbing into TWO 87" lengths and ONE 10" length
NOTE: If you use a different type of insert of filler, you may want to wait until all your cushions are made and stacked to measure the webbing lengths. Each length should be approximately 10" longer than the circumference of the stacked set of cushions.
- Cut the NU-Foam® into EIGHT 22" x 22" squares.
- Place two NU-Foam® squares together to create a 4" high stack. Make sure all four edges are flush. Use a light layer of spray adhesive to adhere the squares to one another. Repeat to create three additional 4" stacks.
- Find the four sheets of batting. Use one sheet for each NU-Foam® stack, wrapping the stack like a gift. Trim off the excess batting in the corners so each cushion has an even, single layer batting on all surfaces. Use the spray adhesive to hold the batting in place.
- Set aside your four prepared cushion inserts.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Find the eight main panels.
- Fold each panel in half in both directions to find the center of each side. Cut a small notch at the center of each side of each piece. Set aside.
Create and attach the piping
- Stitch the 2" bias strips together end to end to create one, super long length. As mentioned above, if you are new to working with bias cuts for piping, we have a great tutorial.
NOTE: We serged the edges of our bias strips. This is totally optional.
- Find the matching super long length of piping cord.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to match the piping fabric in the top and bobbin.
- Wrap the fabric around the piping cord, right sides facing out. Align the raw edges of the fabric and pin in place.
NOTE: With smaller piping such as we are using, some people prefer to skip the pins and just wrap and hold the raw edges in place as they sew. This was our choice.
- Attach a Zipper foot.
- Secure the fabric in place around the cording with a basting stitch, running your seam as close to the cording as possible. Go slowly; it's important the raw edges of the fabric stay even with one another.
- When all the piping is complete, cut it into EIGHT equal lengths, two 94" lengths for each cushion
- Find all eight main panels.
- Place one right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Starting in the middle of one side, place a length of piping around all four sides of the panel, aligning the raw edges of the piping with the raw edge of the fabric. Leave about 1" free at the head and the tail of the piping.
- Still using the Zipper foot, machine baste the piping in place.
- When sewing the piping in place, as you approach the corner, stop, with the needle in the down position, at the point where you would normally pivot to turn the corner (approximately ½" from the corner).
- Raise the presser foot and clip into the flange/lip of the piping at several points. Do not cut through your original stitching which secured the fabric around the cording. These clips help ease the fabric to make a smooth curve around the corner.
- Rotate the fabric slightly to begin to turn the corner. Drop the presser foot and continue sewing around the corner.
- Stop again if need be, with the needle in the down position, and rotate the fabric again to completely turn the corner and continue to guide the piping in place as you sew toward the next corner. You will now have a lovely rounded corner.
- Continue sewing your piping in place until you are almost back to where you started. Stop approximate 1-2" from your starting point.
- Using the "tails" you accounted for at the beginning and end, use a seam ripper to peel back the fabric, exposing the cording underneath. Snip off about ¾" of cording from each end.
- Overlap the two flattened ends, folding the raw ends down to create a subtle criss-cross joint. Pin in place.
- Baste in place, matching your previous seam line. Trim away the excess piping fabric flush with the main fabric panel.
NOTE: As mentioned above, if you're new to piping, check out our tutorial for general tips on making, joining, and finishing.
- Repeat to attach piping to the remaining seven cushion panels.
Assemble the top and bottom panels to the sides
- Find the two 5" x 45" side strips for each cushion.
- Place the first two strips right sides together. Pin along both 5" ends.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch each end to create a ring.
- Fold the ring in half, matching the two seams. Make tiny notches at the top and bottom of the folded ends. You now have two sets of center notches and two seams to use as positioning points. These will match up with the center notches you made in the main panels above.
- Place one piped panel right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Then, using all those handy notches you made, match the side ring to the panel. Start in the middle and work your way around. You are working right sides together, aligning the raw edges, matching the notches and sandwiching the piping between the layers. Clip the corners to make a sharp angle. Pin generously as you go.
- Using a Zipper foot, sew around the entire edge with an approximate ½" seam allowance. You are stitching as close to the piping cord as possible, following along in the machine basting line that secured the piping.
- Fold up the sides so it resembles the bottom of a gift box. Your piping will pop out along your seam line at the "bottom" edge of the box. The next step is going to function like a "top" for the box.
- Place the remaining piped panel right sides together with the top raw edge of the side ring. As above, you are working right sides together, aligning the raw edges, matching the notches, and sandwiching the piping between the layers.
- Pin generously as you go around THREE sides, then just around the corners of the fourth side. Leave the majority of the fourth side seam open to insert the cushion.
- Using the zipper foot, sew around the three+ sides with an approximate ½" seam allowance. As above, we say "approximate" because your goal is to stay as close to the piping as possible and follow along in the piping's basting seam.
- Turn right side out through the opening. Push out the corners. Lightly press.
- Find one of the wrapped cushions. Fold the cushion in half and insert it into the cover, pushing it in as far as you can.
- Gently let go so the cushion unfolds. Work the cushion corners into the corners of the cushion cover. Smooth the batting all around.
- Carefully pin the opening closed. Thread a hand sewing needle and hand stitch the opening closed with tiny, even stitches. A regular hand sewing needle will work, but you may prefer a curved needle to help get under the piping. We recommend a small ladder stitch.
- Mark the position for the buttons. Our buttons are placed 8" in and 8" over from each rounded corner as shown below. Remember to mark the button placement points on BOTH sides of the cushion.
NOTE: To help with positioning, you can make a paper template. Round one corner to match the rounded corners of the cushion. At the opposite corner, measure 8" over and 8" up and mark cross hairs for the button placement.
- Using the template provided with the button cover kits, carefully cut solid color circles from each of the main fabrics. If you are new to this technique, we have a tutorial: Making Covered Buttons with a Button Kit.
NOTE: With thinner fabrics, we often recommend also using a circle of batting with covered buttons. The fabric used for these cushions did not require batting.
- Repeat to create 32 covered buttons, changing fabric as needed to best match/contrast with your cushion fabrics.
- Run the waxed button thread through the shank of one covered button, doubling the length. Make sure you have plenty of thread; you need it to be at least a few inches longer than the cushion itself - then double this because you are threading a double length. It's better to have more thread than not enough.
- Thread both ends through the long upholstery needle.
- Insert the needle at the exact center of a button placement point.
- Push the needle in, keeping it as straight and level as possible.
- As it begins to disappear, "accordion" the cushion slightly to continue moving the needle down through the center of the cushion until it comes out the opposite end. Maneuver the point of the needle as necessary to insure it comes out through the exact marked center point on the opposite side.
- Pull the thread through. Pass the needle through a second covered button.
- Re-insert the needle at the marked point, running it back through the cushion and back out the original entry point next to the first button.
- Remove the needle and pull the thread ends tight, cinching the thread until the tufting on both sides looks good to you. Tie several knots, snugging up both buttons each time so they are nice and tight.
- Cut away the excess thread close to the edge of the button so the tails are hidden behind the button.
- Find the three lengths of webbing. Fold each longer length in half to find the exact centers. Mark with a pin.
- Place the 10" length horizontally across the two longer lengths at this center point. The ends of the short piece should be flush with the outer edges of the longer lengths. Pin in place.
- Thread your machine with thread to match the webbing in the top and bobbin.
- Secure each end of the 10" length with a 1" X Box stitch.
NOTE: The polyester webbing will not fray so it is not necessary to finish the ends. You can lightly melt it with a small flame if you'd like.
- Working with one long length at a time, find two of the curcingles and two sliders. Slip one end of the webbing length through one half of one curcingle, feeding it from the bottom to the top as shown below. Pull the tail through approximately 2" and pin in place.
- Feed the opposite end of the same webbing length first up and over the center bar of one slider and then straight through the other half of the curcingle, as shown below.
- Stitch the 2" folded back end in place with a X Box stitch.
- On the opposite end, feed the loose end back through the slider. As shown below, you'll need to pull the first loop out a bit to reveal the slider's center bar. Then, feed the free end up and over that bar.
- Pull the end through about 2½" and pin it against itself. Stitch to secure with an X Box stitch as above with the other ends.
- Repeat to add hardware to the remaining length of webbing.
- Wrap the harness around the bundle and buckle to secure, cinching up the straps as needed. If used as a footstool, as shown in some of our photos, it also helps to cinch up the straps to account for the weight of the feet pressing down onto the cushions.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Kathy Andrews, What Sew Ever