Reupholstering the Couch Cushions

Reupholstering the Couch Cushions

Sewing is a very specialized skill. That doesn’t mean you can’t learn how to do it, but this process will go a great deal smoother with some sort of knowledge and experience with using a sewing machine. That being said, even with my somewhat decent experience, this was still a painstaking process. I urge you to do your research. Before you begin the job, I would get a quote from local seamstresses or upholsterers. I did just that. I got two quotes. Both were outrageous. A local and very reputable boat upholstery company quotes me $1400 and a local seamstress quoted me $800. For four cushions, and I’m providing the fabric and foam. I just couldn’t justify the expense considering I had spent about $600 just on the fabric. I understand why these companies charge what they do, it’s a very difficult and time-consuming job. But since I am somewhat familiar with sewing, I decided to do it myself. Ultimately, I’m happy I did. I saved a ton of money and they look really good. Are they perfect? No. Do I care? Also no. Are they good enough? For sure.

Before I begin, I will note that I wanted to repurpose as much as I could. The cushions were in really good condition and if the fabric wasn’t so abhorrent, I would have kept them. Alas, they were hideous, so I kept what I could and changed all that would be visible. So, I kept the old zippers, I kept the foam + padding and I even kept the old leather backing. I know.. I am so cheap.. but I splurged on the fabric so it all evens out somewhere.

Tools Needed:

  • Fabric
  • Sewing Machine
  • Scissors
  • Seam Ripper
  • Fabric Marker or Chalk
  • Pins & Pin Cushion
  • Upholstery Thread in matching color(s)
  • Upholstery needles for your machine
  • Fabric Tape or Glue (to fix mistakes)
  • Zippers (unless you can repurpose the existing zippers like I did)


  • Carefully rip the seams on the old cushion covers. Save these as templates. If there are any tricky areas such as zippers or rounded corners, take as many pictures as you can.
  • Lay the flattened template out over the new fabric. Use a fabric marker or chalk to draw the outline. Cut to size.
  • Pin the seams to be in place as they were on the template.
  • Using a sewing machine fitted with a thick, upholstery needle and upholstery thread in desired color, begin to sew along the pinned seams.
  • As you move farther along, turn the cushion inside out and finish all the seams.
  • Turn your finished cover right-side-out and stuff it with the cushions. You’re done!

Easy right? Seems to be. But I promise you, nothing is as simple as it sounds. If you’re not confident in your skills, practice with garbage fabric that you don’t mind wasting.

Since I repurposed both the foam cushions and the foam padding, I was hopeful that the old tufting (this is not the correct term but I cannot remember what those weird lines are called for the life of me) lines would come out. But after 13 years, they weren’t going anywhere. After having the cushions installed for a few weeks, I realized they weren’t going away. Furthermore, I made the new cushion covers a tad loose. At first, the looseness bothered me. But it actually ended up working out. I had some leftover foam from the window valences so I stuffed a layer in there. This helped even out the lines and puff out the looseness. Win-win!

The couch cushions were a huge job. But there was a bunch more upholstering to do. More on that here.


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