3-Step DIY Bench or Swing Cushion

Porch Swing Cushion Complete

Did you have a good Labor Day weekend?  Did you get rest?  I have to say, I enjoyed laying sitting in my comfy swing – all padded with the new cushion and pillows.

In yesterday’s post, I covered the preliminary steps for making a swing cushion, which applies to a bench, as well – Easily Cut and Cover High-Density Foam.  Today, we’ll go over the steps needed to make the removable zippered cover.

If your bench or swing gets wet at all, you’ll want to use outdoor fabric.  Regular fabric will work fine if it stays dry. Either way, we’ll need to wash the cover occasionally, and a zipper is an easy way to remove the cushion for washing.

A reader mentioned cording yesterday.  I decided not to use cording for this project, although it goes against my grain to sew anything decorative without a trim of some sort.  Since I want my cover to wash easily, I opted to leave off a trim.  (Besides, cording isn’t as popular these days.)  This cushion cover isn’t as snug as an indoor upholstered type of cover – again for easy removal.

Step 1.  The Cutting and Prepping

Cut your pieces to your size of cushion plus seam allowances.  I like half-inch seams, so I allowed one inch extra over my width and depth measurement.

Fabric Pieces Cut

For the edges, cut strips the depth of your foam plus seam allowance.  I used 2″ high-density foam.  You’ll need enough length to wrap around the entire cushion plus extra for the zipper (two strips a little longer than your zipper).  I used a 22″ zipper, allowing it to wrap around one end of the cushion.

Serge or zig-zag all raw edges of fabric to prevent raveling.

Step 2.  The Zipper

Sew the two cut “zipper strips” of fabric together using a basting stitch – the longest setting.  Press the seam open and sew the zipper, face down, onto the under side of the seam.

Sewing First Zipper Seam

Please excuse my selvage edge to the right (one less edge to serge).

I find it easier to leave the zipper unpinned after the starter pin.  If you hold the zipper up as you sew, you can place the zipper center exactly at the seam as you move along.

Sewing Aligned Zipper

Now the other side – the same distance from center, sewing in the same direction as the first stitch row.

Sewing 2nd Side of Zipper

My grandmother taught me this technique years and years ago (but who’s counting, right?).  After trying other ways, this remains my favorite – the quickest and easiest way to sew a zipper.   It’s frustration-free, with no ripping out seams to re-align and try again.

Finally, clip the basting stitch from the top side of the zipper seam.

Cutting Zipper Seam

Zipper complete!

Sewing Zipper Complete

Step 3.  The Assembly

Trim the zipper strip to be the same width as your edging strips.

Trim Zipper Strip

Sew one end of the zipper strip to an edging strip, right sides together.  Sew remaining strips together, but don’t attach to the other end of the zipper.  We’ll do that later.

Sewing Zipper to Edge Strip

I’ve laid the edging strip around one cover base to show how you’ll sew it together.

Edging Strip Placed

I’ve centered the zipper at the upper end of the cushion cover. You can see one end is unattached to the edging strip.

Sewing Edge Strip to Base

Begin stitching your seam a few inches from the beginning of the zipper, leaving the end open for attaching to the other end of the strip.

Sewing Direction

Sew all the way around until you get a few inches from where you began – at the zipper.

Sewing Cushion Cover

Lay your edging piece to meet the zipper strip and pin together so that it lays flat against the cover base.  Sew the edging strip end to the zipper strip at the point where the zipper mechanism starts.

Sewing Strip to Zipper

Finish sewing the strip to the base.  One side complete!

Open the zipper a few inches so you can get in there to unzip and invert cover after sewing the last part (which will enclose cover completely).

Final Seam

Finish the cover by sewing the strip to the second base piece.  Invert and push corners out completely with your fingers.  It’s ready to cover your foam.

If you missed yesterday’s post, we talked about how the foam causes drag on the fabric.  I showed how to quickly make an inner cover out of an old fitted sheet.

Covering Foam

The sheet slides over the covered foam without tugging, and the inner cover allows you to remove the outer cover easily for washing.

Porch Swing Pillows

Now that the swing cushion is complete, I’ve been adding more pillows.  Getting ready for more naps in that swing!

I’ll be sharing some quick and easy pillow updates very soon, y’all. 🙂

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I’m sharing this with the following link parties:

Metamorphosis Monday

Make It Pretty Monday

The DIY’ers

Tutorials, Tips and Tidbits Thursday

Before and After Wednesday #10


  1. says

    Totally wish I could use a sewing machine. I blame it on my dad who wouldn’t let me take Home Ec in high school–he claimed my mother would teach me how to do everything. Lucky me, she taught me the kitchen stuff, but I still have no clue how to sew (even a button or a hem!)…great tutorial though. I’m pinning, just in case I get the nerve to try this!!

    • Kim Hood says

      Thanks for pinning, Cindy! Since we all need to eat, cooking skills are much more important than sewing. Someday, when you have the time, you might decide to take a sewing class or something. Just for fun. 🙂

    • Kim Hood says

      Thanks for visiting, Allison! Yes, with home decor, there are mostly straight lines to sew. 🙂

  2. says

    Hey, Kim! I was browsing the Internet looking for something to send my sister to guilt her into making me a couple of cushions for my outdoor settee, and guess who I came upon?? Wow! Talk about luck of the draw! I’m forwarding this post to her so she can get right on it!!!
    Alycia Nichols recently posted…Life Is Just a Chair of BowliesMy Profile

    • Kim says

      What do you know? I have had a lot of interest in this post. Maybe Google has been tracking that or something. Anyway, I hope your sister agrees to make your cushions!