The new seat covers are finished! Thank the lord.
Remember the striped fabric I was so keen on? Well, it came with issues: mainly, making sure all those stripes lined up at every seam. I decided a typical box-cushion pattern would be out of the questions. Lining up the stripes on all sides would have been a nightmare. I went with a fold-over/pin-fit technique that worked out great, and I’ll show you exactly how I did it.
Notes on supplies
- It took 15 yards of fabric to cover all six cushions in our Shasta Loflyte. I highly recommend upholstery fabric. you are going to all this trouble to make covers, use a good, heavy fabric that will show off your hard work.
- I did not prewash the fabric before sewing. I purchased upholstery fabric that I do not plan on washing in the machine—it’s just too heavy for that. I did want to be able to spot clean or possibly dry clean the covers, so I made them removable. My fabric obviously had some kind of sizing on it already that made it water repellent and easy to sew, no need to iron. I didn’t want to mess with that.
- Zippers: have them cut to size at the fabric or upholstery store. at least 4″ longer than the length of the cushion back. Pay attention when they show you how to put the zipper pull on correctly! You’ll probably pull it off later when you get home and then have to google how to get it back on. Or maybe that’s just me.
- Thread: use heavy-weight thread, do not use upholstery thread.
- Needles: sew with a denim needle if you are using upholstery fabric.
Let’s get started
Cut a piece of fabric for the back zipper side that is at least 2″ larger on all sides. This is not a seam allowance, we will be pin-fitting so don’t worry if it’s too big. Then, cut the zipper piece in half horizontally. As you can see, I used the stripes as a guideline to save time.
Place the two pieces together, right sides facing each other as shown, and machine baste with a 1/2″ seam allowance on one long side. Machine basting is done with your machine on the longest sitch length (mine is 6.) This makes a loose stitch than you can easily pull out later.
Now you will need to press the seam open…
…Like this. You can see it’s on the wrong side. Now get your zipper and some white Elmer’s glue.
Run a thin bead of glue down both sides of the seam, fairly close to the outer edges.
Like this, but on the other side too.
Now place your zipper, upside down, right on top of the seam.
Make sure it’s lined up just right, then press the over the entire length of the zipper with a hot iron (be sure to turn the steam off.) This will temporarily bond the zipper in place so you can sew it quickly and easily
Now you can stich the zipper in place on both sides, right and left, using a zipper foot. Be sure to change the stitch length back to normal first.
Now the fun part! Flip the fabric over and use a seam ripper to remove your basting stitches and reveal the marvelous hidden zipper you just made. The hard part is pretty much over.
Lay out your fabric, right side up,and place your cushion in the center. I used a ruler to make a mark in the middle of my cushion with permanent marker so I could make sure that a white stripe was in the center of each cushion. This is so they will (hopefully) line up when placed in the trailer.
Now take your time and make sure all the lines are straight, fold over the top to cover the cushion, making sure there is at least a 2″ overhang.
Like this. Again, be sure it’s as straight and taught as possible. Fold the short sides down as well, leaving the back (zipper side) open. Folding the top over like this means less seams to sew, and the stripes on the top of the cushion will wrap over front and make a smooth, clean look.
Now grab a bunch of pins and start pinning! You’re going to pin down both short sides and up to the corner, like this…
Pin nice and tight, but don’t pull the fabric too much – keep your lines straight. You will be sewing pretty much directly down the pins, so use plenty of them to get a good line.
Trim the excess fabric but leave at least an inch of seam. Cut notches in the fabric at the corners to reduce bulk and help you get a nice, crisp corner seam.
Once both of the two short sides are pinned, remove the case gently from the foam cushion and stitch right on top of your pins, removing them as you go. You want the cover to fit like a glove, so it’s actually best to sew a little to the inside of your pins if you can muster the courage.
Trust me, you don’t want a saggy, lumpy cover! If you are at all worried you pinned too loosely, then be sure to sew to the inside of the pins.
Now, put the cover back on the foam wrong-side-out. Don’t worry if you have to wrestle the cushion to get it back in the case – that’s good! It should take a little bit of wrangling to get it in and smooth, that means your case isn’t too big and the finished look will be tight and streamlined.
Now you need to pin in your zipper piece.
Take your time, make sure the zipper is running down the middle of the cushion back, and pin as taught as you can. Trim the fabric to navigate the corners as best you can, and remember to leave the zipper open just a little so you can remove the cover for the final stitching!
Unzip the cover and gently remove the foam cushion. Pull the sipper almost closed, and sew along your line of pins on all four sides.
Now you can admire your handiwork! Pull the cover right side out and try it on your cushion. Again, don’t be alarmed if it take a while to wiggle the foam or even sit on it to get the cover situated properly. A tight fit is a good thing!
Take a moment to marvel over your mad zipper-skills.
If you’re happy with the cover, remove it from the foam and do a final press on the seams with your iron. Trim the raw edges uniform with pinking shears and seal with fray check or clear nail polish to keep the fraying to a minimum.
I can’t believe I finished all of them! I made one cover per day over a week, spending about 2 hours start to finish per cushion (including clean-up and breaks.)
I was going to wait until the camper renovations were over to suit up all of the cushions a do a fashion show, but I just couldn’t wait. I put two of them in the dinette just so I could see how the stripes lined up.
Not too shabby! I’m very happy with how they came out, considering I’m an average sewer and I was very intimidated by this project. Plus, I saved $350-$500 doing it myself, and it’s a big improvment on the original covers…
Don’t you think?
I hope this tutorial gives you the courage to tackle covering your own camper cushions. Good luck to you!