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Nature Brights Kitchen: No-Slip Chair Cushions with Boxed Corners

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Before you close the page without even trying this project, because you just read 'boxed corners' in the title and are afraid, I'll let you in on a little secret: there's no gusset involved. That's right, we've created a Sew4Home exclusive design with detailed instructions that make it easy to create a beautiful cushion with fancy accent piping and nice, square corners but without any beads of sweat forming on your brow. Read on 'fraidy-cats ... you'll be sitting pretty before you know it! These cushions were designed for chairs with a solid back that wouldn't accommodate ties to secure them. Our solution: gripper fabric on the bottom keeps the cushions from sliding. You could use this design on any type of chair as an alternative to ties.

Our Nature Brights projects were made using Patty Young's wonderful Flora & Fauna Collection. To learn more about the collection and all the tutorials available, read our article: Nature Brights Kitchen: A Bowlful of Color with a Generous Helping of Style.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Our chair measured 14¾" across the back, 15¾" across the front and 14½" from front to back through the center. The fabric amounts listed below will accommodate this basic size. If your chair seat is quite a bit smaller or larger, make your pattern first, and use it to figure out your yardage.

  • Fabric for seat cushion tops: ½ yard of 45" wide fabric will yield two seat cushion tops (you will need 1½ yards of fabric total if you make six seat cushions as we did): we used Patty Young's Flora & Fauna Luna Moth in Lime
  • Fabric for seat cushion bottoms: ⅔ yard of 45" wide fabric will yield two seat cushion bottoms (you will need 2 yards of fabric total if you make six seat cushions as we did): we used Patty Young's Flora & Fauna Hive in Stone
  • Fabric for piping: ¼ yard of 45" wide fabric will yield enough fabric for two seat cushions (you will need ¾ yard of fabric total if you make six seat cushions as we did): we used Patty Young's Flora & Fauna Ta Dot in Black
  • ¼" cording: 3⅓ yards will be enough for two seat cushions (you will need 10 yards if you make six seat cushions as we did)
  • Slipper Gripper (or similar): ½ yard will be enough for two seat cushions (you will need 1½ yard if you make six seat cushions as we did)
  • NU-Foam (or similar) cushion insert on a roll, in 2" thickness (1 yard will yield two cushions; you will need 3 yards total for six seat cushions as we did). See Hints and Tips below for more information about NU-Foam.
  • All purpose thread in colors to match fabric
  • See-through ruler
  • Long, solid ruler (metal is best)
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Fabric pencil or pen
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Straight pins
  • Permanent marker
  • Pattern paper
    NOTE: This is a great opportunity to reuse other large pieces of paper around the house; newspaper, old wrapping paper, shopping bags.
  • Craft or serrated knife

Getting Started

  1. Make a paper pattern of your chair seat to use to cut the foam inserts. (Our chair measured 14¾" across the back, 15¾" across the front and 14½" from front to back through the center.)
    NOTE: Chairs differ widely, so making a simple paper template, like professional upholsterers do, gets the job done quickly and easily. Fold your finished pattern in half to make sure both sides are mirror images of one another. Trim as needed to insure your final pattern is accurate and true.
  2. Make a second paper pattern to use to cut your fabric. Use the first pattern as your base, but add 1½" on all four sides. This provides the 2" depth needed for the height of the foam insert, plus the ½" seam allowance. (In our sample, that meant our fabric pattern was 17¾" across the back, 18¾" across the front and 17½" from front to back through the center.)
  3. Using the foam insert pattern and a straight edge, trace the shape of your chair seat directly onto the foam with a permanent marker. We made six cushions, so we traced this six times.
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  4. Using a craft or serrated knife, cut out each foam insert. We found it was helpful to use a board to help weight and hold the foam as we cut.
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  5. Using the fabric pattern and a straight edge, cut out the cushion TOPS (we cut six from the Flora & Fauna Luna Moth).
    NOTE: Our top fabric has a large directional print, which needed to be fussy cut so it was straight and centered on the cushion. We carefully cut our first piece, then folded that piece in half and used it to align our subsequent cuts. If you have a particularly large design, you will probably need to buy extra fabric in order to accommodate the repeat of the design and be able to center your cushion pattern correctly.
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  6. For each cushion BOTTOM, cut one strip 12" x the width of fabric (we cut six strips 12" x 44" from the Flora & Fauna Hive in Stone).
  7. Cut each strip in half. This gave us two 12" x 22" pieces.
  8. Cut 1½" x width of fabric strips from the piping fabric (we used Flora & Fauna Ta Dot in Black).
  9. MATH TIME: The number of strips you will need will depend on the perimeter measurement of your finished cushion (ours was approximately 60"). Figure out your perimeter by measuring each side and adding them all together; multiply that by the number of cushions you are making, then divide the total by the width of your fabric to get the final number of strips needed. In our sample: 60" x 6 cushions = 360" ÷ 44" wide fabric = 8.18. You always round up, so we needed to cut nine strips total.
  10. Cut two 4" x 12" pieces of Slipper Gripper (or similar) for each cushion.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Make a 1" double-fold hem along one long edge (the 22" edge) of EACH cushion bottom piece (we had twelve pieces to finish for our six cushions). To do this, fold and press ½" along the edge, then fold and press again.
  2. Using a straight stitch, sew close to the inside folded edge to finish. Set aside.
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  3. Using one of the cushion top pieces you cut as a guide, lay one cushion bottom piece face up on top of the cushion top piece, matching the raw edges along the BACK edge and centering it side to side. Lay a second cushion bottom piece, also face up, over the cushion top fabric, matching the raw edges along the FRONT of the cushion top piece. For our sample, the two pieces overlap approximately 4".
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    NOTE: This overlap creates the back envelope opening, which allows you to insert the foam. It also means you can remove the covering and launder it after the inevitable Morning-Cheerio-Milk Incident.
  4. Pin securely, then flip the whole thing over, and trim the sides of the cushion bottom fabric flush with the cushion top.
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  5. Repeat for each cushion bottom needed.
  6. Place a 4" x 12" piece of Slipper Gripper (or similar) face up on a cushion bottom piece approximately 2" from the long raw edge and centered side to side.
  7. Sew the Slipper Gripper in place, stitching approximately ¼" from the edge all around. Remember to stop with your needle in the down position and pivot at each corner.
    NOTE: The Slipper Gripper will not fray and so the edges can be simply straight cut and stitched in place; they don't need to be hemmed.
  8. Repeat for the remaining cushion bottom pieces.
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    NOTE: If the foot of your machine is sticking or dragging on the Slipper Gripper, you can switch to an Ultraglide foot or try laying a sheet of wax paper on top, which is easy to see through and tear away, but helps a regular foot to move across without drag.


  1. Using a straight stitch, sew all of your 1½" x WOF piping strips together end-to-end to create one long strip.
  2. Center the ¼" piping cord on the long fabric strip. Wrap the fabric around the cord, matching raw edges.
  3. Using a zipper foot and a straight stitch, sew close to the cording to create piping.
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  4. The piping will be sewn to the right side of each cushion top piece. Because of how our cushion corners are constructed (they are trimmed and boxed), we opted to stitch a length of piping to each edge individually rather than in one continuous length.
  5. To do this, center a length of piping along each edge, aligning the raw edges. Cut the piping so it starts and stops ½" from the raw edges. Pin in place.
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  6. At each end of each piping piece, use your seam ripper gently peel back the fabric to expose the cording underneath.
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  7. Cut the cord back 1½" from each end - do not cut the fabric. Replace the fabric and re-pin.
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  8. Using your zipper foot, stitch the piping in place, staying as close to the piping as possible.
  9. Repeat for each cushion.
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Assemble top and bottom

  1. Pin each cushion top to each set of cushion bottom pieces right sides together. Be careful with your pinning; you need to make sure the overlapping bottom pieces don't shift when you sew.
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  2. Using the zipper foot, sew as close to (right on top of if possible) the previously stitched piping seam. This means the cushion top fabric has to be on top so you can see those previously sewn stitches.
  3. Repeat for all cushion tops and bottoms.

Boxed corners

  1. With the cushion cover still wrong sides out, trim each of your four corners.
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  2. Using both hands, pinch and pull apart the corner.
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  3. As you keep pulling, the fabric will begin to make a little peak with the trimmed corner point at the top and the seam lines running down the middle of the front and the back.
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  4. Carefully and precisely, line up these seams so they match precisely. The two seam allowances should fold opposite one another. This will help you align the seams. Remember when we cut back the piping in the steps above? This is why. As you align the seam lines and adjust the fabric folds to make a perfect triangle peak, it is very helpful to not be fighting with the bulky piping cord.
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  5. When your seams are aligned and you have your perfect triangle peak, set your seam gauge to 2" and slide it down the peak about 1" until it hits a width of exactly 2".
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  6. Make a couple dots with your fabric pen or pencil to mark this width line.
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  7. Use your see-through ruler to connect the dots and draw a horizontal line across the peak.
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  8. Check your measurements: you should have 1" to the right of the seam line, 1" to the left of the seam line, and 1" from the top of the peak to the drawn line.
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  9. If you are particularly picky (and aren't we all), you can make a little corner template to insure you've created a perfect triangle that will turn into a perfect boxed corner. On a piece of heavy paper, draw a triangle with a 2" base and a 1" height with perfect 45˚ and 90˚ corners.
  10. Cut out this little triangle and match it against your corner.
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  11. Stitch along the drawn line. Stitch back and forth along the line two or three times to reinforce.
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  12. Turn the cushion cover right side out and gently push out the corners with your finger to reveal the ‘box.'
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    NOTE : You'll notice the piping is slightly offset at the corners. Now, there are bound to be some of you who are driven slowly insane by this off-set. To you I say, 'But you didn't have to make a gusset!!' That's the whole idea of this project. It's a thick and comfy chair cushion with nice boxed corners and a lovely piping accent, but you didn't have to use the much-more-complex gusset technique. And, I bet, unless you spend the entire day down on one knee staring at the cushion corners, you'll forget about that tiny off-set in about five minutes. I've forgotten about mine already. If you'd like to learn more about making a box cushion with a gusset, take a look at our project: Asian Box Floor Cushion.

  13. Insert foam and have a seat.
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    Flip side:
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Hints and Tips

More about piping

The steps we used above for attaching piping are a bit unique, but follow the basic tenants of the technique. If you are new to this, take a look at our tutorial: How to Make and Attach Your Own Piping

More about directional patterns

We make some notes above about fussing cutting and aligning patterns, but it's worth mentioning again. You'll be really sad if a horizontal design comes out on a diagonal. So be sure to pay attention to how you cut and seam your pieces to make sure the fabric is facing in the right direction. Always pin first and look at your project prior to stitching.

More about NU-Foam

NU-Foam comes in various thicknesses and is sold as pre-cut squares or in pre-determined widths on a long roll that can be cut to length. Measure the seat size on the chairs you would like to make cushions for, and check to see if a pre-cut NU-Foam insert would better suit your needs. Because it can be a bit of a challenge to cut, it may be easier for you to buy the pre-cut NU-Foam inserts, as long as the sizes they make will work for your chairs.

Strong Corners

When sewing corners on a seam, try backtacking and sewing over a few stitches once you reach the pivot point of the next seam. This way, these corners will be more reinforced when you clip away fabric and turn them inside out.

Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Kathy Andrews, What Sew Ever


Comments (20)

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Silvia Sánchez - your cushions are so bright and fun. Thank you for sharing them. If you could add a link bck to our site so others could make them as well, we'd love it!

Kay in WA said:
Kay in WA's picture

I know this is supposed to be simple, but Step 3 is making no sense to me whatsoever as I am looking at the diagram. Can you explain what is happening there? Why are the bottom pieces so offset from one another?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Kay in WA - the green shape is the cushion top, which you are using for the pattern - the drawing is done with the back panels shown as semi-transparent so you can see the top underneath the two back panels. One back panel is aligned with the back of the cushion top and the other back panel is aligned with the front of the cushion back. Overlap the panels to get as substantial an overlap as possible while still having enough fabric side to side to cover the top. You have to off-set like that because of the narrow-to-wide shape of the chair pattern. If placed side to side, there wouldn't be enough fabric side to side. If your chair is more square, you may not need as radical an offset. The basic idea to to overlap the panels so they fit over the cushion top - pin all around, then trim the overlapped back panels to fit the exact shape of the top.  

Marymo said:
Marymo's picture

My husband and I were making chair pads and  we pored over the pad that we bought to tear apart for a pattern ,trying to figure out how to make the boxed corners and never could get it. So I  turned to your website and the light went on.Duh!! We were trying for two days and never could figure it out. Your instructions and pictures were so good and the answer was so simple once we looked at the example. Thank you so much for your website.

Mary Smith said:
Mary Smith's picture

Love this site. Am looking to insert a zipper ( decorative large size 24" length ) into a ready made bolster pollow that is already covered in a quilted fabric. Nowhere can I find instructions to insert this zipper. (am using a zebra print, minky type fabric) Can anyone help?  Thanks

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Mary Smith - Within this same Nature Brights series, we did a pet bed with a zipper that sounds similar to what you are describing. I've included the link below. Also, check out our Project Index tab and look under the Zippers heading for more zipper-based tutorials. That said, it's going to be rough-going to put a zipper into an already constructed pillow. You should get out your seam ripper and try to take it apart to get the opening as flat as possilbe.

Suzanna Overtree said:
Suzanna Overtree's picture
I can't thank you enough for these directions. The woman at the upholstery store thought she was doing me a favor by showing me (quickly) how to do a rounded corner with two pleats -- I don't know the name. After making prototypes, sewing and ripping for 24 hours, I gave up and opened my computer. What a nice website, what beautiful fabrics you chose, what excellent directions!! Hooray for you!
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Adjustments to the projects to make them best for you are always just dandy. I'm so glad these worked out for your mom. I bet she was thrilled you'd made them. Thanks for letting us know we helped smilies/cheesy.gif!
SharonPN said:
SharonPN's picture
I made these cushions for my mother for Christmas. Her chairs are rounded in the back and square in the front. I adjusted the pattern and made the welt cord one solid piece from the front left side, around the back and to the front right side. I followed the pattern, and made the front welt cord a seperate piece and boxed the front corners as described. From the directions it appeared to me that the overlapping flap on the back (to facilitate foam removal for washing) ran verticaly from front to back (this may be wrong, but I checked the pattern out several times and that's how it appeared to me). I made my overlap flap horizontal. I was also concerned that the slipper gripper fabric wouldn't provide the same non slip surface as the premade cushions that I checked out. My mom is 83 and I didn't want the cushions to slip on her, but it worked out fantastic! The cushions turned out great and she loved the fact that I made them for her! Thanks again for some great, easy to follow instructions!
alicia.thommas said:
alicia.thommas's picture
WOW! Keri - that's impressive after only having had your machine 4 weeks! We're so glad you found this tutorial to be easy. We thought it was too, and the cushions turn out beautifully. smilies/smiley.gif
Keri said:
Keri's picture
This is amazingly simple to follow. I have had my machine for 4 weeks and have managed to make 6 fab cushions for our garden following this, easy peasy, boxed corners and all!!!! Thank you so much!
SewCrazy said:
SewCrazy's picture
How much extra material per cushion (for any size cushion) would I allow for adding a bottom cushion envelope? I'm trying to figure my yardage. Thanks!
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi gymp2 -- I afraid I can't think of an easy option that would reduce the number of layers you need to go through in order for piping to be an accent at the seam. Perhaps someone else might have an idea, but you'd have to move it away from the seam to reduce the layers. That would take some real noodlin' on your part in order to measure and cut multiple pieces so you could create a line of piping within the top square -- kind of a square within a square, and then have a plain border to use to attach front to back. A good, powerful sewing machine is certainly a plus for all types of sewing, but especially in tackling projects with many layers. Best of luck.
gymp2 said:
gymp2's picture
Can this be modified so that the piping is part of the top piece? Then the piping is imbedded in the top piece. Reason is that my sewing machine is so light dutied and the upholstery cloth I picked is so thick that I might have a tough time sewing through 4 layers of material.

Any opinions? Thanks.
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
cgraham850#hotmail -- Take a look at the picture just above the comments section ... not too worry -- these cushions are removable to wash. They have an "envelope" opening in the back. Hope yours turn out great!
Lovemycat1 said:
Lovemycat1's picture
I need to make 4 of these cushions, but I have to have a way to remove them for washing. Can this be done with this project and if so what are your suggestions?
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
I HATE it when the ties tear off! This is a good solution.
javadiva said:
javadiva's picture
I love that this uses a non slipping material as opposed to the ties that always rip off!

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