Tiny House Interior – Custom Upholstered Couch Cushions

Hello everyone!

I apologize, the blogs have been few and far between because… well, because we’re just living in the house now, and things are going smoothly.

I am excited because I finally made the custom cushions that I had been envisioning for our Tiny House couch.  You may have seen interior photos and noticed the hulking mass of a black futon mattress on our couch and wondered about my taste as a designer, and rightly so.  That was a temporary solution until I could venture to the fabric district in L.A. and procure upholstery materials.

BEFORE: The heeedeous black futon couch….

AFTER: lovely gray upholstered cushions

The back cushions are lower than the futon mattress, and the lighter color (a warm gray) makes the space so much bigger and brighter!  And the lightweight cushions allow for easy access to the storage compartments under the couch.

I took enough photos to do a full-on how-to post on upholstery…  but does anyone really care?  (let me know if you do, and I’ll post them.)  And it’s really been done before, just google it.


1.  Materials: 4″ thick foam for seat, 3″ thick foam for back …  batting for wrapping the foam (6 yards)  …   upholstery weight fabric (9 yards)  …   4 zippers to make the covers removable and washable  …  Guterman thread.  Thanks to the LA fabric district, I purchased all of my materials for $130, including the foam.  It would have cost (at least) $480 to make these cushions using materials from Joann’s fabric store.

2.  Tools:  my trusty 1930’s Bernina sewing machine  …  dressmaker shears  …  embroidery scissors  …  loads of pins  …  an electric turkey carving knife (for cutting the foam to size)  …  spray mount adhesive for attaching the batting to the foam  …  and the use of my in-laws’ dining room table for three days  …  and a partridge in a pear tree.

I happened to choose THE most time-consuming method of making cushion covers.  What can I say, I have good taste!  It’s a box cushion with a zippered back panel with edge cording at the seams.  In lieu of traditional cording I used folded strips of my fabric, and I like that look.


1.  foam cushions:  you would not believe how easy it is to cut foam with an electric turkey carving knife!  it’s easier than cutting butter.  Room temperature butter.  seriously.  this is a cut edge in the photo below:

4″ foam seat cushion wrapped in batting

2.  Cut the fabric, including cutting and ironing the cording strips  (I ripped all my fabric, as it’s a plain weave fabric.  that was handy!)

3.  Make zipper panels  (google how to make upholstered cushions:  DesignSponge has some great tutorials on zippered panels

4.  Pin and sew the cording to the top and bottom flat panels

Pinning the edge cording on the flat panel

this project reminded me that sewing is as much pinning as it is actual sewing.  I hate pinning.  But it does help the final product look better, so I suffered through the monotony of it this time.

5.  Pin the front and back panels to the bottom panel – sew.  then pin the top panel to the side panels (an inside-out box) – sew.  I used 1/2″ seam allowances everywhere.  (make sure to leave the zipper partially unzipped, so you can turn your cover right-side out)

Pin the front and back panels to the bottom panel

Corner detail

This is what the edging/cording will look like at the corners (above).  Edging is not necessary, but it hides the seam and protects it from abrasive wear and tear, and makes the cushion look more tailored.

6.  Sew the side panels together making a cool little pocket for the zipper

sew the front and back panels to each other after you’ve pinned them onto the bottom panel

When you fold the side panels over and sew them to the bottom panel, it creates a little pocket for the zipper head to hide in

Pocket for the zipper on the outside

6.  Turn covers right-side out and put on foam.  (My pictures might be confusing because I’m using the backside of my fabric – the plain side.  It has a silly floral print but it was the only natural fabric I could find in the gray color I wanted.  And the salesman convinced me.  So the flowers are the wrong side and are not seen.)

After three days of cutting, pinning and sewing, your cushion covers will be ready to slip onto the foam

I am using “the trash bag trick” that my mother suggested.  Makes it much easier to slip the cover over the foam.  You pull the trash bag out of the open zipper after you get the cover slipped on.

Finished cushions:

Finished cushions with back zipper panels visible

The covers are slightly loose, which I am totally fine with because this will allow them to shrink when I wash them again.  Or… I can put more batting or fleece in them to make them even softer.

Another photo of the finished couch cushions.  The pipe was to keep our futon from sliding off!

Well, that was a quick how-to of making upholstered cushions.  These took 3 days to make.  Way longer than I had anticipated.  But I feel like I saved at least $500 doing it myself.

Well, that’s it for now,

I will keep you posted on our next adventure with the Tiny House….  exciting stuff in the works.  🙂

stay tuned and take care.

– Carrie

Categories: Living In the Tiny House, Tiny House Design | Tags: , , | 11 Comments

Post navigation

11 thoughts on “Tiny House Interior – Custom Upholstered Couch Cushions

  1. gfjam

    Thanks so much for the detailed post! Your cushions came out beautifully…they are just lovely and perfect. Your little house looks so cozy….I hope you’re adjusting well and enjoying the intimacy of that small space. I have been a camper so spending time in small spaces feels doable, safe, and cozy to me. Have missed your posts as you worked on your tiny house….thank you for continuing to stay in touch with all of us. Hoping you two are well these days.

    • thanks Kath!
      I am loving our little house – and so is Shane.
      thanks for keeping in touch,

  2. Christy Larsen

    That looks awesome you guys!! Nice work! You’ve got some serious skills sister! xoxo

  3. Laura M

    This is fantastic! It looks wonderful and you are getting to use your creative talents. Makes me happy!

  4. Marsha Cowan

    Well done! Makes a world ofmdifference in the ambience (sp?) of the home.

  5. Great job on the cushions and yes, I agree, gray is much better than black PLUS you don’t have to constantly deal with lint! One thought though about the pipe across the front of the couch. Looks kinda cool but just wondering if that is going to be a wake up call to the back of the leg when it is cold? If for decorative appeal, I can see it but if to hold the cushions in place, wouldn’t velcro be a better solution?

    • hi there!
      yes, the galvanized pipe was just a solution for the futon, as it wanted to slide off the front, and is not a long-term plan. velcro is a good idea, but I’d like to be able to flip the cushions and use both sides, so we’re thinking hooks sewn onto loops on the backs of the cushions clipped to the back of the couch… or I guess maybe velcro on the sides of the seat cushions hooking to the wooden arm compartments, as those aren’t seen… we’ll see.

  6. i love the cushions….and i actually like the flowery side too! well done- i’m impressed!

  7. Melanie

    Great job! You’re right the hardest part is that pinning, but like you said it’s worth all the effort to save money! Looks great too! I like the idea of the trash bag, how brilliant!! Thank her for that! Thanks for sharing your progress, may help the rest of us one day!!

  8. Pingback: One Year Living in our Tiny House! Year in Review. | Clothesline Tiny Homes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: