My Pop-Up Sewing Project: DIY Camper Cushions!

The DIY cushions for our camper are done! This was a sewing job that I was not really looking forward to but I actually enjoyed it a lot. I have ordered some fun and kinda vintage looking print fabrics for the new curtains, throw pillows, quilts, and other accessories (I can’t wait for it to come so I can show you), so I decided to keep the dinette cushions basic.

{I wrote about deconstructing the cushions down to the plywood and foam here.}

A couple months ago I saw an ad on craigslist for high quality upholstery fabric – 6 yards for $40. I checked it out and could tell that it would go really well with the print fabrics that I’m getting. The texture is kind of like a sweater, but there’s no stretch. And what goes with a sweater, but jeans? So I used some non-stretch denim for the welt piping and the zipper panels. 6 yards wasn’t going to cover all 6 cushions anyway.

They turned out very basic looking, like I expected, but what I did not expect was how easy they were to clean up. We fell victim to some very rainy weather on our last camping trip and had to eat almost all of our meals ‘indoors.’

To my great surprise, all the crumbs (both wet and dry) brushed off the fabric with ease. I even found some chocolate cake smooshed into one of the cushions as we were cleaning up, and it cleaned off with a washcloth, yay!

So I count the basic red cushions a success!

Here is how I sewed them:

Like I said in my cushion deconstruction post, I took detailed notes about cushion sizes and my muslin pattern pieces for the curved cushions.

I calculated each rectangular piece with 1/2” seam allowances and cut out the curved cushions with 1/2” seam allowances too.

Then I bought 10 yards of zipper by the yard (with a package of sliders) and 40 yards of 8/32” welt cording (to make piping) from Joanns. I used almost all of it on the 6 cushions!

Sew the easy zipper panel:

For this 4” deep cushion, I needed a 5” zipper panel. So I cut two 5” x 58” strips from the denim. 

I folded the first denim strip in half wrong sides together, lined the fold up with the center of the zipper and sewed it down with the regular straight stitch foot on my Juki. If you aren’t using a straight stitch foot you’d probably want to use a zipper foot.

Then I repeated the process, sewing the second strip to the other side of the zipper. It turned out exactly 5” wide – just what I needed.

I told you it was easy!

Pull the zipper apart, and install a slider using the instructions on the back of the package. 

This is really a job that requires 3 hands. Good thing I had kids around whom I could call on to come ‘pull the zipper!’

Once the zipper panel is done, seam it to a boxing strip long enough to go around the rest of the cushion. It’s okay if it’s too long, you’ll cut it to size later.

Add welt piping:

Make your welt piping (if desired) and sew it to the cushion side panels. Clipping the corners of the piping helps it go around the corners.

You could skip the piping, but I say don’t! It really adds a professional touch and draws the eye away from any irregularities. 🙂

Sew the pieces together:

Then I pinned the zipper panel/boxing strip to one of the side panels, matching the center of the zipper panel to the center of one long side on the cushion panel.

Pin from the large side panel – I know it seems counter-intuitive, but it makes everything look nicer.

Clip into the boxing strip and zipper panel at the corners to help them go smoothly around the cushion.

After you pin the boxing strip/zipper panel piece all the way around, you’ll see where it meets up on the other side. Cut the extra boxing strip away leaving your 1/2” seam allowance and sew them together. (This part is kind of like a quilt binding.)

Finish pinning the boxing strip/zipper panel to the cushion side panel and sew them together with the boxing strip/zipper panel on the bottom. You’ll be able to see the stitching from sewing the piping on and sew right on that same line.

Pin and stitch the other side of the cushion on in the same way.

Then you are done! To tell you the truth, no one was more surprised than me when each cushion cover slid on the plywood and foam skeletons and fit like a glove. Okay, my kids weren’t surprised at all. They weren’t even watching. Except to look over at me like I was an idiot jumping for joy over a silly cushion. Every one fit perfectly!

This is the side seat. I didn’t notice that the bottom cushion was turned around backwards, so here you get a good look at the zipper panel and how it goes around the cushion. It works so great.

So what’s next?

The ugly curtains! Oh my gosh, these have to go.

So I literally ripped them down. The curtains were all stapled on to little sliders that were permanently installed on the rails. This seemed like the easiest way to go. I’ll have to attach the new curtains to the sliders with velcro or something like that. We’ll see.

Thanks so much for following along my little ‘Pop-Up Sewing Project.’ If you’re remodeling a camper too or you have experience to share, don’t be shy! I’d love to hear how you did it.


Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂