How to sew a simple box cushion

Updated April 17, 2017

A box cushion is a type of upholstered pillow added to benches, window seats, chairs and other hard surfaces to make sitting more comfortable. Box cushions can add colour and atmosphere to a room, and they are so easy to make that they are ideal for the sewing beginner.

Using the measuring tape, take the length and width of the surface you would like to make the cushion for.

Lay your fabric out on a wide, flat surface. You will need three pieces total, but two pieces, the top and bottom of the cushion, will be identical. To work more quickly, fold the fabric in half before the next step.

Using your fabric pen and your measuring tape, draw a box, with rounded edges if desired, according to the proper length and width you measured, adding up to half an inch to each measurement for a seam allowance. Cut along the lines and you should have two identical square pieces of fabric.

Create the third piece. Unfold the fabric, as you will likely need the entire length. Alternately, you can cut on the fold to produce one long strip of fabric. Decide how deep/thick you would like the cushion to be (e.g. 5 inches); that plus 1/2 inch seam allowance will be your width measurement for the third piece. For length, use the perimeter of your first piece (2 x H + 2 x W). Example: If pieces one and two have a length of 12 inches and a width of 24 inches, then the length of piece three is: (2 x 12 = 24) + (2 x 24 = 48) = 72 inches, or 2 yards. If your fabric isn't long enough, you can cut two or three strips and sew them together to make up the required length.

With right sides together, begin pinning either side of piece three to pieces one and two. Be sure to leave a hole big enough for your hand so that you can turn the cushion right-side in and stuff it.

Once pinned, sew all the edges together at 1/2 inch seam allowance. One side of the cushion should be sealed between piece three and piece two. The other side of the cushion should have a 5- or 6-inch opening between piece three and piece one.

Carefully turn the cushion right side in so that the correct side of the fabric is facing outward. Begin stuffing the cushion with poly-fill stuffing. Be sure to push the stuffing into the corners. A chopstick can be helpful for this task. Once the cushion is firmly stuffed and you simply can't fit any more stuffing in, it's time to close the cushion up.

Brush up on your hand-stitching. With the seams pressed to the inside, use a backstitch to close up the remaining opening in the cushion. (To learn about the backstitch and other hand-stitching techniques, check out the Resources below.)

Elaborate on your basic box cushion design with buttons, fabric-paint or ribbons. Happy crafting!


For more advanced box cushions, consider sewing ties, making darts in the fabric, lining piece three with cardboard or adding piping between your pieces. For a more square box cushion, cut piece three into four pieces of equal length, and sew them together, making sure that the corners meet on each of these seams.


Remember to add the 1/2 inch seam allowance, or your finished cushion will be up to an inch smaller than the surface you designed it to cover. Leave a space large enough for your hand to fit through so that you can stuff you cushion

Things You'll Need

  • Several yards of a heavyweight fabric, such as upholstery fabric or brocade
  • Bag of poly-fill doll/pillow stuffing
  • Sewing machine, bobbin and heavyweight polyester thread
  • Scissors
  • Measuring Tape
  • Fabric pen or another impermanent marker
  • Chopstick, ruler or other long stick
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About the Author

Marielle Messing's writing has appeared in Philadelphia Magazine, Prevention Magazine, and local newspapers, as well as online at Newsweek's Current and Lucy Magazine. She received a B.S. in magazine journalism from Syracuse University in 2008 and has been writing professionally for over five years.