No Sew Project: How to recover your outdoor cushions using fabric and a glue gun.

I recently was fortunate enough to get to play around with some beautiful fabrics from Riley Blake Designs.    There is lots to choose from, and whenever you want to inject some color into a room, paint and fabric are always sure things.  I recently shared this quick tutorial over on Mom It Forward, but thought I’d share it over here, in case you missed it.

We do a lot of entertaining and much of it is on our patio.  Because we are in Southern California, we’re able to change up the look of our patio furniture pretty regularly with just a little fabric and a glue gun.
If you can wrap a present, you can re-cover a cushion.

Riley Blake Designs has some amazing fabrics and I knew this fun paisley inspired print was just the thing to bring a shot of color to my patio.

We recover our cushions regularly because they were looking a bit worn, but are still perfectly comfortable.  Because we use a glue gun we can change the fabric as often as we like.  The last fabric we had on our cushions was a black and white combo for a Halloween Party.

Start by measuring the widest part of the cushion and the sides.  The width of the cushion was 25″ and the sides were about 3″ high.  25+3+3 = 31″  then I add another 6″ to ensure it will wrap around to the back.  I cut a total length of 37 inches.

The next step is to pull the old fabric off of the cushion.  The fabric always pulls off and the old glue sticks to the cushion.  This allows me to toss the fabric into the washing machine and save it for future projects.  I love that I am able to use these materials over and over again.

Take the cushion and center it on the new fabric.

See?  The old hot glue sticks to the cushion, not the fabric so you can reuse the fabric over again.

This is just like wrapping a present, but instead of paper it’s fabric and instead of tape, you’re using hot glue.

Just like a present… fold up the sides and glue.  Then fold the “ends” and secure them as well.

The fact that this “seam” is present doesn’t matter on most furniture.  No one sees the bottom of the seat cushion, and most chairs have a back support that hides the seam on the back cushion.

Is it going to last forever?  No… but then again, I don’t want it to.

I love being able to change up my patio, depending on the event. These chairs were perfect for the Mother’s Day Brunch we recently hosted.

Colorful cushions and a Mother’s Day Mimosa… Nice!

So remember: It’s OK to recover old cushions.  It’s OK to use a glue gun to do it.  It’s your patio… do what you want!


  1. says

    This is wonderful, Vivienne! I use hot glue a LOT, but I haven’t tried it for something like this. I think I was afraid that it wouldn’t hold up. But you’re right: it doesn’t have to last forever. Thank you for giving me courage to try this.

    And your new fabric is gorgeous, by the way!

  2. says

    OMGSH! See… there ya go again! Inspiring me to not BUY replacement cushions, but simply cover the one’s I’ve got! 😉 heehee They’re great!

  3. says

    THANK YOU for giving me permission to do this :) Our cushions are 5 years old at this point & needing a re-fresh. I’ve thought about sewing new covers or having some made, but wow they’re expensive! Think I’m going to need a bigger glue gun though, my little mini one won’t cut it for this….

    Can you believe May is over already??

  4. Tammy Nunn says

    I can’t wait to try this! I bought 2 good but brown rockers at the thrift store and an ottoman at a yard sale. I painted them all bright red and put black/white cushions in the rockers. My problem: the cushion that was in the ottoman was the wrong color but perfect condition. I have spent more time searching online for a coordinating cushion than I had spent painting! Now, I can’t wait to get to the fabric store!!!! I believe you just saved me a lot of time and money!!

  5. Melissa says

    You have saved me (I think). I have 6 (no, 12 counting the backs) nasty, torn, recently decorated with paint by my 6 year old, cushions for a perfectly good patio table that stay outside year round (I too, live in So Cal). Here’s the problem…I have never done an arts or crafts project and my wrapping is so bad, one year everyone thought it was “super awesome” that I let my then 3 year old wrap all the gifts herself. (naturally I replied “yes, didn’t she do a wonderful job?!”). Normally my husband does all the wrapping. I desperately want to be the mom who can whip up a bunch of fabulous party favors out of some rope, and construction paper and left over buttons, but at 45, the only thing I’ve been able to do is crochet one incredibly long string. I have a glue gun…not sure where it is…never used it. However, this time I swore it would be different. We just can’t afford the outrageously priced cushions for sale, so I scoured the internet about making my own cushions. Then I came across yours and it hit me, duh…the filling is still in good shape, all I need is fabric and a glue gun! I used to run multi-million dollar business, surely I can do this, right?! So, I guess my question is, would it be wise to use some quilt banting (see, I don’t even know the right word but I think you know what I mean) to keep the fabric from slipping? Also, what is the best “type” of fabric to use (sunbrella?). I am very intimidated by Joann fabrics, even though my mother worked there (on East Coast) for eons because, of course, she is a master seamstress, making all our clothes growing up (it was the 70s so it was ok then), my sister’s wedding gown, quilts and curtains to die for and the most exquisite baby clothes you could imagine. If she didn’t live 3000 miles away, trust me, I’d hire her. She always said it was the tragedy of her life that NONE of her 3 girls picked up her gift for this. I’m not allowed to have a sewing machine after the last “incident” (let’s just say my idea to hem the curtains didn’t turn out too well). I’m hoping I won’t have a repeat using a hot glue gun, but I will have paramedics standing my just in case. Wish me luck! And thank you for making it seem like even I could do this!

    • Melissa says

      OMG, I just saw your comment about Erma Bombeck…I LOVE her! I was recently in Cambria for a little r & r and The Olalliberry Inn. While browsing an antique shop I came across 2 of my favorite books by her “If life is a bowl of Cherries then why am I the pits?” and “Just wait until you have children of your own”. I had to buy them!

    • vivienne says

      Melissa, your comment made my day. You can totally do this! The word you were looking for is “batting” and no, I don’t think you need to use it. Seriously, just pretend that the fabric is wrapping paper and that the cushion is a gift, and you will be fine. Don’t be intimidated at the fabric store. Part of what is so great about this project is you can get inexpensive fabric and give it a try… change it up a lot or a little. I’d recommend giving it a try for the summer with something fun and summery (don’t worry about heavy duty, expensive outdoor fabric) Just get the hang of it first.

  6. Karen says

    Going to give this a try. One question though, won’t the glue remelt in the hot sun as my patio furniture is on my back deck and gets a lot of sun (thus my black fadded year old cushions)?

    • vivienne says

      Hi Karen, I have never had a problem with the glue melting in the sun. Thanks for reading!

  7. Carolyn Hodgen says

    I am definitely going to try this. I have been at my wits end about recovering/replacing my cushions. They are so expensive and my cushions are awesome. The covers are faded and when I washed one it fell apart. Has anyone else out there done this? I have ordered swatches of different fabrics and am going to try one! TThanks for this idea!

  8. Sandra Zimmerman says

    Thank you for your great idea. I have a three cushion glider that needs to be redone. The seat cushions are all one piece. What I mean is the bottom and the back of the cushion are sewn together. How can I do this project on this kind of cushion? Do you have any ideas? I would appreciate any help. Thanks

    • Jean Carroll says

      I am having the same issue, I have cushions for our chairs that are sectioned into 3 pieces they cover the seat and back,.I plan to try making a large “pillow case” type cover that I can remove and launder. Nothing fancy, just one big “sack” that is snug fitting enough to look neat. I just ordered fabric samples that is $8.95/yd. We have 6 cushions so it will be expensive, still much less than new cushions.

  9. Kirsten says

    What is the best way to figure out how much total fabric you will need? I am ordering it online and want to be sure I have it right! I have 2 deep seated chairs, and a sofa that has a solid bottom cushion and two back cushions.

    • Vivienne says

      Hi Kirsten, I am not sure what to tell you. Make sure you order enough so that the length of the fabric is double the longest side of the cushion, allow for the height of the cushion, and then include a little extra if you can. I am so not a measure type person when it comes to this. Because I eyeball it so much. Good luck!

  10. louisa says

    Need help! Have perfectly good patio furniture, the frames that is. But the original cushiony covering is part of the chair and disintegrating. However the backing is indestructible nylon that has not worn thru all the winters in Iowa we ve home through. I want to recover the surface of the chairs. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

  11. Nicole Rogers says

    I love love this idea. I also love the fabric ! Do you know the name of it and where I can find some? Thanks for posting this it’s great!

    • Vivienne says

      Hi Nicole,
      It’s Riley Blake fabric. I don’t remember the name of the print itself, but the link to their website is in the post.

  12. Nancy says

    Love this idea, just what I was looking for!! I may give this a try with shower curtains (fabric not plastic). They’re inexpensive and you can find them in so many color options.

  13. Dinah says

    I’ve done this and I don’t even use glue. I wrap like a present and then hold them with upholstery pins. Very easy and they come apart easily when I want to replace them.

  14. says

    I LOVE this project!!!! I finished one cushion last night and have 3 to go–so easy!!! I have 4 badly weathered L shaped cushions and this was just project I needed! It saved us probably $100 on cushions and was able to get some smaller cushions and stuff to make cute outdoor pillows and 2 small chair pads all
    for less than what I would’ve spent on new cushions. I’ve been wanting to do an outdoor living room for 2 years but didn’t want to spend $500-1000 so I just didn’t really do anything until I could find a good enough deal. But that deal never came and we are having a lot of company over and wanted to do something!!! I found a pretty rug and with the coordinating outdoor fabric I have a deck I’m proud of!!! My only regret is I wish I would have got more fabric. I got 6 yards for 4 L shaped chairs and really should’ve gotten 7 or 8 to give a little extra “wrapping” for the back. Oh well! Next time 😉 thanks again for sharing this awesome idea! Love the encouragement that this is “your house and you can use a glue gun on your chairs!” I keep repeating that to myself! Haha! Blessings to you!

  15. Susan Horvath says

    LOVIN’ this idea! I can’t wait to do this on my tired cushions and change my sunroom with the seasons. Yay!!

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