If you’ve read this blog for very long, you’ll know that I have been wildly intimidated by the thought of reupholstering our camper cushions. I’m a decent seamstress, but cushions seemed to be a far more difficult project than I was ready for. I thought about leaving them the way they were, but this is what I was dealing with. Yuck, right?
When I was putting together a round up of my favorite pop up camper makeovers, I was really inspired. I wanted my camper to look every bit as nice as theirs did. I just knew something had to be done about the cushions, so I bit the bullet and started planning. Planning, for me anyway, always involves a few hours on Pinterest. I came across this awesome tutorial for sofa slipcovers, and it was my bible.
Before I even started shopping for fabric, I made a prototype out of a leftover drop cloth I had lying around. I wanted to make sure I knew exactly how the covers would fit and just how much fabric I would actually need. I considered skipping this step. I hate extra work, in fact, I seldom even baste when a pattern calls for it. I’m lazy like that… but I wanted to do things right this time around. I cannot stress enough how much help having a working example was. It really did make the whole process run more smoothly, because I made most of my mistakes on the prototype. We’ll get to those other mistakes a little later. 😉
I made a pattern out of freezer paper, using the measurements of my cushion plus 1 1/2 inches for seam allowances. This made cutting out all of my pieces super simple, and if I needed to adjust anything, I could mark it on the pattern piece. If you have a Coleman camper with the same sized cushions, you should be able to use the pattern above to cut your pieces out. Once my prototype was made, I made minor adjustments to make the cover fit the way I wanted it to fit. The drop cloth version was a little baggy, but the fabric had some stretch to it. I only made minor adjustments because the fabric I purchased might not stretch. If I cut off too much fabric, and the covers were too tight, I couldn’t fix them. I could always make them a little tighter.
Armed with my new measurements, I went fabric shopping. I spent the better part of a morning hitting all the fabric stores in my area. I even went to a few upholstery shops. I had really fallen in love with this Better Homes and Gardens outdoor fabric from my local JoAnn, but only one of the stores near me had it in stock–and no more than 2 1/2 yards of it–and I needed 7. I kept searching, but at the end of the day, I really only wanted this print.
I went back to my local JoAnn, desperate to make this fabric work for me. When I stumbled upon a coordinating striped print, I knew I’d found my solution. I decided to mix and match my prints. For the side panels, I used Waverly Aran Spa, and for the back, I used a heavy duty brown duck cloth.
Here are all my pieces cut out. Installing the zipper was surprisingly easy when I followed this tutorial at Honeybear Lane. Because I wanted my zippers to wrap around the sides, I used 72″ upholstery zippers, which I cut to the size I needed. You can find them in the upholstery department at JoAnn or you can find them on Amazon here. I opted to make my own piping out of the striped fabric, and I really love how it turned out. I’ve made piping in the past for other projects, and it is amazing how easy it is–and so much cheaper than buying piping by the yard.
I followed the Honeybear Lane tutorial pretty closely. She does a fabulous job outlining all the steps, and I never felt confused or frustrated. I was a little shocked when I finished my first cover without a single mistake. Maybe this wasn’t so hard after all.
But, no! I spoke too soon. 🙁 Here’s where one of my major mistakes came in… I assumed that all my cushions were the same size because they looked the same size. The bottom cushions, however, are about 1 inch narrower than the top ones. I had three covers made before I discovered this, and I had to spend an entire morning picking out stitches and adjusting my pieces. Lesson learned? Measure all of your cushions… even if they look the same size. On the last cushion, I cut 1 inch off the long side of the front and back pieces, so the bottom cushion measurements were 41 1/4 x 19 1/4.
Because I wanted my cushions to be soft and full looking, and Coleman was pretty stingy with the foam in their cushions, I used some high loft batting to wrap the cushion foam. This helped fill out the cover and give it a nice, plush look. Batting is ridiculously hard to coax into the covers, though, so I wrapped the whole cushion in the cheapest fabric I could find to help it slide in smoothly.
Then I pulled the fabric tight and stapled it to the particle wood backing. I love the thick duck cloth on the back of the cushion, because it is durable enough to withstand friction from the particle board. I feel like the other fabrics would have become snagged or torn easily. That particle board is rough stuff.
Slide your cushion into your new cover, adjust it to your liking, and that’s all there is to it! The batting fills out the cover nicely and gives it a custom look. The covers are really easy to remove for washing (check the recommendations on your fabric before laundering), and using an outdoor fabric gave me an element of stain resistance, too.
Best of all, I’m loving the new wrap around zippers. The old cushion covers had insanely short zippers, and getting those cushions out of the covers required a strong arm and a good amount of patience. I actually cut the last cover off because I was so sick of wrestling with it. The new covers have these wrap around zippers with a hidden pocket for the zipper pull. I love how easy it is to remove the cushions, and the zipper pull isn’t an eyesore.
I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I think I’ll be able to call this baby finished really soon. Oh, who am I kidding? I’m a sucker for a new project. This trailer will never be finished, but at least it will be pretty. 😀
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