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Feb 25 / Jamie

Giant Floor Cushions

A nest

Many, many hours have been spent in our household engaged in the construction of forts.  There is certainly something magical about throwing a blanket over some furniture and creating a whole new world.  It is the ultimate in open and creative play.  Castle?  Cave?  Space station?  There is no limit to what it can become.

Until very recently, forts have been the mainstay of our children’s construction efforts.  However, recently there has been a subtle shift, largely due to the preferences of Miss C and the destructive forces of Baby M.  M loves the forts as much as his older siblings, but what he really loves to do is pretend to “Godzilla” them, crashing headlong into them and destroying what took at times hours of work to get “just right”.  Enter the nest.  Miss C prefers to take every pillow, blanket, and pelt she can find and layer them until she has a gigantic pile in the middle of the room.  She will then spend hours engaged in play with her brothers, reading, or playing with her stuffed animals while in her nests. (Seems like she is not alone, check out this great interview)


So, because Miss C needed some new building materials AND because we recently moved our TV down to the basement, I decided to make some very large cushions and pillows.  I wanted something that would be comfortable for a kid and  also a grown-up.  They had to be strong, durable, cleanable, relatively light, and of course, colorful!   Our front room has an entire wall of books and I think we probably spend at least two hours a day engaged in reading with our kids.  So, in addition to making the cushions user friendly for some game/tv time in the basement playroom I wanted them to be transportable up to the library room for story time.

Luckily, JoAnn Fabrics had some very big sales right after the New Year and I was able to stock up on cotton duck canvas, polyfill, piping, and zippers.  I then went in search of some good tutorials to turn my vision into a reality.

Canvas duck

I am a child of the 80s and felt nostalgic for some huge, bright, primary pieces.  Reading Rainbow was one of my favorite shows, and so the cushions took on this theme in my head.  I have a great love for brightly colored furniture of the type you see in libraries and preschools, so that is what I wanted to create in my own home. I found some really fantastic tutorials on the blog Living with Punks.  I based the “marshmallow” cushions and the “flying saucer” cushion off of her tutorials.

Round cushions

Before I got started with that, though, I made this sprocket pillow by Cluck, Cluck Sew.  It gave me a chance to make a 3-D pillow in the right shape.  It was pretty easy.  I also had four old foam cushions in various sizes that we had recycled off of old couches and chairs.  They had been covered with some very cheap flannel that was safety pinned in place and were the current cushions in the basement.  I wanted to make proper boxed covers for them, but first we stripped them back down to the foam, washed them well in the tub, rinsed them with vinegar, then left them in the sun to dry for a few days.  They looked good as new!

Sqaure cushions

I think you can find lots of great tutorials for making cushions like this on line, so I am not going to recreate them.  Just do a search for “floor cushion tutorial”.  I will give you my list of tips below.  I ended up making

  • three 24″ by 16″ “marshmallow” cushions (red, pin, orange)
  • one giant “flying saucer” 40″ cushion (purple)
  • two 24″ square cushion (yellow and green)
  • one 24″ x 40″ cushion pillow (blue)
  • one 24″ x 36″ rectangular cushion (rainbow)

For each cushion, I got 2 yards of duck canvas.  However, with the exception of the flying saucer cushion, they each only used about 1.5 yards of fabric.  I wanted to have leftovers and am planning to use the scraps for a few more flying saucers and some smaller throw pillows.  Because apparently, what I made is not enough for my kids 😉

The round cushions each used 2 packs of Maxi-piping (2.5 yards) and the square and rectangle cushions took between 2 and 4 packs.  I used dark brown and black because  I like the contrast.  Make sure when you attach the piping, you use a thread color to match the piping NOT the fabric.  Also, I used a zipper foot to attach the piping and it worked really well.

Floor cushion

I wanted these to be cleanable, so I gave each cushion an invisible zipper.  They are pretty easy to install, here is a great tutorial.  On the first two pillows (pink and orange) I used zippers I had on hand, I think they were about 9″.  They were really a bit too short, so for the rest of the projects I switched to 14″ zippers for the round cushions at 22″ zippers for the squares/rectangles.  I used black zippers and I think it worked great.  It made for easy turning and then closing, I think hand stitching these things closed would have made them less durable.  Machine stitching them closed would not have been possible once they were stuffed.  I used upholstery thread for all of the stitching with the exception of attaching the piping.

Floor cushion

When stitching it all together, use a 5/8″ seam.  These pieces take serious abuse and anything smaller is likely to pull out.  In fact, I have  few repairs I need to make on the first two I did, I didn’t give myself enough seam allowance.

Each round cushion used  three 32 oz bags of polyfill.  I got it on sale for 50% off, which was key.  With all of the discounts and coupons, I was able to make each round cushion for about $25 in material costs.  The square/rectangle ones were about half that because I already had the foam.

Rainbow bridge

When making the boxed covers, I also used invisible zippers.  I incorporated them into the sides.  To make the “boxing” I pinned my “side band” of fabric in place on the square, and then as I sewed, I clipped each corner in the seam allowance as I came to it.  I also didn’t seam my band until the end, like I do when making a quilt binding.  That way it fit perfectly.  I found this to be more accurate then pre snipping them and pre seaming.  I am better at fixing things on the fly when sewing.

I wrapped each of the square and rectangle cushions with some thin poly batting before putting them in the covers.  I think it gives them a bit more body.


All in all, this was a fantastic project.  They came out exactly how I envisioned.  The two favorites are the rainbow cushion and the purple flying saucer.  I have enough scraps to do at least two more flying saucers, I just need to wait until the polyfill goes back on sale so I can stuff them.  The cushions are used every day in our house, as you can see from the pictures.  And, as many as I made, there are “not enough”.  I think I could make 100 of them and there would still not be enough 😉  They are fabulous and we have been enjoying a tremendous amount of nest time of late.  While it is a bit chilly in our basement (it is roughly finished and un-heated) they are getting tons of use upstairs.  Come summer, I know this will switch and we will all be so happy to have so many comfy cushions to lounge on down there.





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  1. 1
    Alyssa / Feb 25 2012

    WOW! Oh my gosh, Jamie, this is amazing!! My visit can NOT come soon enough!

    Much love,

    • 1.1
      Jamie / Mar 5 2012

      We can’t wait either, even though it looks like it will be a little longer than expected 🙁

  2. 2
    beth lehman / Feb 26 2012

    These are fantastic! My kids would kill for those!

    • 2.1
      Jamie / Mar 5 2012

      Thanks, they are used every day in my house, well worth the time spent making them

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