Learn how to make your own French tufted mattress cushion with this step by step tutorial. These handmade mattress cushions can be used on window seats, daybeds, benches or simply as soft and comfy box floor pillows. This DIY project is easier than you may think – it was my first attempt at a French tufted cushion and the result is not at all bad if I say so myself. If you fancy having a go at creating a mattress cushion yourself, don't be daunted, it's not nearly as hard as it looks!
When I started looking for a cushion for the window seat in our newly installed walk-in wardrobes, I realised, it was going to be a bit of a challenge finding one that (a) I liked and (b) actually fit the custom size of the seat.
I love the look of these gorgeous mattress cushions but they can be quite expensive to buy especially if the fabric used is linen, which it usually is if it's a good make. The cushions I found were either too big or not big enough! That's when I decided I had the perfect excuse right there, to try my hand at another creative project! It turned out quite well if I say so myself and I can see myself making more of these in the future.
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Here's how I made my French tufted cushion
Time needed: One weekend 2 days.
- Tools needed:
High-density foam pad cut to size (USA) (EU)
Foam batting (mine was around 1inch thick) (USA) (EU)
Fabric Adhesive (spray) (USA) (EU)
Fabric – My piece was 145cm x 90cms (I saved a little here by ordering an off cut) (USA) (EU)
Matching sewing machine thread (USA) (EU)
Strong Upholstery thread (for the quilting - so it doesn't snap when you pull it taught) (USA) (EU)
Hand sewing needles (USA) (EU)
Long mattress needle (USA) (EU)
Tacking pins (USA) (EU)
Tacking thread (in a contrasting colour to the fabric)
Scissors (USA) (EU)
Measuring tape or ruler (USA) (EU)
Fabric marker (disappearing ink) (USA) (EU)
- Cutting the Fabrics:
I was very lucky to find a foam cushion that was the exact size for my window seat. If you need to cut the foam to size, one of the best ways to do this is with an electric bread knife.
Cut two rectangles of batting to cover the top and bottom of the cushion.
Cut two short side pieces and two long side pieces
Wrap the foam around the entire cushion and just cut side pieces as needed, (this is what I did).
Wait until you've attached the batting to the foam to measure the cushion again. Add ½ inch seam allowance to the measurements.
Cut 1 top panel and 1 bottom panel.
Cut 2 side panels
Cut 2 long side panels
- Prepare The Cushion
Spray the top of the foam cushion with spray adhesive (follow the instructions – I had to wait five minutes before attaching the foam).
Press the batting onto the foam cushion pad. Repeat this until all sides are covered with batting.
The cushion pad is finished.
- Make the mattress cushion cover
If you search the web for 'How to make a box cushion' this is the first video that shows up: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gw_40jnjZBE
This is the tutorial I followed except for making the zip.
I first pinned and then tacked the cushion panels together before machine sewing and with the cushion turned inside out, I inserted the cushion pad to make sure I had measured correctly and that the cushion cover fitted.
After sewing, you will be left with one of the small side pieces open.
Make a small fold down the length of each of the open edges and iron flat.
Insert your cushion pad into the cushion cover.
Use the hand sewing needle to sew the small edge together using a 'slip' stitch (also known as 'ladder' or 'invisible' stitch).
The mattress cushion cover is finished.
- Tufting the mattress cushion
Measure the cushion and use a fabric marker to place a dot in the middle of the cushion.
Thread the upholstery needle with a long piece of double thread and tie a large knot in the end. (Just keep making the knot until it's nice and big). The length of the upholstery needle makes it easy to grab hold of and push through the layers of fabric, batting and high-density foam.
Push the needle straight down from the top to the bottom of the cushion then double back through to the top again. Repeat this a few times pulling tightly as you go. Finish by cutting the thread and tying several times. Snip the thread close to the knot.
From here, it depends on the size of the cushion as to how many tufts you make. I measured from the middle out to the side (26 cms) and made a tuft at halfway (13cms). I did this all around the top of the mattress cushion.
The top tufting is finished.
- Tufting the sides of the mattress cushion
This was the part that I was most unsure of. I've read countless 'tutorials' and never did quite get the gist of how to tuft the sides of the mattress cushion. In the end, I decided there was nothing for it but to 'learn by doing'.
Measuring & Stitching
If you are good at eyeballing whether the stitches are even then you will save a little time here. I decided to measure and mark where the stitches should go using the fabric pen.
I measured along the top edge every 2cms with a depth of 2cms in towards the middle of the cushion. Then I did the same with the stitches underneath but used the half centimetre marks to measure along the sides. This meant that the stitches were staggered top and bottom. I know that sounds a bit convoluted but you should be able to see what I mean from the photos and if not from those then from the video if it's up by the time you read this post (If not, then it's coming soon!).
Continue doing this around the top and bottom of the mattress cushion. Try your best to line up the top and bottom stitches because that's what gives the cushion its 'mattress' look.
The French mattress cushion is finished!
See below for:
'The things I learned' and 'The things I'm glad I bought'.
So my French mattress cushion is finished. Since the high-density foam was the exact fit for the window seat, I was worried that after adding the layer of batting and fabric it might make the cushion too big for
Things I Learned
My French Mattress Cushion is not perfect but for a first attempt I happy with how it turned out.
I will definitely make another one of these but there are a few things I might do differently next time around.
- I would buy a larger piece of fabric. I saved money by buying an off-cut but ended up having to sew two pieces together for one of the small side panels. No one will see it because it's packed tight against the sides of the window seat so it doesn't matter here really but it wouldn't look great on say the bench in our hallway where something like that would be very noticeable.
- I would tuft the edges first and the centre of the cushion last. I've seen it done both ways but tufting the middle first, pulled some of the edges in towards the middle. They ended up crooked and that made it hard to measure the tufting along the edges and I was left with an uneven edge.
Things I'm glad I bought:
- The long mattress needle. I thought this was going to be a waste of money but it made light work of pushing the thread through the middle of the mattress for the tufting. I had read that I would need to wear leather gloves for this project but now I'm glad I didn't buy them, I wouldn't have needed them at all. I think the fact that the needle is so long meant there is more to grip and that makes it easier to push through the high-density foam and batting.
- Thicker upholstery thread. You need to be able to pull the thread really tight to create the tufting. I doubled up the thread thinking that would be even better but I don't think I would have needed to do that at all. When I tried to break the thread with my hands, it would not budge so I had to use my scissors.
I saved some cash by doing it myself but I know a project like this is not for everyone.
If you love these mattress cushions but don't want to make one yourself, here are some gorgeous custom handmade alternatives you can buy online:
For your convenience, this website contains affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase through one of these links, I may receive a small commission. There is no additional cost to yourself however, it helps towards the costs of running this blog. Thanks so much for your support of Chalking Up Success!
If you're in Europe – Heritage and Folklore
If you're in the USA – Grateful Home
Or here if you are in the UK – Wendy Hood Furnishing
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