How to Make a French Mattress Style Cushion

This video is brought to you by Sailrite.
In this video we will show you how to build a French Mattress Style Cushion. This is one
of the easiest types of cushions to sew, it does not have a zipper or Velcro opening,
but is simply sewn shut. The mattress style seams give it a great look without the work
of installing a piping. Let’s get started as we show you every step in how to make your
own using supplies from Sailrite. To get started we first need to do some patterning
on our decorative fabric. Cushions have a top and bottom plate and boxing on the sides.
Two guidelines for patterning will be shown in this video. The first is for a cushion
filled with Fiberfill. A little later on we will give guidelines for patterning for a
cushion filled with a sheet of foam. First let’s discuss the requirements for a French
Mattress Style Cushion filled with fiber. Determine the size of the cushion you want
and the thickness. The cut top and bottom plate needs to be 1 ¾” larger than the
desired finished size of your cushion. See our example in yellow here.
Angela is marking the fabric to size here with a soapstone pencil and a straight edge
ruler. We are using a Sunbrella Upholstery or Furniture Fabric which is the world’s
best outdoor fabric. Why? That will be discussed a little later on in the video.
When marking the along the width of this fabric the location of the stripes must be taken
into consideration for the second plate panel. Here is where the first plate started and
that’s also the location where we want the second plate to start. Here along the same
line, so the repeat is the same between top plate and bottom plate.
If you have done it correctly the end point of this second plate should fall on the same
strip as the end point of the first plate we made.
Next we need to mark for the boxing in both width and length. To calculate the width of
the boxing we need to add 1 ¾ inch to the desired finished width of boxing that you
want. This extra amount will account for the mattress style seams.
For our cushion we want it to finish at about 5 1/2 inches in thickness. So we will add
1 ¾ inch to that figure making our cut width 7 ¼ inches. We also want the stripes to line
up so we will position the boxing right above the two plates we just traced out on the fabric.
The length of the boxing should match the plate’s length on each side. Our cushion
is a square so all 4 sides are the same length. Obviously the boxing on the side of the cushion
will not line up with the top and bottom plate stripes.
We are cutting our Sunbrella fabric out with the Sailrite Edge Hot Knife. This seals the
edge of the synthetic fabric preventing the unraveling of the fabric. We are cutting on
top of a metal ruler to prevent damage to the table top below the hot knife.
Our two plates and 4 boxing strips are now cut to size and ready for sewing.
We have now covered patterning for a cushion filled with fiberfill let’s move on and
touch on how to pattern for a French Mattress style cushion filled with a sheet of foam.
To cut plates for this simply add ¾ inch on all sides. To cut the boxing to width use
the foam thickness and add 1 inch then add between ¼” to ¾” for seam allowance.
This will result in a cover that compresses the foam slightly making it look great! The
length of the boxing should equal the sides of the plates. If you’re making a cushion using a sheet
of foam skip this chapter. Since this cushion will be filled with a Polyester
Fiberfill we want to make a pillow insert which will house the fiberfill. To make this
we will use Spun Bonded Pillow Protector fabric. This fabric is inexpensive, breathable, water
repellent and soft. Fold the Spun Bonded fabric in half then fold
it over one more time to a width slightly larger than the width of the boxing. Then
trace around a plate and a boxing strip. As you can see we will get two plates and 4 boxing
strips all at once when we cut it out. These plates and boxing strips for the pillow insert
to do not need to be extremely accurate in size, since they just used to house the fiberfill.
No reason to use a hot knife on this Spun Bonded fabric as it does not unravel.
We now have all the plates and boxing strips cut for our cushion in both the decorative
fabric and the Spun Bonded Pillow Protector Fabric. It is always a good idea to lay the
fabric panels out in an organized fashion before sewing. This reduces the chance of
mistakes experientially. No matter if you are making a cushion filled
with fiberfill, as we are, or a sheet of foam the construction is the same for both. Strat
with the boxing and lay the corresponding boxing strip onto of the opposite leg so outside
surfaces are facing each other. Then sew the two strips together along the
short end with a straight stitch about 3/8 inch inside the raw edges of the fabric. Be
sure to do some reverse stitching at the beginning and end of your stitch to lock the stitch
in place. Take the assembly over to the where the panels
are laid out and grab the corresponding boxing strip and repeat the process.
Always go back to the panels as they lay on the table and check to be sure strips are
running the correct direction and also that they will line up to the plates, along the
two sides that is, as it is impossible for them to line up along the other two sides.
Once all 4 boxing strips are sewn together, it is time to join them together to form a
complete chain. Be sure the outside surfaces are facing each other and sew along the end
that completes the chain. We will not show sewing that.
Now take the boxing assembly over and line it up with one of the plates so the strips
are all even. Flip the boxing over so outside surfaces are facing each other and the edges
are even. We will start sewing near the center position
on this side. We will use a straight stitch set at about 6mm in length and sew about 3/8”
from the edge of the fabric. Be sure to line up the strips and the edge carefully as you
sew. Notice that when Angela gets to a corner she
will bury her needle to the thickest part of the shaft and the lift the presser foot
rotate the fabric on the corner and then lower the foot and continue to sew down the next
leg. Because this side does not have stripes that
match the plate we can’t use them line up the boxing to the plate. So, she will ensure
that the opposite corner will line up with the plate’s corner. This is not extremely
critical for small cushions, but for larger cushions this is a very important step in
keeping the boxing and plate’s edge length the same while sewing.
Continue sewing around all sides until you reach your starting stitch and do some reversing
there. We will not be showing that. Now that the boxing is joined to one plate
we simply need to sew that assembly to the last plate. To do this line up the plate so
the strips will match on the two sides they matched for the other plate. Be sure outside
surfaces are facing each other. It is easier to sew this assembly with the
boxing on top and the plate on the bottom. We will not actually start sewing near the
center of this boxing, but instead will move about 2 to 3 inches away from the corner.
Why? Because we want to leave one side open for the later insertion of the cushion insert
or foam. Now just sew around securing the boxing to
the last plate, just as you did earlier. As we discussed, here on this side the stirpes
cannot be matched up so check to be sure the corner will match up before sewing this side,
on larger cushions this is very important, on small ones like this it is not.
We have skipped ahead here and are coming to the last side again. We want to just go
around this corner and then stop sewing about 3 inches from the corner or away from the
corner. This leaves an opening for the insertion of the foam or insert in a later step. It
is important to do some revering here to lock the stitch in place and also keeps the stitch
from coming apart when the insert or foam is pushed inside the cover.
Turn the cover right side out. Next we will sew the “mattress” style
stitch along all sides and even at the corners of the cushion cover. To do this fold the
fabric out flat along each seam and try to position the seam at the extreme center edge
of the folded assembly, as shown in the video. Then position the assembly so the stitch starts
about a half inch away from the side’s corner and about 3/8 inch away from the folded edge.
To keep the first seam centered correctly, sew a few inches then bury the needle make
adjustments to the assembly and repeat. When you reach the next corner, stop about
a half inch away and do some reversing. To move onto the next edge we will not even
cut the trailing threads. We will simply remove the needle from the fabric, lift the foot,
reposition the assembly just as we did earlier and sew onto the next corner.
As you watch to see how Angela does this lets discuss the merits of using a Sunbrella Upholstery
or Furniture Fabric for outdoor or indoor cushions. Sunbrella is the world’s best
upholstery fabric because it is 100% solution dyed Acrylic, the colors stay bright and vibrant
even if the fabric is left outdoors in the sun continually. It is also very water and
stain resistant. Other brands of decorative fabrics are also available at Sailrite some
are specifically made for indoor only climates others are considered an occasional outdoor
fabric. If you have questions about the type of fabrics that we offer give us a call at
Sailrite. This plate and boxing is now finished with
the mattress style seam. Now we will move onto the opposite plate and boxing side. When
sewing this do not finish or sew the side that is left open for the insertion of the
foam or pillow insert. It will be sewn shut in a later step.
Let’s move on and show sewing one of the corner edges of the boxing. Same procedure.
After all sides, except the opening, are finished we are ready to insert the foam or pillow
insert. We are going to use fiberfill for our cushion. That’s coming up next!
If your cushion uses a sheet of foam skip this chapter. If it uses fiberfill, keep watching.
If your cushion is using fiberfill, instead of a sheet of foam, we recommend you build
a pillow insert from the spun bonded fabric we cut earlier. The construction of this pillow
insert is done exactly the same why you built the cover. Except you will not be sewing the
“Mattress” style seam in this. Ok, some of you caught the fact that the pillow insert
will be larger than the Sunbrella fabric cover, good job! That is intentional we want the
pillow insert to fill the cover tightly for the best look.
When sewing don’t forget to keep a side open, just as we did with the Sunbrella fabric
cover. We will need to fill this cover with the Polyester fiberfill. Turn this cover right
side out. Sailrite sells a very large 10lb bag of Polyester
Fiberfill. Sailrite’s fiber fill is slick and very soft which helps keep bunching of
the fill to a minimum. This 10lb bag will stuff about 5 of this sized cushions or if
you’re making a standard size throw pillow, it will typically fill about 12 to 15 of them.
Here we are filling the pillow insert we just made. We will fill it so it is rather plump.
For this size of cushion we believe about 2lbs of stuffing is perfect for a cushion
that is about 20” x 20” x 5”. The amount of fiberfill used is completely up to the
end user. When stuffed to our satisfaction we will close
up the opening. No hems will be made here, instead since no one will see this insert
we will simply sew the two flaps of fabric with a single stitch. Be sure as always to
revers at the beginning and end of sewing. Is it possible to get that pillow insert inside
a small hole like this, yes, but it is rather difficult. So… to make our job easier we
are going to use silk film from Sailrite and compress the insert with a vacuum.
Angela will lay the silk film onto the table, it is center folded, so be sure to splay open
the two halves. Then she will cover the pillow on all sides overlapping the silk film by
12 inches or more. Next insert a Shopvac hose end on top of the pillow insert (so it is
clear of the silk film) and turn the vacuum on. As soon as she closes up the bottom notice
how the pillow insert compresses almost to half the size. This will make it easy for
us to insert it inside the pillow cover. Once it is inside the cover, she will turn
the vacuum off and watch how it expands. Ok, you can do one of two things here, you can
leave the silk film in the cushion which does provide a level of water resistance to help
keep the foam or fiberfill dry if used outdoors or you can remove the silk film from inside
the cover. Silk film is excellent for easy cushion stuffing and for water resistant protection,
but for a medium or soft foam it can take a while for the cushion to expand quickly
when a person gets up off the cushion. So, the choice is yours. We are using a Sunbrella
fabric which is already water resistant and Spun Bonded Pillow Protector which is also
water resistant, so we will remove the silk film.
To sew the opening closed on the cover we find it easier to remove the sewing machine
from the Collapsible Sewing Table so the cushion’s weight will rest on the table as we are sewing
it shut. Here we need to create a folded hem to simulate
the rest of the sides of the cushion. So Angela will fold the fabric in along the two edges
of the fabric and start sewing about a ½ inch from the corner and 3/8 inch from the
folded edge. With the fiberfill stuffing closing or sewing
up the opening is not too difficult, but if a sheet of foam were used instead you will
find this much more difficult, but possible. A suggesting for the closing the opening when
using a sheet of foam is used is to pin the folds in place prior to sewing.
Our French Mattress Style Cushion is now complete. If you want to build one using a sheet of
foam the patterning sizes are slightly different as shown in the patterning chapter, but the
construction techniques are exactly the same. Coming up next is the materials list and tools
that may be required to do it yourself. We used a Sunbrella Upholstery or Furniture Fabric
but you will find hundreds of other great decorative at Sailrite.
For more free videos like this be sure to check out the Sailrite website or subscribe
to the Sailrite YouTube channel. It’s your loyal patronage to Sailrite that makes these
free videos available, thanks for your loyal support! I’m Eric Grant and from all of
us here at Sailrite, thanks for watching!


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