How to Recover Camper Cushions

by Pate Meadows Designs

It's possible to recover those camper cushions using the existing zipper, foam, board and piping - and get a profession look. Here's how. I have more photos to be added soon. But here's a few....


  • Enough fabric to cover your cushions
  • 4 Cover your own buttons
  • 1.50 Yards Button Tufting Twine
  • Sharp/New Seam Ripper
  • Sharp Tip Scissors
  • Instructions

    Step 1

    Remove the buttons (if any) by clipping the tufting twine that is securing them. Also, remove the knobs (if any) from the bottom that hold the cushions in place on the banquette. Set these aside.

    Step 2

    Making a mark on the front of your board will insure it is inserted into your new cushion cover correctly.

    Step 3

    Unzip the zipper and carefully remove the board and cushion being careful to not damage the zipper. Don't force it. If it's too difficult - cut the seams apart first starting with the piping seam.

    Step 4

    To do this, carefully snip the stitching with the tips of really sharp scissors - or use your seam ripper - to cut/clip the seam between the piping and the cushion top.

    Step 5

    Continue clipping the side seams around one of the end/side pieces. As soon as you get the end piece free it will make the opening large enough to remove the foam and board easily.

    Step 6

    Most camper cushions don't have the 2 piece - zipper placket. Instead the top and bottom are cut longer, to wrap around and meet at the bottom. The zipper is sewn to those pieces as shown here.

    Step 7

    Next, we will remove the zipper. Zip the slide up several inches so that you can work with it without the risk of it pulling off the teeth. Whatever you do, don't let the slide pull off the end!

    Step 8

    Carefully clip the stitches that are securing the fabric stop at the end of the zipper.

    Step 9

    We use our tack gun and shoot two tacks into the end of the zipper but you could also use a hot glue gun to dab a little dot on the front side and back side of the zipper just below the slide.

    Step 10

    Secure the zipper to keep it from pulling apart and so that the slide will not slip off the back and front ends.

    Step 11

    Carefully remove the zipper. Really sharp, pointy scissors is the key. And also having an extra hand or two helps with this step to keep it pulled tight while snipping the stitches

    Step 12

    When you've successfully removed the zipper from the cushion cover - sew both the zipper stops back onto the zipper ends. Whatever you do don't let the zipper to pull apart or let the slide slip off

    Step 13

    Clean all the old stitching off the lips of the zipper. I use a wallpaper brush to remove all the old threads. It works great.

    Step 14

    Reinforce by stitching back and forth. Don't want that slide coming off! It is a booger to get back on. Set aside.

    Step 15

    Finish cutting all the pieces apart and smooth them out. Unfortunately most of this fabric will melt if you try to iron it so just do the best you can to smooth the pieces out.

    Step 16

    Remove the fabric covering the piping if you are using the existing piping. Set aside.

    Step 17

    Using the old cushion pieces, cut out your new front and back.

    Step 18

    Since I am adding a placket, so that the zipper can be positioned differently (across the bottom and continuing around one side), it is going to make it really easy to put the board and foam back in.

    Step 19

    To do so, we cut two strips of fabric - each being the width of the foam plus 2" and the length of your cushion plus 6 inches to wrap around to the side. My cushion was 42" so I cut mine 47" long

    Step 20

    Fold and press them in half lengthwise. Set aside.

    Step 21

    Place one side of the placket on top of the zipper extending about 6" past the top of the zipper and stitch. We are doing this so the zipper will unzip around one side of the cushion.

    Step 22

    Place the other side of the placket, even with the first one at the top - and just slightly overlapping the zipper and previous stitching - and stitch.

    Step 23

    It will look like this on the back when you are finished.

    Step 24

    Figure the amount needed to be taken off the back and front at the bottom to allow for the placket we are adding.

    Step 25

    My cushion was 4" thick so I trimmed 1/2 that plus seam allowances (2 x 1/2") and overlap (1/2"). 3 1/2" total to be trimmed away.

    Step 26

    Now you can use the altered pieces as your pattern for your new cushion.

    Step 27

    And also the two old sides as the pattern for your new pieces.

    Step 28

    Make sure you have a mirror image (a left and a right).

    Step 29

    Cover the piping using a velvet zipper foot. This is sometimes called a center stitch zipper foot.

    Step 30

    Fold the fabric over the end ......

    Step 31

    Then wrap the fabric around the piping/cord and stitch all the way down using a velvet foot. This foot keeps the stitching away from the piping ........

    Step 32

    so that when you sew it to the cushion with a regular zipper foot, you can get really close and the previous stitching is always concealed.

    Step 33

    Before reaching the end of the piping, stop stitching and fold the fabric over the end of the cord just as you did at the beginning of the piping.

    Step 34

    With piping on bottom against feed dogs, place piping 1/2" from the end of the cushion front.

    Step 35

    Begin stitching.

    Step 36

    Sewing it with the piping down against the feed dogs will keep the cover front from getting stretched out of shape and it will remain the same size as the back.

    Step 37

    Pin cushion back to cushion front along the top where the piping was just applied

    Step 38

    Sew the cushion back to the cushion front. Use the previous stitch line where we just applied the piping as a guide. Use a regular zipper foot to stitch close to the piping.

    Step 39

    It will look like this. Set aside.

    Step 40

    Now its time to sew the ends to the zipper placket. But first you have to shorten one to allow for the extra 6" for the zipper to wrap around to the side.

    Step 41

    Allow 1" for the seam allowances plus a 2" fold over. This keeps the zipper tab hidden and from getting damaged.

    Step 42

    After doing so you will be left with 3" that one of the ends needs to be shortened. This shortened end piece will be stitched to the zipper pull end of the zipper.

    Step 43

    Sew these two end pieces to either end of the zipper placket - making sure they are turned the same way if necessary. Notice mine are curved on one end.

    Step 44

    Find the middle of the cushion front and back pieces at the bottom where the zipper is going to be sewn. Mark with pins.

    Step 45

    Fold the zipper placket in half lengthwise and find the middle. Mark with pins.

    Step 46

    Line up the pins marking the middles of the zipper to the middles of the cushions.

    Step 47

    Begin pinning zipper band to cushion front and back starting at the bottom corner of where the LONGEST side piece is attached to the zipper band.

    Step 48

    Pin the middle of the ends/side pieces to the top of the front and back where they are sewn to the piping

    Step 49

    Put as many pins as necessary to keep the pieces aligned correctly and stitch all the way around.

    Step 50

    The side that has the zipper continuing past the corner should have the fold over to hide the zipper tab.

    Step 51

    Begin stitching and continue all the way around.

    Step 52

    Clip corners making it easier to stitch around.

    Step 53

    The cushion will still be inside out at this point. Work the zipper tab to the up position and slide the zipper open. Turn.

    Step 54

    Now you are ready to insert your board and foam back into the cushion with little effort.

    Step 55

    Cut a 12" piece of tufting twine and fold in half. Slip the fold through the loop of the button then pull the ends through the fold and pull tight.

    Step 56

    Locate the holes in the board where the previous buttons were pulled through and pull the tufting twine with the tufting needle.

    Step 57

    Separate the twine into two strings. Thread one through another button. Pull really tightly so that the front button is pulled in, tie a really tight knot. Clip strings. Dab knot with hot glue.

    Step 58

    Repeat for second set of buttons.

    Step 59

    If your cushion had the plastic seat locks, locate the previous holes and re-apply them in exactly the same place.

    Step 60

    You're done! I know it's a lot of steps but they look so much better than wrapping and stapling!!! Happy Glamping!