This post will teach you how to make your own camper van cushions from scratch. These are the cushions that you sit on when you’re eating or working and the cushions that you sleep on at night.
We often don’t realize just how often we use our van cushions daily.
Day in and day out, they receive a lot of wear and tear. So, we think it’s important to make sure the cushions are properly made with the best materials.
Keep reading to learn how to:
- Select the best cushion material
- Cut the cushion material to size
- Choose the best fabric covers
- Sew (Kidding! We got a seamstress.)
So if you’re ready, let’s get to it!
Not what you need? Check out our “DIY Camper Furniture” page for more similar content.
Select Van Cushion Material
Making your own camper van cushions starts with selecting the right inner material.
We’re looking for a material that is:
That’s why we think getting a foam mattress provides the best material for your DIY camper cushions. It is a high-density foam that will last you years.
We suggest getting a 5” thick foam mattress so that your bum won’t reach the hard plywood bench below the cushions.
This high-quality, gel-infused mattress has been supporting our bodies for 4+ years. It's lightweight and easy to cut so that you can shape it to fit your van's unique dimensions.
Still not sold on our foam mattress recommendation? Read our LINENSPA foam mattress review for more.
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Cut Cushion Material To Size
Because the foam mattress cushion we recommended above arrives as a single unit, you’ll need to cut the foam to the exact dimensions you need to fit in your van.
The common budget solution is to take an ordinary serrated knife or box cutter and start sawing away at the foam. We can tell you, from experience, that this is a huge mistake. Using a knife will give you messy, jagged edges and it’s tough to get clean 90-degree angle cuts.
Using an electrical carving knife is a 500% better option here. Your cuts will be faster and cleaner. See if a neighbor has one. Someone always does.
Otherwise, it’s only about $20 online.
This electric carving knife easily cuts through foam mattresses. With this knife, it's super simple to cut smooth, straight lines. We tried using a standard serated bread knife, but it was surprisingly hard to make high-quality cuts.
Foam Cutting Tips
Cutting a foam mattress isn’t rocket science. But here are some useful tips to know beforehand:
- Trace the dimensions of each cushion piece with a marker and ruler. These will be your cut lines.
- Before cutting, make sure your blade is pointed straight down to ensure that you’ll be making a 90-degree angle.
- Go slow! Being meticulous goes a long way to getting great, accurate results.
Select Cushion Cover Fabric
You’ll be sitting and laying on your camper van cushions EVERY DAY. Therefore, you need to get a durable fabric cover that can withstand the regular wear and tear of normal life.
So, when you’re wandering the aisles of the local fabric store, make sure to look for an ‘upholstery-grade’ fabric with a high double-rub count.
What Is A ‘Double Rub’?
Double rubs are used to measure the durability of a fabric. The higher the double rub count, the more resistant the fabric is to the ‘wear and tear’ of everyday use. Specifically, one double rub is counted as one back and forth motion.
If you’re in the USA, Joann’s has a large selection of upholstery fabrics. This is where we picked up our cushion fabric.
While it may be tempting to select a bright and light cushion fabric color, it’s important to know that it’s easy to carry dust and dirt into a camper van. This is especially true if, like us, you have a pet.
So it’s a good idea to select a relatively darker fabric color to hide dirt stains that will inevitably form during van life.
Not sure what color fabric to use? Create your own van interior color scheme with this post.
Sewing Your Cushion Covers
Err…we didn’t actually do this part and instead hired a seamstress to sew our cushion covers together. Your local sewing enthusiast store should have a listing of all available seamstresses for hire in the area.
In fact, this was the only part of our DIY van build where we contracted out the work to someone else.
But if you’re on a budget and need to sew the cushion covers yourself, the video below offers some good insight.
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How To Care for Cushion Covers
If you selected an upholstery-grade fabric with a high double-rub count, chances are the fabric is made of 100% polyester. This is what we use.
Once every few months, we take off our cushion covers and machine wash cold. If possible, we prefer to air dry our covers under the sun. But if that’s not possible, we’ll tumble dry these covers under a low heat setting.
To spot clean, we’ll either use baby wipes or sprinkle some baking soda on the stain and dab it up a few minutes later.
Check out this article for more cushion care tips.
Related Read: How to Make A Convertible Bed In A Camper Van
We hope you found this DIY van cushion post educational and inspiring.
We’re confident you can get through this process without much difficulty. The most important things to remember is to:
- Select a foam material that is thick and dense enough to adequately support your weight
- Select an appropriate cushion cover fabric that can withstand heavy use on a daily basis.
If you have any other questions, please let us know in the comments section below.