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How To DIY Camper Van Cushions & Covers

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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.

Van Interior - Working Space

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!

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    Not what you need? Check out our “DIY Camper Furniture” page for more similar content.

    Campervan Mattress Cut Into Individual Foam Cushions

    Step 1:

    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.

    Best Mattress Pick
    Linenspa 5" Gel Memory Foam Mattress

    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.

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
    12/03/2023 09:36 pm GMT

    Still not sold on our foam mattress recommendation? Read our LINENSPA foam mattress review for more.

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    Building A Camper Van Bed - Foam Mattress Material

    Step 2:

    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.

    Best For Cutting Foam
    Electric Carving Knife
    $41.00 ($41.00 / Count)

    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.

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
    12/03/2023 09:02 am GMT

    Foam Cutting Tips

    Cutting a foam mattress isn’t rocket science. But here are some useful tips to know beforehand:

    1. Trace the dimensions of each cushion piece with a marker and ruler. These will be your cut lines.
    2. Before cutting, make sure your blade is pointed straight down to ensure that you’ll be making a 90-degree angle.
    3. Go slow! Being meticulous goes a long way to getting great, accurate results.

    Step 3:

    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.

    In our van, our cushion fabric is rated for 50,000 double rubs.

    If you’re in the USA, Joann’s has a large selection of upholstery fabrics. This is where we picked up our cushion fabric.

    Fabric Color

    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.

    Van life with our cat
    Paws on the cushions. 🤦

    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.

    Step 4:

    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:

    1. Select a foam material that is thick and dense enough to adequately support your weight
    2. 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.

    Related read:

    Thank You For Reading!

    We’re Yuko and Eric! We both grew up in Asia ( Japan & Hong Kong ), we left our jobs and homes in 2018 and started traveling full time from Canada to Argentina in our self-converted camper van since end of May 2019. “Asobo” means “Let’s play” in Japanese. We named our site “Asobolife” because the life is always uncertain and we live only once so it’s important to always keep positive, playful mind and enjoy the moment you are in the present. We also want to use this website to share our road trip and van building experiences to inspire our readers. We hope you enjoy!

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