Batting/stuffing/wadding for tufted floor cushions
December 26, 2017 10:52 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to make some floor cushions like this out of heavy cotton drill fabric. Help me stuff 'em .

I want these to feel heavy and substantial - regular cheap poly cushion stuffing won't cut it - but I don't want to spend a massive amount of money on filling them.

Getting some foam cut to size might work, but good quality foam is expensive and I want to be able to tuft them and create the quilted edges so foam by itself won't really work. I have what might be a crazy idea, so please tell me why it will or won't work and if it won't work please give me better ideas!

My idea is to create a smaller cushion to go inside the larger cushion - maybe 70% of the total volume of the outer cushion - filled with (scrupulously clean) old clothes, mostly old jeans and t-shirts, folded and loosely quilted together with really heavy thread to create a substantial inner core. I'll then wrap that with cotton quilt batting until it's almost the full volume, stuff it in the outer cover, and then finish by stuffing the corners with more batting and getting the shape just right before sealing it up and tufting.

Is this dumb? If it is dumb, would it work better with a foam core inside the batting instead of old clothes? I really want to use clothes or other upcycled material inside if possible. Is there a better idea I'm missing entirely?

I'm a fairly decent sewer and am happy to attempt more advanced techniques so don't hold back!
posted by cilantro to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I really don't see why this would be a problem. I do wonder how comfortable they will be with only cotton quilt batting to cushion it, especially once they start getting compressed. They may be sad little pancakes pretty quick.
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:08 AM on December 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

The value of foam here would be that it usually expands again after being compressed. This would both make it more comfortable and keep the pancake effect at bay. If you want to go with using textiles you've already got available, think about how you could make them do the same thing. Clothing compresses pretty well and won't fluff back up easily, but you could increase the chances that it would by cutting it into strips. That way, it would be more likely to fluff out when you shake it, creating air pockets.

I would test this before putting the cushions together by bagging the clothes in the way you've got in mind and sitting on them for a while. That should help you decide how to do this before picking up a needle or sewing machine.

You might be able to find some foam to recycle. You could try looking for people disposing of furniture that would have some, and since you'd be dismantling it (or at least dismantling the cushions), you'd be able to tell whether it's clean enough or can be cleaned enough for your proposed use.
posted by asperity at 11:17 AM on December 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Maybe make the inner cushion out of shredded memory foam (much cheaper), or a mix of your old clothes and shredded foam?
posted by permiechickie at 11:37 AM on December 26, 2017 [3 favorites]

I think it would be uncomfortable. For something else You could try buckwheat hulls. Or just buy a cheap filler pillow from the fabric store for like $8.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:07 PM on December 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

You can absolutely tuft through foam. Our sofa is tufted foam. I would look at getting a mattress topper and cutting that square and stacking it. Put some spray glue between layers. Then do batting. Not sure how expensive is too expensive but gel and foam toppers can be had for like $40. Since it’s a larger project you’d want it to end up the most useful. Filling with clothes would be lumpy and uncomfortable unless they were completely machine shredded and even then it would be dense and lumpy I assume.
posted by Crystalinne at 12:28 PM on December 26, 2017 [3 favorites]

My thought is that even with a ton of batting, eventually it would get compressed to the point that the heavy seams in the jeans would be visible and you’d be able to feel them. Maybe cut the seams off the jeans?
posted by MexicanYenta at 1:31 PM on December 26, 2017

They make cotton upholstery batting thats very thick and soft, it looks like mice have been in it. It tufts perfectly, you would use foam then a layer of the upholstery batt over the foam. It’s about 2-3” thick. If your local fabric store doesn’t carry it, try an upholstery shop or supllier or even online. It’s not bonded like quilt batting, I think you will like the result if you use it. The drawback on the clothing idea is the clothes may flatten over time and all your work is wasted. You could make a ragged edged quilt top with the jeans instead if you want to reuse a bunch of them.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 1:33 PM on December 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

FYI - this video has a tactic that might help you overstuff the cushion. Look around the 11min mark.
posted by janell at 2:40 PM on December 26, 2017

I think the old clothes are going to get lumpy and lopsided pretty quickly. If you want to economize I would try looking for cheaper sources of dense foam and then wrapping that in batting. You can certainly tuft through foam, though.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 2:53 PM on December 26, 2017

I don't think you're going to be able to tuft very well through layers and layers of old clothing. I can't imagine they would compress enough, and getting a needle through that would be a challenge to say the least.
posted by gennessee at 3:15 PM on December 26, 2017

After making the inner cushion, you can surround that with batting or polyfill before putting it in the outer cover. The fluffy outer layer will be more easily tuftable than your wadded fabric stuffing. (I do love janell's video link, above, for putting a foam cushion inside a cover.)

This video shows the making of a cushion from start to finish, using all polyfill (which I know you don't want). But their method for the outer cover is very good. You'll need to skip the first half of the video.

And this is a blog entry that shows, in photos and text, how to do a tufted box pillow with foam covered in polyfill.

I realize that neither of these sources offer all the info you want, but I hope they'll be helpful.
posted by wryly at 4:15 PM on December 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Old clothes work best as a filler for leather untufted things like Moroccan poufs. Foam will work, you just need a really long needle.

I know the heaviness you’re talking about though — it’s done through cotton roving or cotton quilt batting, stuffed to bursting. It can get pricey, so try to find a bulk lot on eBay.

****Also fyi, most pillow forms should actually be 1” larger on each side than the finished pillow to provide loft. So if you do go for an inner pillow form, keep that in mind. It will be sad and floppy if you make the inside smaller or the same size.
posted by ananci at 6:55 PM on December 26, 2017 [3 favorites]

I have used old clothes for stuffing moroccan style floor pillows and it worked well. I didn't use anything with hard seams or zippers though, mostly sweaters and sweatpants type things, and I used a layer of cotton batting all around the interior of the of the pillow form to provide softness.
Any lumps or hard spots from the clothing I just kind of massaged out.
posted by newpotato at 4:06 AM on December 27, 2017

« Older Help me with ideas to renovate my bathroom?   |   Editing events created by others in Google... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.