1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Maiden Jane: Sewing Tutorial - Upcycle a Tee Shirt or Sweatshirt Into a Stadium Cushion

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sewing Tutorial - Upcycle a Tee Shirt or Sweatshirt Into a Stadium Cushion

Because I

a) have too many T shirts and sweatshirts in the house
b) I have been freezing my behind off at football games (not literally, of course, otherwise I'd look like Heidi Klum) and
c) I am practical,

I was inspired to create a seat cushion for the cold metal bleachers that we sit on at the high school football games.

Like my T Shirt Quilt Pillow, I thought a T shirt or sweatshirt would make a good seat cushion.  I headed to Jo-Ann to purchase a piece of foam and some waterproof material for the bottom side.  I was planning on making a Velcro closure so that the cushion cover could be washed.

I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered this neat alternative to foam:  Soft n Crafty Nu-Foam. (Presently I cannot find a link for it online - this may be the same item.)  It is "a superior alternative to foam for indoor and outdoor use!  Ideal for home decoration and camping accessories."  It is "washable, dries quickly, retains permanent shape and is unconditionally guaranteed."  Discovering that it was washable, I ditched the Velcro.

The last decision was whether or not to make the bottom of the stadium cushion out of a waterproof material.  Jo-Ann has marine vinyl, but that seamed like overkill.  Besides, it's only surface washable.  I considered laminated cottons, but hated to waste a pretty fabric on the seat bottom.  The PUL fabric is hand-wash. My practical side said that a seat cushion should be simple and washable.  My frugal side decided not to spend any more money and use a T shirt for both sides of the cushion.

So let's get started.  Sprinkled throughout the tutorial I will give you "options."

Upcycled T Shirt Stadium Seat Cushion Tutorial

Finished size:  15" x 8.5"


Soft n Crafty Nu-Foam, 15' x 17" x 2"
One old T shirt or sweatshirt
Thread, scissors

1. Cut foam.

Options: I researched popular sizes for stadium cushions:  15" x 8", 13" square and 14" square.  This cushion will accommodate any of those sizes.  I decided that by choosing the rectangular size, this foam could yield two cushions.

Mark the center line of the foam at 8.5"

Cutting the foam is a bit of a challenge.  I tried scissors, a serrated knife and a long, bread-cutting knife.  The bread knife worked the best.  I have used an electric knife to cut foam in the past but did not try it with this.  I used the bread knife with the foam flat on the table until the foam was almost cut completely through.  I then used my scissors to complete the cut.

Now you have two pieces of foam, each 15" x 8.5".

2. Cut T shirt to 16" x 10.5"

- If using a sweatshirt, cut 17" x 10.5" .  A sweatshirt is less stretchy than a T shirt.
- It's OK to cut into the neckline, the hooded pocket, or a motif to make it fit.

Cut off sleeves (and/or hood) to make cutting easier.

Center your motif within a 16" x 10.5" rectangle.  Use a marking pencil to draw lines.

Use a can to round the corners.

Cut out the rectangle and a matching piece for the back.  (Or cut the front and back out at the same time.)

3. Create the handle.

Using extra fabric from the T shirt sleeve or another part of the T shirt, measure and cut a 11" x 3" piece of fabric.

- Use webbing for a handle
- Pull on the fabric and use it, unfinished, as your handle.

Sew the long edge of the handle together.

Using whatever turning method you prefer, turn the handle inside out.

Top stitch the handle on each side to add stability.

 4. Sew two sides together

 Pin the handle to the right side of the cushion cover, 2" from the side edges.

With right sides together, pin around edges.

Starting at the bottom edge, opposite the handle, sew around the cushion, leaving a 7" opening along the shorter rectangular edge.   Turn inside out.

Squeeze the foam in half and insert it into the opening.  It takes a bit of work to get the foam into position.

5. Stitch opening closed.

Pin the edges closed.

If you have the ability to move your needle position, move it to the left side. Sew close to the edge.

Option: hand sew the opening closed.


I made one for me and one for my husband!

Now they are loaded into my football bag and ready to go!


  1. Great project Jane. And it looks pretty easy... maybe one I could actually sew!

    : )

  2. Hey, what a great idea! Out here hockey is our thing. There is nothing worse than waiting for your spot to heat up while you watch the kids at the rink. I'd be the envy of all the parents wouldn't I ;)

  3. Love the cushion. It would be good to take anywhere, beach etc...

  4. This is such a great idea! I would love to feature it on Reduce, Reuse, Upcycle. Feel free to stop by and grab a featured button. Thanks!

  5. Very clever! I'm going to add it to my sewing tutorial tab! If you have any other fun sewing tutorials you think my readers would like, you can link them. It's a permanent linky in my tabs section!

  6. An easy way to insert foam into pillow is to put the foam in a plastic store bag and insert into pillow fabric. Use the opening of the bag inserted first and you can pull the plastic bag out easily.

  7. I love recycle and that's a GREAT ideia !!! Thanks Jane to sharing it :) !!!

  8. I made this last week, cut the tshirt down put lightweight fusible interfacing on wrong sides of tshirt to stablize then cut it down to 16x10.5
    rounded the edges(then I traced this onto newspaper for a pattern for future use)added webbing for handle. Easy and great pattern.

  9. You could make it from a pocketed sweatshirt, center the pocket on the top and put a large hand warmer in there for really cold games or even for the hunters in your family! Love it!

  10. Excellent tutorial! Hope you do not mind me adding; another alternative for a handle is to recycle the webbing and buckles off of (your children's) old knapsacks both of which often come in an assortment of colours that even fabric stores do not carry. That way they can be adjustable and be carried hobo style. ☺ On the same subject if you wish a good stabilizer for a fabric made handle; 'belting' that comes in various widths also works well and can be found in the sewing notion of most Fabric stores. -Brenda-



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