Saturday, April 16, 2011

Picnic Bench Seat Cover - A Tutorial

I am so excited to share with you my picnic bench covers!  Too many complaints from my kids after my husband made us a backyard picnic table: the seats were 'too hard or they may give us a splinter or get sap on our pants, blah, blah, blah'.

Soooo, what to do? I looked all over online for a bench cover, but most are the gingham elastic, plastic covers. I wanted something sturdier for our backyard.  I did find a Pottery Barn version, but way more money than I was willing to spend.

Our picnic bench went from this

to this!

Picnic Bench Seat Cover Tutorial 

Let's get started!

1. Measure your bench.  Mine was 75" long by 12 1/2" wide.  And since my bench is made up of three boards, I measured the distance from each side to the gap, which was 3-1/2".

2. Get your supplies!

  • 4-1/2 yards of outdoor fabric (this will make two bench covers for my size bench. You may need more or less depending on the length of your benches)
  • 2-1/2 yards of 1/2" foam (again, this is enough for two bench covers for my size bench)
  • 1 package of 1" elastic
  • scraps of velcro
  • upholstery thread and needle

3. Cut your fabric:
  • from your outdoor fabric, cut 4 pieces the length and width of your bench. For me it was 75" x 12-1/2" (this allows for 1/4" seam allowances and allows your bench cover to sit just within the shape of your bench)
  • from your outdoor fabric, cut 6 pieces 2-1/2" x 12" for the straps (3 for each bench cover)
  • from your 1/2" foam, cut two pieces 73-1/2" x 11-1/8" (this is 1-1/2" less in length and 1-1/8" less in width than the size of my bench)
  • cut 2" pieces from each side of velcro
  • do not cut the elastic (if you are using scraps, you will need at least 4 pieces that are 13" long and two pieces that are 3-1/2" long.  You won't actually use this much since you stretch the elastic as you sew, but to start you will need these lengths.)

4. Making the straps:

Fold your strap piece lengthwise, wrong sides facing and sew with a 1/4" seam using an overcasting stitch. Make all 6.

Attach a safety pin to one side of your elastic and make your way through a strap.

Remove the safety pin, line up the elastic with the end of the strap and sew along the short edge, securing the elastic to the inside of the strap.

Then center your needle on the short edge and while stretching the elastic, sew a zigzag stitch down the length of the strap. Finish the end by sewing straight across the end and cut the elastic off even with the strap. Make 4.

For the last two straps, cut the straps in half to make four 6" pieces and then take your elastic and mark one end at 2-1/2". Insert this elastic into one end of your strap up until the line you just drew.

Sew a straight line where the elastic starts within the strap to secure, zigzag down the length toward your drawn line while pulling the elastic and end by straight stitching the end.  Repeat for the remaining three 6" pieces of strap.

Sew your velcro pieces onto the opposite ends of the four 6" pieces of strap.  You should have two 12" straps and two 6" straps with velcro (one of hook and one of loop!) for each bench cover.

5.  Sew straps to bottom piece of bench cover:

From one corner of your long piece of outdoor fabric, make a mark, right side up, that is 3-1/2" up the long side and 3" inward on the short side.

Line up one of the 12" straps with the tail outwards towards the right and stitch in place. I did end up going back and forth about 2 times.

Flip the strap over and tuck in the end towards the center of the cover. Stitch down in place, while holding the top of the strap away from the needle. It should look sort of like a handle when you are done.

Repeat this process for the other end of the bottom cover.

Fold the bottom cover piece in half, wrong sides faces and make a mark inward by 3" on both sides. Piece together your velcro strap into one long strap. Use these marks to attach you velcro pieced strap in the same way as the last two straps. 

6.  Final assemble of the bench cover:
Place your top bench cover piece on top of your bottom cover piece (Now with two 12" straps attached to each end and a velcro pieced strap attached in the center). Sew around all sides with just under a 1/2" seam, but only sew about 2" on each side of one of the ends to allow room to insert your foam!

Turn your sewn piece right side out and insert your foam piece into your cover.  Slightly push back the foam at the opening, fold in your ends 1/4" and sew with a straight line to close.  Re-position the foam from the outside until flat and viola! You are done :)

Repeat for the other bench cover, slip it on each end of your bench and attache the velcro strap in the center.  Then grab some ice cream with the family and enjoy!

Please let me know if you have any problems following my tutorial. This is my first one ever!  Hope you enjoy and I would LOVE to see one if you make it too!

Happy spring!


  1. What a smart idea! I know my bum would thank you for taking the time to make a cushion. I love that you even secured it so that it doesn't fall off all the time. So great!

    Thanks for linking up to Point of View!

  2. I really want to do this, but it seems like the pictures wont load! Can you confirm that the image files are up please?


    1. Thank you for letting me know! I reloaded all of the pictures. Enjoy :)

  3. Thank You for sharing this article with us

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  6. I have a 8ft picnic table so it is so hard finding the table cloth and bench cover. I can barely sew. How much for you to make one.


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