Replacing the cushion on a futon can be expensive. Rather than purchasing expensive replacement futon cushions, consider making cushions to save some money. Making replacement futon cushions at home is cheaper, requires just a few basic items, and can easily be completed in a single day. When made at home, the material, size, cushion density and texture can all be designed into the cushion, a luxury not always available with replacement futon cushions. There are basically two kinds of homemade futon cushions — the cotton batting futon cushion and the foam/cotton batting combination futon cushion.
The heavier 100% cotton batting futon cushions are made up of layers of cotton batting. This type of cotton is made form short-staple cotton, or "gin motes," that cannot be used in textile mills to make clothing. To create this type of futon cushion, cotton batts are laid out on top of one another to the height of four, six or eight inches. The outer fabric cover is sewn on all sides but one and the whole stack of cotton is squeezed into it. The remaining side of the fabric cover is then sewn shut or a zipper is sewn into the remaining side to allow for easy removal and laundering of the cover.
A lighter, softer and slightly less flexible homemade futon cushion can be constructed using a large sheet of 1.5 PCF to 2.0 PCF polystyrene foam along with the cotton batting. The process is similar to the all-cotton futon cushions with cotton batting still used but on the top and bottom of the foam slab. The cover may be sewn around the stuffing material or sewn on three sides with a zipper on the fourth side. The fabric cover is then carefully slipped over the entire contents of cotton and foam. Overall rigidity for this type of futon cushion is excellent and these type of cushions typically do not sag as do some all-cotton varieties.
Materials needed for making futon cushions are the fabric, batting, sheet foam, straight pins, needle, thread and a sharp box-cutter razor knife or X-acto® knife. A heavy-duty material should be selected for the outer cover. Measure the futon frame when fully opened. Cut the fabric to this width and length plus four inches on each side. Lay the fabric on the floor and lay out the cotton batting and/or the foam slabs on top. Leave four inches of fabric uncovered on each side.
For the foam slab version, carefully make a one-inch deep cut along a straight line where the futon cushion folds lengthwise. Using straight pins, attach both sides of fabric with the foam and/or cotton batting enclosed. On the corners, fold the fabric cover just like when wrapping a gift with wrapping paper. Use a slip-stitch for the seam on all three sides, beginning on one of the shorter sides. On the fourth side, continue with the slip-stitch or sew in a long zipper.