June 20, 2012


One of the best parts about building this trailer was knowing that I would be able to sleep on something thicker that the ½” thick ‘air mattress’ we use for camping now.  Granted they are better than nothing and when you can’t bring anything larger they are great!  But as a side sleeper I wanted something more comfortable.

We ended up buying two sheets of 24”W x 90”L x 5” thick foam from Joann Fabrics.  This was defiantly one of our more pricy purchases – I think it was about $80 per yard.  But luckily we had access to a 40% off coupon which helped lessen the blow.  We also tested it out in the store so we knew that it would be really comfortable and worth the price for a good night sleep! 

Since we have the recessed storage in the floor of the cabin, we knew that it would be better to have three or four smaller mattresses that could be easily moved around to access the doors.  With the size foam we ended up purchasing, all I had to do was cut the two sheets in half and this gave us four sections of foam that measured 24”W x 45”L x 5” thick. Three of these halves fit the length of the cabin perfectly.  It leaves us with one leftover piece of foam, but I’m sure we’ll find use for it somewhere.

Even though I figured we would be using sheets and blankets in the cabin for the trip, I wanted to make some removable covers for the mattresses to protect the foam.  They needed to be made of a durable, washable material that would hold up to being on the road and moved around.  After another trip to Joann’s, we decided to use duck cloth which is a 100% cotton, heavy weight canvas – we purchased the rest of the bolt which was a bit more than 6 yards.  We also bought 48” long dual-separating parka zippers which are ‘sport-weight’ zippers which were heavy duty and, most important, long enough for what we wanted to do! 

My plan was to basically make a simple box cushion with a zipper running along one of the long edges.  I thought using the long edge would not only make the cover easier to get on and off, but also keep the zipper away from the wood floor and us.  Though I have some sewing experience, it was usually with my very experienced Mom helping me or at least within shouting distance.  This time I was on my own and she wasn’t even reachable by phone (they were on vacation in Spain when I decided to tackle this).  So I turned to the internet and found these posts; Honeybear Lane and this post, AlternativeWindows that were invaluable.  I was able to mush these two instructions together in my head to make my covers.  This is my first attempt at writing any type of sewing instructions but I will do my best and add lots of photos!

First I cut the fabric to the sizes I needed for my foam.  I basically added 1” to every length to be able to give myself a ¾” seam allowance when I sewed everything together (this meant that I would have a ¼” of wiggle room all the way around in case I really screwed something up).  So what I ended up with were:
·         (2) 26” x 47” pieces for the top and bottom
·         (2) 5” x 26” pieces for the two short ends
·         (1) 7” x 47” piece for one of the long sides
·         (1) 7” x 48” piece cut down the middle (so there would be two 3 ½” strips) for the long end with the zipper

I started by sewing the zipper because this was the scariest part in my mind – I’ve never sewn anything with a zipper!  Luckily Honeybear Lane also linked to a zipper tutorial that was extremely helpful which I will paraphrase.  I pinned the zipper to the first strip of fabric with the zipper facing down.  I used the zipper foot attachment and played with the needle position until I got it close to the teeth while allowing the zipper pull to still get by with the needle down.  This is important because in order to keep the zipper flat while you are sewing, you start with the zipper open.  Then after you have sewn a bit, you lift the presser foot while the needle is in the fabric, carefully pull the zipper past the needle, lower the presser foot and keep sewing.  After you are done, you flip over the zipper and press it down.  Huzza! One side done!  The second side was done with the same process.  

I then top stitched along the zipper as my tutorial suggested.  This was a little more complicated for me because I can’t sew straight unless I can line my fabric up with something.  What I did was to put a piece of tape on my machine that I could line the teeth of the zipper up to.  This gave me about an 1/8” from the edge of the fabric along the zipper to where I was sewing.

Wahoo!  Now on to the rest of the cushion…  The next part was really easy.  I sewed the two short strips onto the long edge strip with a ¾” seam allowance.  Make sure that you leave ¾” open at either end of this seam so that you can easily pin the finished ring to the top and bottom pieces (I missed this step on my first cushion and had to rip out a lot of stitches!).  This gives you one long side strip.   Note: before I sewed the strips together, I switched back to my normal presser foot from the zipper foot attachment.  

Since my zipper was two inches longer than the long edge of my cushion, I knew I would have to wrap the edges of the mattress with the zipper.  Luckily this is what was done in the tutorial I was following.  As she wrapped the corner with the zipper, it ended in a pocket on the short edge of the cushion – which was easier that it sounds.  After doing a mockup on the foam, I found I had 1½” to play with on each of the short edges to make the pocket.  I first folded over one edge ¼” and sewed it straight across to finish the edge.  I then folded again 1¼” and pressed it in place with the iron.

 I pinned the piece with the zipper to the folded fabric so the zipper was facing down.  This is where I had to vary from the tutorial.  My zipper has the ability to completely unzip, so instead of sewing straight across, I only sewed up to the edge of the zipper.  I also sewed back and forth over the same spot a few times to make the seam extra strong.

After repeating this on the other side I ended up with one continuous strip.  Now it was time to pin the edge ring to one of the sides.  I made sure that the finish side of the ring was facing in because you are basically sewing the cushion inside out.  This took a bit of time and thought, especially at the rounded corners, as I was trying to get everything evenly spaced.  

pinning away!

After everything was pinned I sewed around the perimeter with the same ¾” seam allowance.  At the rounded corners I tried to maintain the ¾” allowance by following the rounded corner and not the square corner.  This would be cut off later.  

Now for a quick test fit before pinning the other side. 

I then took a 20 minute brake to have a photo shoot with my cat who seemed to love sprawling across the fabric… I guess she likes duck cloth?  Either way she was very cute!

After the other side was sewn on, I cleaned up the edges and trimmed off all of the extra thread.  One thing I noticed with the duck cloth was that the unfinished edges would unravel really easily.  What I might do later is go over all the edges with fray check – unfortunately I ran out and what I had left was really old.  After everything was cleaned up I turned the cover right side out, ironed it and was amazed with what I did!  They came out far better than I thought they would and I’m really happy with the results!

kitty approved!

And they look great in the trailer!

Rebecca approved!


  1. You also could have used painter's drop clothes for mattress covers and also saved a bundle.

  2. Ok,we need an update exterior shot! Looks great.

  3. Nice planning/pinning on the fabric to avoid wrinkles and loose fabric. Good luck getting the cat hair out!

  4. Thanks for sharing Interesting post. Thanks for taking this opportunity to discuss this, I appreciate with this and I like learning about this subject.
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