My quest to find perfection in outdoor comfort has been a long one. All the outdoor cushion options seemed to be boring, ugly and just plain uncomfortable. After a while, logic prevailed and I made my own, and it was so easy and pretty cheap, too. Now I have a set of cushions perfect for backyard picnic soirees, the beach, or pretty much any outdoor sitting occasion.

Because the fabric is painted, the cushions do feel a bit crackly and rough at first, but they will soften up over time. These cushions have a plastic backing on the inside, so they offer protection from the damp ground. But I don’t think they would handle long-term exposure to the elements, so take them inside when not in use – they’d make great indoor floor cushions.

Waterproof or plastic-backed cushion fabric (see note below)
+ Scissors
+ Wide paintbrush (or a small paint roller)
+ Smaller paintbrush
+ Acrylic paint
+ Pencil
Round template and/or ruler (depending on the shape of your cushions)
+ Pins
+ Sewing machine and thread
Cushion stuffing (polyester-based is best for outdoor use)
+ Needle and thread

Note: For the cushion fabric, I used a plastic-backed canvas drop sheet (bought from a hardware store) that measured 3.6m x 1.5m. This was enough for four cushions: one 65cm square, two 50cm square and one 50cm round (there will be fabric left over).

1. Cut your top fabric roughly to size, leaving about 10cm allowance over final size. Using the wide paintbrush, paint the base colour on the fabric side of the material. You don’t want the paint to be too thick – water it down slightly if it is. Using a roller to apply the paint will make it easier to apply a thin layer.

2. Once the base coat is dry, draw your design onto the fabric.

3. Using a small paintbrush, paint the design. Leave the paint to dry thoroughly.

4. Mark out the final size and shape of the cushion. For the round cushion, use a circular object such as a sunhat or plate as a template (remembering to accommodate for seam allowance). If you are making a square cushion, measure and mark out the desired size. Mark out the fabric for the base of the cushion at the same time.

5. Pin the painted top fabric and the plain base pieces together. Following the pencilled lines, cut out the two pieces of fabric together.

6. Pin the right sides together (the plastic sides should be facing out, so they end up on the inside of the cushion). Sew around the edge on a sewing machine, leaving a 10cm opening for the stuffing.

7. Remove the pins and turn the cushion right side out. Fill the cushion with the stuffing.

8. Close the hole with hand stitching.