Fix Flattened DOWN Leather Sofa Cushions

Flattened Down Sofa Cushions really means flattened DOWN sofa cushions. Literally, down feathers. This is the second time I’ve wrangled with my brother’s flattened down leather sofa cushions. On the first go round, I unzipped and removed the down filled cushions, which you probably know are boxed forms with stitched channels that are stuffed full of down, I opened them up, removed the filling, fluffed up the down and added more down to each channel and restitched the cushion forms. Which, by the way, was no east feat! This was one tedious job, one only a loving little sister would do for her big brother.

It wasn’t long before he called me, whining again. There is just no way around it, down filled cushions go flat, especially when the cushions get lots of wear and tear from big, tall men.
Here’s what happens. Down feathers, with their barbs, get tangled and twisted together, which eliminates the air or space between them. It’s that space that theoretically gives you the cush you need under your behind for a comfortable seat.

You can remove all the down, put it in a big trash bag and then get your hands in there and separate all the feathers to restore the fluffy volume. I tried that. Word to the wise: You can refluff till the cows come home, but unless you replace the feathers, all or part, this vicious cycle will never end. If you can’t possibly live without the look of down, there are ways to fake it. You can spend the big bucks and have down wrapped foam or spring cushion inserts custom made for your cushions.
We opted for a less expensive solution. Big Brother wanted to solve this down problem once and for all, so I ordered three pieces of 5″ firm foam, cut to size and then went to work. The reason I ordered the foam already cut to size was because the cushions on his leather sofa were wider than the standard 24″ width of foam slabs you get at Joann or even an upholstery supplier. We paid $107.00 for three custom cut 5″ thick pieces of foam. Not bad.

In addition to the foam, I used dacron batting, and spray adhesive. Of course you need scissors.

1. Determine the length and width of the foam you need by measuring welt cord to welt cord, both directions and adding 1″ to the length and width measurements.

2. Unzip and remove the old down inserts

3. Line up the new foam

4. Cut pieces of dacron to cover the top, front edge and partial bottom, or the full bottom of the foam inserts. Apply spray adhesive to the foam and dacron, let it get tacky and then press to secure the dacron in place.

5. Then get ready to ride the bronco and get those new inserts stuffed into your leather cushion covers.

Stuffing new inserts into cushion covers is not easy. You can try to fold them in two and work them into the cushion cover, or you can place them into a plastic bag and stick a vacuum hose up against the foam, holding the plastic around the hose, suck the air out of the foam, which will shrink the foam, to allow the foam to slide into the zipper opening very easily. If you do this, try to pull as much of the plastic bag out after the cushion is in place. Remember this, it’s perfectly fine to grab a handful of dacron pillow stuffing to fill in the corners. You want your cushions looking smooth and full.

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Posted in cushion, cushions, diy, furniture, how-to, tutorials | Tagged , , , , , , | 48 Comments

48 Responses to Fix Flattened DOWN Leather Sofa Cushions

  1. KWu says:

    Would this work to replace back cushions that have down inserts currently? We have a Crate & Barrel (via craigslist) fabric-covered couch and the back cushions are looking quite sad and slumped lately.

  2. shellyleer says:

    There’s another solution for that problem. Can you send me a photo? I can do a tutorial for that too.

  3. You have a beautiful couch!! Glad you were able to give it more life!

  4. shellyleer says:

    Thanks Jenna, but it’s my brother’s sofa.

  5. Charlotte says:

    Great job! I love the look of worn leather furniture like that. Knowing it could be revived is a bonus!

  6. KWu says:

    Thanks Shelly, just sent you some photos to illustrate the issue with my couch.

  7. shellyleer says:

    Thanks for the content!

  8. Sabrina says:

    Did you end up doing a tutorial on dumpy down back cushions? That’s my problem too.

  9. shellyleer says:

    Hi Sabrina,
    Here’s a tutorial I did a long time ago that adjusts slouchy cushions and keeps them in their place. First, you have to get in there and get them re-fluffed so the filling is evenly distributed, then you can add these little tufting stitches that solve the problem AND add modern style.
    Let me know if this helps. Instructables

  10. Rose says:

    The cushions look great. My problem is my cushion on one end of sofa has GONE flat. It has cushions that are stitched down to the sofa. Very nice, however how to remove them to recushion is my problem. Have you given any advice on this delemia?

    Thank you

  11. shellyleer says:

    Take off your bottom cushions and look up under the stitched on back cushion to see if there’s a zipper. You can unzip, remove the old stitched cushion and re-fluff, re-stuff and then put it back in. Let me know.

  12. ASIA LOVE says:

    This is great, thank you!
    Yes, you are obviously a loving sister. Your brother better appreciate this for many years to come! 🙂

  13. Sharon says:

    My problem was the opposite. My cushions were too full and stiff. I want the soft plump look of down. So I removed the foam, cut it down some, then put a this down blanket, cut to size, in and filled between the blanket and the cushion with down feathers. I love the look and feel of the cushions, that part is perfect. The problem is, the feathers work there way around the blanket and poke out through the fabric ALL OVER! And besides it looking ridiculous, they’re sharp and pointy! Any suggestions for how to cover the foam and down completely so that the down can’t work it’s way through?

  14. shellyleer says:

    You’ll need to get down proof fabric to contain it. It’s super tightly woven. It’s a must!!!

  15. mekcameron says:

    Could you give your advice. I have a second-hand couch, approx. 15 ys old, well-made, good condition overall and has removable cushion covers. I have washed all covers (3 back and 3 seat) after removing them. There are 3 down/feather inserts for back cushions and 3 down/feather-wrapped foam inserts for the seats. I have actually washed the back down/feather inserts and they came out beautifully. The weird thing is the seat inserts have this strange pungent smell if you rub your hands over ticking and I can’t get this to air or sun out. So, do I wash these in an industrial sized washer or in tub, or take to dry cleaner OR, should I just replace them from a reputable upholsterer? I am wondering if the feathers have “gone off” or if perhaps the foam is deteriorating. Any help would be appreciated!

  16. shellyleer says:

    I’m not sure what that could be. I’ve never tried to wash foam. I don’t know what would happen.

  17. Elaine says:

    Can you tell me how long the new cushions stayed firm? My down foam core cushions are driving me nuts as they flattened out within a month of getting them. I am thinking of restuffing them with feathers but I think the foam core might need to get replaced too.

  18. shellyleer says:

    Elaine, These are my brother’s cushions and they are still driving him crazy. They just won’t stay puffed up. There’s only so much you can do with down and heavy use.

  19. MaryG says:

    We have a leather couch similar to shown, was in $2,000 price range new (~11 years). Over time, the cushions on the couch have “caved in” from where people have slept on it. The cushions, back and seat, are all stitched together and not removable. I do not know what was used for stuffing/padding/etc. There is also a love seat (not used much and fine) and a recliner that could really use some assistance with padding on the seat and back. Is this something we can do ourselves, and if so what would the approximate cost run. The new price for the set was ~$3,000.

  20. MaryG says:

    I attempted a comment and it told me it was a duplicate and I cannot find it. We have a 3 piece leather set, love seat, recliner and couch that are now approx 11 years old. The recliner and couch have had quite a lot of use and need repair to the padding. The cushion on the couch (seat and back) are all stitched together and I don’t know how one gains access to refill the padding where it has compacted. The recliner may need some repair to the springs as well, but the biggest problem is the padding. This set was approximately $3,000 new. Would it be possible for us to repair ourselves? Thank you for any help.

  21. shellyleer says:

    I’d have to see photos of the pieces to see what you’re talking about.

  22. J White says:

    What’s the purpose of the Dacron? It looks too thin to serve much of a purpose. My brother wants to ask your brother if he wants to trade sisters. Your brother would have 3 to choose from. He’d probably give him more than one . . .

  23. shellyleer says:

    That is hilarious. My older brother would probably be happy to trade. Dacron serves as a buffer between foam and fabric. Otherwise, there is too much friction on the foam and it breaks down much faster.

  24. Zoey says:

    Hey my leather couch is only 2money years old and cushion is flat but i cant remove whole seat thing that but do have zipper that have to reach down in couch to get it

  25. shellyleer says:

    Send photos to me and I’ll try to figure out how to tell you how you can get the cushion out.

  26. JayneP says:

    Wonderful tutorial..I posted on Pinterest! Is that okay? I’m doing this tonight on a RL chair that with a collapsed seat cushion that’s been driving me absolutely bonkers. The RL company was absolutely no help. Guess they wanted me to buy another. No thanks, but to you? Thanks a million!

  27. Laura Adams says:

    Why not mix 1/2 down with 1/2 poly fiber filling (Blend Down) like the furniture manufactures do?

  28. PaulT says:

    I have the exact same Hancock and Moore couch with the very same issue! Thanks for the info! Can’t wait to bring it back to life.

  29. TimM says:


    I need to swap out the down inserts with foam for the seat backs. Would it be possible to see the tutorial you offered to KWu? Thanks in advance.

  30. Vivienne says:

    Hi! I was wondering where you purchased the foam?! I am trying to make two cushions for my boyfriends fish house! It would be really helpful if you could direct me to a specific site where you purchased the foam or give me othe suggestions as well! Thank you!

  31. shellyleer says:

    I buy my foam from a supplier in Cincinnati, Ohio. Sunshine Foam. They may sell to you retail.

  32. Ian V says:

    I have been dealing with this same issue for years! I’ve replaced the down feathers twice and it’s not cheap. I am going to take your advice and replace the feathers with foam. I was always concerned that the foam would not be nearly as comfortable — is this the case for your brother? Has he had any more whining?

  33. shellyleer says:

    Foam is not as comfy as feathers in the back cushions, but you can get soft foam and then have the insert wrapped in a feather and down pocket/envelope type of covering.
    Expensive though.

  34. June says:

    My sofa cushions (both seat and back) have “deflated.” I see that you used firm foam for your brother’s seat cushions. Would you recommend firm for both seat and back cushions? Or perhaps firm for the seat and medium for the back? Thanks for the great tutorial and your advice.

  35. Linda Morrison says:

    My cushions don’t have zippers, what can I do

  36. Tom says:

    What is the brand of the sofa?

  37. shellyleer says:

    If your cushions don’t have zippers, then they are stitched closed. If stitched, then you’ll need to take out the stitching and restitch when finished.

  38. shellyleer says:

    I don’t know what brand it is. It’s my brother’s sofa.

  39. vineeta says:


    I have a 20 year old couch and armchairs with down blend cushions that are very worn and do not support. Could you please send me the tutorial you think is most appropriate. I just moved to wichita ks and am being quoted ridiculous prices for new foam cushions.


  40. Chandra says:

    Hey Shelly ! I have some leather couches. I had to store them for a bit and ended up putting my love seat on top of my three seater and now the ends of the three seater and completely flat ! )= my seats don’t come off and there is no zipper. Is there anyway to refluff the corners of the seats?

  41. Joel Karp says:

    Do you have a store in or near west Los Angeles ?

  42. shellyleer says:

    No, I’m in the beautiful Midwest, USA. I visit LA often, though.

  43. Darryl says:

    I have a nice couch which used ultra down cushions for the seat and back. All have deflated from use over 8+ years. While the inserts of down have deflated a bit, they still have life – what about the idea of inserting a thin (2″ ) shaped foam insert BEHIND the down inserts. The down inserts are sewn with multiple pockets – inserting the foam within the down insert would not be very feasible.

    Do you think using both foam (bottom/back) and down insert (top/front) would produce a strange shape in the cushions – the couch is a soft cloth material, not leather.

  44. shellyleer says:

    Yes, I don’t think you’d be happy with how those combo cushions turned out. There are down cushions that you can have made that have foam cores inside of the down filled wrap around cushions. There are really a number of ways to solve the problem.

  45. Tammy says:

    I too have a leather couch and love seat that the back cushions have gone flat (also the arms have pillow cushions that have gone flat or caved in) and EVERYTHING is attached without a zipper anywhere. How do you fix this?

    I know others have asked this and you asked to see a picture. Where do I send the picture? There is no way to put a pic in this comment section. Thanks for your time.

  46. Allie says:

    How can I do something similar if my cushions aren’t removable 🙁

  47. shellyleer says:

    There should be a zipper at the bottom of your attached cushion. If not, you’d have to open a seam and then restitch it when finished.

  48. What’s up, just wanted too mention, Iliked this article.

    It was helpful. Keep on posting!