How to Fix Crumpled Sofa Back Cushions

Haven’t we all had chair or sofa back cushions that have turned into a crumpled, smooshed up mess? They go from not very comfortable to downright uncomfortable and extremely annoying. You pick them up, pound them, beat them, to no avail. You probably tell yourself they’re better, but come on, you know they’re not.

Here’s the email I received from Katherine, who’s trying to figure out this fluffy mess.

Hi Shelly,

Thanks so much for taking a look at my smushed and sad back cushions with down inserts (from your recent blog post on flattened down leather cushions). Feel free to use the photos as an illustration if you want to write up a tutorial, but any advice at all would certainly be appreciated.

Also, in general, thanks so much for all the information you share on your blog–you don’t know how many times I’ve wished I were close enough to take your classes!

Thanks Katherine, I love to hear that, and I love to share tricks and solutions to help you make your furniture last a little longer.

I’ve performed this fix a million times. (Not really, but close.)

This should solve the problem, at least for a while. Sometimes furniture and cushions are just poorly designed, even those with a big price tag.

1. Unzip the bottom and remove the dacron or down filled cushion form.

2. It’s likely the cushion form is divided into a top section and bottom section. The top section is filled with stuffing and the stitched-in divider across the middle keeps the top stuffing from falling to the bottom of the cushion form, but the filling in the top section does sink down to the bottom of the top section. And likewise, the stuffing in the bottom section sinks down to the bottom of the bottom of the cushion.

What you end up with, is a pillow form with two wads of stuffing that have ended up in the bottom sections of the two horizontally stitched channels. The top of the sofa cushion ends up flat and the middle of the cushion ends up flat which causes the cushions to collapse over themselves.

Here’s The FIX:

You’ll need:

a seam ripper
extra pillow down or dacron stuffing
sewing machine or needle and thread
straight pins

What you’ll do:

1. Open seams on the top and bottom of the cushion form (not the cushion cover).
2. Remove old stuffing.
3. If it’s down, put it all inside a plastic trash bag to contain feathers. With your hands, pull the balled up stuffing apart, fluffing it with air and incorporating new stuffing into old.
4. Repeat this for the bottom channel.
5. Now, refill both channels until the stuffing fills both channels fairly tightly.
6. Pin and stitch up the seams you opened.
7. Replace the cushion forms into the cushion covers.

THAT’s IT! Cushions are now as good as new. You may have to repeat this in 6 months or so.

I’ve already fixed all of my crumpled back cushions so we’ll have to wait for Katherine to send pics.

Posted in cushion, cushions, diy, sofas, tutorials, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 18 Comments

18 Responses to How to Fix Crumpled Sofa Back Cushions

  1. Penny says:

    Shelly, I’m Wendy’s mother. She took your Boot Camp class which I turned her on to. I still want to take a class, hopefully! I have upholstered two chairs. I am getting though it, barely. I am currently trying to attach piping to a chair. I have looked through your post and see where you indicated that you were going to post a tutorial on a double welt attachment. I can’t seem to find it and have searched through your tutorials. I know that the piping gets hot glued, but what happens to the extra fabric of the binding. Sorry, I don’t know what it is called. Help!

  2. shellyleer says:

    Hi Penny!
    I loved having Wendy. She’s the DIY daughter that my daughter is not. My daughter loves to cook. so I guess that’s ok.
    I’ll look for a tutorial for you and send it to you if you send me your email.
    Good for you for doing your own upholstery! I’d love to have you. I think I should do a mother daughter class too.

  3. Susie says:

    OMG! Thank you so much for this!!! I found this tip on Pinterest and you have saved me from just getting rid of my old sectional!!! Thank you, thank you thank you!

  4. shellyleer says:

    Susie, I’m so glad!

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Hello there! Love your site. Wsh I lived closer, I am in pa. I am trying to make an insert for a cushion cover. Oh my I can’t figure out how to do the channel on the inside of the cushion cover. My width of cushion is 7 inches deep, lots of poly fill! I feel like I am trying to solve a rubix cube! I do curtains for a business and thought this would be a breeze…..well it is not. how do you sew the insides together with the channel in the middle…And are the seams on the inside or out side. It seems so simple but i have a block happening. At least I was laughing while doing it instead of crying…..I hope you can help me with this. I am trying to finish this ASAP ..the outer covers are already done..just waiting for the puffy insides. Thankyou so much ..I will be waiting for the ping on my iPad… Elizabeth

  6. shellyleer says:

    Elizabeth–email me at I’ll try to explain.

  7. Berry says:

    Fantastic help. You have TRANSFORMED my sofa and thus a little niggly piece of my life where I thought we were going to have to put up with a crumpled crushed and sad looking sofa for the foreseeable future. After a delivery of good quality filling and set of decent needles, my mum and i were able to make it look at good as new – possibly even more comfortable and supportive than it looked even when it arrived. Thank you very much for sharing the knowledge!

  8. Daisymae says:

    My semi-attached sofa back cushions went ugly flat too, not this bad though. I measured the length and height that looked like needed more stuffing. Then I split an old comforter to make two pieces by the width but leave the length alone. Rolled each one tightly up to approximately the right height, secured them around gently with duct tape on the ends and middle. Took out the original bag with stuffing, inserted a roll of the comforter, and put the original bag of stuffing back in. Take your time and make sure it looks good as you go. My cost= free. Or you could pick up a comforter at a thrift store.

  9. shellyleer says:

    Fabulous resourcefulness!!

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  11. tendonut says:

    In the sofa pictured in this article, how much dacron did you end up using? It’s impossible to find locally at a semi-reasonable price and I have an identical looking sofa at home. I want to make sure I buy enough the FIRST time I order it.

  12. Tanya says:

    Can I wash the old stuffing in my couch pillows and dry it before combining it with new stuffing?

  13. bobbie says:

    what if the cushions are attached to the back of sofa? My dogs Chihuahuas love to lay on tops and the insides are fiberfill.

  14. Dennise says:

    Hi Shelly — I know this comment thread is a few years old, but I hope you’ll receive this comment anyway! What’s a person to do with saggy back couch cushions when the cushions are not removable? They are attached at both the bottom and top of the cushion to the back of the couch. Am I completely out of luck? I got this couch precisely because the cushions were attached — couldn’t stand having to constantly re-adjust the non-attached cushions of my previous couch. And even if I do fix it — maybe by ripping into the couch cushion at the bottom where it won’t be seen, is this only a temporary fix? I’d hate to have to do this multiple times. Thanks, I appreciate any help you can give me!

  15. shellyleer says:

    If you get up and under those back cushions, you may see a zipper in there. You might be able to pull out the fiberfill insert that fills the attached pillow backs.

  16. shellyleer says:

    There should be a zipper in the bottoms of the attached cushions. You can open those, pull out the pillow forms, restuff them and put them back in.

  17. shellyleer says:

    Yes, if you are really careful about pulling it apart so it’s not clumpy.

  18. Emily says:

    Thank you SO much for this idea! I cannot believe I didn’t think of how to do it. I was searching on how to replace the worn out foam in the sofa cushions and I was wondering if there was anything to help the sofa back cushions. Now I’m going to tackle those first because I know they will be easier and make a bigger impact! SO glad because I’ve been pretty mad about the money spent on these couches and how the cushions haven’t held up, but this will go a long way to making me love them again. Thanks!