French Mattress Cushion Tutorial

Tufted French Mattress by She Holds Dearly

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Are you familiar with french mattress cushions?

Originally, the French made their everyday mattresses this way!  Leave it to the French to elevate the everyday items with beautiful detailing.

Marked by an extra big, bunchy edge welt and delicate, button-less tufts, these casual cushions add another layer of farmhouse elegance wherever you see them.

Ballard Designs French Mattress by She Holds Dearly

*This post contains affiliate links*

I have seen them online in few places and they always strike me as so timeless and cozy.

Ballard Designs French Mattress by She Holds Dearly

Ballard Designs

But, I wanted to see if I couldn’t make one myself.  There really isn’t much online about how to do it, so it was fun to figure it out.

The welting and tufting stitches, in particular, are ones that I figured out through a lot of trial and error.

 I am happy to pass them on to you!

French Mattress Supplies

  • Upholstery Foam
    • I like to buy mine off Ebay. The foam pictured in this post is 3″ thick, which created more or a 2″ inch side on the cushion.  If I were to do it again I would probably use 6″ foam.
    • I prefer the lightest weight option, because french mattresses were very floppy and soft. 
    • Cut with a serrated knife, using a sawing motion. An electric knife works great!
  • Batting
    • I like polyester, 10 ounce which is 1″ thick. The fluffier the better for this project.
    • I found mine at Joanns.
    • Do not use piping, it is not malleable enough.
  • Spray Adhesive
  • Fabric
    • Ticking and velvets are very french looking. I used microsuede because I have a dog that thinks I just made her a new bed. Microsuede is easy to clean with just a baby wipe.
  • Matching Thread
  • 2″ Needle
  • Straight Pins with ball heads
  • Sewing Machine
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Upholstery Thread
    • Buy thread that matches your fabric. I was lazy and just used what I had on hand.   My knots are showing more than necessary now.
  • 6″ Upholstery Needle
  • Leather gloves IMPORTANT!!!!
    •  Basically, if you don’t wear leather gloves you aren’t going to get through this project.  On a cushion this size, I had to hand stitch for six hours. There is so much pulling and pinching and pushing needles through that my hands were aching and red with the leather gloves.
    • Make sure they are skin tight on your hands.
    • I use these Mizuno golf gloves in a Youth Small when I do upholstery.
  • Scotch Guard



French Mattress Tutorial

Box Cushion

  • First, cut the upholstery foam to the desired size.
  • Make the box cushion cover.
    • When you cut out the fabric pieces be extra generous.  Don’t just cut the extra 1″ seam allowance, cut and extra inch of both sides (3″ total) so you have lots to bunch up. I wish I had done this more on mine.
    • If you have never made a box cushion, follow this Youtube video, skipping the zipper information.
    • Leave one of the long sides open.
  • Then, cut large panels of batting that will cover the top and bottom of the cushion.  Cut two extra wide strips of batting to adhere to the top and bottom edges of the sides. These will be easy to bunch up when it’s time to do the welting.

French Mattress Cushion Tutorial by She Holds Dearly

  • Use Spray Adhesive to adhere all the pieces to the foam.
    • I used a big piece of cardboard and moved it around to protect the floor as I sprayed.

French Mattress Cushion Tutorial by She Holds Dearly

  • Carefully slide the foam and batting into the box cushion cover.


    • Check all over and make sure the batting stayed in place.

French Mattress Cushion Tutorial by She Holds Dearly

French Mattress Cushion Tutorial by She Holds Dearly


  • Using upholstery thread, gloves and the 2″ needle, start at one corner of the cushion.
    • The stitch I came up with that gives the most bunchiness is a four step process.
  • Start by pinching a good inch of fabric and batting, even a little foam if you can. Keep nice and high on the top edge.
  • Next, make a 1/4″ vertical stitch on the top of the welting and come down below.

French Mattress Sewing Project by She Holds Dearly

  • Then, make a 1/4″ horizontal stitch underneath.

French Matress Sewing Project by She Holds Dearly

  • Come out next to the bottom of the vertical top stitch.

     French Mattress Sewing Project by She Holds Dearly

    • Finally, stitch right under the surface of the top fabric and make one large 1 1/2″ stitch inside the fabric to get to the place to start the next stitch. Pull tight as you go.
  • Do this all along the top edge and then the bottom edge. French Mattress Cushion Tutorial by She Holds Dearly



  • Once you finish the welting, you can decide on the tufting pattern.
    • People seem to either do two parallel lines of tufting or a diamond pattern.
    • Because I knew I would be covering the back half of the cushion with pillows, I decided to go with the diamond pattern.
  • Measure out a plan and stick straight pins in on both sides to mark the tufts.

Tufted French Mattress by She Holds Dearly

French Mattress Sewing Project by She Holds Dearly

  • Cut a 4′ piece of upholstery thread for each tuft. Use double thread and an upholstery needle.  Knot the thread.
    • You will need to wear your gloves, but keep taking them on and off every time you make a knot.
  • Stitch an * (asterisk star) shape about 1/2″ diameter.
    • Note- the first knot goes straight through the fabric and gets lodged in the foam.
    • Sew three complete stitches before you pull tight to create the tuft.  The fabric has a ton of tension were each of the tufts are located. It is possible to tear a hole right through the fabric if the pressure isn’t spread out before pulling.

Tufted Mattress by She Holds Dearly

  • Turn the mattress on its side while you tuft to make sure you coming out exactly were you want your stitch to be on the other side.
  • Once you are ready to tie a knot, pull tight one more time.
    • Take your gloves off and cut the thread, leaving the two tails as long as possible.
    • Now, tie the two tails like you were going to tie a bow. Folding under and pulling tight, do this six times.
    • Re-thread the upholstery needle and stitch the thread straight down through the foam and out the other side. It doesn’t matter where it comes out.
    • Finally, pull tight and clip the thread, the tails will be left buried in the foam.
  • Continue tufting.
    • Keep re-measuring and adjusting the pins a little on both sides before you start a new tuft.

Tufted Mattress by She Holds Dearly

  • One you are finished, as always, Scotch Guard the living daylights out of that baby.
    • Spot clean with baby wipes or rubbing alcohol.

Custom French Mattress by She Holds Dearly

French Mattress Upholstery by She Holds Dearly

I recently wrote a post on how to Add a Zipper to a Pillow in Ten Minutes where I showed how I quickly made the six pillows on our window seat.

French Mattress Upholstery by She Holds Dearly

DIY French Mattress Cushion by She Holds Dearly

Custom French Mattress by She Holds Dearly

If sewing is not your thing, I have included the best french mattresses I can find online.

Pier One French Mattress by She Holds Dearly

Pier One

Etsy French Mattress Floor Cushion by She Holds Dearly


Etsy French Mattress by She Holds Dearly


Pottery Barn French Mattress by She Holds Dearly

Pottery Barn

Custom French Mattress by She Holds Dearly

Ballard Designs French Mattress by She Holds Dearly

DIY French Mattress Cushion by She Holds Dearly

French Mattress Upholstery by She Holds Dearly

DIY French Mattress Cushion by She Holds Dearly

I am very pleased with the final result.

Now that I know how to make french mattress style cushions, they will be my cushion of choice in the future.


French Mattress Upholstery by She Holds Dearly

Custom French Mattress by She Holds Dearly

DIY French Mattress Cushion by She Holds Dearly

Custom French Mattress by She Holds Dearly

DIY French Mattress Cushion by She Holds Dearly

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  1. Tonya
    June 29, 2017 / 2:37 PM

    Simply beautiful. You amaze me, truly.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      June 29, 2017 / 9:14 PM

      Oh my, what wonderful compliments. Thank you for your encouragement!

  2. Brenda
    June 29, 2017 / 2:40 PM

    Oh my, how absolutely lovely. And you explained it so well. I have an old iron crib that I would love to make into a settee and this would be the perfect seat for it. Now all I need is your gifted hands and perseverance.

    From the projects you are sharing, I can see your revamping of your living room is happening.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      June 29, 2017 / 9:15 PM

      I am so pleased that it makes sense. Your iron crib sounds PERFECT for a french mattress. And yes, the reveal is coming SOON, I’m so excited.

  3. June 29, 2017 / 4:48 PM

    I LOVE a beautiful French mattress, and yours is certainly that. Explained and detailed so perfectly. Thanks for this great post!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      June 29, 2017 / 9:16 PM

      You are a girl after my own heart and I am so glad you liked the tutorial. xoxo

  4. June 29, 2017 / 8:09 PM

    This is absolutely incredible~ bravo! I have just the spot for one although I think my dog would also claim it. 🙂

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      June 29, 2017 / 8:47 PM

      Oh yay! I’m so glad you loved it. Haha, those dogs, gotta love em! I’m hoping to do a post for National Dog Day in August about how to decorate with a dog in the house, I should address this issue.;)

      • September 13, 2020 / 7:39 PM

        My mother hand quilted with arthritic hands. She always said, “Push with a thimble, and pull with needle nose pliers.”
        I can’t imagine how hard you worked doing this thick tufting, but this tip might help you next time

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      July 1, 2017 / 8:56 PM

      You bet! Thanks for stopping by.

  5. July 3, 2017 / 3:54 PM

    These are beautiful. I love how they look and your tutorial is so thorough I am sure I can follow along. Pinning

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      July 8, 2017 / 11:12 AM

      Thank you, Kristine, I agree with everything you have said!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      July 8, 2017 / 11:12 AM

      Oh, I am so pleased!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      July 8, 2017 / 11:13 AM

      Thank you, Melissa, that window seat was the first thing I saw when we were touring the house to buy it. Love at first sight.;)

  6. Betsy Adams
    July 4, 2017 / 8:44 AM

    Great idea. Have wondered about trying one of these. You give me courage.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      July 8, 2017 / 11:15 AM

      That is the best compliment ever! xoxo

  7. July 4, 2017 / 5:51 PM

    This is a great tutorial. I will have to give it a try.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      July 8, 2017 / 11:16 AM

      Yay! I am so excited for you!

  8. July 5, 2017 / 5:47 AM

    Sarah, you are so talented! I wish I had the even a bit of your talent when it comes to stuff like this! I have a bench I’ve been hoping to find a cushion like this for, but didn’t want to shell out the $ to get one. If I work up enough nerve I think I’ll try your tutorial. In the mean-time I’m going to feature it this week on The Creative Circle Link Party. Thanks for sharing it with us!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      July 8, 2017 / 11:16 AM

      Oh, I hope you find the perfect cushion solution very soon! Thank you for the feature, I’m so excited!

  9. July 6, 2017 / 6:37 AM

    I made one before, but I just love how you quilted it. It adds so much charm and feels soft and warm. You amaze me!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      July 8, 2017 / 11:17 AM

      Thank you so much, Julie, you just made my day!!

  10. July 6, 2017 / 8:29 PM

    This is beautiful sarah! I wish I could sew…I need a new cushion on my window seat…but I just staple the frabric to a piece of wood. I wish I could have one this beautiful!!

  11. July 6, 2017 / 9:43 PM

    This is just amazing, Sarah!! I’ve always wanted one and you outdid yourself. It’s just perfect!
    Hugs, Jamie

  12. July 9, 2017 / 2:18 PM

    Love this Sara. You did a beautiful job, your tutorial was excellently done, and your photos are stunning as usual. I’ll be pinning for inspiration later.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      July 25, 2017 / 7:06 PM

      Oh, you are so sweet, Cheryl. Thank you for your kind words!

  13. July 10, 2017 / 3:07 PM

    Excellent job, you should be proud. I know how to sew, but I also know my tolerance level. That would drive me nuts. Kudos to you!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      July 25, 2017 / 7:10 PM

      Thanks, girl! It was a little challenging, as in took a lot of time. But, not that complicated really.

  14. Tanya Hulbert
    July 18, 2017 / 11:14 AM

    Your tutorials always give so much thorough detail! You are an amazingly talented woman! I so wish I had a window seat in my home. Maybe one day…

  15. October 18, 2017 / 9:41 AM

    Thank you so much! I need to make 3 of these and these instructions are great and yours turned out beautifully! If yours required 6 hours of hand tufting I’m not sure how motivated I will be for the final 2, but I’m willing to give it a shot :).

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      October 21, 2017 / 5:28 PM

      Oh good, wow, three cushions. You are amazing! Just pace yourself, you can do it! xoxo

  16. January 29, 2018 / 3:45 AM

    Love your work! I am inspired with your creativity. I can’t wait to try this. Thanks and keep sharing.

  17. Lisa
    April 10, 2018 / 6:37 AM

    Thank you so much for providing this information. I need to make a custom size for a window seat in my new house. I will be following your tips and am excited to get started.

    I’m so glad I found your blog. I’m so in love with your style.

    Lisa from Indiana

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      April 12, 2018 / 9:27 PM

      You are so welcome, Lisa, thank you for all your sweet words. Let me know if you have any questions, I think you will really love your french mattress. Mine is a prized possession of mine!

      • Lisa
        June 12, 2018 / 5:21 AM


        I’ve procrastinated and need to get started on my French mattress window seat cushion. Do you think drop cloth (bleached and washed several times) would be a good fabric to use for my cushion. I’m wanting to match my drop cloth curtains but wanted to get your input before purchasing my items to get started.

        Thank you.
        Lisa from Indiana

        • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
          June 15, 2018 / 11:36 AM

          Hi Lisa, thank you for your patience in getting back to you! I think you can definitely use bleached drop cloths, just be sure to spray it really well with Scotch Guard once you are done. I really like the microfiber because it is easy to wipe clean and almost looks like velvet, but drop cloths will be fine, too. xoxo

  18. Lauren Ludlam
    January 22, 2019 / 8:34 PM

    Hi. I am more of a visual learner. Lol. Any way to get a YouTube video with a link of you doing the actual stitching on the edges. Like REALLY close up?

  19. Jody
    February 15, 2019 / 9:58 AM

    Thank you for the instructions. I moved to a lake cottage and the only 3 things worth keeping in the 2-30cubix feet dumpsters of junk was the old Chambers stove, the old deeeeep kitchen sink and an awesome wood frame from a couch. It would cost more to buy cushions than to buy a new sofa. So I am going to make a long cushion using your instructions. I will use 6 inch foam and sturdy fabric. If you have any other hints email me!! Wish me luck ya’ll!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      February 26, 2019 / 11:30 PM

      Whaaat???!! You finds sound amazing, I’m so excited for your cushion project. Send me pics, if you can!! xoxo

  20. Kathryn
    March 13, 2019 / 1:28 PM

    I have been looking for a tutorial for this Thank you for posting your video. It looked so much more complicated but you made it simple to understand

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      March 25, 2019 / 6:17 PM

      Glad I could help!!

  21. Melody
    May 16, 2020 / 1:51 PM

    OOOHHH, Sarah this is just what I have been looking for…. you sweet lady thank you!!!
    I am old enough to be your mother and I remember as a little girl this was how our bed mattresses where made and fitted onto a coil spring that sat in the metal bed frame. You would not believe how many bed / mattress stores I have visited looking high and low for this pattern. I have pinned it I will use it and there are so many ways I am going to use this. My daughter seen it and wants to do it too, I will teach my grand kid’s so they know how to D.I.Y because they love to make stuff as I do. I cannot thank you enough for sharing this. You made my day ; )

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      May 23, 2020 / 10:20 PM

      OH my gosh, you are the sweetest! Thank you for all your enthusiasm, I’m so glad you love it! xoxo

  22. Mary
    June 2, 2020 / 6:47 AM

    Hi Sarah,

    I’m really looking forward to making my cushion for our window seat. It’s something I have always wanted and one of the reasons I fell in love with our condo (we built the window seat but the window was calling for something). I wanted to make sure I follow your instructions correctly…When you say to have more fabric for bunching, do you mean to make the cushion cover slightly larger to allow for that bunching? I’m assuming this is what you mean but I wanted to double check before diving in deeper!


    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      June 2, 2020 / 6:31 PM

      Yes, make the cover slightly larger to allow for bunching. Have fun!

  23. Jannette Windisch
    July 10, 2020 / 9:30 AM

    I am excited to try this beauty on an 80inch bench in our mudroom. When utilizing your link to order the upholstery foam, I must select size and firmness (Medium, firm, extra firm). What would be your recommendation?

    Thanks –

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      July 18, 2020 / 9:36 PM

      Hi Jannette, I’m sorry for the delay! I’d recommend the softest foam available (so probably medium) because traditionally french mattresses are very lumpy!

  24. Bernadette Ancelin
    March 22, 2021 / 3:54 AM

    Bonjour, si l’ont pouvait avoir la version Française svp merci.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      April 10, 2021 / 12:31 AM

      Je suis dĂ©solĂ© que nous n’en ayons pas de disponible, mais j’espère que vous pourrez utiliser google translate pour pouvoir lire!

  25. Heather
    August 12, 2021 / 11:32 AM

    Are you saying you added a 3” seam allowance to each side? So for a piece of foam that’s 16x20x5, I’d cut 19x23x8?

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      August 23, 2021 / 10:56 PM

      I did an extra 1.5″ on each side, for 3″ total across the width, and 3 total across the height. Hope that makes sense!

  26. Joy
    October 19, 2021 / 11:21 AM

    I’m so happy I found this! I hope you’ll still respond to questions, I’m really unsure how much extra width (on the fabric and maybe the foam too?) is needed. I’m planning to make something similar with several layers of thick wool batting, and I know that tufting will “shrink” the finished product substantially but I don’t have any idea how much. Since I’ll need to sew the cover before adding the tucks, it seems like it could end up a terribly odd & unexpected size after all that work! Do you have any suggestions or references for determining the amount of shrinkage (I’m sure there’s a technical word for this!) based on the thickness of the cushion and tuft spacing? Yours is the best tutorial I’ve found and it looks like you’ve done many of these.
    Also, what kind of piano is pictured above? It’s absolutely gorgeous and I WANT ONE just like it!! Is it digital? I’m actually just deciding on one to buy and I’d love to check out this one first, it’s stunning!!
    Thanks so much, I’m a huge fan!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      December 7, 2021 / 10:19 PM

      I did 3″ and wish I had done more, so I’d suggest maybe 6″ if it’s not a super special/expensive fabric, but at least 4-5″ otherwise.

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