Gimp My Furniture

If you are a part time wheelchair user, then this might not be a problem for you, but I have lost all of my butt muscles. This creates some problems, mainly pressure sores and pain. I have an incredibly heavy and expensive cushion in my wheelchair, but I’m not always in my wheelchair. Rather than spend a fortune on cushions, I found a low cost way to convert my normal chairs into butt friendly furniture and I thought I would share.

Supplies needed:

Memory foam mattress topper

Hot knife

Upholstery fabric

Upholstery tacks



Open the mattress topper and lay it out flat. It’s going to arrive vacuum sealed and tightly rolled. Use caution when removing the plastic. You don’t want to accidentally cut the foam.

At first, the topper will appear flat. It can take up to a hour to fully expand. Once it reaches its full 3 inch height, unzip the cover and set aside.

Measure the width and length of the inside of the chair. If you are using a regular straight back chair, then you may want to only upholster the seat. Since I was covering a very uncomfortable recliner/ lift chair, I decided to cover the back with one piece of foam and the seat and leg rest with another.

Add 1 inch to the measurements. This insures a tight fit so it doesn’t slide around. You can trim it down later if needed, but you can’t add to it if you cut it too small.

Measure the correct amount of foam and mark where you should cut. Again, it’s better to be too big and need to be trimmed than it is to be too small.

It’s time to cut. You could try a regular knife or very sharp scissors, but I highly recommend using a hot knife tool. Since the foam is so dense, it will take a lot of strength to cut through it, even if the knife is sharp. It’s also more dangerous, because the knife can slip. God knows how clumsy I am and I would never hear the end of it from my husband if I cut myself while playing Macgyver.

The hot knife is perfect for this. Instead of slicing it, it basically cauterizes a path wherever it goes. It is incredibly hot so use caution, but it works well for this project.

After cutting out the foam, it’s time to put it on the furniture. At first I was concerned that it would be too stiff to work with a recliner, but it bends with the chair in an position. This is when you can trim it down if needed, but a snug fit will help to keep it in place.

Now you can cover it with upholstery fabric. Cut it to size with a half inch seam allowance. Cover the entire chair, fold under the ends, and use the tacks to hold down the edges. Now your gimped out chair looks just like a normal chair, but it’s suitable for a pressure sore prone butt.

You could also use the lazy, although comfortable, method. Skip the upholstery fabric. Cover it with a Jersey knit sheet and pin it into place. Right now I just have the sheet on mine. I like the feel of the soft cotton and it can be removed easily and washed on a regular basis.

Estimated Cost:

Mattress topper, twin size– $80 (I only used about 1/3)

Hot knife— $24

Upholstery fabric— $17

Upholstery tacks — $9

Total cost— $130 with enough left over for at least one more chair, possibly two.

That’s a far cry from this $515 seat cushion.