How to Sew a Garden Kneeling Pad with Fabric Scraps

A denim garden kneeling pad outside. In the background are blooming orange California poppies.

If you enjoy gardening and sewing, dig into your stash of fabric scraps to make yourself a simple and free kneeling pad for working comfortably in the yard.

A denim garden kneeling pad outside. In the background are blooming orange California poppies.

I spent a wonderful, screen-free, productive five hours on Saturday working outside. I pulled weeds, planted and relocated native plants and spread mulch in the front yard. (I’m slowly transforming what used to be a lawn into a garden filled with native plants. You can read more about that project here.) I kept wishing I’d had something to kneel on, such as a foam pad.

But “foam” means “plastic.” This garden kneeling pad—green to suggest it’s soft on the planet in addition to the knees—is made from ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), a type of blown plastic. (Like sugar, plastic goes by many names.) Were I to buy this pad, it would eventually break down and wind up in an overburdened landfill where it would outlast me and my kids and their kids if they have any.

Then it dawned on me—I could sew a kneeling pad!

Old jeans and fabric scraps transformed into a kneeling pad

Denim is such useful fabric. I’ve been ripping apart old, worn jeans that I’ve saved over the years. I plan to sew some utensil rolls and eventually, a homemade Wonder Bag slow cooker. Because I wanted sturdy fabric to withstand the outdoors, I dug into this denim stash for my kneeling pad.

I also have a few boxes of fabric scraps looking for a purpose. Friends and I sew produce bags out of donated, unwanted fabric and sheets to give away at the farmers’ market (read more about that here). We mostly sew these bags on sergers, which trim the edges while they double stitch and overlock the seam. I save all the shreds the sergers spit out and all the scraps from cutting the bags out of fabric and even the clumps of thread that we pull out of the fitted sheets that we cut for the bags.

Light blue deconstructed jeans sit on a wooden table
Some of the jeans I’ve deconstructed recently
A cardboard box filled with fabric scraps and shreds in all different colors
Scrappy stuffing

How to make an upcycled garden kneeling pad

I didn’t measure the fabric, I just eyeballed a good size. The finished cushion measures 16 inches by 9.5 inches. Here’s how I made it:

  • Pull apart the inner seams of jean legs.
  • Cut the ends of the legs and press the fabric.
  • Place the pant leg pieces together, right sides facing, with what were the bottom hems on opposite ends.
  • Sew one long side together. You’ll have a parallelogram, not quite a rectangle. (If you used wide-leg jeans, you’ll have more of a rectangle.)
  • Trim the long edges to form a rectangle.
  • With right sides together, sew the remaining long side and one short side.
  • Stuff with fabric scraps, leaving enough space at the top to easily sew the opening closed.
  • Sew the opening closed. I serged this edge. If you prefer, make a tidy hem.

How to make an upcycled garden kneeling pad, in pictures

Cut jean legs sit on a wooden background with a pair of silver sewing shears
Cut demin
A pile of shredded dark denim sits on a gray cutting mat above a yellow rotary cutter
After trimming the long sides of the parallelogram to make a rectangle, I shredded the trimmings to use as stuffing later
A handful of red and white threads for stuffing a denim garden cushion
Very soft threads pulled from deconstructing fitted sheets
A denim garden cushion being stuffed with fabric scraps
Almost filled
A yellow rotary cutter sits above green partially shredded green fabric. To the left is a pile of shredded fabric. The background is a gray cutting mat.
I needed more small scraps so I shredded up some larger scraps
A denim garden cushion sitting on a wooden background
Finished kneeling pad
A denim garden cushion outside. In the background are blooming orange California poppies.
Denim garden kneeling pad with blooming California poppies in the background

I could have bought that kneeling pad—and had it delivered to my front door to boot! Instead, I saved money, used existing materials and had fun sewing. When we want or need something, with a little creativity, we can often fulfill that want or need by regarding everything as a resource and putting our existing resources to good reuse.

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6 Replies to “How to Sew a Garden Kneeling Pad with Fabric Scraps”

  1. Zero waste sewing is finally being celebrated. There are now patterns for making clothes with a minimum of cutting. I repurposed my seam allowances from linen pants into pee cloths. My gf has been doing it for years and buys 12 rolls of toilet paper every two years.

    1. As it should be! It’s fun to find a use for all the little bits. Wow, your gf has saved so many trees!

  2. I have one of those foam kneeling pads I have been using for about 15 years and it is in dire need of replacing, but I have hesitated. Thanks for the great idea for a replacement! How do you think this will hold up to washing? My kneeling pads definitely get dirty.

    1. After I posted this on social media, someone commented that they would make a denim pillow case to go over the denim pillow to keep the pillow cleaner. I thought that was a good idea and will try it (I have piles of denim).
      I have also made door snakes to block drafts stuffed with the same material and have washed them and hung them to dry. They have held up well. So I think the pillow will also.

  3. Mariana Barboza says: Reply

    I’d love to know how to produce these “caps” made with cotton or any other fabric scrap: They are a good replacement for plastic as a cover for bowls.

    1. Oh I should totally make some of those. You’d sew a circle, put a casing around the edge and then feed a string through the casing. That would be pretty simple. You could also put elastic in the casing. I would prefer string because it breaks down but I also happen to have piles of elastic from the before times and from fitting sheets I’ve pulled apart. Thank you for the idea! I’ve added it to my to-blog list.

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