How to Shape Foam & Pattern Complex Curves

Item # X-HT-300660

We have a useful DIY lesson to share with you today. Have you ever needed to shape a block of foam into a very curved, very complex shape? And then use the shaped foam to create a fabric cover? It can seem like a daunting task, but we’ve discovered a straightforward approach to creating extreme curves and contours in upholstery foam. And we’re excited to share it with you. Upholsterers take notice! You won’t want to miss this foam shaping and patterning tips and tricks video. Keep scrolling to learn more.

Learn how to shape foam into complex contours and curves in our how-to video.
The before and after of our headrest project.

In our video tutorial, we’re demonstrating this technique using a vehicle’s headrest. The headrest foam was rotted out and in bad shape (no pun intended!), and the vehicle’s owner wanted it to be replaced with new, high-quality foam. Our DIY team saw the perfect opportunity for a video on how to create a complex shape from foam, and then create a pattern template for the upholstered vinyl headrest cover.

And don’t worry — this foam shaping tutorial is not just for automotive DIYs. You can apply the lessons and techniques learned here to any piece of foam you need to cut down and contour into a very specific shape. You’ll learn how to take your existing foam piece and use it as a template for your new foam block. By drawing reference lines on your new foam and transferring curves and shapes over, you can begin to shape the foam block to match your current one. Once you learn how to contour and shape your foam piece, next up is learning how to take that complex shape and create a template from it for sewing a vinyl cover.

Learn how to shape foam into complex contours and curves in our how-to video.
You can see the reference lines Eric drew on the foam block to indicate where to cut and shape the foam.

The professional results we achieve on this headrest could not be possible without our exclusive foam shaping tool. The Sailrite® Foam Shaper is a clever, inexpensive tool that is a true workroom powerhouse! It shaves seating foam gradually, allowing you to carefully create your desired shape. Once the foam is shaped, we used Dura-Skrim® Patterning Material to pattern the foam and create a template for the vinyl upholstery cover. These two products are indispensable to the success of this DIY, and we highly recommend adding them to your next order.

Press play on the video below to learn how to shape foam and pattern complex curves for upholstery work.

Video Chapters:

  • Intro — 0:00 min.
  • Cutting Foam to General Size — 0:41 min.
  • Shaping Foam — 11:39 min.
  • Marking Foam for Templating — 17:51 min.
  • Patterning Newly Contoured Foam — 22:05 min.
  • Transferring Patterns to Fabric & Cutting — 36:37 min.
  • Sewing Sides to Middle Panel — 41:40 min.
  • Tack Stitch End Panels — 48:11 min.
  • Installing Zipper — 54:19 min.
  • Sewing Final Stitch on End Panels — 59:56 min.
  • Inserting Foam — 1:04:49 min.
  • Materials & Tools List — 1:09:29 min.

Materials List:

  • CushionRite™ Premium Antimicrobial Foam (Firm) #124236
  • Dura-Skrim® Patterning Material 74" #103134
  • EverSoft™ Indoor/Outdoor Denim 54" Vinyl Fabric #122216
  • Seamstick 1/4" Basting Tape for Canvas & Upholstery (36 yds.) #122065
  • Lenzip® #5 Black Continuous Coil Zipper Chain #124596
  • Lenzip® #5 Black Style A Single Locking Zipper Pull (Coil Chain) #124600
  • Polyester Fiberfill 15 Denier - Hollow Slick Conjugate #104467

Tools List:

  • Clear Acrylic Ruler 6" x 24" #102400
  • Sailrite® Blade Foam Saw V2 with Carrying Case (110V) #121244
  • 3M™ Super 77™ Spray Adhesive Low VOC 18 oz. #636100
  • Gingher® Scissors Right Hand Lightweight 8" #101017
  • Sailrite® Foam Shaper #123583
  • Scribe-All® Black Marking Pencil for Vinyl #121977
  • Fabric Edge Pattern Notching Tool #124326
  • Deluxe 5-1/2" Magnetic Sewing Guide #103597
  • Sailrite® Ultrafeed® LSZ Walking Foot Sewing Machine #300600
  • Fabric Edge Match Pliers #123498
  • Basic Thread Snips #123222
  • Sailrite® Ultrafeed® Industrial Sewing Table #120934
  • Tape Measure 120" #102986