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Monday, April 12, 2021

How To Make a Zafu

Zafus, or round meditation cushions, are easy to find commercially now. But if you like to sew and want to make your own, here's a pattern that I dredged up out of my archives. It's old, but it remains a good instruction sheet to sew your own.

Home » Arts and Crafts » How To Make a Zafu

Here’s an old pattern for sewing a zafu (round meditation cushion.) I did not create this pattern, but saved it from another website years ago, sometime about 2008. It was a website that no longer exists, and this pattern went offline with it (along with my memory of what that website even was.) But I had it in my files and added it to the original Dukkhagirl.com. It lived there sometime between the years of 2010 to 2012 before dukkhagirl.com, itself, went offline.

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When life happened, and my blog went down, the file stayed alive. It skulked around in a backup directory stuffed in a drawer. In sorting through my archives, it surfaced again. While it has the look of a bad photocopy, these are good instructions for sewing a Zafu.

I’m not going to create a video or tack on additional instructions; my days of sewing these things are over. Back when I was actively sewing these, I sold some of them on eBay and at the local farmer’s market. My eBay moniker at the time was domesticgoddess (before I ever heard Nigella Lawson using the term) and my favorite feedback comment ever was on one of my cushions: “Domestic Goddess is the actual Goddess of eBay.” There you have it. Dukkhagirl is, in fact, the ACTUAL goddess of eBay! It is known!

However, I will contribute a few thoughts and tips from what I remember from my days of sewing these.

A few thoughts on sewing a zafu:

  1. Put a Handle on It! Some of my zafus had a somewhat unseemly-looking side seam, so I started covering it up by making a handle. I would take a strip of cloth slightly longer than the cushion would be tall, and perhaps 4″ wide or so, and sew a tube out of it. Then, using the decorative stitching on my sewing machine, I would fashion a carrying strap. This cosmetic device turned out to be extremely handy and thought I had invented something new: The “Zafu to Go,” I called it. But, years later, I bought a Hugger Mugger zafu and found, to my surprise, that it had a strap on the side just like the one I had “invented.”
  2. Why did I stop sewing them? For a few reasons. First, buying the filling and the fabric, plus the time involved in making them sometimes ended up being more expensive than just purchasing a Zafu. Now, it’s easy to find one Amazon, or if you want to support a smaller business, you can buy them from places like Carolina Morning.
  3. What to use for fabric? I think the best thing to use is canvas duck cloth. It’s thick and durable and is most often what you’ll find in commercially manufactured zafus. But make sure you have a heavy-duty sewing machine needle!
  4. The filling? When you’re sitting your butt on a cushion, you want it supporting you. It should be hard and firm. If you sink into it, you’ll end up with your spine slumping (which I usually do, anyway.) Kapok is the filling of choice for many zafus. I had a nearby grocery whose bulk food section sold buckwheat hulls, and I’d just go there and buy a bunch of them. Buckwheat hulls give you a nice, firm cushion, but be careful: if your zafu springs a hole, you have a mess on your hands! I started trying to make an inner pillow for my zafus, finally, to solve this issue. I would not, as the pattern here suggests, stuff your zafu with polyester fiberfill. It tends to get squished down over time.

Here’s the Meditation Cushion Pattern:

Download the Meditation Cushion Pattern as a PDF

I added the meditation cushion pattern here as a PDF if you’d like to download it.

This is a stock photo of meditation cushions; not mine! These are lovely if you want a purely decorative cushion, but if you want to actually sit on it, don’t sew knobbies onto yours. Ouch! My butt hurts just thinking of sitting on these over time. But I do approve of the handle!

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Perplexity is the pen name of a perpetually perplexed person who used to write and is writing again as DukkhaGirl. She tends to write about Buddhism, meditation, and the like. Her superpower, she thinks, is making herself suffer, thus her superhero name. She tends to write about Buddhism, meditation, and the like though if she's a Buddhist, she's the "bad" type.
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