Learn How to Make a Sit-Upon

Girl Scout Sit-Upons
Pat Catan's

Do you know what a sit-upon is? It’s a simple, homemade, and usually waterproof cushion Girl Scouts have been making to use during camping trips or anytime they end up sitting on the hard ground. The sit-upons come in handy during troop meetings, larger gatherings like World Thinking Day, and on field trips or camping trips.

Sit-upons have a long tradition in the Girl Scouts and are made by almost every troop at one point or another. There are many different ways to make these simple little cushions, but the basic construction is the same. You need a square outer cushion – ideally made from some sort of waterproof material – and something to stuff it with to make it comfortable.

Everything else is optional. Some troops will decorate their cushions. Some will add handles. You can make this particular group project as simple or as involved as you’d like.

Before you get started you need to consider two things: how much time do you have to spend on the project and how much money do you have for supplies? Those two factors will determine how you are going to make the sit-upons with your girls. Don’t worry, no matter how you make them, it will be an inexpensive craft activity.

The sit-upon can be broken down into three parts: the outer shell, the padding and any decorations (including handles) you want to add. Below are the parts and options.

Sit-Upon Outer Shell

The first thing you should decide on is the outer shell of your cushion. You can make it from fabric or felt, but most commonly, troops use waterproof materials to make it. While this won’t make a difference when you’re using your cushions on the floor of the school gym, it will come in handy when you’re outside and the ground is a bit damp. It also makes it easy to clean the sit-upons later. Just wipe them down with a damp rag, and they are good to go for the next camping trip.

The simplest outer shell is a sturdy plastic bag. Think of the square bags with round handle holes you get at the shoe store. If you can find one of those for each girl (or order some online), all you have to do is stuff it and use some double-sided tape to close the opening. The finished cushion will even have a handle built-in.

Fabric is another option, but your finished cushion won’t be waterproof. This could cause a problem on the damp ground, and it will be much harder to clean. The same goes for felt.

The best and most often used material is a vinyl tablecloth. You can find inexpensive tablecloths at the discount store. You should be able to get six to nine sit-upons out of each cloth. Measure it and determine how large you want to make the cushions. Cut out two squares per Girl Scout.

You can sew three sides of the cushion with a blunt needle and yarn, or use duct tape to tape them together. Leave one side open so that you can stuff the sit-upon.

Sit-Upon Padding

Once you have three sides sewn up, it’s time to stuff the cushion. Shredded newspaper will work, as well as crumpled-up plastic bags. With the bags, you don’t have to worry about the stuffing getting wet and molding.

Carpet padding is another great option if you can find someone to donate a large piece of padding to your troop. Old quilts or quilt batting can also be used.

After you stuff the cushion, close up the fourth side using the same method as the other three sides.  

Sit-Upon Embellishments and Decorations

This last part is optional but it’s fun for the girls to decorate their cushions. It will also make it easier to tell them apart if you’re using the same outer material.

Use permanent markers, stickers or paint pens to decorate the sit-upons. You can even sew or glue on handles to make it easier to carry them around.

Look through the list and mix and match the components for the sit-upons your girls will be making. Start with what you already have on hand. Look for donations on anything else or buy what you need through troop funds.