How to Create a Custom Futon for Your Car

You’ve heard of #vanlife, right? Well, you don’t need a van or an SUV to go camping in your car. I’ll show you guys exactly how I created a futon and turned my hatchback Ford Focus (named The Great Blueberry) into the ultimate camping car!

Really that just means I added a bed in the back and added a few homey details.

Gather your supplies

In order to make a custom futon for any sized vehicle, you’re going to need a few things.

Clean your car out

Already full of blankets and pillows, but they need to go!

If you are anything like I was this summer, you basically live in your car, which means there is a ton of unnecessary crap all over the place. Cleaning your car out will make making the futon so much easier, I promise!

I always keep a moving blanket in the trunk area of any car. It makes cleaning and vacuuming sooooo much easier

Measure your sheet

Measuring your sheet to fit your car is really simple. I laid the sheet in the open space with the seats down and folded in the excess fabric.

I kept it folded as I moved to the front porch where I would have more space and started cutting.

Measure your flat sheet
Measured sheet, ready to be cut

Cut your sheet

Cutting fabric is always the scary part for me. Once you cut it, that’s it. There is no going back and piecing it together.

I cut about an inch larger than where I folded it at. That way I had a little cushion room for sewing on each side.

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Pin the pieces together

Your sheet should not be in two pieces. You should still have a crease line on one of the long sides. Pin the fabric around the other edges where it is cut to make sewing easier.

Pin it

Sew sheet

This step is pretty straight forward. You shouldn’t need too much direction. Sew in a straight line. It’s okay if it’s not even that straight.

But one thing to make sure you absolutely do is to leave an open space large enough to fill the pocket with stuffing. I might have sewn past projects shut when I actually needed to stuff them. Oops.

I did not use a matching color of thread. I was too lazy to change it and the bobbin

Pretend to be a ghost

Pictures are worth a thousand words, right? Well, this one explains it all.

I’m a ghost

Stuffing your new futon

I used the insides of about 30 pillows to stuff my new mattress. Thankfully, I work at a hotel and the hotel is in the process of swapping out all the old pillows with new ones. I took a few of the rejects home, gutted them, and threw out the leftover fabric.


Check with local hotels to see if they are replacing old pillows and have any leftovers. Often times they just want them gone and will give them to you for free or at a very discounted price. Just the other day I sold eight old ones for $20, that’s $2.50 apiece and oh so cheap!

Halfway stuffed
A peak on the inside of the futon

Sew the opening shut

Again, pretty self-explanatory.

Don’t forget to pin it shut before you try to sew it. Since the futon is so stuffed, the pins do make it a lot easier to keep the opening closed and everything on track.

Complete futon fits perfectly in my Ford Focus, The Great Blueberry

Make your futon bed

To finish making your futon as a proper bed, you’ll need pillows and a set of sheets. I used full-sized sheets for my car and they fit perfectly!

Plaid throw // “My Happy Place” Pillow // Crochet Blanket (I made it)

Don’t forget to get mosquito net to throw over the back hatch to keep all the bugs out!

Mosquito net

Things to take with on any camping trip

Annual National Park Pass – for $80 you can enter any National Park or any National Park operated site for one year from the date of purchase.

Water – I always have at least a gallon of water with me

Water Bottle – Fill it with water from the gallon

Cooler – Keep food fresh and chilled

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Share this with your adventure buddy and pin to your road trip board!

Have you ever camped in your car or made a futon for the back of your car?

Share in the comments below!


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