Crash Pad




About: I'm an engineering professor and freestyle skydiver. I recently joined Techshop in Chandler and really love making.

I have fabrics/ silks in my 'dining' room and love to do tricks. My husband always cringes a bit when I am practicing--he's afraid that I'm going to do a drop and fall on the hardwood floor and hurt myself. I started looking to buy a crash pad, but they were either expensive or I wasn't sure of the quality.

The plan is to build a four foot by six foot crash pad.

Step 1: Finding/ Buying the Supplies

I plan to sandwich a 4" piece of high density foam with a 4" piece of medium density foam. I found a store in Phoenix that sells fabric and foam and bought some foam that was 2'x8' in size (Fabric Depot: They cut 2' off of the end and I bought a half a piece of a second (2'x4') and some adhesive spray to glue the pieces of foam together. I plan to glue the foam together at my house and to sew the fabric (a piece of pleather and some open weave fabric to give the air a place to glue) at Techshop using their industrial sewing machines.


High density foam--1.5--8'x2'x4" pieces (in the pictures this is the blue foam, I'm not sure that is standard though)

Medium density foam--1.5--8'x2'x4" pieces

Pleather--I bought 7 yards of a color that woks well with our room (the whole roll was on sale, could have gotten away with less--I have some leftover, the one we bought is made for boating)

Open weave fabric--1 yard (this is for boats I believe)

Sleeping bag zipper from JoAnn's Fabrics--100"

Thread—use a thick one. The first time I used what was already on the machine and it ended up being way too thin and broke when we tried to put the foam into the cover. Take the time to rethread the machine and bobbin with some more industrial strength thread--that way you don't have to resew all of the seams like I did ;)

Dan Tack Foam and Fabric Adhesive (apparently the 3M version is good also, but more than 4 times the price, the guy at the foam store recommended this.)

Dan Tack Foam Silicone Spray (this may not be needed, but helped get the foam into the cover and may be good to provide some lubrication between the cover and the foam when there are drops.)

Step 2: Gluing the Foam

We started by gluing the foam. We were worried about fumes from the adhesive, so we set up in the garage. We laid down some drop cloths and put the foam together and lined it up. We then took one piece off of the sandwiched foam and turned it over. Then I sprayed both sides of the foam and let it sit until it felt dry and tacky (just a few minutes). After each application we cleared the nozzle by turning the can upside down and spraying until only air comes out. Then we carefully guided it back in place and pressed the pieces of foam together. We repeated for all of the pieces of foam. Then we had the thin pieces in the center left. We let it dry for around 30 minutes and then worked on the thin pieces.

Then we propped open the foam to get to the thin pieces in the center. We sprayed the adhesive again and let it dry. During drying I put a stool under the end to ensure that the thin pieces had good contact. We then put the pieces together and made some measurements so that I could start sewing at techshop.

Step 3: Prepping for Sewing—Cutting the Fabric

I first watched a youtube video about sewing a bench cushion cover and this was really helpful. I did not do any piping, but this still helped with figuring out a good plan. Put the two glued together foam pieces together and make measurements. I then added 1” seam allowance to each measurement—for example, one measurement was 8”, so I cut that measurement to be 9” (allowing for a .5” seam on each side).

I then cut out the top and bottom pieces (73”x49” for me).

I knew I’d need material for each side of the zipper for the boxing so I took the excess from the top and bottom pieces for those pieces. I needed two pieces that were at least 100” long and at least 4.5” wide. After I sewed the fabric to both sides of the fabric I measured and cut those to the right dimension (9” in my case for the 8” thick foam and 1” seam allowance).

Then I decided that I wanted the mesh to be the same length as the zipper (to give the cushion some symmetry). Basically this would go along one long side of the cushion and wrap on each side. I cut the mesh in 9” strips until I had enough for 100” (in my case 2 pieces worked).

I needed two more pieces to connect the zipper pieces to the mesh pieces. I cut two 9” wide pieces and cut one to the size that would be needed 20” + 1” seam allowance (21” long). The other piece I cut to 9” wide and left it much longer than 21”. Later after sewing this part I would re-measure, mark and cut/ sew so that it fits nicely around the foam.

I also decided to create two handles, so I cut two pieces 11”x 5.5”. I actually went through many iterations to figure out how to make handles—the ones I ended up doing ended up being pretty simple. This pleather fabric didn’t do so well with sewing multiple seams.

Step 4: Sewing the Cover--Find a Sewing Machine

I went to Techshop Chandler with all of my fabric all cut and ready to go. I planned to use the walking foot but it was not working so I ended up using the industrial straight stitch machine. The walking foot would have probably been easier and would have been especially helpful for the straps.

Step 5: Sewing the Straps

I tried multiple iterations of straps and ended up with a pretty simple solution. If the walking foot machine had been working, I’m sure one of my more fancy solutions would have worked. I am quite happy with the way that they turned out. Basically I took the fabric, folded it in half, and sewed with a .5” seam allowance. Then I turned it inside out. I made two handles.

Step 6: Sewing the Zipper Side of the Crash Pad

Next I sewed the narrow pieces to the zipper to create the ‘side’ of the crash pad with the zipper. Here, the zipper foot would have been helpful, but I didn’t bother with it and it worked fine. First I sewed the pieces together lengthwise so that I had at least 100” long of fabric for each side of the zipper. Then I sewed as close as I could (I think it was a .25” seam allowance) to the bumps on the zipper. At some point the zipper pull gets in the way—simply make sure the needle is in the fabric, then lift the foot, and move the zipper pull to the other side.

Sew both sides of the zipper and then you are ready for the next step.

Step 7: Sewing the Sides Together Into a Long Strip

After cutting the zipper side pieces to the correct length (9" in my case), I sewed all of the side pieces together. I sewed the zipper piece to a 20" piece of pleather, and then to a piece of mesh. Then I sewed the other piece of mesh to this (the total mesh length should be 100" to match the zipper side). Lastly I sewed the last piece of pleather to the mesh. This was a much longer piece (than the 20" needed) because I wanted to wait until I sewed it to the top piece to make sure the measurements were correct.

Step 8: Sewing the Top Piece to the Sides

Next I sewed the side pieces to the top piece. At this point all of the side pieces are the right width (9" in my case). I started at a corner and then when I got to the next corner, I cut a little diagonal in the side fabric so that I could make a turn (see sketch). When I got to the corner I made sure the needle was in the fabric and then lifted the foot and moved the top fabric so that I could sew the next side. The cut makes this maneuvering easier.

When I got to the last side I stopped with plenty of room to spare. I then figured out the correct length to sew the last bit of the side piece. I measured and marked where I needed to sew the side pieces together. I did this and then continued sewing it to the top piece. This made it so that it was perfect.

Step 9: Sewing the Bottom Piece to the Sides

Now, for the last step--sewing the bottom piece to the sides. At this point you just hope that the measurements work out well. I started at one end of the zipper (in the corner) and moved in the opposite direction so that the zipper was the last thing that I did. The zipper made it easier at the end because I could unzip it and have a little more movement with this massive cover.

I sewed all of the pieces just like the other part with a .5" seam allowance. When I got to the last corner, the alignment wasn't perfect. I looked closely at it and found that I needed to sew a curve in this last corner to make it so that there were no holes in the cover. I thought it would be more obvious when it was all together, but I don't think anyone else would really notice. Now the cover is complete and it's time to go home to see if they fit!

Step 10: Spraying the Silicon Spray and Putting the Foam in the Cover

Now things are getting exciting--it's time to see how it all fits. Because I didn't add any space beyond the seam allowances, it was a tight fit. I think it was best that it was tight but it makes this step more stressful.

We sprayed silicon spray on all of the sides of the foam and then worked to get the foam into the cover. With a little coaxing it all worked well--but was quite tight. After it was zipped up we could move it around to make the corners fit well in the right places.

It looks beautiful and matches our aerial room perfectly. I'm so glad that I decided to make this. It helped us save 50% of what we would have spent on a high quality crash pad and I got to make it! It was really fun to have a good reason to use some of the industrial sewing machines at Techshop.

If you have a techshop or makerspace around I encourage you to take advantage of the resources there. I made this at Techshop Chandler ( ).



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    18 Discussions


    1 year ago

    I would like to make a crash pad to use as a landing mat for the high jump in track and field. Your instructions were important in how to make it. Thank you!

    1 reply

    Reply 8 months ago

    I’m glad to hear it was helpful!!


    8 months ago

    Hi, not confident I'll get a reply, but does anybody know if this diy mat stood the test of time? mainly curious if the pleather wore out quickly. Thanks!

    1 reply

    Reply 8 months ago

    I used it yesterday. I haven’t had any problems at all! Because the pleather is made for boating upholstery I expect it to be pretty tough.


    2 years ago

    how much did this cost?


    3 years ago

    This is a professional quality looking pad! How do you think it would do for rock climbing? (Big falls onto the pad which covers big rocks, boulders, and/or not level ground)

    Kayley ElizabethY

    3 years ago

    Hi, I'm 14 and my little sister is a cheerleader! She is eleven and has her back and front tuck, that jazzy type of stuff. Mats are expensive and I want to make her one but I don't have sewing skills to do this! Is there a more simple way of explaining this?

    1 reply

    Hi Kayley! I didn't have much sewing experience either when I started this project. I did have access to an industrial sewing machine which made it a bit easier. I would watch some videos on youtube about sewing covers for bench cushions (this is one that I watched: ). Basically this is the same idea only much larger. You could even start by practicing sewing a bench cushion cover to make sure you understand what you are supposed to be doing. Hope this helps! Good luck helping keep your sister safe with her gymnastics!


    3 years ago on Introduction

    That looks fantastic! So the gray side panel is the open weave fabric right? What do you mean by "open weave fabric to give the air a place to glue"... I imagine it would help the foam "breathe" a bit and prevent it from getting musty or moldy over time.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! Apparently that was a typo... I meant to say "open weave fabric to give the air a place to go". When you land on the pad, I would want the pad to compress and take the energy from your fall and not be like a balloon (full of air).

    A lot because I had to sew over all of the seams twice ;) Honestly I'm not really sure. My husband gave me a partial spool of a thick thread (I can check when I get home details of what it was) and there was still some left. It is pretty big so there was a lot of thread used.


    Reply 4 years ago

    Thanks so much. It's my first big sewing project and it turned out nicely.