Headphone cushions for Sony MDR series headphones can be purchased fairly cheaply, but I preferred to attempt a custom refurb of my own.
If you are practisced in the art of stitching, and my nomenclature is wrong, please forgive me as my education has been limited to a few items of auto upholstery. The book "Automotive Upholstery Handbook" by Don Taylor (downloaded Amazon Kindle) has been my sole reference, so blame Don.
The resto scheme i chose is to re-use the existing foam, with the old peeling cover carefully removed. I also discarded the thin layer of foam that covered the speaker on the original, in favour of a single layer of my chosen "plaid" fabric. As it turns out i think this improved acoustics, if anything.
- This is super fiddly, and it you can do this, you can do many other upholstery projects to be sure!
Step 1: Cut Templates
Templates required as follows: (use single layer card, such as a breakfast cereal box)
- Front panel
- outside edge is a trace of the headphone (cushion removed) onto cardboard.
- inside edge is a trace of the hole in the foam of the original cushion.
outside edge is a trace of the headphone (cushion removed) onto cardboard.
- is a strip of card the same width as your cushion foam height plus 2x seam allowance (SA)
- need not be any longer than the outside boxing
- Carefully roll the outside of the rear panel template along a line to get the min length required
- Is a strip of card the same width as your cushion foam height plus enough material to form a piping seam plus 1x SA
- You can make it wider than necessary and trim later, just do that, saves thinking, this dimension can be adjusted to determine how tight/loose the cover goes over the foam.
- If you have a hot wire and time, you could cut new foam for your cushion. Boxing width just needs to be adjusted to suit!
- Define your seam allowance now! This measurement is going to be used across all the componencts of the cushion. Look at you sewing machine foot, is there an obvious marker (foot width?) you can eyeball as you feed your material? Is it a metric or imperial measurement? If its around 1/4 of an inch it will do!
Step 2: Rear Panel
The rear panel is assembled to include a layer of card to prevent bunching of the overall cushion fabric during stitching, and also to help hold the foam in place.
The only part of the rear panel that will be seen on the finished cushion is the centre of the hole!
The card portion of the rear panel is cut from a trace of the outside and inside of the front panel template. Once the outside edge is cut out from the card sheet, use a pencil and ruler held together to trace a line parallel to the outside roughly 1/8" inside the existing edge. Cut along this new line, the back panel does not need to we as wide as the front! This will prevent the card edge showing through if things aren't perfectly aligned after stitching.
Apply glue to the card (one side only) and stick the card onto a peice of fabric (you could use the rear panel template to cut out this peice). Trim the overhanging fabric without taking off any card (the rear panel template is not really important, a square of fabric still works).
Take the fabric stuck to the card and sew around its edge to make it look nice/hold it together. Overlock, fancy stitch, whatever, as it's only you who will know whats inside your headphone cushion.
Use taylors' chalk to trace the inside of the front panel template onto the rear panel (get it as concentric as you can before you trace).
Step 3: Cut Front Panel
Trace a line 1x SA out from both inside and outside edges of your front panel template. Carefully cut out your front panel.
Step 4: Cut Inside Boxing
Cut out a strip of fabric using your inside boxing template. Depending on your fabric, you may need to consider weft/warp direction in relation to stretch. In this case the fabric stretches only diagonal to weft/warp. It just happened that with this plaid fabric, there was a red dashed line, and black line SA distance from each edge of the inside boxing.
Step 5: Sew Inside Boxing to Front Panel
Sew the inside boxing to the front panel. Double check that the pieces are going together the right way before you start, then check again!! I started in the middle of the straightest/longest edge. I did not use the foot pedal for almost all the sewing for the whole cushion, just turn the needle feed by hand! With the needle down, lift the foot and re-adjust how your are tracking, every needle down stoke if you have to, especially on curves. As long as the needle goes into both pieces of material about SA distance in from the edge each stroke, the seam will be in the right spot! Trim away the excess inner boxing, leaving 1/2' or so to overlap.
- This is where an effective SA that you can judge comes in handy!
Step 6: Sew Front Panel to Rear Panel
The line on the rear panel onto which the inner boxing is sewn is the outside of the chalk line! Also mark the middle of the longest edge on both rear panel, and inner boxing where both will join. This is to align both parts to reduce twist/creasing on the inside of the cushion. Like before, check twice before sewing to ensure correct assembly! This is fiddly to assemble as the front panel is larger than the boxing, and pulls the boxing away from where it needs to be sewn to the rear panel. Once again I started stitching in the middle of the longest/straightest edge and worked from there. This stitching is not visible on the final cushion so four starts/stops are not a problem.
- Like before, regularly stop with the needle down, lift the foot and adjust how things are tracking.
Step 7: Cut Outside Boxing
Cut out a strip of fabric using your outside boxing template. same as with the inside boxing, you may need to consider weft/warp direction in relation to stretch. Sew along one edge with an overlocker, or regular stitch of your choice. Then fold that over and stitch to form a piping seam, where a length of fishing line will later be threaded, to tie the whole assembled cushion onto the headphone. Again the lines in the plaid fabric used in this cushion aided sewing the seam evenly. Once you have sewn in the piping seam, measure and trim foam thickness plus one seam allowance from the piping seam.
Step 8: Sew Outside Boxing Onto Front Panel
Check and be sure its going on the right way! Keep stopping with the needle down and check everything is tracking right! Sew the outside boxing on, going just past where you started. Trim the excess off the boxing (start and finish) so that you can both tie the cuchion onto the headphone, and have the foam covered by fabric (some judgement required).
- While you are sewing the rear panel will interfere somewhat due to its stiffness... persevere and take a break... previous steps were trickier.
Step 9: Attach Cushion to Headphone
Cut a much longer length of fishing line than required, and feed it into the piping seam. I have not many photos of this step, as fitting the cover is tricky, needs more than two hands and cannot be put down half way through. Squash the foam into the headphone so that it's easier for the piping seam to be pulled tight completely over the headphone. Wrap the lines around, then back and hold them both on your back teeth and pull. Push the tensioned piping seam over the edge of the headphone and into its relief/seat. The lines should exit the piping seam, wrap around and meet opposite the openings. Tie a reef not, making sure to tension and check seam is completely seated before completing the not. Trim the excess thread, the short ends will quite naturally drop into the relief/seat on the headphone next to the piping seam.
- Do not tie a granny not!
Step 10: Hand Stitch As Required!
Hand stitch any areas where the machine stitching hasn't held the fabric together. Use a single thread to reduce the visibility of the hand stitching.