a pretty appliqué cushion

Cushion cover made using vintage tablecloths
Cushion cover made using vintage tablecloths

Firstly let me say I’m not claiming this one as my own work, I helped facilitate it but no more. I thought you might be interested in how Sue made it though, in case you fancy having a go yourself.

Sue had bought several lovely old tablecloths in an antiques store. They were smallish square linen cloths with very pretty hand embroidery which she used from time to time but not often. Sue would probably be the first to admit that dressmaking isn’t her forte but she’s grown to love the classes with the fun and camaraderie they offer, she makes them a priority in her very busy schedule. While she was looking for her next project amongst some books and magazines I take along to class she spotted this idea and remembered the tablecloths she had.

It might seem a shame to cut up useable tablecloths but if they live in a drawer most of the time it seems a nicer idea to have the pretty bits on a cushion you see and use all the time.

I’m not a patchworker so although I understand the mechanics of it I’ve never done it. I felt that the cut pieces of linen would need a bit of body and something to prevent them fraying. In my experience of working in a secondary school we often used something called Bondaweb which is an interfacing product that acts as a ‘blob of glue’ between fabrics, to hold them together or securely positioned until they’re embroidered or appliquéd in place. It comes on a paper backing so you iron it onto one side of your fabric-paper uppermost, then peel off the backing paper and place it in your chosen position. The glue side should be sandwiched between the two fabrics. You then apply heat again to complete the bond. This isn’t difficult but it can be surprisingly easy to mess up and get glue all over your iron (believe me, I had to clean enough mucky irons! “Miiisss, it’s all stuck to the iron”) Both products can be bought in haberdashery departments and online, either in pre cut packs or by the metre.

Bondaweb bought on a roll
Bondaweb bought on a roll
Heat n Bond
Heat n Bond-a similar product which comes in different ‘strengths’ of hold depending on what you want it for.

Once Sue had cut up all the embroidery that she wanted to use she stuck the Bondaweb on the back of all of them. In the end she put them onto a double layer of a backing fabric, I didn’t think the original sheeting she’d bought had quite enough body on its own so I suggested doubling it up. In truth the ironing stage was a bit of a faff and, if Sue repeats it, we’ll try to come up with something more straightforward. Hey ho, you live and learn!

The original idea had the patches sewn together by feather stitch hand embroidery but Sue preferred to use one of the variety of stitches her machine offered. In case you want to try this stitch for yourself here’s a simple how-to guide. It isn’t tricky once you get going but you do need to concentrate to start with.

Starting from the reverse bring the needle out at B, reinsert it at D. Keeping the thread underneath the point of the needle bring it back out at C, on a diagonal.
Starting from the reverse bring the needle out at B, reinsert it at D. Keeping the thread underneath the point of the needle bring it back out at C, on a diagonal.
You should now have a U-shaped stitch with the thread coming out over the top of it. Take the needle in at A then back out at B, on a diagonal. The thread is underneath the needle as it emerges.
You should now have a U-shaped stitch with the thread coming out over the top of it. Take the needle in at A then back out at B, on a diagonal. The thread is underneath the needle as it emerges.
You should now have 2 U-shaped stitches. The thread must always come out over the top of each now stitch.The pattern continues with D down to C, A down to B and so on.
You should now have 2 U-shaped stitches. The thread must always come out over the top of each now stitch.The pattern continues with D down to C, A down to B and so on.
The finished feather stitch should look like this.
The finished feather stitch should look like this.

As I said, Sue used an embroidery stitch on her machine because she didn’t want it to take forever. She used 2 or 3 co-ordinating threads to bring a bit of variety to the surface. If you’re using a zig zag or satin stitch on your machine it’s a good idea to change the foot to one suited to the purpose. If you look at the underside of foot for satin stitch it is likely to have a groove or grooves in it. This is so that when you widen and shorten the stitch to create the zigzag or satin stitch it should slide smoothly over the surface of the stitch as you sew and not get stuck in one place because it can’t proceed forward over the bulkier stitch. (hope that makes sense)

Sue’s become a dab hand at bias strips now so she decided to finish the edges with simple bias strips, no piping cord. For this she used the colourful fabric she’d bought for the backing.

Colourful bias strips to finish the edges-no piping cord
Colourful bias strips to finish the edges-no piping cord

Finally, the backing is more of the colourful pink fabric. To keep things super simple Sue uses an envelope opening, like pillow cases. This clever trick is both speedy and does away with the need for inserting a zip or making button holes-crafty eh?!

another corner, with a different colour stitching
another corner, with a different colour stitching
The reverse of the cushion
The reverse of the cushion

The only thing left to do is pop a cushion pad into the cover, place it on a chair and wait for the compliments to come rolling in!!

Happy Sewing

Sue

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