Make it Monday :: patchwork cushion cover for beginners

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Make It Monday Title (1)

Our youngest starts full days at Kindy soon, and they were asked to take along a square cushion for rest times. I still had a small supply of ‘I Spy’ fabrics leftover from my ‘I Spy’ quilt many moons ago, so I sewed up a simple patchwork cushion for Lucas to take along.

Patchwork Cushion for Beginners Title Image

I thought I would document the process in case you’d like to make one too! If you can sew a straight line, and you’ve wanted to try a little bit of simple patchwork, a cushion is a great way to start.

The cushion features a super easy envelope closure, and obviously you can choose any fabrics/colours you wish!

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You will need:

Assorted fabric: the amount you need will depend on the size of the cushion insert. I’ve pieced the front only, and used a polka dot fabric for the reverse side.

Cushion insert: available in lots of different sizes from your local craft store

Rotary cutter & mat: extremely helpful for accurate squares, but if you don’t have these just do your best with scissors and a measuring tape!

Sewing machine: with coordinating thread

1/4 inch foot for your sewing machine: essential for accurate seams in patchwork. You may need to purchase this foot as an optional accessory. Alternatively, measure 1/4 inch from your needle and mark with tape to use as a guide instead.

Interfacing or batting: this depends on what kind of fabric you’re using. If you’re sewing with a decor weight fabric you won’t need it, but if it’s quilting cotton or similar it will need a bit of extra ‘padding’ to keep it looking nice.

Step 1:

Measure your cushion insert, or if you’ve bought it new the measurements should be on the wrapper or tag. I’ve chosen a 16″ cushion (41x41cm) as it’s easy to divide into 16 squares (4 rows of 4 squares). This measurement will be the size of your finished cover.

Just a little maths now – bear with me!

Divide the width of your cushion by 4 to give you the size of each of your finished squares (that is, after they’ve been sewn together)

My measurements were 16 inches divided by 4 = 4 inches. So each of my finished squares will be 4 inches x 4 inches.

Now we need to add seam allowances to the measurement of the squares, so we know what size to cut them. In patchwork, a 1/4″ seam in standard, so therefore add 2 times 1/4″ (1/2″) to your previous measurement. This is your measurement for cutting!

My previous measurement was 4 inches, so by adding 1/2″ this give me 4 1/2″, so I cut my squares 4 1/2 x 4 1/2″

Step 2:

Cut 16 squares from desired fabrics. Arrange them into 4 rows of 4.

If you’re unsure of the layout, standing back and ‘squinting’ at your squares can help to make sure you have an even distribution of lighter and darker fabrics.

Step 3:

Sew the first and second square of the first row together, with right sides facing and using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Sew the third square to the second, and so on until you have completed the first row.

If you’ve never pieced before, here’s a quick how-to:

Patchwork How To Collage

Rather than reverse at either end of your seam, lower your foot so that the needle will start sewing before it reaches the fabric. Hold the threads behind – as pictured – and start sewing. The presser feet will bring the fabric up the needle. Keep sewing along the length of your square, and continue until the fabric is free of the presser foot. Cut the threads.

You will notice the machine has twisted the threads at either end, which helps to keep the seam secure. Snip the ends, but leave approx. 1/2″ of thread – this will be hidden on the wrong side later on

Press seams open. In traditional patchwork, seams are pressed to one side which makes it easier to match points, but because a little face will be laying on this cushion I want to reduce bulk, so therefore I’m pressing the seams open instead

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Sew the remaining rows in the same manner – pressing all of the seams.

Step 4:

Now it’s time to sew the rows together!

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Place row one and row two right sides together and pin, taking care to match the seams. Placing a pin in each intersecting seam will help!

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Sew – using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Repeat with remaining rows until all joined

Press on both sides and admire your finished cushion front! Don’t be too worried if your seams don’t match exactly (mine don’t – see below!). Sometimes, the stretch of certain fabrics can work against you, no matter how perfectly you’ve cut, measured and sewn

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Step 5: 

If you’ve used quilting cotton, or a lightweight fabric, now is the time to add fusible interfacing or a layer of fusible batting. Cut to the size of your pieced cushion front and fuse with an iron on the wrong side

I like using the fusible batting pictured below for smaller patchwork projects. It’s especially useful if you want to do a little quilting on your pieced fabric (I haven’t worried about that this time)

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Step 6:

Now it’s time for the envelope back. You will need two pieces of fabric the same size for this – approx 3/4 the length of your cushion – plus another inch for a hem

The two fabric pieces will overlap quite considerably on the back to create extra stability for the opening – especially important for lighter weight fabric. If you’re using decor weight fabric, you can reduce this overlap if you wish

My measurement was 12 inches + 1 = 13 inches. So I cut two pieces of fabric: 13″ x 16″

Hem the long edge of each piece using a double rolled hem. If you have an overlocker you can use that on the raw edge first

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Press your seams

Step 7:

Time to sew it all together now! Place your patchwork cushion front right side up. Place your two rear fabric pieces on top, right sides down – overlapping them. Both hems should be in the middle

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Pin around all four sides:

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Sew around all sides using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Overlock or zigzag raw edges if desired

Step 8:

Turn inside out, through the envelope fold and push out corners using something blunt but pointy.

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Press your completed cover before inserting the cushion insert. And you’re done!

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Someone loves his new cushion! Let’s hope it provides many hours of peaceful rest time for his Kindy teacher :-)

7 Comments on Make it Monday :: patchwork cushion cover for beginners

  1. Sharon
    February 13, 2015 at 3:39 pm (3 years ago)

    I have been wanting to make a patchwork cushion for ages, but have never been quite sure how to go about it. Thanks for taking the time to explain step by step. I have some pretty fabric to use, so will have a go at making a cushion after next week which is crazy. I will make sure to post some pictures when it is done. Can’t wait to give it a go!

    • Bec
      February 18, 2015 at 10:28 am (3 years ago)

      Yay Sharon! Let me know how you go!

  2. Hazel Leeson
    October 29, 2015 at 12:39 am (2 years ago)

    CAN I MIX DIFFERENT WAITE FABRIC’S TO MAKE A PATCHWORK CUSHON .
    Regards Hazel.

  3. Vicki
    April 8, 2016 at 10:35 pm (2 years ago)

    Thanks for the brilliantly simple instructions, I just made my first patchwork cushion and am very pleased with it!

    • Bec
      April 9, 2016 at 9:20 am (2 years ago)

      No problems Vicki, I’m glad you found it helpful!

  4. Lee-Anne
    April 29, 2016 at 3:40 am (2 years ago)

    Love this step by step guide. I’ve just made a cushion for my daughter out of the scraps left over from her 1st quilt that i got made out of her baby clothes. So happy.
    Can’t wait for the next project!