Cushion covers (almost ready to assemble)

For ages now I’ve thought it would be nice to make two matching cushion covers to replace charity shop ones my husband brought with him when we got married, which neither of us are particularly keen on, they just ‘do’, and now the zips are broken. So when I went to the sewing shop in our village on the first Tuesday in January, to investigate their sale fabric, and saw a co-ordinating pack of 4 fat quarters which I really liked, I knew what I could do with them – if they contained enough fabric. So there was a double challenge of making them, and seeing if I could stretch the fabric far enough. I’d always like the idea of patchwork being an economical, thrifty, thing, but the reality has proved different! Still, this bundle was reduced from £12.50 to £8.50, and I reckoned that if I could get two cushion covers out of it I would be doing quite well (always hoping that I had enough calico backing and wadding in stock). It was also a pleasure to be able to visit the sewing shop, as since they downsized and do most of their sales online they’re only open on weekdays and I’m not usually at home on weekdays, so it’s a rare thing to be able to visit.

The four co-ordinating fabrics are a sort of sage green, perhaps a little paler, in plain, a stripe, a gingham, and quite a loud check. I like that the colours and patterns are quite neutral but without being dull. I toyed with the idea of throwing in some burgundy squares, as both have blue undertones, but decided against it and am now glad of that. I think the loud check is enough of a contrast to the other three patterns. Here are a few options I toyed with:

While throwing around ideas when out walking I thought I’d like to put in some rectangles, rather than just squares, but did lay out some with just squares to see what it looked like before going back to plan A. As usual, deciding what to put where was my greatest challenge! But I was careful to cut strips from the fat quarters so that there were long pieces left from which to cut the pieces for the borders. These are the two designs I ended up with:imgp0153

I think I actually finished these the weekend after I bought the fabric, which is a record. Something else I wanted to do was go straight from buying the fabric to making something with it, I too often plan and buy but then due to having other things to finish it sits in the basket and somehow never looks as nice when you go back to it.

Flushed with the near-success of making mitred corners on the Christmas cushion, I went for them again for the borders for these. As part of making the cushions a pair-but-different I went for both having two plain sides and two patterned, but the patterned different on each. It is amazing the difference the border makes to a piece of patchwork!

I think it was only at this point that I realised the bottom row of each one is the same! Never mind, I doubt they’ll end up sitting the same way up on the sofa, and you’d have to really be staring at them (and care enough) to notice that. I think the borders took me the whole of the next weekend. Then the weekend just gone I quilted one front and made the backs for both. Although I did unpick a couple of bits of quilting I felt weren’t neat enough and redid them after work the last few evenings! I should have said, making the quilt tops also required a fair bit of unpicking and redoing, occasionally due to sewing machine hiccups (aka my ineptitude), but more often because I like the lines of the pattern on the fabric to look lined up, which of course hasn’t always happened.

Having quilted the front using the machine – without the quilting foot but it seems not to have made a difference because the pieces are quite small, only 15 inches square – I rather wish I had done it by hand, because the heavy stitching, even though I used longer stitches, disguises the rectangles and makes them look like squares, whereas ‘stitching the ditch’ by hand like I did with the Christmas cushion would have made the stitching more discreet.


In the picture below are the back pieces, each one 15 x 10 inches to give a decent overlap for an envelope-style closure. The one at the bottom right looks like the last strip is too short, but in fact the top two are too wide, I’m not sure how I managed that but it doesn’t matter because they’ll be taken into the seam when I sew fronts and back together. I was going to trim them down but it would have cut through the stitches.


I had fun using what was left over from the fronts to piece together the pieces for the back. I did measure them and cut pieces of paper to size to try and piece them together in lunch breaks, but though that reassured me I had enough fabric, even taking seams into account, in the end it was to little avail because I’d measured the pieces before trimming them down so some of them turned out to be inaccurate so in the end I just trimmed them to the nearest quarter inch, and laid them out on the carpet, cutting a couple of larger pieces in  half lengthwise so there was a fairly even distribution of patterns between the pieces, and trimming others down because the two put side by side came to more than 15 inches. They’ll look different again when laid out to overlap, and I know visually I’ll loose some bits I quite like, but it can’t be helped.

I’ve decided I’d like to try to make buttonholes and have two buttons on the back of each of these, but I know that’s difficult – hence why they still have envelope openings in case the button fastening isn’t to be! I’ve seen online instructions on a website to do with vintage clothes, bought one of the types of thread required and sent off for the buttons and top stitching thread. They may not come in time for the weekend, but I will in any case quilt the other front and practise the buttonholes on pieces of scrap fabric. If I get them working reasonably okay, I’ll have to carefully position the backs and take the scalpel to them for incisions for the buttonholes – sharp intake of breath required for that one, I think!

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