Tutorial: Three panel patchwork cushion

Scrappy Liberty fabric cushion with linen and a lacy zip

There’s something so stylishly generous I think, about a rectangular pillow or cushion. It’s nice to have fun with designs that wouldn’t work so well on a square version. For this cushion I’ve used a lacy zip (available from my sponsors, My Fabric House). The brilliant thing about these zips is that they are absolutely no trouble to use because they are sewn on externally – it’s all so easy, and they become a design feature in themselves.

I used Liberty scraps to do the patchwork (now I no longer sell my own Liberty lawn, I get it from another of my sponsors, Duck Egg Threads), and one of my favourite versatile fabrics, Polkadot linen from Sevenberry  – I always get mine from Fabric Inspirations, where they have a fab selection of Japanese linens.

Opti lacy zip in place on linen cushion

You will need:

For the front:
Various coordinating print fabrics measuring at least 12″ by 1″.
3 pieces of medium weight iron-on interfacing measuring 4″x12″
2 pieces of coordinating plainer background fabric measuring 12″ by 2.25″ and 2 pieces measuring 12″ by 3.25″
Piece of wadding or fusible fleece measuring around 13″ by 21″
Lining fabric, one piece measuring around 13″ by 21″

For the back:
2 pieces of coordinating solid/plainer fabric measuring 12″ x 10.75″
2 pieces of lining fabric measuring 12″ x 10.75″
2 pieces of fusible fleece measuring 12″ by 10.75″
Lace Opti zip by Coats (available from My Fabric House) measuring around 13″.

12″ by 20″ (30cm by 50cm) cushion pad.

Sewing kit, ironing kit, and textile glue (the clear sort that comes in a squeezy tube, like Gutermann HT2 Fabric Glue) and (if possible) a washable fabric glue stick.

Cut strips of fabric measuring a generous 12″ by any width you like between 1″ and 2″. Your aim is to create a panel of coordinating strips measuring 12″ by around 16″. Remember to account for the seam allowances (0.25″ per strip of fabric) when you are doing your measurements and selecting your strips. Arrange the strips as you go to create a combination that you really like the look of.

A combination of 5 or 6 different fabrics works well I think:

1 Arranging the strips

The selection I’ve used here are Liberty lawns – Kaylie Sunshine, Mitsi Valeria, Strawberry Thief, Glenjade, Phoebe and Thorpe, all available from my shop (of course..).

Stitch the pieces together along their long edges with a 0.25″ seam, keeping the strips in the order that you arranged them. Press the seams to one side as you go.

Cut the panel lengthways into 3 strips measuring 4″ (they might be a bit under 4″, don’t worry, as long as they are all a equal width, you can have them measuring jsut under 4″) by 16″.

3 Cutting the panels 1

The next step is to trim off some of the length from one or both ends of each strip so that the 3 patchwork panels aren’t identical in your finished cushion. Arrange them to suit, then trim so that you have 3 pieces measuring 4-ish” by 12″:

4 Cutting the panels 2

Don’t worry, you can always use the offcuts to make a pincushion, or something pretty like that!

Iron medium weight interfacing onto the reverse of each of the three patchwork panels, following manufacturer’s instructions.

5 Interface the panels

Stitch together the patchwork panels and the coordinating solid strips as follows:

6 Stitching the cushion top

Wider coordinating strip; patchwork panel; narrow coordinating strip; patchwork panel; narrow coordinating strip; patchwork panel; wider coordinating strip. Press the seams thoroughly in the direction of the coordinating fabric.

Take the large piece of lining fabric, and lay wrong side facing up on your work surface. Place the wadding you are using on top of the lining fabric. Then place your patchwork panel, right side facing up, on top of the wadding. Pin these pieces together by placing pins centrally along the coordinating fabric strips. Hopefully you can see this layers and the pinning in these pictures:

8 The sandwich

9 The sandwich 2

(By the way – you might spot that the two end pieces of coordinating fabric on this picture are too big – I got my first calculations wrong and had to trim a chunk off, so don’t worry if yours looks a bit different).

Top stitch the edges of the coordinating strips as shown:

7 Stitched up top

Make sure that the completed cushion top measures 12″ x 20″ (it doesn’t matter if it is a touch under this size), then zigzag stitch all round the edge, just to keep the layers lined up. Put the top to one side whilst you assemble the back.

Fuse the fusible fleece to the 2 coordinating back pieces, following manufacturer’s instructions. Take one of these pieces and put right sides together with one of the lining pieces. Pin along one the 12″ edges then stitch with a 0.5″ seam. Turn right side out and press the seam. Repeat with the other outer, fleece and lining pieces.

Trim the zip (if needed) to measure about 13″. The Opti zip is cut to length when you order, so there is no end stops. Put pins at either end of the zip to stop you accidentally unzipping it completely.

Pull the zip pull right out of the way, up by the pin you are temporarily using as an end stop. Use the washable glue to glue (or use pins to pin) one side of zip to the stitched edge of the right side of one of the back pieces:

10 Gluing the zip

You can see I was living dangerously and hadn’t got round to pinning both ends!

Use the coordinating thread (you can buy the exact match from Coats when you are ordering your zip – clever!) and a zipper foot, stitch the zip to one side of the cushion back, as shown (and no, I don’t know why I haven’t sewn all along the zip – I would recommend that you do!).

11 Close of zip

Repeat with the other cushion back piece:

12 Finished zip

Make sure your cushion back measures 12″ by 20″ and then zig-zag along the 2 short ends of the cushion back to keep the layers aligned when you sew your cushion together.

Open the zipper 2/3rds of the way and then put the cushion back and the cushion front right sides together and pin all round. Stitch round the edge with a 0.5″ seam.

Adjust to a narrow zig-zag stitch and stitch both ends of the zip, inside the seam line. I then put a dot of textile glue at both ends of the zip.

13 Zip end stitched and glued

14 Zip end stitched

Then trim the seams to around 0.25″ and trim the ends of the zip to a little more than that (as seen in the photo). Cut across the corners.

Turn through, pushing out the corners with a knitting needle or crochet hook, then  press the seams very thoroughly, and then insert your 12″ by 20″ cushion pad. Ta-da! Pretty zip:

Opti lacy zip stitched in place

Pretty cushion!

Scrappy Liberty lawn fabric pillow tutorial

The usual disclaimer – I am the only person to have tested this pattern, I think I have everything right, but do get back to me if I have missed something or made a booboo. Be nice!

Here are lots more Very Berry free sewing tutorials!

21 thoughts on “Tutorial: Three panel patchwork cushion

  1. it’s beautiful and I am going to try it, mind you, you are keeping me busy with drawstring bags and bookmarks too at the moment! I have just ordered from Fabric Inspirations which is quite wonderful so thank you for the contact.

    Thank you so much for getting me back into being a bit creative.

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Hi, this could be the answer to the liberty jelly roll problem. I just don’t like it as a striped quilt. The fabrics don’t seem to work and I’ve tried so many permutations. Perhaps using your idea and a backing colour would sort it out. Thanks.

  3. A really lovely cushion which makes full use of the pretty zip. What a great idea! Thanks for such a clear tutorial Ali. I know it’s obvious, but I just wondered if the instructions should mention that the zip pull should lie just in from the edge of the cushion back before sewing to the front and trimming and oversewing (zigzagging) the ends? Thanks for sharing.

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