Tutorial: Simple Squares Patchwork Cushion

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These patchwork cushions have been designed for beginner quilters, using simple square blocks and a very easy envelope closure on the back of the pillow. I’ve used low value (darker) and high value (lighter) Liberty lawn fabrics in a narrow colour range to create a cushion top that uses lots of these beautiful prints but is still an effective and not-too-busy design.

If you don’t get what I mean by high and low value then I recommend you check out this really clear explanation (especially the first bit) on The Elven Garden blog.

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The patchwork squares used for the pattern are  3″ x 3″, so you will need (at most) 6″ x 12″ square of each print. Duck Egg Threads (my blog sponsors) sell Liberty fabrics in small sizes that would be just right for this project.

Pattern notes:

This pattern makes a 16″ cushion cover to fit an 18″ cushion pad (for a nice, plump, well-filled cushion).

The cushion has a simple envelope back, with one bound edge:

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All seams are 0.25″ unless otherwise noted.

You will need:

  • 4 low value Liberty prints and 3 high value Liberty prints in a single colour or two closely related colours (e.g. blue and purple or red and pink)
  • 13″ square piece of woven iron-on interfacing
  • About 18″ by 30″ fabric for the borders of the cushion top and for the back of the cushion (half a metre would give you plenty). Linen is a lovely choice for this, but there are lots of other options – Fassett shot cottons, Oakshott cottons and Moda crossweaves are all great choices
  • Additional Liberty scraps for binding the cushion back (you will have plenty if you have bought mini-singles for this project)
  • At least 23″x17″ low volume fusible fleece (I use Vilene H630)
  • 19″ square piece of batting (doesn’t really matter which sort)
  • About 19″ by 45″ lining fabric – pre-washed quilters’ calico is good for this if you want a cheap simple lining
  • 18″ cushion pad

Cutting list:

From the Liberty lawn cut:

  • Five 3″ squares from 1 one of the low value prints
  • Four 3″ squares from each of the 3 other low value prints
  • Two 3″ squares from each of the 4 high value prints

From the edging and backing fabric cut:

  • 2 pieces measuring 2.5″ × 13″
  • 2 pieces measuring 2.5″ by 17″
  • 2 pieces measuring 11.5″ by 17″

From the lining fabric cut:

  • 1 piece measuring 19″ square
  • 2 pieces measuring 11.5″ by 17″

From the fusible fleece cut 2 pieces measuring 11.5″ by 17″

For the binding, from left over scraps of Liberty cut nine 2.5″ by 2″ rectangles, or from a single piece of Liberty (or other coordinating fabric) cut one strip measuring 2″ by 17″.

Step 1: Stitch the patchwork panel

Lay the squares out so that one of the squares of the 5 low value squares from the same print is at the centre, then the high value squares arranged the central low value square, and the rest of the low value squares arranged round the outside edge. You should have something like this:

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Make a note of your arrangement (a quick photo capture is a good trick, especially if you are going to have to leave this part stitched!), or leave the arrangement in place as you stitch, and then stitch into 5 rows like this:

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Arrange your rows again to make sure you have everything in the right place, and then iron each row so that seam allowance is pressed to one side, alternating sides for adjacent rows, as you can see in the picture:

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Taking the first two rows, pin them together, matching all the seam lines first, then stitch. Add the other rows in turn, and when you have finished, press the seams to one side. The finished patchwork section should look something like this:

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Fuse the woven iron-on interfacing to the back of the Liberty patchwork. This is not essential, but it strengthens the patchwork, and will give it a bit of extra weight, especially if you are stitching it to heavier fabric like linen.

Step 2: Add the borders

Take the two 2.5″ by 13″ pieces of border fabric and pin, right sides together, on either side of the patchwork panel. Stitch then, press the seams towards linen.

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Repeat with the 2 other pieces of linen, on the other 2 sides of the cushion top:

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Step 3: Quilt the cushion top

Place the cushion top lining right side down on your work surface. Put the cushion top wadding on top, positioned centrally. Finally put the completed cushion patchwork on top, right side facing. Pin these three layers together in preparation for quilting.

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Decide how you want to quilt the cushion top. I machine quilted round either side of the high value row, and then stitched another square, on the linen edging, close to the seam line with the patchwork – sorry it’s a bit tricky to see in the picture, but this bit is up to you anyway!

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Once you have finished your quilting, trim the lining fabric, wadding and cushion top to a perfect 17″ square.

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Step 4: Make the back sections

Iron fusible fleece to both pieces of outer backing fabric, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Next make the binding for the cushion back by stitching the nine 2.5″ by 2″ Liberty scraps together, matching the 2″ edges. This will create a strip measuring 2″ by 18″, which you can trim to 2″ by 17″. You don’t need to do this if you have another 2″ by 17″ piece of fabric you can use.

Take the strip, fold and press in half lengthways. Unfold again, then fold the two outer edges to the centre line and press to crease. Fold down the middle again and press really thoroughly to create the binding. It should look something like this:

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Take the one of the backing fabric pieces and one of the lining fabric pieces and put them wrong sides together. Unfold the binding and  align one of the raw edges of the binding with one of the long edges of the linen/lining combo.

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Pin along the long edge, and then stitch along the first crease in the binding.

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Fold the binding round to enclose the raw edge and slip stitch (blind hem stitch) the binding in place on the wrong side.

Take the other piece of outer back fabric and the corresponding lining piece, and put them right sides together. Stitch together along one of the long edges with a 0.25″ seam.

Turn right side out and press the seam – top stitch close to the edge of the seam to create a nice neat finish. Your two back pieces should look like this:

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Now it’s time to assemble all the bits for the final stages. Put the cushion top, right side up, on your work surface. Put the bound half of the back right side down on top (sorry – I wish I had used a different colour fabric for the lining, but believe me, that it is the lining side you can see!), all lined up with the left hand edge of the cushion top:

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Place the other half of the cushion back on top, with the stitched edge towards the centre of the cushion, and the long raw edge aligned with the right hand edge of the cushion top. Pin all round the edge, then stitch all round the edge with a scant 0.5″ seam.

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Because I don’t like my cushions to have ears, I like to curve the corners. To do this, after the cushion is all stitched together I mark curved corners using any usefully sized round thing I have lying around (bottom of a mug, pin box lid, large cotton reel), and then I stitch the line. As you can see from the pic, it is a really good idea to shorten the length of your stitches when you stitch curves.

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At this stage I like to turn the cushion through and take a good look to make sure that everything is as it should be before I start trimming anything away that should not be trimmed!

Once you are happy that all is ok with the cushion, neaten the seam edge, making a row of zig-zag stitch, fairly close to the seam line, within the seam allowance.  Then trim the excess seam allowance away so that it measures a generous 0.25″.

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Strengthen the stitching where the 2 halves of the back section overlap, with an extra row of tight zig-zag stitch (sorry about horrid photo, I hadn’t trimmed my seam allowance neatly at this stage):

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All that remains is to give your cushion a thorough pressing to make the seams nice and sharp before you insert your cushion pad, plump up that pillow and admire!

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I made a red one too:

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Here are lots more free sewing tutorials available on Very Berry.

9 thoughts on “Tutorial: Simple Squares Patchwork Cushion

  1. Gorgeous as always, they both look fab Ali, would be a tough choice to pick a favourite! Thanks for sharing the tutorial🙂 xxxxxx

  2. Beautiful cushions, Ali! A simple pattern but a very effective result. I also like the way you finished the back with one bound edge. And I like the rounded corners of the cushions. Thank you for the tutorial!

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