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Tutorial: Our Josephine Sews… A Button Up Cushion

Button Back Cushion

I am always astounded by the power of the automatic buttonhole feature on my sewing machine. If you get the settings right, you can make use of the delightful treasures from your button tin with a minimum of fuss.

When I first laid eyes on the Townhouses print from Cath Kidston I knew I needed to feature it somewhere in my home; and my daughter’s nursery offered the perfect solution. Unfortunately you can’t pick it up online anymore, but I bet there’s some lurking in their outlet stores. The buttons I used are vintage ones from my stash – they are rather glorious. The cushion pad shown is approximately 58 x 40, but this tutorial works for any size: you just need to adjust the measurements. For a nice plump cushion cut your front fabric to the same size as the pad, and work with a 1cm seam allowance to help keep your calculations simple. I’ve put my measurements in brackets in case you happen to have a cushion pad the exact same size; I work in centimetres.

You will need:

  • Cushion Pad
  • Fabric of your choice
  • Buttons and button hole foot
  • General sewing paraphernalia

To make it:

1. Cut your front piece of fabric, this should measure the same size as your cushion pad. (58 x 40)

2. Cut your back piece to the same height but add 12cm to the width, this will give you space to create your button placket. ( 70 x 40)

3. Decide where you want your cushion to overlap and cut your back pieces accordingly ( 50 x 40 and 20 x 40)

4. To make your button plackets: turn over your widest back piece by 1 cm, press and then again by 4cm and press again. Stitch close to the seam. Turn over your narrowest back piece by 1cm, press and then again by 2.5cm and press again. Stitch close to the seam. HC Sew close to the seam edge

5. Work out where you want your buttons to go, mark on the narrowest piece where the holes should be made. If you’re not sure how to use the buttonhole feature on your machine, now is the time to consult the manual. If you have no idea where this is, the magic of the internet should help you.

6. Test the buttonhole is working before sewing into the real thing. If it is playing up, check all the settings – trust me here, you do not want to have to unpick a badly sewn buttonhole! When you’re confident it is all going swimmingly, sew your buttonholes. HC Sew Buttonholes

7. Now you can assemble your cushion. Place the front piece on the table right side facing you. Then put the widest back piece on top, right side facing down and then finally the narrow piece with your buttonholes in. Make sure all your corners line up, pin and then stitch all the way around. Clip your corners and turn it out, ideally use a bamboo point turner to ease out your corners.

8. Mark where your buttons need to go and stitch them in place. Insert your cushion pad, do up the buttons and admire.

Vintage Button Detail

 


Tutorial: Our Josephine Sews… A Piped Envelope Back Cushion

Piped Cushion Corner

This Cath Kidston train print never fails to bring me joy, and with the added allure of red dotty piping this cushion cover is a winner. If you’ve never attempted to make a piped cushion then this is a good start as there is no zip to contend with.

The cushion pad shown is approximately 35 x 35 but this tutorial works for any size, you just need to adjust the measurements. For a nice plump cushion cut your front fabric to just 1cm wider in width and height, this is to allow for the piping. Work with a 1cm seam allowance to help keep your calculations simple. I’ve put my measurements in brackets in case you happen to have a cushion pad the exact same size; I work in centimetres.

You will need:

  • Cushion Pad
  • Fabric of your choice
  • Unfolded Bias Tape – 4 x the circumference of the cushion plus 5cm
  • 5mm Piping Cord- 4 x the circumference of the cushion
  • Zip foot (or piping foot if you have one)
  • General Sewing Paraphernalia

To make it:

1. Cut your front piece of fabric, this should measure 1cm more in width and height than your cushion pad (36 x 36).

2. Cut your back piece to the same width but add another third to the height, this will give you space to create your button placket (36 x 48).

3. Cut the back piece in two equal pieces, turn and press the short edges by 1cm twice and then stitch.

4. Prepare your bias tape by wrapping it around the piping cord and pinning as you go. Using your zip or piping foot, stitch as close to the cord as you can leaving 2.5cm open and without cord at either end.

Unfolded Bias Tape and Piping Cord
Sew Bias Tape

5. Take your top fabric and draw a curve on one of the corners using a glass, cup, roll of tape – whatever you have that is round. Cut the curve out and use that as a template for the other three corners. Do the same for the back pieces (just the top of one and the bottom of the other) to mirror the front piece.

Use a glass to round corners

6. Place the top fabric on a flat surface with right side up, pin your wrapped cord around it with the flat edge flush with the outer raw edge. In order to finish the piping neatly you should have an excess of bias tape and should start  and finish stitching (still with the zip foot) 5cm from each end keeping as close to the cord as possible.

Pin and Sew Bias Binding

7. To close finish the piping neatly, make the end points of the cord meet. Overlap your bias tape around them by at least 1cm. Pin and sew in place once again keeping close to the cord. I never worry about the raw edges.

Sew overlap bias

8. Now to assemble the cover. Place your piped piece onto a flat surface, right side up. Take your first back piece and place right side down on top, then do the same with the second piece. Pin all the way around and stitch, still with the zip foot and keeping as close to the piping as possible. Notch your curves and turn right sides out, press for a nice finish.

Notch corners

9. Pop in your cushion pad and admire your new piping skills.

Cushion Trio


Tutorial: Our Josephine Sews… A Square Zipped Cushion

Bus Cushion

The zip is a marvellous invention, and sewn neatly it gives a really nice finish. There are many methods for inserting a zip and every sewist has their own take on it. Why not give this method a whirl and see if it suits you.

You will need:

  • Cushion Pad
  • Fabric of your choice – I’ve used the spectacular Cath Kidston bus print!
  • Zip foot
  • General Sewing Paraphernalia

1. Cut the front and a back piece of fabric to 4cm wider and longer than your cushion pad. Your zip can either be the exact same length as the sides of your square cushion, or shorter; often I find that I use whatever I’ve got in my stash. You can always cut your zip shorter if need be.

2. Put your fabric right sides together, pin along the bottom edge, lay your zip on top and mark the start and end of where the zip opens. Move the zip out of the way and sew using a 2cm allowance; start with a regular length stitch, changing to a tacking stitch at your first marking and again switching to a regular length stitch at your second marking.

3. This may seem a bit counter intuitive but we are going to sew each side of the zip separately. This should enable you to sew with more precision.  Fold your fabric so just the raw seam is on the right and the rest of the fabric is to the left. Open your zip and pin the right side face down along the seam with the teeth in the centre. Change to your zip foot and sew along the right side of the zip teeth, you should only be sewing through the zip and one side of the seam.

Right side of zip right

 

 

4. Close the zip and repeat on the other side. If you have difficulty sewing past the zip pull, use a seam ripper to open up your tacking stitch and move it past the zip foot. It may be a bit fiddly but you can remove the foot to do this, making sure you keep the needle in the fabric to stop it from moving about too much.

 

other side

5. Unpick your taking stitches to reveal the zip underneath, open it up.

Finished zip

 

6. Pin your fabric right sides together, sew around the three remaining sides with a 2cm seam allowance, finish the sides as you wish and trim your corners and turn right side out. Press, push out the corners and pop in your cushion pad.

bus and train


My Makes: Piped Cushion

There is something about the look of a piped cushion that makes it appear more complete than any other kind. This was my first attempt at piping so I spent a good while thinking about how it would work.
Such Dotty Piping
You may recognise the fabrics from my drop in seat post, they are for our living/dining space where print on print reigns. I made one piped cushion and the other tucked behind is a straightforward zipped version, it has a bit of a barkcloth like texture which is very tactile.

If you fancy having a go at piping, I found the best guidance in my old seventies sewing books, not only is the advice straightforward but the matchy-matchy styling is something to be seen. There always seems to be great old sewing books in charity shops so do have a look next time you’re out for a mooch.