Make It: Quilted Cushion

Earlier this year I heard about the Secret Valentine’s Exchange organised by Sanae Ishida and Ute and decided to join in because it sounded fun to make a present for a stranger. Of course once I received my name (Sarah of Northfield Primitives) I was terrified that I would make something that she didn’t like. Everyone who signed up had to fill in a questionnaire of tastes, favourite colours and things, and social media handles and online presence to do a bit of good old-fashioned online stalking! One of the ideas is to use things mostly from your stash too, so I dug through my stash to find fabrics I thought she would like.

Sara listed her favourite colours as blue, mustard yellow, earthy browns and reds, and said she likes old and vintage fabrics, bits of old patchwork and lace. Luckily her colour palette is similar to the colours I like. Since she said she liked patchwork, I thought I’d make a patchwork/quilted cushion cover. I sketched some ideas, working on 6×6 squares, halved into triangles.

I settled on the version on the left and coloured it in to work out which fabrics would go where.

Half the fabrics needed 4 triangles and half needed 8, to make it symmetrical. I then made a key of which fabric matched with which colour on my picture. The corner of the paper is missing because this was my pattern piece for the triangles. I drew a 6cm x 6cm square, then drew a diagonal line down the middle. I then added 1cm to each edge for seam allowance. The total size (36cm x 36cm) was based on a cushion pad I already had in my stash.

I then sewed the triangles into squares. Because it’s symmetrical in all 4 corners, there weren’t that many different combinations in the squares.

I then sewed the squared into strips, making sure each square was facing the right way according to my plan. This hurt my brain a little at various points! Having all the strips made meant I could lay it out to look what it was going to look like. At this point I wasn’t sure it was going to work as I felt some of the fabrics didn’t look great together.

As with so many of my non-clothes makes, I used calico for the back of the cushion and also as the backing for the patchwork/quilting bit. I bought some wadding from my local shop (which was the only thing I bought for this make) and sandwiched 2 layers between the calico (which I had cut down to 38cm x 38cm (with 1cm seam allowance) and the patchwork. I kind of made up the stitching lines and used white thread as I couldn’t decide what other colour would go with so many different colours of fabric. In the end the stitching was pretty much all in the seam lines so it wasn’t too obvious on the front.

Here is the quilting pattern I used (from the back of the front of the cushion):

And here’s the finished cushion!

I didn’t use a zip or anything, I just left a gap to get the pad in and hand stitched it closed. I wonder if I could have added another one or 2 layers of wadding to make the cushion more puffy, but it looks okay. I sent a little package of some fat quarters and other bits and pieces which I thought Sarah would like. I was definitely relieved when she said she liked it!

Did you join in with the Secret Valentine’s Exchange? Or another secret gift exchange? Did you find it nerve-wracking to make something for someone you don’t know?!

Make It: Reverse Applique Cushion cover

Today I’m going to show you how to make a reverse applique cushion cover (and, of course, you could then reserve applique anything you want!). Reverse applique is kinda what it says on the tin – you have 2 different fabrics, but the one that would be on the top in normal applique is underneath and the top fabric is cut away to reveal it.

I already had a cushion pad in need  of a cover as I bought a bunch when I bought the pad for my Sarah and Duck cushion. It measured 35cm x 35cm. So my fabric would be 38cm x 38cm, which adds a 1.5cm seam allowance to each side. You could always make the cover first and then buy the pad that fits the size you’ve made – though I would check you can definitely get one in that size before you spend ages making the cover.

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The fabrics I used were a blue fat quarter I was given by my aunt and which had been in my stash for a while,

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an off-cut of my ugly skirt refashion fabric,

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and the left-overs from my yellow skirt gang skirt (which sadly was consigned to the charity shop as I never wore it).

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The yellow fabric is the main fabric on both sides, so cut 2 squares of 38cm x 38cm. The biggest square I could squeeze out of the blue and yellow tartan fabric was 20cm x 20cm. This means I placed it 9cm from each edge (38-20/2). Then pin it in place.

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Top tip: Use washi tape (or other removable tape to make a new sewing guide for your sewing machine if your seam allowance (in this case 10cm) is bigger than the guides marked on the machine).

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Then sew all around the shape – I did this with the ‘back’ facing upwards so I would know I had caught all of the edges and there wouldn’t be any gaps. I also used one of my decorative stitched (D on the second row, below), to make sure it was sewn as securely as possible. Also it looks nice!

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This is what it will look like once you’ve sewn all the way around. Remember this is the back view.

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Flip your cushion over to the front and pinch only the top fabric in the middle – you should be able to tell when you’ve got both fabrics and when you’ve isolated only the top one.

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Then snip a little hole, then use this to cut out the middle of your main fabric up to the stitching – make sure you don’t snip any of the actual stitches!

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You will then have this:

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So that’s one side done – easy, right?

I decided I wanted my other side to be a circle and not a square. I cut the fat quarter into a square of 38cm x 38cm – if you have a smaller piece of fabric, you don’t have to cut it to the same size as the main fabric.

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Find the centre of the squares by folding in diagonally in half twice – push a pin in to mark this spot.

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With your pin still making the middle (you can almost make it out in this photo), pin the 2 squares of fabric together.

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The trick to sewing a circle is a trusty drawing pin! I decided to sew my circle with a 10cm radius (the distance from the centre to the edge). Measure from the needle to where you want the centre of the circle to be.

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Using washi tape (or another removable tape) stick the drawing pin in a straight line from the needle, pin facing upwards.

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Push the fabric onto the drawing pin, exactly where you had the pin marking the centre of your fabric – the drawing pin will act as a pivot around which you can sew your (pretty) perfect circle.

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Now you’re ready to sew your circle – you’ll find it easier to hold the fabric with the pin between 2 fingers to make sure it pivots evenly around in a circle. I also found it helpful to go slowly and to stop often to even up the tension between the pin and the needle. I, again, used a decorative stitch on my machine.

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You should end up with something like this – this is the back as the stitching wasn’t rally visible on the back.

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Then repeat the process of pinching the top layer of fabric,

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snipping a hole and cutting out the top fabric up to the line of stitching,.

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It should look like this:

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You then need to sew the 2 side of your cushion together. Pin them right sides facing (i.e. yellow sides together, blue sides on the outside) and sew around 3 sides, leaving the 4th side open to get the cushion pad in.

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It will help you to get clean square corners if you snip the excess fabric off like this before you turn it the right way around.

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Then turn it right sides out, and hand stitch the open side, tucking the seam allowance inside. Then you should have a lovely new cushion to brighten up a dreary January day!

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Book: 200 Crochet Blocks

200-Crochet-Blocks-1Having learned to crochet a couple of years ago, I’ve recently got back into the swing of it, by making an amigarumi pusheen and by making a present for someone, which is now pretty much 2 months over due, but basically finished! I have made a cushion cover using a crochet block pattern and I’m thinking that I would like to make a blanket out of blocks too, so luckily a friend of mine bought me this book a year or two ago.  I’m having the same thoughts about making a quilt – I’m yearning to make our flat nicer to live in I think, but without the ability to decorate properly as we rent.

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This book is really great and tells you how to mix colours and the block designs to make lovely (if slightly dated-looking) blankets.

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And then, of course, come the block designs themselves. I like the ones that are symmetrical and not too complicated looking. I like the openwork square below.

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I really like the Waterlily block, below. I’m not sure how many of these I would like in a blanket – maybe just one in the middle, but I’d like to be able to make one!

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There’s also a page of Christmassy blocks! I really don’t think I make things quickly enough to make something just for Christmas, but I like the tree and the snowflake!

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I like all the blocks below, except possibly the steps square – not sure why.

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I like all the blocks below too, and more so because they’re more in my colours (though I can see the pattern as separate from the colours used in the book, I’m still attracted to blues and greens!).

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I like all of these ones too – I’m not sure how I’m ever going to be able to make a decision on which one(s) to make!

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The book also shows you alternate colourways for some of the blocks, to help you design your blanket in whatever colours you like.

200-Crochet-Blocks-10For blanket inspiration, I think I’ll look to my sister. She has been crocheting a lot longer than me and even released her own amigarumi patterns for a while. She has made loads of blankets!

This one is some lovely earthy colours, which matched her living room in a previous house.

Phoebe's earthy colours blanketThis is a gigantic granny square, with a lovely bright cushion – I really like the idea of bright colours, joined together with bright white. It looks really fresh and modern. I love the gigantic granny square too, it’s a classic!

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I love the colours she used here – the bright pink is particularly excellent! I’m not sure I would have had the eye to put these all together, but they look great. And there’s bright white in there too.

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I think this all white blanket/ bed spread is a fairly recent one. I love the combo of the different sizes, and different designs of block but all tied together with the colour. I’m thinking of something monochrome and maybe with a pop of a bright colour, like yellow or pink.

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How lovely and clean does this look?

Phoebe's white blanketMy friend Farn, who I learned to crochet with is also excellent at making lovely things:

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Do you crochet? How do you decide on the designs and colours? I’m hoping that being able to make small things and have the small wins of finishing each square, that I will enjoy making a crocheted blanket and not lose interest and stop half way through as I have done too many times before with larger projects!

Make It: Sarah and Duck cushion

Have you ever heard of Sarah and Duck? Chances are no if you don’t have a small child in your life. But you should watch it, small child or no. It’s a really sweet little short cartoon (each episode is no more than about 5 minutes) about a girl called Sarah and her friend/ pet (?) Duck. It’s narrated by Roger Allam (of Cabin Pressure and many, many other things fame) and Sarah and Duck have other friends like Scarf Lady and Bag, Scarf Lady’s knitting bag. They go on adventures and do fun things.

Sarah & DuckIt is my nephew’s favourite show – it’s pretty much the only thing he watches on tv. For the kids in my life (one nephew and an honorary niece and nephew) I like to make presents for Christmas, and then I generally buy them books for their birthdays. My nephew is about 2 years younger than my friends daughter, for whom I made the Norman Wall Hanging and the Travel Match Game (which my sister has already requested one of, which I’ll make next year when he’s a bit older). I thought about making a wall hanging of Sarah and Duck, but then I decided to make is a cushion instead.

I copied the above image, drew it out myself (although I can’t draw, I am quite good at copying – anyone else?) and then traced my drawing to make pattern pieces. I ordered a load of felt from ebay, cut out all the pieces and sewed them on by hand, using the case of threads my friend bought me for Christmas last year.

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Once I’d sewn all of the felt pieces on, the big job left was to embroider all the edges and features in black. They look a bit creepy without eyes and such, don’t they?! With the ebay felt, I bought some black embroidery thread – it took me back to my cross stitch days!

Sarah-&-Duck-cushion-3Sarah-&-Duck-cushion-4One of the things I’m most pleased with, is managing to pretty much copy the font for the title. I did this in chain stitch, which is one of the only embroidery-type stitches I know how to do apart from running stitch and back stitch!

Sarah-&-Duck-cushion-5This is it in its entirety. The fabric I used for the front was part of the same sheet I used to underline my Striped Laurel dress and I backed the front piece and the cushion with calico – in retrospect I wish I’d backed the back with the sheet too, as now it’s white on the front and cream on the back. Never mind. At least calico is durable. Sarah-&-Duck-cushion-2I tried to take a photo of my nephew with the cushion – it’s so hard to photograph a toddler and they’re always moving! This is the best one I managed to take!Sarah-&-Duck-cushion-6And here he is alseep in the car on the way home from our Christmas get together, cuddling the cushion – aaaahhhhhhh. (sorry the picture is so small, my sister sent it to me on my phone).

Sarah-&-Duck-cushion-7Does anyone else really like making things for small kiddies?

 

My First Crocheted Make – A Cushion

So I made my first crocheted thing – a cushion. When I mentioned I learned to crochet, I mentioned the throw my sister made for me and The Boyfriend. When she gave it to us, she gave me the left-over wool. In the Summer before we went to uni, my sister and I used my mum’s fabric stash to make ourselves some cushion covers and I made a throw, to have some nice things to have in our rooms. Mine were all blue and hers red – predictable for anyone who knows us! These cushions are now (cough, cough) 10 years old and falling apart. They were all on our sofa but they don’t match the beautiful throw or brown sofa. One of them totally gave up the ghost, which is sad because I really liked it and it was done with reverse applique – the first and last time I’ve ever done that technique; plus I sewed it in a circle with a pin stuck on the machine to make a perfect round. But the back was made of lining material so it totally disintegrated.

P1010560-PS-mediumWhy am I telling you this? Because the cushion pad inside this dead cushion was still okay so I decided to use it as the pad for a brand new, shiny, crocheted cushion made to match the throw! I backed the crochet and the cushion with calico and I hope it will be a bit more sturdy than the previous one.

I made 9 granny squares with different combinations of colours. It is the same pattern I made when I was practicing crochet, which I thought was the same as the one in the throw but, according to people who know a lot more about crochet than me, it isn’t.

P1010484-PS-mediumI crocheted them together with the biscuit colour wool, which made some nice lines, and I edged it the same as my sister did with the throw – one row of light green chains, then one row of navy blue chains. I think I might have added a second layer of navy blue chains to make sure the crochet filled the whole square of the cushion.

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And here it is with the throw, looking all lovely and matchy 🙂

P1010562-PS-mediumSo my verdict on crochet is I love it! It was pretty quick to make the squares, and I found it satisfying to finish each square as it felt like I was getting somewhere, unlike with knitting which can feel like you’re doing it for ages and not really getting anywhere – not that I don’t love knitting, it’s just different. It was a pain in the arse to weave in all the ends, is my only grump with crochet, but I’d get that if I made a knitted patchwork cushion/ throw. So all in all I’m really proud of my first crocheted make 🙂

EDIT: My sister (who is a crochet expert) informs me that the edging is made up of double crochets not chains – oops!

Square Cushion

When I first got back into knitting a couple of years ago, I tried to make as many Christmas presents as possible. Since I had no life that Winter, I managed to make 2 scarves (which you can see here) and 2 cushions, both of which were stripy and used mostly the same wool (to cut on costs) but with a couple of differences (you can see the other cushion here). This cushion included pink as it was for my friend Fran and she likes pink. You can find the pattern here – there’s no point me typing it out and I think it might breach copyright or something.

I’m not sure if the colours are meant to match on the seams when you sew it all together, but my tension is always a bit off so mine didn’t but I don’t think it affects the look of the cushion at all.

Square stripy cushion

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Tip: As I said earlier, my tension is always a bit rubbish (i.e. looser than it should be) so I would buy the cushion pad after you’ve finished the knitting to make sure it will fit.

Round Cushion

When I first got back into knitting a couple of years ago, I tried to make as many Christmas presents as possible. Since I had no life that Winter, I managed to make 2 scarves (which you can see here) and 2 cushions, both of which were stripy and used mostly the same wool (partly to save money) but with one or two differences (you can see the other cushion here). This round cushion was for my friend Chloe as she likes red circles. I won’t type out the entire pattern as you can find it here and I’m pretty sure it would be a breach of copyright or something.

When I was knitting the back of this cushion, I seemed to forget how to do purling so the back was done in garter stitch and not stocking stitch as it was meant to be.

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The lovely fat cushion!

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The back, with a big red button in the middle.

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Tip: I used this pattern again to make a rug for my sister and since they hole in the middle of each side of the cushion was quite big, instead of casting on 14 stitches, I cast on 8 stitches and did the first row twice to get up to the right number of stitches.

Tip 2: I waited until I had made both sides of the cushion until I ordered the cushion pad to go inside it as I seem to never be able to knit to the size patterns expect me to and I’m too lazy to check my tension so the cushion might be bigger or smaller than you expect it to be.