Category Archives: Cushions

Sewcial Retreat March 2020

I recently attended a Sewcial Retreat arranged by Viv of Purple Stitches, a Patchwork & Quilting store based in Basingstoke. This is the second time that I have attended the Retreat which is held at a the VOCO Oxford Thames hotel on the outskirts of the city.

This time I was joined on the retreat by my good friend Pat so was able to share the journey and accommodation.

Fun, Laughter and Shared Sewing

One of the activities is a Secret Sister gift making and sharing. This time the project was a pin cushion and having checked out the instagram feed of my selected partner I made the pin cushion in her favourite colour and featuring her favourite pet – a cat.

Pin Cushion for Jackie

Jackie was delighted with her gift as was I with my reversible Bicornu pin cushion.

Reversible Bicornu Pin Cushion
Reversible Bicornu Pin Cushion

Whilst at the retreat I was able to make three garments and undertake a new technique – ‘Quilt as You Go’ more posts later…..

12 Blade Dresden Plate Cushion Cover

I am in the home straight of preparation for classes. I have completed the final sample being the above 12 Blade Dresden Plate block. I have chosen these ‘chunky’ blades and only 12 of them so that students can achieve a patchwork block quickly. If like me, they find themselves ‘hooked’ on this block there will be time to try more intricate blocks with many more blades.

For this cushion I again visited my Green-themed scraps. I am particularly pleased that once again I ‘fussy cut’ the butterfly motif on the centre. The patchwork was appliqued onto Natural-coloured calico and backed with some 2 oz polyester wadding. I echo quilted around the block before adding some coordinating narrow piping. I used a 16 inch polyester-filled pad for the cushion cover which has an envelope closure and measures 15 inches square.

Getting Ahead with some Simple Sewing

As I gradually worked my way through the list of samples required for classes I took a little time out to make a couple of basic items that will go into my stash for gifts.

I have made a 16-blade Dresden Plate cushion cover and yet another padded coat hanger cover with concealed pocket. Both items are enjoyable to stitch and make use of remnants of fabric (of which have masses!!).

The cushion cover with patchwork takes a little longer but I am delighted with the end result. I especially like the fact that I ‘fussy cut’ the butterfly for the central circle.

For sewing the the coat hanger cover, I now have this down to a fine art and if I exclude the additional zipped patch pocket on the reverse, this project now takes less than one hour to complete.

Materials requirement is minimal – one wooden coat hanger, one Fat Quarter, same of wadding and a long zip (taken from my stash). I have ordered more plain wooden coat hangers and intend to review my FQ collection so that I can get a head start on Christmas gift-making!

20-Blade ‘Christmas’ Dresden Plate

OK, I promise this is the last Dresden Plate block for a while. However, I have scheduled in to teach a class for this lovely patchwork block so there will be a few more appearing next month as I prepare the class materials!

None of these patchwork projects were in my September Sewing Plans and now I have only a few days left to complete what I should have been sewing! Outstanding are 2 dresses and covers for the chair in my sewing room. So far I have only managed to cut out one dress which will take a couple of afternoons of sewing therefore I will have to be philosophical and accept that none of my plans were set in concrete and it is of no great importance that the plans have changed.


On to tell you a little about this particular version of Dresden Plate. I found a picture on Pinterest of a similar 20-blade block worked in shades of Green and finished with a dramatic Red Bow. It looked like a Christmas wreath. As I could not decide on fabric for the large bow I have opted for a smaller version set on a well-padded centre.

The cushion is piped with some ready-made Ruby Red satin piping and has an envelope closure on the reverse. The cover measures 15 inches square and is well-‘plumped’ with a 16 inch pad.

Valentine Heart Dresden Cushion


Free Pattern from

I did say that I was hooked on the Dresden Plate block design!
After a browse on the internet I found the pattern for this delightful 'Valentine' Dresden block free on the website.
I knew that I wanted to use stripes to radiate from the centre of the design and the only narrow striped fabric I could find in my stash was this 100% cotton which has been overprinted with some 'crazy' chickens. In the finished result I quite like the 'picasso-esque' nature of how the design has come out.
The block is easy to make providing that you ensure you keep to a ¼ inch seam allowance. Once the blades had been stitched together I backed the block with some plain White cotton and with right sides together, stitched around the outside. I turned through using the centre before applying the central heart motif. The block was then appliqued onto some plain Pink polyester cotton fabric. 
I used some bias binding to make the piping which I prefer to plain cushions. This cover has an envelope closure on the reverse.
The finished cover is 15 inches square and has a 16 inch polyester-filled pad.

Dresden Plate Block with a Difference

On Monday at the Franklins P&Q class we discovered the Dresden Plate block with a difference. Since the class I have trawled the internet and found several iterations of this style. I have never made a Dresden Plate block before but now I am hooked. You can expect to see many more – in fact I have even offered to tutor a class!

This is my first attempt. The outer ring of ‘blades’ is made using scraps from a previous quilt project. The central ‘star’ is in plain Calico. The block is applied to the backing fabric of plain Calico using a neat straight stitch. The centre circle of print fabric has been lightly padded before application. Next step is to pipe the cushion cover in the Green print and apply an envelope back.


Chocolate Spaniel Embroidered Cushion

chocolate spaniel cushion

Some time ago I made an embroidered cushion for my neighbour featuring a Black Spaniel embroidery to reflect her two spaniels, Mollie and Meggie. One of Mollie’s puppies was purchased by local villager who has often admired the cushion. Eddie is a Chocolate Spaniel and I was asked if I could make another cushion, but this time featuring a “Brown” Spaniel on a Duck Egg Blue cover. Even in my massive stash of fabrics I could not locate any suitable fabric and having trawled the internet finally purchased a ready-made cover featuring a Duck Egg Blue spot heavyweight cotton fabric. I misread the description of the cover so was disappointed to discover that only the front was the featured fabric and the reverse was plain cream calico but was advised would still be acceptable.

I set up the embroidery unit on my Brother 4000D machine with a 100% cotton plain Cream-coloured fabric and identified the different threads to be used for the design which was purchased from

There are 7 different shades of thread in the design which for the 7” x 5” design is made up of 21,425 individual stitches and took approximately 45 minutes to stitch.

I took the original Duck Egg cover apart and stitched the now embroidered panel to the centre front. Then I put the cover back together whilst taking the opportunity to add my own printed satin ribbon label.


Finishing some unfinished projects!

In an attempt to bring some order to the chaos that is my sewing room, I uncovered some unfinished projects. Don’t pretend that you don’t have some as well!

2015 ufo scandi cross stitch cushion

This Cross Stitch Fairisle Heart embroidery was worked last year just prior to Christmas. Unfortunately somehow or other it acquired a very small stain on the lower left hand corner. I applied Vanish stain remover and put the embroidery through the wash. The stain was not so noticeable but still there, disappointment reigned as the stain had not come out completely. The embroidery was therefore consigned to the “roundtuit” pile. However, I really don’t like unfinished projects hanging around so decided to finish it and if necessary donate to a local charity shop.

The embroidery had been “filed” in the box together with some more linen for the reverse so I set to and finished the job! I applied some Dark Red satin piping and made an envelope closure for the reverse. As I had no spare cushion pad, I used some plain curtain lining from my stash and some polyester toy stuffing to make the pad. To finish off, I inserted a sachet of Christmas scented granules into the back. Now the cushion does not look half-bad and has been placed on an easy chair in the lounge. That’s one unfinished project cleared – now onto the next….

chicken scratchings

Last week at Franklin’s Patchwork & Quilting class, Emma introduced us to “Chicken Scratchings”. This is a form of hand embroidery worked over gingham fabric. We were provided with all that was needed to make some chicken scratchings of our own – patterns, fabric, thread and needle. As many of you are aware, I don’t “do” hand stitching let alone embroidery, but I thoroughly enjoyed stitching and weaving this design. When I got home I wondered what to do with my sample stitchery. Having pressed well and fused some interfacing to the reverse, I placed the “squared” piece of work onto some plain Red cotton fabric, outlined with Jumbo White ric-rac trim and completed a small cushion. The reverse is also in Red fabric and has an envelope closure. As I still had some scented sachets, I inserted one into the reverse of the cushion which adds to its charm. The completed cushion measures approximately 9.5 inches and now sits perfectly displayed on our bed.

Handmade Christmas Gifts

As I said in a previous post, whenever possible I like to hand make gifts for friends and relatives. This year has been a particularly busy one as I made some additional gifts for my new friends at Franklin’s Patchwork & Quilting group.

Most of this year’s gifts were either festive scented embroidered cushions, sewing room accessories or tote bags. I tried to match embroidery designs or fabric prints to the personality of the intended recipient so there are subtle prints, exotic prints, redwork and scandi-style, a real “Heinz 57” variety of designs! I made a couple of long-line waterfall fronted waistcoats and two fully reversible aprons but apart from that have steered clear of “clothing” to avoid any “size” issues.

waterfall front waistcoat 1  plaid waistcoat 1

   elephants 01 light side

For most of the bags I used cotton fabric purchased from Fabricland and Simplicity pattern 2164 as the basis for the design. For each bag I changed the dimensions slightly dependent on my fabric choice and length of fabric available. Some bags had internal pockets, some external pockets and a couple NO pockets! I also changed the handles again dependent on fabric availability. All the bags were padded with 2oz polyester wadding which adds an extra layer and enhances the feel of the bag. I will be tutoring a class at New Threads, Weyhill Fair in January 2016 for making this bag and my Christmas gift making has provided me with plenty of practice with the pattern!

antheas tweet bag barbaras pretty polly bag gails bag 5   jennys ochad bag

mos bag

The nautical print bag was made with oilcloth purchased from Fabricland in Salisbury. It is the Carousel Carry-All Tote bag design but this time there is no hardware on the handles and I used a strip of velcro for the closure of the flap. The Linen “Owl” print bag is another Carousel Carry-All tote with Brass “O” ring hardware on the straps which are slightly shorter, and velcro fastening.

judiths bag 1 jennys bag

For sewing accessories I made two Armchair Sewing Rolls using a pattern and instructions devised and developed through Sprat & Winkle Quilters. I owe Lizzie grateful thanks for re-sending the pdf as my original copy has been mislaid. I used Tutti fruitti print cotton fabric in two colourways, purchased from Fabricland plus some plain White polyester cotton from my stash. The pin/needle cushion in the centre of the Sewing Roll was stuffed with polyester toy filling. The zips were from a length of continuous zip purchased from Dunelm Mill. Now that I have just about exhausted the supply of zips left by my father who once worked as an Engineer at Opti-lon zip factory I am a convert to continous zips except that as yet I have never managed to apply the zip pulls. For that I usually enlist assistance from one of the members of our P&Q house group!

armchair sewing roll armchair sewing roll open 2

The other sewing room project was a Thread catcher and pin cushion which can be laid on the edge of a sewing table next to your machine. I have had the pattern and instructions for this for many years, source unknown but probably from the internet. The base of the pin cushion is two layers of cardboard from Whiskas cat food cartons. They provide stability and prevent pins and needles from going through to the work surface beneath the pad.

thread catcher and pin cushion

The Fragrant Festive cushions were made using a variety of embroidery designs mostly purchased from I used Red cotton fabric from New Threads, Weyhill Fairground and either White or Stone coloured thread for the embroidery. The various trimmings were from my stash. Each cushion measures approximately 14 inches square and has a separate pad made from curtain lining. The pads are filled with polyester toy stuffing. I used a zip with lap insertion on the reverse of the cushions which are made either from more of the Red fabric, or a contrast e.g. the same fabric as to that used for piping or borders. The fragrance is provided by sachets “Christmas” or “Winter” from Greenleaf. 

carols cushion glennas cushion jeans cushion maggies cushion

I made one other larger cushion from a fabulous “country wildlife” printed linen purchased from B&R Textiles in Salisbury. The cushion measures approximately 18” square, has a Cream satin piping and is totally reversible as I hand stitched the opening behind the piping.

jackies cushion

In addition to sewing, I did a little knitting. This year not as much as last year when I made an extremely l-o-n-g scarf! This multi-coloured striped scarf is a pattern from called “The Hitch hiker Shawlette”. It is made from 100grms of a random-dyed 4-ply sock yarn. A very simple pattern that I have enjoyed knitting and plan to repeat – next time in “Spring” shades.

cathys hitchhiker shawlette

Finally, at Christmas time last year I designed and part-made a linen cushion featuring an appliqué of a leaping reindeer with a fabulous set of antlers. This year I got around to finishing it! The cushion measures approximately 16 inches square, has a linen front, cotton print piping and reverse with lapped zip closure. I made the pad to fit using polyester toy stuffing but now find it is rather flat so will make another pad and this time, stuff it really firmly!

leaping reindeer

My final project for 2015 is a commission for an embroidered cushion featuring a “chocolate” cocker spaniel.

Other than that my next projects will be something completely different – I have many, many ideas and plans so we will just have to wait and see what magic happens in my sewing room.

Die cut Hexagons and Triangles Cushion

As mentioned in the previous post, for Christmas gifts to House Group ladies, I give a DIY pack of a block using die cut pieces. This year I used the Accuquilt GO! to cut large hexagons and co-ordinating print triangles. I was fortunate to find some sewing-theme print cotton (from Fabricland, Salisbury) for most of the packs and retained a set for myself. Unlike last year’s gift, this time the pack did NOT sit on the “roundtuit” shelf for 12 months! No sooner cut than I stitched the pieces together whilst preparing the instruction sheet with step-by-step photographs. I quilted “stitch in the ditch” and piped the completed block with narrow Cream satin piping. The reverse has a band of the sewing-theme print in a contrasting colour and an envelope closure. The cover measures approximately 15″ and I made the polyester-filled pad about 16″ to ensure a plump well-filled cushion.

hexagons and triangleshexagons reverse