Monday, 27 October 2014

How to make an envelope backed cushion

Morning all, hope everyone is enjoying the bank holiday Monday.  Today's post is a how to post for those taking part in our Christmas cushion swap, who haven't made a cushion before and want to know how to make an envelope back cushion.  I'm showing how I do this and you may have another method you use so if you have any tips for us please let us know!
Our cushion swap is for a finished cushion 18"x18".  It is a good idea to make your cushion top larger than this, as after quilting you will probably see some shrinkage.  I don't trim until after all the quilting is done!

I'm not a big fan of spray basting (had a problem with it on a lap quit!) but I really like it for small projects like cushions.  You can pin baste your layers together if you prefer.  I normally don't bother with a third layer and quilt just the top and wadding and before you shake your head in amazement, Crazy Mom Quilts does the same!  But if you are worried about the wadding in the wash or sewing on it bare with your machine you can use a lightweight calico/muslin or cotton fabric you don't like very much as your backing - it will be inside the cushion and only seen when stuffing!

When spray basting make sure you have a ventilated room, open a patio door or go outside.  For spray basting quilts, fold over half your top and spray in short bursts, no need to cover the whole patchwork top.  Fold back and smooth out and then do the same for the other side. 
Hand quilting a cushion is great fun as it is a small project.  I quite like dense quilting on a cushion by machine too!  A tip I learned on Craftsy's Creative Quilting with your walking foot, is to mark a little distance away with some masking tape to give yourself a straight line to aim for.  For this cushion I'm a little off in the angle but can correct it on the next line and move the masking tape up an inch or two as I go along.
Once the top is quilted I trim to an inch over the finished cushion size I want.  For this 18" finished cushion I trimmed to 19" square.
To make an envelope back you need two pieces the same width as your top but length approx. 3/4 that of your top.  So for this cushion I cut two backing pieces 19" wide by 13"  to 13.5" length.  
For this cushion I was using a home decoration. weight cotton.  If you want to use quilting cotton you can cut 2 pieces 19" wide by 26" length and double them over to 19" x 13".  Then sew a top stitch along the fold as in this tutorial by Crazy Mom Quilts.

For the pieces I folded down 1" on the shorter side to create a piece 19" x 12" and pressed it flat.
Then tuck this fold in again by half and pressed a second time to give a nice finished edge.
Top stitch along this edge to keep in place and repeat these steps for the second 19" x 13" piece of fabric.
Layer your quilted top and 2 backing pieces right sides together with the seamed edges in the middle and pin to secure.  I like to use 1/2" seam allowance as that is what I learned for home decoration projects.  You can get a bit of movement when sewing around all four sides and the larger seam allowance helps sometimes. It can also help to backstitch an extra layer of stitching where the cushion back panels meet as this is the point of most stress on your cushion when stuffing.
Once sewn, clip your corners and if you wish you can trim back some of the extra seam allowance and stay stitch or ziz-zag around the edges.
Turn right side out and push out the corners with a blunt tip like a crochet hook.  Careful of using something too sharp - I've poked a hole in my corner on more than one occasion and learned that lesson the hard way!   When I was making this cushion in our weekly meet up, Paula offered a tip to keep the cushion square, top stitch all around 1/8" from the outside edge and it will keep it's structure better.  If you have any other tips, please share below! We'd love to hear them.
And voila, one 18" cushion!  If you like a really plump cushion you can stuff your swap item with a 20" insert a la Katy Jones from I'm a Ginger Monkey.  Katy's blog has instructions for other methods too including zips, binding and piping.  If your cushion insert is too bulky in your finished item you can rip a hole along one edge of the insert, remove a handful or two of stuffing and sew it back up with a whipstitch!  

If you have a design that is larger than 18" and you don't want to lose it in trimming you can make a bigger cushion top (don't forget to adjust the cushion back fabric upwards) and add line of stitching around the middle of the finished cushion measuring 18" square.  This will create a flanged edge and reduce the size where the cushion insert sits.  Lots of options!  Don't be put off by not having made a cushion before, please join in and I hope you have fun making for this Christmas swap!

1 comment:

  1. Great post, my first cushion cover hopefully not so daunting !!
    Thanks x


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