I've been making a few cushions for the conservatory recently. A couple of weeks ago I made some simple cushions out of some very nice linen Clarke and Clarke Topiary fabric. As lovely as the fabric is, everything's starting to look very cream in there, so I was feeling the need for a bit more colour. I've also developed a fondness for papercuts recently, (something I'm yet to try), so I was inspired to try my hand at a cutout pattern on a cushion.
I haven't done any machine embroidery since my A-level Art, a couple of decades ago (ahem!) so I'm in no way an expert, this is just the process that I used. Please do correct me if you know better, or if I've made a howling mistake!
I started by drawing my tree design in Photoshop. It was very much inspired by the Topiary fabric, but much more stylised and suited to my project. I enlarged it to exactly the size that I wanted my cut out to be and then copied and pasted A4 sections of my image.
I then printed out my 4 A4 sheets and taped then together. With a craft knife and cutting board I cut out all of my black shapes to make a tree stencil.
The most important material I used is a sheet of Vilene Bondaweb. If you haven't used this before, it is brilliant stuff! It takes all of the hard work out of machine embroidery by first bonding the fabric together to stop it from fraying and then, once you've removed the backing, you can iron your pieces onto the second fabric and then secure them firmly with machine stitching.
(If you really don't fancy machine stitching, this project would probably also work beautifully with some good quality felt fabric.)
I cut the Bondaweb to the size of my design and then ironed it onto the fabric that was going to become my cushion front.
With my tree stencil and a permanent marker I drew the outline of the leaves onto the Vilene Bondaweb paper and cut my leaves out again with a craft knife.
When I'd cut out all of my leaves I peeled of the backing paper to reveal the iron on adhesive.
I then cut out a square of cream silk fabric and ironed it over the Bondaweb until it was firmly stuck down.
I made myself a sample test sheet of leaves so that I could work out the best way of machine embroidering around the leaves - I strongly recommend that you do this!
Now, I haven't got the most elaborate sewing machine. It's a 15 year old Singer sewing machine that does a 1 step buttonhole and a few other stitches, but it was perfectly adequate for this job. I chose the stitch on the far right as it was just a bit more interesting than a zig-zag stitch.
After experimenting on my test fabric and trying a few methods I found that stitching quite close to the edge, without stitching onto the leaves themselves gave me the best finish. My machine embroidery skills probably need a bit of polishing, but I think using a Guttermann machine embroidery thread instead of a regular thread covered a multitude of sins.
After a few days' work my cushion is now complete and I just finished it off with a pillow case closure and 3 pretty shrink plastic buttons.
My cushion is now sitting beautifully in its new home and it's complementing the other 2 perfectly. Just 1 more cushion to go...
- Cushion insert. Mine is 56cm
- Fabric for the main cushion. I always make my cushion covers about 5cm smaller than the cushion insert to get that 'plump' look. Therefore my front piece was cut to 54cm, allowing for a 1.5cm seam allowance.
- 50cm length of Vilene Bondaweb
- Complementary fabric to go behind the cut out section.
- Paper stencil.
- Craft knife
- Permanent marker.
- Embroidery thread.
- Sewing machine.
- Seam Ripper for the button holes.
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