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Making Miriam’s cushion

May 11, 2018
Miriam's cushion

Recently one of my staff team handed in her notice, I was very sad to see her go because she is a great practitioner and a lovely human being, but I was happy to see her progress in her career.

Naturally I wanted to give Miriam a leaving gift that was personal from me to her, no shop bought gift , it had to be hand made.  A cushion was all I had time to achieve, so this is the tale of Miriam’s cushion.

Miriam's cushion

Finished!

 

I decided all would be made from my fabric stash, and wanted something very pretty, so Liberty prints seemed to fit the bill.

I wondered if perhaps there was a block called Miriam, well there is but it isn’t particularly pretty, and its also known as Crazy Susan, so that wouldn’t go down well. Stars was my second thought. Pinterest supplied this idea, Miriam’s cushion was going to be Fab.

Miriam's cushion

Liberty prints

 

15 different fabrics were picked out of my stash, and a new white on white fabric was bought to tie them all together, there was nothing suitable in my stash.

Miriam's Cushion

trimming down to 2.5 “

 

 

From each fabric one 2 ½ “ square and four 2⅞ “   triangles were required.  I found it easier to cut 2 x 3 “ squares from each fabric and the same from the white to make 4 half square triangle units by putting a Liberty fabric square right sides to right sides with a white square, sewing two lines half an inch apart across the diagonal and cutting them apart, pressing to the dark side, then cutting down to 2 ½ “.

 

Half square triangle units are traditionally made by marking a fine pencil line diagonally across the paler fabric, so that it can easily be seen, and sewing a ¼“ from either side of the line.  We press the seam allowance towards the darker fabric so as not to allow the darker fabric to show through the paler, it also helps to nest seams for a flatter, neater end result.

Miriam's Cushion

placing fabrics

 

Once I had 15 sets of square and triangles, I had to decide on placement of the fabrics, with this pattern there are no blocks which can be made up and colour placement decided later, each fabric interlocks with its neighbours row on row , so the whole design must be laid out in advance.  Thank goodness it was only a cushion, I don’t have space to lay out an entire quilt in this way.

Miriam's cushion

 

Numbering the rows so that I didn’t get myself in a tangle I stitched each row individually, then pressed the odd rows in one direction and the even rows in the other direction so that the seams would nest neatly.

 

I was under time pressure, so as I worked I considered how to finish Miriam’s cushion, I wanted to finish the edge with a binding which would look like piping without the faff of having to use piping. But that left me with a problem of how to close the cushion cover.

 

A Zipper looks better than an envelope back, which I always think looks baggy and unfinished, but I couldn’t figure out how to put a zipper in a bound edge. So rather than make a matching back I had to make a smaller version of the front for back with a sashing to insert a zipper and leave a raw edge to bind.

Miriam's cushion

cushion back with zipper

 

Each side was sandwiched with a 2oz wadding bought specially at Abakhan    (https://www.abakhan.co.uk/stores) in Preston; and quilted simply with diagonal lines, happily because the wadding was quite chunky, it didn’t need a lot of close quilting.

Miriam's cushion

quilting Miriam’s cushion

I sewed the front to the back wrong sides together with the raw edges on the outside, a ¼ “ seam allowance.

 

Finally I cut and stitched the binding ; I cut a 2 ¼ “ binding and folded  it in half lengthways, right sides out, sewing it to the front of the cushion just a smidge wider than  ¼ “ so that the first seam isn’t showing.  It also stabilises and strengthens the seam around the edge being stitched round a second time.  Then rolling the binding over the raw edge by hand, because I have folded the binding I now have a folded edge to hand stitch along the seam line on the reverse side.

Miriam's cushion

Finished!

 

I used the same fabric for the binding as the sashing so that any wobbliness of the binding or the hand stitching would be less obvious on that side. I was burning the midnight oil by this time; Miriam’s cushion had to be finished, she was leaving the following day.

 

I wanted to label the cushion, but not for it to be seen  announcing myself constantly, so I made a label and stitched it inside the cushion, just under the zipper.  It simply says it was made for  Miriam, it is Miriam’s cushion.

 

When I gave Miriam’s Cushion to her, I pointed out my two errors, the zipper isn’t centrally placed, can’t figure out how that happened, but I didn’t have time to fix it, and the far corner fabric isn’t quite “right”, but I left it in because, as all quilters know, “only God is Perfect”.

 

There was one final flourish that I had planned to add but I ran out of time. It was a bible quotation I sought out especially For Miriam, a committed Christian, as she was leaving us for another job nearer to her home. I had planned it to be sewn inside like the label.

 

So here it is :-

 

To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. (Ecclesiastes 5:19)

 

It’s more than simply Miriam’s cushion it is a gift to express fond appreciation of the person she is.  Thank you Miriam for passing through my life however briefly, it has been a pleasure to know you, to work with you, to see you develop and flourish in your profession.

 

 

Crazy Patchwork Cushion , completed

April 15, 2017

Crazy Patchwork Cushion… continued…

Nearly two years ago, and before being thrown out of my studio to make room for a sixteen year old, I made a crazy patchwork cushion for a group challenge from 1980’s scraps some of which were Laura Ashley fabrics.

Crazy

Crazy patchwork cushion

scraps left over from the 1980’s

I wasn’t happy with the way it was finished but as with many of my projects I ran out of time and completed it in a rush in order to submit it to my quilt group’s annual challenge.

So the plan was to deconstruct it, well take the back off. I’d stitched it with a long stitch to make that easy. Put a zip in the back, instead of the envelope back that I’d had to do as a quick temporary fix.

crazy patchwork cushion

Then I needed finish the white embroidery on the front, so that all the edges were finished in the same way.
Finally I top stitched round the edge, I do this a lot on cushions just to give definition to the edge and to make them fit the cushion pad better. I do like a plump cushion.

crazy patchwork cushion

cushion for a Windsor chair

My cushion was made particularly to go to work with me to pretty up my office, but just as it was being made we were told we would soon be moving to a new “agile “ working environment where there would be 3 desks to 5 staff . The “personalisation of work spaces” would be frowned upon, or rather strictly forbidden. So my Crazy patchwork cushion will remain at home, and pretty up my new studio, on my Windsor chair with a view of the back garden.

The crazy patchwork cushion will also be submitted to my group’s biennial exhibition later this month, so that’s two items… see my next blog post for the third item.

Little Hearts pieced Cushion

April 14, 2017
little hearts

foundation pieced little hearts

18 months ago I found 4 little hearts foundation pieced blocks in red fabrics. I had a fine idea that I could make them into a finished piece in time to submit them to my quilt group’s annual challenge. (See the original blog post here http://www.mycrosspatch.com/blog/2015/12/23/four-little-hearts

little hearts

two plains

I found two plain fabrics and cut pieces to put the 4 little Hearts together to make a cushion front, but there was something not quite right. I couldn’t put my finger on it so I put it aside to think about it before going any further.

As predicted I had to pack up all my belongings and move out of the lovely newly redecorated room in order to make way for the then 16 year old who I had to admit had outgrown the box room which was his bedroom. He was beginning his important sixth form years and would need a proper study space.

All my sewing materials had to be packed up and moved into what was the box room ( we now call it Harry Potter’s room, the cupboard over the stairs) so the little hearts were packed up and moved (buried). The challenge came and went without me submitting my piece. It was only when I realised our quilt group’s exhibition was due in a couple of months that I dug out my little hearts and some other half finished pieces in the hope I could produce something to show.

little hearts

looking much better

The first step was to work out what was wrong with it. I realised the colours didn’t work together; the dull pink at the sides was just too dull, so I took it apart and replaced the dull pink with the darker burgundy colour. Sorted!

 

little hearts

zip and backing from my stash

I wanted to make an 18” cushion and would have had barely enough of the burgundy to achieve that. A 1” sashing of the cream calico, added a pretty frame to my 4 little hearts block and allowed me to achieve that 18+” square I needed for the cushion top.
I really wanted to complete this cushion completely from my stash, and no cheating. So the backing was a found item, from my stash, it’s quite an old piece, a remnant left over, I think, from a skirt or dress from the 1980s. Happily it has finally found its purpose. The zip came from another stash, a lucky find in a charity shop, a whole carrier bag full of zips, over a hundred zips for £5.

little hearts

Finished at last

Finally when I had put the cushion together it measured just shy of 18.5’’ and the 18’’ cushion pad was a little loose in the cover, so a quarter inch top stitching round the edge gave a good finish to the edge, a little definition and pulled in the cushion size to just under 18”, it makes for a nice plump cushion, and was finished with a fortnight to go before it needs to be handed in. Result!