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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.

 

 

Another successful raid; charity shop bargains

May 11, 2014

Today was my regular trip to the hairdressers, for a cut and colour, as I was leaving we were all singing the praises of my favourite charity shop Wolfwood, which is just next door. I happened to mention that I am always on the lookout for nice glassware, when my Stylist remembered having seen some nice ones in there the day before. We went in together and found them, 4 lovely crystal wine glasses; £3. Not £3 each you understand £3 for all 4 of them, needless to say they came home with me.

4 crystal glasses

4 crystal glasses

Before I left I spotted two cushions, each in plain linen type fabric embellished with real shell buttons. two cushionsI snapped them up for £2 each. Now they are rather bland and beige for my taste but I didn’t buy them to use but rather to asset strip. Whilst walking home with my treasure I took a closer look, both cushions were sold by NEXT, and one still had its swing tag on, attached to the zip and tucked inside; whoever donated them paid £12 for that one. From the two cushions I have retrieved 1 cream zip, two cushion pads, 48 x 2.5cm natural shell buttons, which are quite thick and heavy , and 169 natural shell shirt buttons, plus two pieces of fabric suitable for backings once I’ve washed them. One is quite coarse, polyester /linen mix, the other a finer cotton/ linen mix.

169 shirt buttons

169 shirt buttons

Had I gone out to buy these materials the zip alone would have cost £4, the buttons I guess at least 5p each for the little ones and maybe 25-30p each for the bigger ones, say £30 worth of materials for £4.

can you believe it £2?

can you believe it £2?

I don’t feel bad about taking them apart because they were badly designed, the buttons being shell are heavy and the fabric they were sewn to is too flimsy, so the whole cushion front sagged, the buttons dragging the fabric down, which is probably why they came to be in the charity shop, almost unused. I have plans for all the materials, of which later, possibly much later.

can't believe my luck

can’t believe my luck

Having had good luck so far, I decided to check out the charity shops in town, and scored a pair of unworn Boden ¾ length pants in a pistachio green, the swing tag and spare buttons still attached, for £6, and a scarf which feels like silk but probably isn’t from River island for 99p. All in all not a bad haul, for £14. I love a good charity shop, bargains like hidden treasure, waiting to be discovered, if only you have the patience to search.

a completed task

December 3, 2013

finished cushion:front

finished cushion:front


The two sides were quilted in circles using a CD and a circle cut from card as my quilting guide, and the zip carefully set into one side.the wadding cut back and the lining turned under and slip stitched to the zip fabric, to allow the zip to run. The whole thing then stitched round and turned out through the zip opening. Had the cover turned out to be too big, I would have top stitched around the edge to adjust the size, but it worked out just right.
So I finally finished the cushion, and proudly presented it to the 13 year old to be met with an unimpressed grunt, such is to be expected from a teenager.
The next day I noticed he wasn’t using it, “its scratchy” he tells me… it is so soft to the touch because it’s made from recycled, well washed fabrics!
Finally he asked could it be made smaller, could I “cut a bit off all round” so it will fit on the chair better? I admit I made it to fit the cushion I had, rather than the chair. Back to the drawing board then, what does a girl have to do to get some appreciation around here?

finished cushion: back

finished cushion: back