I was feeling the need to make something quick and lovely to showcase the gorgeous Rain or Shine collection from Dashwood Studio, and I came across a lovely pattern by Megan Jimenez in issue 20 of Love Patchwork & Quilting magazine. It's been on my 'to-do' list for a while so I'm pleased to have finally made it!
It's super easy and quick to make, and in my usual lazy quilter style, there's not much fiddling about with cutting and piecing. If you are not confident at quilting then this is perfect as you QAYG and it's just straight line quilting. I used the width of the sewing machine foot as a spacing guide and so didn't need to mark any lines. Also because you are quilting as you go and it's a small finished block you don't need a fancy sewing machine or a walking foot. My all-bells-and-whistles Janome machine was away for repair so I made this on my trusty £99 John Lewis machine. It's an envelope closure so no need to fiddle about with zips or button holes. It's great for using up scraps of fabric and wadding. The first time that I made this it took me about 3 hours. The next time I made it it took about half that time.
I apologise for the photo quality. I made this at night in my sewing room, and the light isn't great. But they're clear enough to show the main points.
- 3.5 inch hexagon, fussy cut for the cushion centre
- 2.5in strips cut across the width of the fabric (WOF). I used 6 fabrics, cutting 2 strips of each but I only used 1 strip of most of them.
- 17.5in square of wadding. I used a scrap of cheap polyester wadding as I didn't want to use my expensive cotton stuff and I don't care about the thermal properties of a cushion! Polyester has the added bonus of being puffy, which works well in this case.
- 18.5in square of lining fabric (nothing fancy as you won't see this. I used a bit of Ikea bomull)
- Fabric for back of cushion: one 16.5 x 10in piece, and one 16.5 x 13in piece
- Seam allowances are 1/4in unless otherwise stated.
- You can wash and press all your fabrics before use if you like. I didn't (and never do!), and have yet to come a cropper!
- Work concentrically. Choose a side to start on the hexagon and then work either clockwise or anti-clockwise from that starting point. That way all the strips will overlap correctly.
- RST = rights sides together
- WOF = width of fabric
- Basting = if you are new to quilt making, basting is the process of joining the three layers of a quilt together, i.e. the backing fabric, the wadding in the middle and the lovely quilt top that you'll have made. There are different ways of doing this; spray adhesive, safety pins, plastic tags that you shoot out of a basting gun (fun, but fiddly to get out at the end!) or sewing with a long stitch length. You can use one of these methods or combine them. The resulting three layers basted together is often referred to as a quilt sandwich.
- Pressing: usually my mantra is "press, press, press" when I'm sewing. It really helps give a professional finish. However, finger pressing is fine when making this cushion. Also since we are sewing directly on to wadding, ironing is tricky as it can melt polyester wadding. It's fine to iron with a warm iron once finished, but I personally don't think you need to iron this.
1. Start off by basting the wadding to the lining fabric. I used basting spray, but you can pin or stitch depending on what you prefer.
Next, with your wadding facing you, pin your fussy cut hexagon in the dead centre of the wadding. Make sure it's straight, otherwise you'll end with a wonky cushion. But totally go for the wonky look if you like!
Place your first 2.5in strip RST with one of the hexagon edges. Trim the strip to make it easier to work with, but make sure that you leave approx. 1/2in overlap with the edge of the hexagon. Sew the strip in place (picture B).
2. Finger press the strip open and then quilt the strip with a few lines of straight stitch (picture C).
3. Place the next strip RST on the adjacent side of the hexagon that you just quilted. I worked in an anti-clockwise direction. Line up the edge of the new strip with the edge of the hexagon. Ensure the strip overlaps the corner of the hexagon by at least 1/4in and completely overlaps the strip that you've just quilted. Then sew on with 1/4in seam allowance. I forgot to take a pic of this step, but picture D shows the second strip finger pressed back once it's sewn on.
You can see that I trimmed the left edge with a ruler. This is the way I trim pieces when I make pineapple blocks on vilene. However it didn't really work well here because the wadding was too thick to fold back on itself and get a neat, narrow overlap. So from this point on I just trimmed them freehand with some sharp scissors. You don't have to trim the excess, but it reduces bulk and gives a better finish I think. Once it's trimmed, quilt it.
4. Continue placing your strips in this manner until you have completed one complete hexagon circuit. Key points to remember: ensure a 1/4in overlap on the 'fresh' hexagon corner (the lefthand side of the white cloudy strip in picture D, above) and completely overlap the strip that you have just quilted (the righthand end of the cloud strip on picture D). On picture E the amount of overlap of the dark umbrella strip is what you should be aiming for when you place any new strip. Once it's sewn on and finger pressed back you can trim any excess off the ends. BEWARE - don't trim too much off! Keep the new strip aligned with the 'fresh' edge of the hexagon to ensure that you're not sewing it on wonky.
If you're going to trim the excess, remember to do it before you quilt - I forgot this once or twice and had to do some unpicking!
5. Once you have completed the first round it should look something like this (picture F). Not bad! You'll find you pick up speed as you go on. The next bit is the only tricky bit, so it's worth spending a couple of minutes measuring and getting this bit right.
6. The first strip that you placed will now look like a little triangle pointing away from the centre (point X on picture F). In order to begin the second round of strips place a tape measure/ruler on point X and measure at approx. 1/4in from that point. I say approximately because I used a slightly bigger seam allowance than 1/4in when I made this (naughty me), and so I found that I had to measure a bit more than 1/4in from this point. Basically make your measurement the same as the seam allowance that you've been using.
Then place your first strip of the next round RST on the cushion front centring it over the triangle and keeping the edge of the new strip aligned with the edge on your first ever strip (i.e. the pink triangle in picture F) - this involves a bit of guess-timation as you can't actually see the edge of the first strip as it's obscured by the overlapping strips of the first round. Once you have positioned it, sew that baby down before it moves! Then finger press it open and check that you're happy with its placement. As long as this piece is correctly placed, then the rest is easy peasy. So if you're not happy, unpick and reposition it now. You'll be glad you did.
7. Continue placing your strips in the round, making sure you work in the same direction as before. Place each strip RST with the previous strips and keep the long edge of your new strip aligned with the long edge of the strip underneath like in picture G. You can see the amount of overlap required at the end of each strip in picture G too.
8. Keep going!
9. Eventually you'll fill the wadding to the edges (picture I). Once you have done so, trim the square so that it measures 16.5in square (picture J). Trimming is best done with a rotary cutter and quilting ruler. If you don't already have these in your sewing kit I really recommend them. They are pricy, but believe me, if you are going to get into patchwork you'll really get your money's worth. And of course you can use them for other sewing projects too. You'll also need to get a cutting mat so that you don't wreck your table!
Let's move on to the backing.
10. Take your two backing pieces and on each one finish one of the 16.5in edges as follows. Turn under 1/2in and press, then turn under another 1/2in and press and then top stitch in place (picture K).
11. Now you're ready to assemble the cushion. Place the finished cushion front and two backing pieces RST with the hemmed edges of the backing overlapping in the middle. Sew around the edges. I used 1/2in seam allowance. Trim the bulk from the corners. Press seams and turn the right side out. Stuff a cushion pad in it and you're done!
I also made it with some fabrics from my stash. This time it was much quicker...a bit too quick as I didn't notice that some of my strips were a bit wonky until it was too late! But I kind of like the homemade look!
- If you're feeling adventurous, and you have the tools (i.e. a darning foot) you could alway try a more interesting quilting design rather than straight lines.
- If you don't want to QAYG, you could piece the strips straight on to the lining fabric or interfacing, and then once you've made the cushion front and trimmed it to size, make a quilt sandwich and quilt in the usual way.
- This is also a great block to make into a full quilt using both the QAYG method or quilting once finished. Just make as many blocks as you need to make a quilt of the required size, sew the blocks together with 1/2" seam, trim, baste, quilt and bind. Easy. If using the QAYG method to make a quilt, you'll need to join the blocks using a special technique on which you can find tutorials on the internet (search "joining QAYG blocks").