Tutorial: Envelope Cushion Back with Buttons and Binding

I began following the English Country Garden QAL in February 2021. I did intend to make all nine blocks and create the quilt-as-you-go quilt top… But best intentions and all that…I’ve got to the back end of 2021 with just four of the blocks completed. I enjoyed learning more about EPP and applique by making the blocks and also enjoyed having a slow stitching project to turn to but now I’ve decided it’s time for me to draw my involvement in the QAL to close. I’ll be making use of the completed blocks rather than consigning the project to the UFO Cupboard of Shame!

I’ve trimmed the blocks to 18½” square to make four new cushion (pillow) covers to replace the rather worn patchwork covers we’ve been using in our living room for the past 10 years or more.

I hope sharing the process I’m using to make cushion covers from these quilted patchwork blocks will be a useful guide should you decide to do something similar 🙂

Materials

  • One 18½” quilted patchwork square*
  • Cushion Back Fabric: cut two 18½” x 15″ rectangles
  • Medium weight interfacing: cut two 17½” x 2-5/8″ rectangles
  • Two 1″ buttons
  • Double fold binding: cut two Width of Fabric 2¼” strips to make approximately 84″ of binding. Sew strips together and press in half lengthways
  • 18″ x 18″ pillow form.

*I like my cushions squishy. If you prefer a firmer, tighter fit then cut your square to 18″ and the Cushion Back Rectangles to 18″ x 15″.

Equipment

  • Sewing machine with facility to make button holes
  • Rotary cutting tools
  • Pins and/or binding clips

Step One: Preparing Buttonhole Plackets

  • Place a Cushion Back Rectangle wrong side up on an ironing surface. Press a crease 3″ down from a long edge of the rectangle. Open out the rectangle.
  • Position an interfacing rectangle along the crease – there will be approximately ½” fabric exposed at either end and approx. ¼” seam allowance along the top of the rectangle.

 

  • Adhere the interfacing in place as per manufacturers instructions.
  • Fold and press the seam allowance over the edge of the interfacing Diagram 1.
  • Fold the interfacing flap to the back of the rectangle and pin in place.
  • Top stitch 1/8″ along the top edge and 1/8″ inside the seam allowance to secure the placket Diagram 2. Now measures 18½” x 12″ (18″ x 12 if making the tighter fitting version).
View of wrong side of a Back Rectangle with top stitching completed.
  • Repeat to prepare the second Cushion Back Rectangle.

Step Two: Make Buttonholes and Attach Buttons

  • Fold a Cushion Back Rectangle in half on the placket edge and make a crease to mark the centre.
  • Lay the Cushion Back Rectangle face up on a flat surface.

  • Measure 2½” away from the centre crease and make an erasable mark starting ¾” above the top stitching that secures the placket seam.
  • Repeat to measure and mark a buttonhole 2½” away from the other side of the centre crease.
  • Make vertical button holes using the marks as guides.
  • Place the Button Hole Placket, face up, directly on top of the placket of the other Backing Fabric rectangle (also face up).
  • Make a mark through each buttonhole onto the placket below to position the buttons.
  • Attach buttons.

Step Three: Attach Cushion Back Rectangles and Binding to Cushion Front

  • Lay the Cushion Front right side down on a flat surface.
  • Button the two Backing Rectangles together and pin placket ends so plackets are lying directly on top of each other.
  • With Cushion Back face up, place one 18½” edge directly on top of a Cushion front edge. Pin in place.

  • Carefully smooth the Backing over the Front. Pin in place. There will be a strip of excess Backing fabric along one edge.

  • Flip the pinned pieces over so the the Cushion Front is uppermost. Use a rotary cutter to remove the excess Backing Fabric.

  • Pin the binding raw edge to raw edge around the Cushion Front*. Start on an edge that does not have exposed Placket ends.
  • Stitch the binding in place using a ¼” seam in the usual way. Take care not to accidently flip the placket pieces as you stitch.
  • Hand stitch the binding to the back of the cushion cover.

*If you would rather machine stitch both edges of the binding then first stitch the binding raw edges to the Cushion Back before flipping the binding round and machine stitching it to the front of the cushion cover.

I hope this tutorial is useful. Any questions or suggestions do get in touch with me using the comments box at the bottom of this page. If you are interested in reading more of my tutorials you can find them by using the ‘Tutorials’ tab in the header 🙂 . I’ve also published several patterns including the I-Spy Shadow Quilt pattern, these can be bought as PDF downloads from my Etsy Shop.

Linking with Kelly for Needle & Thread Thursday. Kelly has been busy hanging lights outside her house in time for the Holiday Season but has had time to create a gallery of quilts from last weeks linkup.

Allison

Three bags: two wins, one fail, learning all the time!

Phew! First of all let’s get the weather chat out the way! Of course it is the number one subject here in the UK 😀 After months of cool, very wet weather the temperatures have suddenly ramped up. Here in central southern England we have had a succession of days in the high twenties. The forecast is for rain at the weekend followed by a dry week with much more comfortable low twenties temperatures. My poor tomato plants have gone from being completely water-logged to being fried! Not sure there will be much of a crop to enjoy this year.

Anyho! Some sewing has been going on between sweaty trips to the allotment (we are harvesting raspberries, courgettes and beans at the moment).

I bought a metre each of these Debbie Shore fabrics a few weeks a go with a friend in mind. She loves nature and keeps Doves as pets so the

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Scrappy Scrap Basket tutorial for The Summer Scrap Elimination 2021

Scrappy Scrap Basket. The Why? I often use scraps of fabric as an on-going leader-ender project. I have a bin of scraps within easy reach of my sewing machine and select a couple of scraps to stitch together each time I start or finish chain piecing patchwork units. On the other side of my sewing machine I have a basket ready to receive the stitched leader-enders as I snip them off the strings of chain pieced units. When the basket is full to over-flowing I know it’s time to press the seams of the leader-enders before throwing them in the box ready to become bigger units in a scrappy patchwork quilt 🙂

I’ve made several of these baskets and love just how scrappy a Scrappy Scrap Basket can be! For this tutorial I made a basket not only from fabric scraps but also interfacing scraps and wadding scraps. Funny how I still have loads of scraps…

It’s  Week 4 of the Summer Scrap Elimination 2021 blog hop and I’m very happy to be sharing this Scrappy Scrap Basket tutorial as a contributor to Swan Amity Studio’s annual event.

Scrappy Scrap Basket. The How?

Materials to make a basket approx. :

  • Ten 2½” x 5″ rectangles of fabric (outer sides of basket)
  • Two 2½” x 10½” rectangles of fabric (outer base of basket)
  • Two 1¾” x 10½” rectangles of fabric (outer top of basket)
  • Two 4½” x 6½” rectangles of fabric (tab handles)
  • Two 10¼” x 8″ rectangles of fabric  (lining of basket)
  • Two 10″ x 7¾” rectangles of medium weight interfacing
  • One piece of wadding 11″ x 22″
  • Top stitching thread

Note: Use ¼” seam allowance unless directed otherwise; reinforce start and finishes of all seams with reverse stitching.

Step 1: Basket Outer

  • Stitch together the 2½” x 5″ rectangles along their long edges to make the basket back and front each measuring 5″ x 10½”. Press seams open or to the darker fabrics.

  • Stitch the 1¾” x 10½” rectangles to the upper edges of the basket back and front. Press seams open.

  • Stitch the 2½” x 10½” rectangles to the bottom edges of the basket back and front. Press seams open.
  • Apply iron-on interfacing to the reverse sides of the basket back and front pieces.

  • Lay the back and front pieces side by side on the strip of wadding. Baste using spray or pins.

  • Quilt both using a design of your choice (I used a walking foot to quilt a twisted ribbon design and echoed the seam between the vertical rectangles and the horizontal fabric at the top of the basket).
  • Trim away the excess wadding so the basket’s back and front each measure 8¼” high by 10½” wide.
  • Boxed Corners: Place the basket back and front right sides together. Mark a 2¼” square in the bottom corners.

  • Stitch the sides and bottom seams together – back stitch at the start and end of each seam and across the marked lines.

  • Cut away the bottom corners along the marked lines.

  • Pinch the two open edges of a cut corner together, aligning the bottom seam with the side seam.

  • Stitch the open edges of the boxed corner together making sure to back stitch at the start and finish of the seam.

  • Repeat with the opposite corner.

Step 2: Tab Handles

  • Fold a 4½” x 6½” rectangle in half – short edge to short edge – to find the centre and press along the fold. Open out the rectangle and fold both short edges to the centre crease. Press and then fold edges together along the centre crease to create a 1″ x 6½” tab.

  • Top stitch 1/8th inch in from the edges along both sides of the tab.
  • Fold the tab in half. Centre the open edges against the top of a side seam of the outer basket – right sides together. Using an 1/8th inch seam allowance baste in place.

  • Repeat to make the second tab handle.

Step 3: Basket Lining

  • Lay the two lining rectangles right sides together and mark 2¼” squares in the bottom corners ready to make boxed corners.
  • Stitch the side seams starting with a ¼” allowance at the top edge gradually moving to ½” allowance at the marked line. Reverse stitch at the start and beginning of each seam.

  • Stitch a ¼” seam along the bottom edge leaving a 3″ opening to turn the basket right sides out. Reverse stitch at the start and finish of each seam.
  • Cut away the marked corner squares.
  • Make boxed corners in the same way as those made for the outer basket.
  • Press open the side and bottom seams.

Step 4: Create the Basket

  • Place the outer basket inside the lining, right sides together.
  • Align the side seams and pin or clip together the top edges of the basket outer and lining.

  • Stitch together using a ¼” seam all around the top edges of the outer basket and lining.
  • Turn the basket right sides out through the opening in the lining.
  • Carefully roll and finger press around the top edge of the basket.

  • Top stitch ¼” around the top edge of the basket.
  • Machine or hand stitch closed the opening in the lining.

Congratulations! Your Scrappy Basket is finished and ready to receive it’s fill of scraps!

Of course, this basket pattern can be adapted in many ways depending on the shape and size of the scraps you use. It would be possible to use a stitch & flip method to attach strips of fabric to the wadding or to make the basket sides using a Crazy Patchwork technique. If you choose to make a larger basket I’d recommend using two layers of wadding or a foam interlining to make sure the sides are rigid enough to stay upright.

If you have any queries about this Scrappy Scrap Basket tutorial please do get in touch 🙂 Don’t forget to follow the link to the home of the Summer Scrap Elimination 2021 project at Swan Amity Studios where you’ll find Swan’s scrap elimination tutorials and links to other contributors of this years blog hop.

Allison

 

 

Making a Bag: How Hard Can It Be?

I invite you to join me on a bag making adventure 🙂 This is a self imposed challenge to learn new skills and maybe, maybe add bag making to my repotoire of workshops. I will endeavour to share with you what I learn as I follow the Pelican Tote pattern from Bagstock Designs. I’ve also be posting on Instagram @allisonreid.neweveverymorning using the hashtag #bagmaking🤔

In the past I have made lined tote bags and one or two zippered pouches but have always shied away from making a bag with zippered  pockets or structured interfacing. The Pelican Tote has both and is labelled a beginner level project. I’ll certainly be putting that to the test 😀

Without further ado, here is what I’ve been learning (skip to the end of the post to find links to online bag making tutorials and book recommendations):

Day 1: Cutting out the fabric pieces and applying fusible interfacing.

  • I followed the pattern requirements, purchasing woven iron-on interfacing, Pelon S-F 101. I fused the interfacing to the fabrics before cutting out the shapes using the templates. The woven interfacing gives quilting cottons a lovely feel and weight – they still move and drape like cotton but don’t crumple, they look smooth and feel soft. (Of course, woven interfacing is more expensive than standard interfacing!).
  • I’m amazed by how much fabric I used! Definitely a surprise. The bag pieces took just about all of the 1¼yds of fabric and all of the 2m of 20″ wide interfacing. Homemade bags, not cheap! Who’d have thought it?

Day 2: Making a zippered external pocket.

  • I followed the pattern instructions, applying some of the tips and techniques I remembered from my bag making research – see links at the end of this post.
  • I struggled to use the zipper foot correctly. I even switched to the standard foot a couple of times. My seam ripper came in handy as my top stitching failed to make the grade! In the end I decided to compromise so my topstitching is about 3/8ths from the seam edge rather than the 1/8th prescribed by the pattern but at least it’s reasonably straight.
I really struggled using a zipper foot on a straight stitch machine! I couldn’t figure out which side I should have the needle!
  • Longer stitch length is required for neat topstitching – how many times did I forget to adjust the stitch length on my machine? *sigh*
  • Matching up fabric prints above and below the zipper is tricky! More unpicking!
I got quite a sense of achievement when the external pocket was finally finished!

Day 3: Making an internal pocket and sewing in foam interfacing.

  • I watched a tutorial by Professor Pincushion to pick up a few extra tips about constructing the internal pocket; stitch across ends of zipper to keep it lying straight was one of the tips I applied. I also watched this quick tutorial by So Sew Easy – she used double-sided ‘wonder tape’ rather than pins to position the zip as does Lisa Lam in her Craftsy Class (see link below). I couldn’t get hold of the tape and someone said it can gum-up machine needles (have you experienced this?) so I fiddled about using my Sewline Glue Pen. The glue wasn’t really strong enough to hold the zipper in place but in the end I managed to stitch the zipper into the letter-box like gap.

  • After the zipper trials stitching the foam interlining to the front and back outer panels was an absolute breeze! I used a long basting stitch. Too late I picked up a tip to smooth out and pin the fabric to the interlining before basting to make sure the fabric didn’t shift or pucker. I didn’t have any real issues with this but I could create a slight bubble of fabric against the basting stitches by sweeping my hands across the fabric surface.

Day 4: Making handles, tabs for magnetic clasps and stitching the bag sides together.

  • I followed the pattern to make fabric shoulder straps. I’d run out of woven interlining so cut strips of Bamboo wadding to give the handles a little body.
  • The instructions for making the tabs were straightforward to follow. I used little pieces of the foam interlining as the ‘extra’ layer to add strength and protect the fabric from the metal clasp. 😀 The magnet in the clasp was really strong – I had real trouble separating the two parts before making the tabs!
Tab basted in place to the top edge of the bag lining.
  • I stitched darts in the bottom corners of the bag exterior and lining pieces as per the pattern before stitching them together. The foam interfacing is really easy to stitch through. I remembered to lengthen the machine stitch to about 3 to help keep the thick layers moving under the machine foot. What I forgot to do was widen the lining seam from ½” to 3/8ths so the lining sits a little bit baggy in the bag – if you know what I mean?

Day 5: Turning right-sides out and top-stitching.

  • I followed the pattern which gives instruction for turning the bag right sides out through the bottom of the internal pocket. Of course, despite all the reminders, I forgot to open the zipper before stitching the lining and exterior bag together – what am I like? 😀 So I had to unpick a few inches of stitching to reach inside and open the zipper! Never mind it was mistake that’s quick to correct! It was quite an effort to push all those layers through the gap in the bottom of the pocket but not impossible. (Birthing a bag is one of my favourite things! Many, many years ago I did seriously consider training to be a midwife!). I was pleased to see that all the squishing and tugging didn’t crease the foam interlining.

  • Final touches included hand sewing the open bottom seam in the internal pocket and machine stitching around the top edge of the bag. Julie the Juki stitches through the thick seams with barely a stutter but top stitching around the rim of the bag was a bit awkward as Julie doesn’t have a free arm option. I found turning the bag inside out was the most comfortable way to have the right side of the bag in view as I stitched.

Hurrah! The bag looks like a bag! It’s a finish!

I’m already sorting through my stash to make another. I’ve downloaded the instructions to add a recessed zip next time around – keep adding on the skills 😉

Here are some handy resources for novice bag makers like myself:

If you are mystified by the types of zippers and their uses then I recommend this link: Information about zippers

I watched this ‘Tips for Using Zippers’ tutorial by the Crafty Gemini before zipping (ha!ha!) through this tutorial by Sew Sweetness to find handy tips re. fitting and top stitching zippers.

For an alternative to using a zipper foot and some other tips take a look at Amista Baker’s short tutorial.

I watched a tutorial by Debbie Shore demonstrating how to create a zippered dividing pocket in a tote bag. I like her relaxed but professional style of presentation.

I’ve also been delving into some courses on Craftsy. I took advantage of the offer to take out a one year subscription for $3. This gives access to all the courses but only for the duration of the subscription. A bargain – as long as I remember to cancel the direct debit instruction prior to the $79.99 being removed from my bank account next year!

  • Joan Hawley ‘Zip It Up: Easy Techniques for Zippered Bags‘.
  • Sara Lawson ‘Building Better Bags: Interfacing & Structure‘. This provides a comprehensive look at the different types of interfacings and linings, their uses and how to apply them. Sara demonstrations methods of attaching zippers when interfacings and linings are being used and gives clear tips showing how to use interfacings to strengthen bag fastenings. There’s also a lesson on finishing bags with bias binding and how to add piping. The course notes include a table comparing interfacings by manufacturer which is a great help when trying to select the right product for a project.
  • Lisa Lam ‘20 Essential Techniques for Better Bags‘. I haven’t finished this course yet, learning lots as I watch. I have Lisa’s book, ‘The Bag Making Bible’ and have been dipping in and out of it throughout the process of making the Pelican Tote.

And a final ‘link’ to Samantha Hussey’s book ‘The Complete Bag Making Masterclass’ which has been another handy resource.

I hope this record of my foray into bag making has provided some useful information or provided you with an opportunity for a knowing smile or two as you recall your first bag-making projects.

Linking with Susan for Midweek Makers .

Allison