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

 

Pin Basting Methods

The three layers of a quilt sandwich are temporarily held together, basted, to keep them in place during the process of quilting. I think it’s safe to say most quilters find basting a tedious necessity.

I choose to pin baste, with varying degrees of success, and have tried several different ways of smoothing and fastening the layers. Earlier this week I discovered my latest session of pin basting had been spectacularly unsuccessful. I’d used a walking foot to quilt three wavy lines of stitches down the length of a quilt sandwich. The quilt top was definitely rippling as I stitched but I tried to quieten the alarm bells ringing in my head with the thought that if I continued quilting lines in the same direction the layers would ‘settle’ and all would be well. What?!? I finally checked the back of the quilt sandwich and the chill grip of reality closed around me…. I would have to unpick 180 inches of stitching, about 2,500 stitches, remove the basting pins and start again…

Unpicking is a slow process allowing plenty of time for thinking. I thought of the quote often attributed to Albert Einstein:

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

I resolved to do a bit of research into pin basting methods before re-basting my quilt sandwich, intending to apply what I’d learn and do things differently so as not to be proved insane.

Here is a summary of my research into pin basting. I read many more blog tutorials and watched, in part at least, many more YouTube videos than there are links listed below but I hope those selected will provide you with a good lead into solving the mystery of successful pin basting  🙂

I’ve divided my pin basting research results into three categories: on the floor; on a table; and board basting..

Pin Basting On the Floor:

How to Pin Baste a Quilt by We All Sew – carpet or hard surface. This method involves initially pinning the outside edges of a quilt backing to a carpet or taping it to a hard floor. Then smoothing on the batting before smoothing the quilt top down onto the batting and pinning the edges to to the carpet. Once the edges of the layers are secured pin basting begins.

  • Handy tip: Use the long edge of a quilting ruler to sweep across the quilt top in all directions to smooth out wrinkles before pinning it.

Successfully layering and basting a quilt by Generations Quilt Patterns. This method details taping backing to a hard floor before smoothing on batting and then smoothing and taping the quilt top.

  • Handy tip: After taping down test there is no excess fabric in the backing by running a hand over it. If the fabric bubbles or wrinkles re-tape the backing being careful to stretch out the fabric without pulling so hard it becomes distorted.

How to Pin Baste a Quilt by Tangible Culture. In this method masking tape is used to first tape the backing to a hard surface; then the wadding is taped to the backing; finally the quilt top is taped to the wadding.

Pin Basting On a Table:

Using Straight Silk Pins by National Quilters Circle. In this short video tutorial long, thin pins are used to baste a small quilt sandwich. The demonstrator says the the method can be used successfully for quilts up to throw size.

Quilting for Beginners: How to Baste Quilt Layers Together by Wisecrafthandmade. This table top method uses clamps to secure the layers to a table. Flowerhead pins, with homemade ‘Pinmoors’ made of craft foam, secure the layers. The tutorial explains how to baste a quilt larger than the the table surface.

Pin Basting Combined with Board Basting:

‘Board Basting’ is a technique for table top basting developed by Sharon Schamber. There are several videos of her demonstrating the method, unfortunately they are not great quality. On the Right Sides Together site there is an explanation of Board Basting that does include an in-focus video of Sharon demonstrating the board basting method. Although Sharon favours hand thread basting others have successfully used pin or spray basting when using the Board Basting technique.

The technique has been further developed to utilise swim noodles. Here’s a video of the swim noodle, pin baste technique. This is slightly different from the original Sharon S method as the wadding is also rolled.

* * * * *

So there you have it, a brief trip through a variety of pin basting processes. The variation in techniques explained in these tutorials is a good indication that there is no one way of creating a perfect pin basted quilt sandwich. But, we would hope, applying at least some of the tips and advice should lead to the process having a satisfactory outcome far more often than not.

What am I taking away from all this? I think first I made some basic errors in the basting of the quilt sandwich that sparked this blog post. I need to be more careful when I’m securing the backing – making sure it really is taut. I didn’t make allowances for one of the backing fabrics being quite a silky cotton, combining that with polyester wadding was more likely to lead to the sandwich layers shifting so I should have pinned more densely than I did…

So I am going to do things differently. I’ve cleared a space on my sewing room floor ready to pin baste the quilt sandwich.

It’s a l-o-n-g time since I basted on the floor and this is quite a confined space. My 58 year old knees and rather too large backside may well work against me ever doing this again but I’m interested to see if, for this quilt at least, pinning to the carpet will produce a successful quilt sandwich. I will let you know the result in my Saturday Quilting Bring & Share blog post or you may just hear my howls of despair or shouts of joy echoing around the World 😀

Incidentally I was taught how to ‘board baste’ when I first learned to patchwork quilt (thank you Flip!) and have kept the long boards tucked behind the spare bed but haven’t used the method for a long time. Having done this research I’m fascinated by the lack of stretching applied to the layers as they are unrolled from the boards or swim noodles. Maybe I’ll get those boards out from behind the bed and have a go at board basting my next quilt sandwich just to see if they do the job well enough on their own without the need to clamp or tape the layers to the table?

Please do add your experiences of pin basting and any tips you’d recommend to the comments box below. Thank you!

Linking with Kelly for Needle and Thread Thursday. Kelly is bravely finding the silver linings in having a broken ankle!

Allison

PS. For an up-to-date and comprehensive guide to pin basting and other methods of securing a quilt sandwich take a scroll through this article, ‘Quilt basting tutorial – learn different ways to baste a quilt‘.

 

An I-Spy Puzzle Quilt

It’s a finish! The I-Spy Puzzle quilt was constructed using the Scrap Vortex technique shared by Amanda Jean Nyberg of Crazy Mom Quilts. I always enjoy making Scrap Vortex quilts. Each one grows slowly as a ‘leader and ender’ project running alongside my regular patchwork sewing. I keep a bin of odd shaped scraps next to my sewing machine. As I’m piecing patchwork blocks together I just reach down into the bin, select two scraps with edges of similar lengths and stitch them together as and when I need a leader or ender. These stitched pairs go

Read more

Glue-Baste-It: Discovering new sewing notions

My little basket of applique and English Paper Piecing notions is almost fit to bursting! Funny how each branch of patchwork quilting calls for another collection of bits and bobs 🙂 My latest purchase is a 2oz bottle of Roxanne Glue-Baste-It.

 

Ridiculously expensive for something that looks suspiciously like PVA glue but HeyHo I was sold on the precision dropper that administers dots of glue little bigger than a pin head.

I’m using Glue-Baste-It to temporarily adhere my EPP pieces in place on the background fabric. I had been using the SewLine glue pen.

Read more