Applique is one of the most satisfying stitching techniques to try, and this summer flower appliqué project is the perfect DIY to use up fabric scraps and turn them into a garden-full of home-sewn blooms.
“I wanted to emphasise the variety of bright colours available in so many of our garden favourites,” says designer Jo Avery, “such as aster, gerbera, zinnia and cosmos, along with the gorgeous green of summer foliage. I would have loved to include a poppy, but the shape was a little beyond the limitations of needle-turn appliqué! So, instead I included a poppy seed pod. As well as being a very pleasing shape in themselves, these miniature ‘pepper pots’ hold not only a reminder that summer is short but, also the promise of the next one to come!”
If you’re new to appliqué, head over to our full guide to how to applique for beginners. If you’re new to quilting and patchwork, you might also like our guides to quilting for beginners and the best quilt kits for beginners.
This project was designed by Jo Avery and was first featured in Today’s Quilter magazine issue 10.
Summer flowers appliqué cushion – supplies list
- Assorted green fabrics, both solid and prints – 1 FQ in total
- Assorted bright pink fabrics for petals – 8in x 14in piece in total
- Assorted orange and turquoise fabrics for flowers – 8in square in total
- Assorted orange and red fabrics for yo-yos – 11in square in total
- Scraps of charcoal, yellow and brown fabrics for inner flower circles and seed pods
- Pencil/removable pen
- A small amount of brown perle cotton 8
- Binding fabric – 5in x WOF
- Sewing machine (see our best sewing machines for quilting)
- Basic quilting kit
- A few pieces of aluminium foil measuring 4in square
- A piece of thin card measuring 4in square
- 16in cushion pad
Free summer flower appliqué templates
- We used Essex Linen in Sand by Robert Kaufman for the background and backing.
- Depending on size and shape the pattern pieces have either ¼in or 3⁄16in seam allowances. Assume all are ¼in unless stated otherwise.
Before we begin… tips for appliqué
There are many ways to tackle needle-turn appliqué, but here is a method for sewing slightly larger circles.
Making large circles
Make a template by glueing the inner (broken line) circle from one of the circle patterns on to the thin card and cutting carefully out.
- Place your fabric circle wrong side up on to a square of aluminium foil.
- Place your card template on top and carefully enclose it in the foil, pressing tightly all the way round (Fig 1).
- Press very well on both sides of this foil packet, using your iron on its highest setting.
Carefully (it will be hot!) unwrap your foil and take out your fabric circle. If required you can carefully give your folded edges another press (Fig 2). It is now ready to appliqué.
Making a yo-yo
- Using your yo-yo template G (see our downloadable summer applique flower templates) cut out a fabric circle.
- Knot one end of a piece of strong thread. With the wrong side of the fabric circle towards you turn over a seam allowance of approx. ¼in from the right side. Insert your needle into this seam with the knot sitting on the wrong side of the circle. Using an even running stitch and turning the seam over as you go, sew all the way around your circle (Fig 3).
Gather up your stitches tightly and sew backwards and forwards between a couple of fabric pleats to secure. Turn the gathered centre of the yo-yo outwards slightly, make a couple more small stitches there and knot securely (Fig 4).
Pull out the fabric edges of your yo-yo and push in the gathered centre to neaten. Lightly press your yo-yo from both sides (Fig 5).
How to sew this summer flowers appliqué cushion
You Will Need
- Sewing machine
- Cushion pad (16 in)
- Basic quilting kit
- Aluminium foil
From your background fabric cut as follows:
- One (1) 17in square.
- Two (2) pieces measuring 12in x 17in, put these two pieces aside for your backing.
Using your paper templates cut out the following pieces:
- Twenty-four (24) leaves from green fabric using template A.
- Four (4) stems from green fabric using template B.
- Forty-eight (48) petals from pink fabric using template C.
- Four (4) circles from yellow fabric using template D.
- Four (4) circles from charcoal fabric using template E.
- Eight (8) circles from orange or turquoise fabric using template F.
- Eight (8) circles from orange or red fabrics using template G.
- Four (4) seed pods from brown fabric using template H.
Making the cushion
First trace your pattern (see your free summer flowers appliqué templates) on to your 17in background square using a pencil or removable pen such as a Pilot Frixion pen (which irons away).
Fold your fabric square in half twice to mark a centre cross guideline. Trace the quarter circle pattern onto your fabric square one quarter at a time, using the folded lines as a guide. If you can’t see the pattern lines easily through your fabric try taping to a window, your computer screen with the light turned up or go over the pattern lines with a thicker pen. The pattern is just a guide and does not need to be too accurate.
Begin by appliquéing your leaves (A) using a 3⁄16in seam. Pin in place then stitch down using a tiny neat slip-stitch and matching thread (Fig 6). There is no need to stitch the areas that will be covered by subsequent layers of stem or flowers, instead use a running stitch to move between areas.
Snip into the seam allowance ⅛in along the inner curve of each stem piece (B) (Fig 7) before pinning in place and stitching as before using 3⁄16in seam allowance. Again, there is no need to carefully stitch down the areas that will be covered.
Once all the leaves and stems are in place (Fig 8) stitch down the petals of each of the four pink gerberas (C) (Fig 9). Prepare your yellow and charcoal inner circles using the tips on page 45. Stitch the yellow circle (D) in the centre of the petals so it covers all the raw edges. Stitch the charcoal circle (E) on top.
Prepare and stitch the outer circular flowers (F). Make eight (8) yo-yos (G) as detailed above and sew these to the centre of each circle (Fig 10).
Lastly, appliqué the seed pods (H) using a 3⁄16in seam on all pieces.
Finishing the cushion
Take one of your pieces of cushion backing fabric and turn over a ½in seam twice on one of the 17in sides. Pin and then sew in place to hem. Repeat with the other backing piece. Press.
Lay your cushion front, right side down. Lay your two (2) back pieces on top, right sides up and overlapping (Fig 12). Pin and then sew these layers together very close to their edges (less than ¼in).
Prepare the binding by cutting two (2) strips each measuring 2½in and then sew these into one long length. Fold along the full length, wrong sides together and press. Use to bind the cushion. Insert cushion pad.
About the designer
Jo Avery has been quilting for the last 25 years and writing her craft blog for the last seven years. She set up her own fabric and craft supplies shop, myBearpaw, in Edinburgh and online, as well as teaching at her adjacent studio and around the UK and Europe. She also organises the Stitch Gathering, an annual Modern Quilt Retreat. See more of her work over at www.joavery.co.uk and on Instagram @joaverystitch.
This cushion was first published as part of a series of designs in Today’s Quilter magazine. You can find the other cushions in the series in issues 7, 14 and 17 – available to buy as digital issues via the Today’s Quilter app.