Start your weekend with some slow sewing and unwind with this afternoon cushion DIY. Pick a few of your favourite fabric scraps and gather a few basic supplies and you can whip up a romantic appliqué hearts cushion in no time. Appliqué is the perfect way to use up those pretty odds and ends of fabric which you’ve been saving from previous projects for a rainy day. We’ll show you how to make your very own hearts cushion, step by step, with this easy-to-follow tutorial from Elizabeth Betts and Love Patchwork & Quilting magazine. Elizabeth Betts teaches, sews and sells quilting supplies. Her first book, The Beginner’s Guide to Quilting, was released in summer 2013.
Read on to find out how to make this easy weekend project, and if you’re coming to this new to sewing, remember to check out our guides to Sewing for Beginners, How to use a sewing machine, and How to Appliqué to brush up on the basics before you begin.
- Seam allowances are ¼in unless otherwise noted.
- WOF = width of fabric.
- Pre-wash and press all fabrics before cutting.
- We have suggested inexpensive quilter’s calico for the cushion backing, which will be inside the finished cushion cover. You could also use plain fabric or anything from your stash.
- Fabric for cushion front: 17in square – we like the John Lewis online haberdashery range
- Quilter’s calico for backing cushion front 19in square
- Batting 19in square
- Two pieces of fabric for cushion back, each 17in x 13in
- Three pieces of fabric for the hearts, each 4in x 12in
- Three pieces of fusible web, each 3¾in x 11¾in
- Cotton sewing thread (to match fabrics for the appliqué hearts)
- Cushion pad 16in square
- Sewing machine
Free appliqué heart templates
Before you begin, download our Free applique heart templates and either print them out or trace them to create the heart templates for this project.
How to make a hearts appliqué cushion
You Will Need
- Fusible web
- Cushion pad
Preparing the templates
Make the templates for all of the projects by downloading and either printing out or tracing our heart templates (using the link above) four times. Cut out each size, leaving a 1in border around the edge of each one. Glue the paper to a piece of card and cut out the shapes along the lines. Alternatively, trace the shape onto a piece of template plastic. The heart templates are referred to by size – Small, Medium, Large and Extra-large. Write the size on the templates to avoid confusion.
Preparing the applique
Take a piece of fabric for the hearts and fuse a piece of fusible web to the wrong side. Take the three largest heart templates (Extra-large, Large and Medium) and draw around each one once onto the back of the fabric (fig a). Use scissors to cut out the shapes. Repeat with the other two fabrics.
Peel the paper backing off the hearts. Lay out them out on top of the fabric for the cushion front to make an arrangement you are happy with, and then press each heart to fuse in place.
Edging the appliqués
The edges of the appliqués now need to be sewn, which also quilts the cushion front. Prepare your cushion front as follows. Lay out the piece of calico and place the batting on top, smoothing out so the layers are flat. Place the cushion front on top, right side up, making sure it is in the centre and wrinkle-free. Hold the layers together with quilter’s safety pins through the layers about 4in apart. Try to avoid putting pins in areas where you plan to quilt.
Set up your sewing machine. In the cushion shown 100% 50 weight cotton thread was used, to match the colour of the heart (see Top Tip). A transparent open-toe presser foot is the best one to use when making this project as it allows you to see clearly where the stitches are going, and that they are in line with the edge of the heart. If you don’t have one use a normal presser foot or a walking foot. A machine zigzag stitch was used to stitch around the edge of the appliqué, but a machine blanket stitch could also be used. Try out some stitches on scrap fabric first to find a setting you are happy with.
Choose a heart in the centre and place one of the sides of the heart under the presser foot. Lower the foot, keep hold of the thread and lower the needle down through fabric and then back up again. Gently pull the piece of thread to pull up the bobbin thread to the front of the fabric. This stops the threads getting tangled up during stitching. Put your threads to the back and start sewing around the heart. When you get to the point at the bottom or inside the curve at the top, stop sewing with the needle on the outside of the shape. With the needle down in the fabric lift the presser foot and move the fabric into place to start stitching again. Stitch slowly, trying the keep the majority of the stitch on the heart shape. Keep stopping with the needle down in the fabric, lifting the presser foot and smoothing the fabric so it stays flat (fig b).
When you get back to the place you started, stop sewing and leave a long tail of thread. If needed unpick a couple of stitches so the start and finish of the stitching looks seamless. Use a hand sewing needle to take the threads through to the back, tie them off and trim (fig c). It is fine to leave a tail as this will be inside the cushion cover and won’t be seen.
Stitch around each heart in the same way, changing thread colours as needed and working from the centre out to the edge to keep it flat. Smooth out the fabric and trim the calico backing and batting level with the cushion front (fig d).
Making up the cover
Take one of the 17in x 13in backing pieces. On one of the 17in sides fold over about ½in and press. Fold again about ¾in and press. Sew along the fold to make a hem. Do the same with the other backing piece.
Place the cushion front on a surface, right side up. Place one of the backing pieces on top, right side down, aligning raw edges and with the hem in the centre. Place the second backing piece on top, right side down, aligning raw edges and with the seams overlapping in the centre. Pin in place and sew all the way around using a ½in seam allowance. If you have one, use a walking foot, as you are stitching through lots of layers.
Trim the corners (fig e). Turn the cover right side out and poke out the corners. Insert the cushion pad to finish.