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Handmade Projects – How to make an appliqued cushion cover

Cushion Cover Tutorial |Handmade Canberra

The Handmade Canberra community is vibrant, creative and proactive. We want to share ideas and help you develop your skills and business and have a lot of plans to help you to grow. We recently started our Brandmade posts on the blog, advising on small business branding and promotion. Here, we are launching our Handmade Projects series, in which our wonderful designers can share their craft ideas.

To kick us off, Theresa from a little bird made me shares a tutorial that shows you how to make your own appliquéd cushion cover.  This would make a great Mother’s Day gift, or simply give your couch a fresh look.  Theresa is one of the designers who sells her products at Shop Handmade and is known for her beautiful fabric choices in the accessories she makes for our customers.

Theresa says:

Hi there.  The instructions that I have set out below are designed to take some of the mystery out of the art of appliqué, and to show you how to make a simply cushion cover that you can adapt to many uses.  I love the word ‘hello’.  It welcomes guests, shows you care, and is a cheery word on a dreary day!


40cm of fabric that is 112 – 120cm wide. (I used a cotton canvas for the cover pictured here)

A scrap of fabric for the appliqué slightly bigger than the shape you want to apply.

Heat ‘n Bond or the equivalent – double sided iron-on adhesive web with paper backing on one side.  You will need a piece roughly the size of an A4 sheet of paper.


The measurements that I am giving you for this cushion cover are to make a cover to fit a cushion about 38cm square.  To make another size, simply add or subtract the difference between your cushion and the pattern to work out the sizes you need to cut.  (If your cushion is 40cm square then you will cut out a 42cm square, if yours is 25 cm square, you will cut out 27cm square, and so on.)

Measure and cut the front of your cushion to be 40cm x 40cm (or 16 inches x 16 inches).  Measure and cut the pieces for the back of your cushion to be 40cm x 26cm, and 40cm x 21 cm.  These will overlap at the back of the cushion cover to make an ‘envelope’ opening.

Along the long edge of each of the back pieces turn the edge under 1.5cm and stitch it about 1 cm from the fold.  If you have an overlocker (serger) it is a good idea to overlock the raw edge first before turning it under. If you don’t have an overlocker then zigzag stitching the edge will help to stop it from fraying.012d4509c1616f72c0687b995b47585e7136aa7ce1

To make the appliqué, first choose the font and the word that you want to stitch onto your cushion.  For the cushion I have made here today I used Word on my computer to create the template.  I used a font called ‘BlackJack’ and set it on size 400 and ‘bold’ in order to create the size that I wanted.  The template for ‘hello’ is attached here for you to download and print out, or you can create your own words using your computer, or by drawing freehand if you have a steadier hand than me!

Once you have your template you need to trace it in reverse onto the paper side of your Heat ‘n Bond.  To be sure to get a good outline turn the template over, and trace around the outline of the shape on the back of the sheet first.Cushion tutorial |Handmade Canberra

Then trace the outline onto the paper backing of the Heat ‘n Bond.  Cushion cover tutorial |Handmade CanberraOnce it is transferred to the paper, cut the paper so that there is a centimetre or two around the edge of the shape.  Then place the non-paper side down on the back of your appliqué fabric, and iron it in place.Cushion Cover Tutorial |Handmade Canberra

Now, using scissors, cut around your outline, so that you have your shape with fabric on one side and paper on the back.  Be sure to remember to cut out the centre of any loops (because it is tricky to do it after it is on the fabric says the voice of experience!).Cushion Cover Tutorial |Handmade Canberra

Carefully peel the paper backing from the shape and line it up in the centre of your front panel of the cushion cover.  Cushion Cover Tutorial|Handmade Canberra

Once you are happy with its placement, you can iron it in place with a medium-hot iron.Cushion Cover Tutorial |Handmade Canberra

To stitch it in place you have several options – straight stitch, which will give you a raw edge finish, zig zag stitch, which is what I have chosen for this cushion, or blanket stitch which can give you a nice rustic feel.  I like using blanket stitch for appliqués but on something with as many curves as this lettering I find that zig zag words best.  To stitch this appliqué I set my machine to use stitches that were 2.5 high and 1.5 wide.  You can make your stitches narrower to get a satin stitch effect if you prefer.   Start stitching with your needle on the edge of the appliqué fabric, so that the ‘zig’ stitch will go in to the appliqué fabric, and the ‘zag’ will return to the edge of the appliqué fabric.  (Yes, I did just make it look they they were real technical terms.  No, they really aren’t.)

As you follow the edges around, when it is time to turn the corner try to have your needle in the fabric on the edge of the fabric, so that you know that the next stitch will fall inside the shape again.Cushion Cover Tutorial |Handmade Canberra

When you have finished, check the outline you have created on the back. This is a good way to check that you haven’t missed any details or inner loops (ahem.)Cushion Cover Tutorial |Handmade Canberra

Next it is time to assemble the cushion cover.  With the front of the cushion on your table facing with the right side up, place your longer piece of backing fabric face down on the front, and line up your raw edges (and, despite the absence of pins in the photos, pinning is highly recommended at this point!)  Cushion Cover Tutorial |Handmade CanberraThen place the shorter back piece down, so that the raw edges line up with the raw edges of the front piece, and the finished edge overlaps with the first backing piece.  Cushion Cover tutorial |Handmade CanberraStitch around the four sides of the square with a 1.5cm seam allowance.  Then trim the corners so that your cushion will have pointed corners when you turn it inside out. 01cbcd71569c4583d8e49d2d3b3074d56881f25b6a If you haven’t finished your raw edges with an overlocker or a zig zag stitch, this is the time to do it!

Turn your cushion cover inside out, use a pointed object such as a chop stick to push your corners out, put a cushion insert in it and, ‘hello’ – you are done!!Cushion Cover Tutorial|Handmade Canberra


If you use this tutorial we would love to see the results, so please share your photos with us on our Facebook page – www.facebook.com/handmadecanberra.

Sharing a handmade project with us would be a great way of showing off your skills and promoting your business, If you have a project of your own that you want us to feature, particularly with Mothers’ Day just around the corner, please make contact with us.

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