Sunday, 21 October 2012

Paper pieced cushion ... a little tutorial

I'll be honest with you, I'm a bit nervous about posting this - my first tutorial - because I am not an expert paper-piecer but I found it helpful to take some photos whilst I was making this cushion top to remind me of what I had done. Also, I need to record the process for the future - I think it might be my age (44.5!) - cos I know I'll forget what goes where and on what side by the next time I come to paper piece :) 

I don't know how you start a new project ... sometimes I start with a pattern, then choose my fabric to match and other times (like this one) I buy the fabric first and wait for the inspiration fairy to come a calling! Out of this bundle of gorgeousness, I'll be making 3 cushions: 2 x 18" and 1 x 22" for our dear 20 year old nephew who has recently moved into his first home with his adorable girlfriend:

I then get my pen and ruler out and draw a pattern to fit the 18" square and choose which fabric goes where:

So, I now know I need my square in a square to measure 10.5" and I cut and sellotape two bits of foundation paper together and I draw a 1/4" seam within the square and then draw the inner square by measuring out points at exactly half way along each edge:

Using my window as a light box, I pin a centre square of fabric big enough to overlap the lines by at least 1/4" on the side without the lines on:

You don't have to make a template for the surrounding triangles but I like to, this makes sure I don't under measure when cutting (yes, have done that once or twice before):

You're now ready to sew the first two pieces together. Personally, I don't play around with my stitch length (though I have read elsewhere that you should shorten it to 12-18 stitches per inch) and I don't pre-perforate (hey, this process is long enough already!) If you want to be sure your points measure up, you can fold your triangle in half and match it up to the corner like this:

Do a couple of back stitches at the beginning and end and sew on the line:

Fold back the paper and trim to a tidy 1/4" seam:

Press and here is your first bit:

I like to do the opposite side next:

Do all four corners in exactly the same way, press and carefully remove the paper and voila, your perfectly straight-lined square in a square:

Now, a little tip for making sure the strip you sew on next sits perfectly alongside your point, sew your 1/4" seam just a breath away from that corner seam:

And it looks precise and lovely:

And after all the strips have been sewn on, you have a finished top of 18.5":

And the finished cushion, I free motion quilted some wavy lines on the seams and meandered / stippled the centre square:

And here's all three, I really LOVE that little black velvet apliqued heart:

And the backs. I do simple flap overs (I must teach myself how to put in a zip ... someday (sigh!)) out of leftover front fabric, if I have enough, roughly 2/3 of the cushion (so for the 18" cushion, I cut 2 x 12.5"):

That was fun - I do hope you enjoyed this little tutorial :)


  1. Jennifer, what a wonderful first tutorial! You did a bang up job! I look forward to more tutorials in the future! Maybe the next one you can do is the all too scary zipper once you master it, cause girl if you can paper piece, you can sew a zipper! Hugs from QT

  2. Lovely sweet cushions, really like the diamond one :) Must get round to paper piecing, gives such neat results. And excellent tip about the neat corners and the seam line. Thanks for the tutorial!]

  3. These are lovely- I will be making them someday! :) Thanks for the tutorial.


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