Friday, 5 August 2011

Get tuft!

This is a little tutorial for a simple patchwork cushion, which can either be left plain, or embellished with tufting.

Things you'll need:
Three fat quarters in contrasting colours.
Needle and co-ordinating thread
Sewing machine
One cheap pillow (like this one from Ikea) or polyester filling

The finished cushion measures approximately 17" by 14".

We're going to begin by turning two of the fat quarters into smaller patchwork pieces.  Fold the fat quarter in half and cut along the fold (if you're not using a rotary cutter, and are worried about staying in a straight line, pin the open ends together to keep the material from slipping).  You should now have two pieces.  Fold each of the pieces in half, again, and cut a long the fold as before.  Repeat the process with the second fat quarter.  You should now have eight smaller pieces of fabric, plus one full sized fat quarter.  

We will be using four of the eight smaller pieces so you can put the other four aside for another project, or patchwork the back of this project :-)

Take two of the four pieces, ensuring that they are contrasted, place them right sides together and sew along one side, leaving a half inch seam allowance.  Open up the seam and iron flat.  Repeat the process with the other two pieces.  You should now have two long pieces :-)

Sew the two long pieces together, making sure that each square is sitting next to a contrasting square; open up the seams and iron as before.  You now have the front of your cushion!

Place the front of the cushion and the remaining fat quarter right sides together; you will notice that the fat quarter is now a bit larger than you'll need it.* Try to place the front, comfortably, in one of the corners of the remaining fat quarter.  When you are happy with how the two pieces are sitting, pin them together and trim the excess from the back piece.  

Now sew the two pieces together remembering to leave a gap (about the size of your hand) for turning the cushion right side out.

Once the the two pieces are sewn together snip the corners and, turn right side out.  Make sure to push out the corners (with the blunt end of a knitting needle, or something similar) because you won't have much leeway for altering the shape once the cushion has been stuffed.

Talking of which, now is the time to pop open that pillow and get stuffing!  I used about a third of the Ikea pillow for this one.

Once you have the cushion as full as you want it, use the contrasting thread to hand sew the gap shut.

Your cushion is technically finished (yay!), and you can leave it as it is if you wish.

However, if you would like a little bit of embellishment, you could add a single 'tuft'.

In all honesty, tufting can be a pain in the butt, but, it does look fantastic once it's done!

I decided to add uncovered buttons to my project, but covered buttons or pom-poms  also make fantastic embellishments.

Tufting is very simple in theory, but can be quite fiddly in practice.  Basically, you sew an embellishment through one side of the cushion right through to the embellishment on the other side, thus pulling the front and back together and creating a little dip on each side.  Mark where you wish each embellishment to sit, with dressmaker's chalk or pencil, so that you're not having to 'guess' if the needle is arriving in the right spot.

When using buttons it's easier if the first button is secured with a couple of stitches so that you don't have to worry about holding it in place whilst pushing the needle through to the other side.

Once you feel as though both buttons (or pom-poms) are properly attached, secure the thread and trim off any excess.

And you are done!

Happy tufting!

*If you've patch-worked the back of this project your two pieces should be the same size.


  1. Hello!

    I am contacting you to let you know that I featured your fantastic project on You can see it here:

    I love the project, and I can't wait to see what our readers will think! Thank you for sending it!
    Have a lovely day,

    Jessica Farris

  2. Hi Jessica!

    Thank you so much!
    It was a fun project to make - really glad you enjoyed it :-)