Sunday, 15 April 2012

Let's Quilt While We're Ahead - The Log Cabin Cushion

We have been doing quite a few projects recently that have used some quilting now it's time for us to venture into some proper quilting blocks and I thought we could start with a nice easy pattern, Log Cabin which is also known as Cathedral Steps.  It is a great block to start with as it gets you used to cutting and sewing accurately.  I know that the purists may say but you are using a machine but sometimes you need some instant gratification and later we will move on to hand sewing quilting blocks... but lets learn to walk before we embark on a marathon.
So let's get started, you will need:
A selection of fat quarters (I have a pack of six quarters and I know that I can get 3 cushions from this)
1/2 metre of plain contrasting fabric
Rotary Cutting Wheel
Self Healing Mat
Rotary Cutting Ruler
Small scissors
Fish Knife
Cushion pad
Iron (dry not steam)
Ironing Board
Zip - I am using a 9" zip for a 12" cushion pad
Before you start, iron every piece of fabric flat... although it may look flat, it will need pressing.
If you are using fat quarters, cut along the 22" side as this will give you the longest strips of fabric.  You need to cut your strips 1 1/2" wide - in quilting we use 1/4" seam allowance - you may hear this called a scant 1/4" seam allowance because it needs to be really accurate and this is a fine seam allowance.  Very often you will find that the distance from the needle to the edge of the foot is a quarter of an inch, or else mark it up on the plate of your machine so you can use that as a guide.
Now a safety warning, Rotary Cutter are very dangerous, incredibly sharp, always cut away from yourself... and do not let me catch you leaving the safety catch off or woe betide you... say to yourself, "cut and close."

From your first strip, cut a square 1.5" x 1.5" which will make a square 1" square when you have sewn up the seams.  
From your next strip cut another square exactly the same size, and sew it to your first strip, Iron the seam closed to the outside - do not use steam as this can distort the fabric and stretch the seam.  
Now cut two pieces the same length as your two squares and sew them on each side and press the seams to the outside.
Next cut a length that fits across the top and sew it across the top - you have created your first round.  Remember when you cut, to measure twice so you cut once.  You will make mistakes and even after all this good advice that I dish out, I still lose concentration and make mistakes.
Now repeat this in the the same manner - ie, the short piece is always on the same side and the two medium pieces on the sides and the longest piece always in the same place... do be careful because it is easy to muddle them up (says the voice of bitter experience).
Continue until you have a square slightly bigger than the cushion pad you want to use. 
We are then going to add a final round but instead of 1.5" we are going to 2" strips to finish off the cushion.
Now cut a piece of wadding that is 2" larger all round and a piece of cotton that is an inch larger all round.  You are now going to make a sandwich with the plain fabric at the bottom, next the wadding and finally your pieced piece of quilting.  
Starting from the centre and using flat headed quilting pins, pin the sandwich together.

Next we are going to stitch in the ditch - this means sewing close to the seam,  Remember how we ironed all the seams to the outside, we are going to sew on the other side of the seam where there is the least amount of fabric (you are only going through three layers and not five!).  Again I have used my foot for guidance but this time, I used the inside of my foot as the guide, keeping it running along the seam.
Start in the middle square, when you come to the corner, leave your needle down in the fabric, lift the foot, turn your work by 90' and lower your foot sew down the next side and repeat until you have sewn all four sides.  Trim away the excess wadding and fabric

Measure your quilted square, and add 1.25" to one side (to allow for a 5/8" seam allowance), so if the cushion is 16" square, you need to cut a piece of fabric 16" x 17.25"... Now cut it in half, so that your pieces  measure 16" x 8.5/8".

Now insert your zip - You want it to sit in the middle, which is just a quick bit of subtraction and division - your zip is 9" long, take that away from 16 = 7, now divide it by 2 = 3.5".  This means you will need to mark  in 3.5" in from each side and sew a seam at each end up to this point.  And now you can press the seam OPEN!  
Pin your zip in, remembering to place one side snugly against the teeth of the zip to ensure that the zip is well hidden.  Open the zip fully - this will be important - believe me!
Pin the wrong sides together and sew a 1/4" seam all the way around.  Cut off the corner triangles, so that when we turn the cushion we will get sharp corners.  Remember how I told you to leave the zip open, well that is so we can turn the cushion right sides out, it is a swine to try and undo a zip from the wrong side.
Use your fish knife to create your sharp corner - fish knives are brilliant for this, they have no sharp blades so will not cut your stitches and the soft point of the tip will tease out the point - I am so glad I found another use for them.
Press the cushion and pin the final round together - we are now going to sew around the inside seam, to create an Oxford style cushion with a valance running around the cushion using a seam allowance of 3/8". Sew in your loose ends and sit back and enjoy your cushion.
If you want to you can totally change the effect by working two sides in one fabric, and the other side in another fabric, which really does create the Cathedral steps effect.

I have also thought that it might be nice to give this cushion away, so if you leave a comment on this post during this week, I will pull a name out of the virtual hat next Sunday morning and be in touch to send it to you.

Right, time to take a look at Wendy's Handmade Monday and see what everyone has been making over the last week.

What's that... did I buy... err yes, just a little sock skein.  And no, Pierina found a rather lovely Debbie Bliss pattern but she is threatening to make my pink cardie if she finishes her project first...
This is a fabulous hand dyed skein from Chile... soft as an angel's breath... and the last in the shop :)

Good luck with winning the cushion!


butterflyblossom said...

I cut myself on my rotary cutter being very silly and checking how sharp it was - exceptionally sharp and bled a lot woopsie! Another excellent tutorial Ros X

Handbags by Helen said...

that's a beautiful cushion. I have a quilt kit i've had for ages but haven't had the confidence to start cutting and sewing the fabric. Your post has given me confidence - so maybe i'll tr yyour cushion first before moving on to the quilt!

Claire Cooper said...

What a lovely cushion. I have a great admiration for quilters, you have to be soooo precise.

Wendy said...

Gorgeous cushion and excellent tutorial. Never mind the purists, I'm sure those early patchwork quilters would have jumped through hoops for a sewing machine!

Highland Monkey's said...

Thanks for taking the trouble to do the tutorial. You've made a lovely cushion. The bit I don't like doing is cutting the fabric.

chrissie said...

I really like that cushion and you have inspired me to make one (or more!) forr the conservatory. Your tutorial was very easy to follow- thank you.

Fiddly Fingers said...

I loved the tutorial. The cushion is absolutely fabulous and the blues are to die for! Brilliant

Anonymous said...

You have definitely inspired me to give quilting another go, it has scared me in the past! I love the colours of the cushion and would be delighted to win It! :-) x

Lyn said...

Beautiful cushion and excellent tutorial.
You've done a good job of de-mystifying the process.

I don't have a problem with using a machine for sewing.
I know how to add and subtract but I don't beat myself up for using a calculator.
I know how to sew by hand but the machine makes a better job of it for strength and saves a lot of time.

Guilty - Thanks for the timely reminder about cutting away with the rotary. I have got sloppy and used mine today in the wrong way!!

Just one sock skein? Your self-control must have been high (but it's very pretty).

Speattle on ravelry said...

Those cushion colors are MY colors! I think it would look fantastic in my house! Thank you for the tutorial. I am on a cushion making kick and this is a great style for 2 little boys in my family.

Anonymous said...

I think I will be doing this one for myself as the aging hippies will end up sewing their fingers together

Christmas Pie Crafts said...

A great tutorial - many thanks, they are always so easy to follow. The colours and patterns you have chosen are lovely. Hope you have a good week.

Helen said...

That's a brilliant tutorial Ros, thank you! I am really keen to quilt but knowing my poor sewing skills am reluctant to take the plunge. I guess I have to try at some point, and I'm sure one of your tutorials will be the starting point!

Unknown said...

You've made it sound so easy. I have a rotary cutter still in it's packaging as I'm terrified to use it! I think I must get it out and have a go at a cushion. Thanks for the inspiration.
Anji x

Abi said...

I second Claire's comments - I have a great admiration for quilters and the precision needed. I am so slapdash and have the patience of a gnat.

It's a lovely cushion Ros.


Tickled Pink said...

Your tutorials are so easy to follow they make me feel like even I could do it!! Thank you.

Kat Shenton said...

As usual your tutes are easy to follow and full of inspiration. Just one thing... where do you find the time to do all this?

Alison said...

It's gorgeous! And the fact you need a fish knife for a craft project made me laugh like a drain!

Free Spirit Designs said...

What a fab tutorial! and really gorgeous cushion :)

Truly Myrtle said...

I knew you wouldn't be able to leave without something - who can?!

Lovely cushion! I would love to win yours - I don't seem to be getting round to making mine :)

lovetartan said...

Brilliant tutorial Ros - I haven't had any experience of quilting and wondered how they did that design. Love the colour of the wool you bought and looking forward to seeing what you make with it. Have a good week. Michx

Jennifer Lou said...

Absolutely stunning, mine would never come out as neat and pretty as this. x

Kooky Corner Crafts said...

This is absolutely beautiful, thank you for the tutorial. I so have to get a sewing machine, would love to have a go at something like this. x

Anonymous said...

Happen to be trying to find this and learned much more than anticipated in this article. Thanks.

Nicola Ellen said...

Brilliant tutorial Ros! That is a beautiful cushion. I wish I had the patience to make something so lovely xx

Handcrafted by Picto said...

The fabrics you have used are lovely. I love the colours, they remind me of Willow pattern china.
That's a great use of a fish knife, I have one but never used it, I must 'fish' it out from the back of the drawer.

Jan x

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing. Not to many people in your position are so gracious. Your article was very poignant and understandable. It helped me to understand very clearly. Thank you for your help.

lovetartan said...

Ros I expect you have enough of these awards - but you're one of my picks for the versatile blogger award Mich x

Mandy Makes and Mends said...

What a great tut. I am new to your blog but have been looking for some guidance and a small starter project into quilting (never done it before ) this looks straight forward and explained well this will be my first project I think . Would love the chance to win to see it in real life so I can scrutinize it for my lesson . Thank you kind lady x

Sandy said...

What a beautiful cushion, and a great tutorial as well! I am by no means a sewing purist and am always looking for machine quilting projects, so this is great!

Mandy Makes and Mends said...

Ros i have a question i have done upto the point where i was about to start the oxford bit do i do the 1/4 inch to attach first in the same way as all the rest and then do 5/8. mine is not as great colour combo as yours but it was just the fabric i had lying around. so far i am pleased but ran out of fabric so will have to finish tomorrow but thought i would ask this question first ....thanks x