Tag Archives: cushions

Finished in February II

Story Cushions

The first Story Cushion I made was The Very Hungry Caterpillar cushion it’s in the blog for April 2014. You can see it here.

It had been in the making a lot, lot longer. It was actually the catalyst to my long path to free motion quilting and to my beginning patchwork. I had the idea for the cushion and realised it was something I would need to actually learn. I was lucky, I found a great teacher in Kate Higgins and the rest, as they say, is history.

Just before Olivia’s 2nd birthday she became obsessed with very same Very Hungry Caterpillar story so…… on to the net to order fabric and cushion number 2 was on the way.

The panel and the foods fabric were soon cut and the book pocket made.

The caterpillar and butterfly were outlined with this amazing multicoloured cotton thread. I love this and have it in several (rather expensive-but-worth-it) colour ways, this one is ‘primaries’, there must be around 50 colour ways.

Next it was on to the quilting and I have to sing the praises of another sewing thread here. I kept reading about this thread, it was everywhere; it was on just about every professional blog I read; it was in magazine articles; on pinterest; everywhere.  You really can’t miss it and I decided to stop ignoring it and invest in this Aurifil. I bought mine from Barnyarns, simply because I’d had some freebees from them and they really seem to know about thread.                               I am converted, it is ultra smooth and it doesn’t break and I really have to say it’s made a huge difference to the flow of my free motion work. I’m totally sold and don’t think I’ll go back to quilting with anything else. I only regret not trying it sooner!

So it was caterpillar quilting  for the caterpillar side








And butterfly quilting for the butterfly side.



Now there was one more thing. I’d made two story cushions and I have three grandchildren and although Heidi had the cushion that matched her quilt it’s not a story cushion with a pocket for a book!

So cushion number three. It could’t be the same as Dougie’s,  I didn’t need a particularly good imagination for that bit of sibling interaction! So here is what my search led me to choose.


Once again I outlined the motives and then stippled in between on the outside of the pocket.  But this time the  top half was plain/plainish  so I decided to write on that.

After sketching out a couple of font ideas this was my choice. Think I might use it again, simple but effective I think.

I can’t believe how quickly these two cushions came together. The first one took me so long. The quilting was so much easier, having a new machine since I first began has helped a lot. The Pfaff is so much more controllable and the Aurifil is a great find. Mostly of course its all down to experience and I must say that is pretty satisfying really. I think these two are destined to take up residence in the girls’ teepees where they both enjoy having stories read to them and where hopefully, in the future they will curl up to enjoy a book themselves.

Finished in February


It’s a great British tradition to complain about the weather and in January and February this year there was plenty to complain about. One of my favourite ways to keep reasonably fit is to walk in the glorious countryside around here. This January I regularly found myself paddling or sinking to my ankles in mud. In February it was the turn ‘The Beast from the East’ and storm Emma and general biting cold winds that upset us so much.

But – and it’s a very positive but – there was no golf, no gardening and so – there was a lot of sewing time.

Enough time to finish Olivia’s  just-about-begun quilt, a story cushion for her birthday and a story cushion for Heidi just so that she didn’t feel left out.

And enough time for a few little projects along the way. The red scraps made their annual appearance just before Valentine’s day.

Olivia’s quilt had been an embarrassingly long time in the making. I was in the middle of making Dougie’s Quilt when we went on one of our long trips to Spain and I decided that while we were away I would hand appliqué the elephant patches. So far so good.

Well when we got back it was summer.  Summer = golf + gardening = very little sewing. Then of course came the autumn and it was all stops out to finish Dougie’s quilt in time for Christmas. So the little elephant quilt was the no.1 priority for January. It was easy to piece together with yellow, grey and white patches to match her bedroom.



It needed a little bit of planning to get the balance right before piecing and once that was done 



the next step was simple and speedy and I soon had the batting and the yellow and white pin-spot backing together and ready to quilt.

I wanted a quilting design to fit in the yellow, white and grey squares, the elephant squares would just have simple outlines.  Here’s what I call ‘the pink claw of quilting’. My quilting gloves are actually cotton gardening gloves that have a fantastic bobbly surface perfect for ‘getting a grip’!

Now the next bit is worth posting, I’ll know where to find it rather than having to think really hard to remember it. I don’t have any idea why, but the sequence for binding around the corners  just won’t lodge itself in my brain. So here it is – in pictures.

and in words:

  • having pressed a diagonal fold at the beginning of the binding (see last photo) sew the double thickness binding strip leaving a 5cm tail at the start, using a quarter-inch seam
  • stop a quarter-inch from the corner, secure and break thread
  • fold the binding strip 90º to the right
  • fold the binding strip back on itself level with the edge of the quilt.
  • sew across the folded edge stopping and turning the corner a quarter-inch from the edge. Do this on all corners
  • trim and tuck the end of the binding inside the folded tail  before sewing the last 5 cms.

The   corners turn back really nicely and it’s on to my favourite bit, sitting quietly folding the binding over and hand stitching to finish the quilt.

I hope Olivia enjoys her quilt, if she’s like Dougie and Heidi it will become her relaxing quilt probably becoming part of the soft furnishings of the teepee we gave her for Christmas – which leads nicely on to the next project  … Story cushions’ But that’s for another day.


IMG_4358Eric Carle what did you do? Well apart from inspiring generations of children to read and thousands of art projects in infant and nursery classes everywhere that is. I particularly enjoyed entertaining and teaching my classes and my own children with what is probably the most popular of his books ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ The deceptively simple illustrations are charming as well as educational and the book always contributed to mini-beast science projects.


Here's the fabric panel that started it all!
Here’s the fabric panel that started it all!

Well this particular version of Eric Carle’s iconic illustration started me on a journey that is still in its very early stages. When the caterpillar and butterfly panels first caught my eye I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I saw a cushion with a pocket for a story book. The butterfly would be stitched with coloured thread that would raise areas and make it tactile as well as visual.

Inside the pocket
Inside the pocket
small caterpillar fabric
small caterpillar fabric

There was only one problem and it was quite a big one! I’d never done anything like it and I didn’t really know where to start. I really had no idea how over ambitious all this was! The next part is a bit of a blur really. I know I had visited Yarnia and I know that Trish had told me about their classes. I had a look at them on the web. I saw Kate’s ‘Free Motion Quilting’ workshop. I’d never heard of ‘free motion quilting’ so back onto the internet. WOW! This was just it!

It didn’t take me long to sign up for the course and although that first day was a total mystery (see here) to me I have persevered through many trials and tribulations; a new and rather splendid sewing machine; an online course (sadly I have moved too far away from Kate to continue under her tutelage) and lots of other sewing projects; classes with Mel since our move to Aberystwyth and finally I felt ready to have a go at my story cushion.

So I bought some extra small caterpillar fabric from Little Fabric Bazaar and this just-right multicoloured quilting thread from AberdasheryIMG_1224IMG_4361 I quilted the butterfly and the caterpillar and used the original polyester wadding since I’m an expert quite a bit better now. It does give  a bit more ‘oomph’ and should be used for baby items because it is more breathable.

I sliced the caterpillar side in half – eek – and added the fabric for the pocket.

Next I quilted the surrounding white fabric. I have to give some credit now to Lori Kennedy at the Inbox Jaunt whose amazingly generous blog has inspired me. Every single week she posts an FMQ tutorial. Her designs are fun, non-traditional in many ways and really appeal to me. I have watched and learned (and will continue to) and have finally felt confident enough to have a go at my own.

So quilted caterpillars for the caterpillar sideIMG_4365IMG_4366And in collaboration with my daughter, Bethan, butterflies for the butterfly sideIMG_4363IMG_4362This has been a long time as a WIP (work in progress) in my cupboard but it has been so much more. It has driven my progress for the past year, nagging at me quietly to keep on. The first class I did with Kate took me back to work with her on my first attempts at patchwork which in its turn grew my fabric obsession and reignited the interest I had in sewing in my younger years.

Stemming from all that has been this blog and so a wealth of things to do with the time I gained from retirement.

So thank you Eric Carle and thank you Hungry Caterpillar and thank you  all the people in-between. I’m enjoying every moment of it. I hope Dougie will enjoy many a story comfy with his cushion!




Seaside Cushions

New House, New Cushion Covers.IMG_4073

I haven’t made new cushion covers for ALL the cushions in the house since moving, but it’s beginning to feel like it. When the $T2eC16hHJFsFFSCCK7H3BRWJewcOs!~~60_35 Laura Ashley Hydrangea cushions were new they were lovely, but they had been demoted to the least used bedroom even before we moved. The lovely ribbon work wasn’t bearing up to the wear-and tear of the Hughes household and was parting company from the cushion.  I wanted  a little bit more of the seaside theme in what has so quickly become know as ‘Dougie’s Room’ cushions are always a quick and easy way to add some colour.

Making this paper pieced block with Mel gave me the idea for the first cushion and the appliqué boat on the first cushion was the inspiration for the second.                                                              IMG_1030

I had plenty of scraps for the block and I felt very satisfied by another attempt at foundation piecing and look forward to a spring course to improve.

I took the block home and the next day I appliquéd the little boat and built up the block with the blue and white pinhead spot and some solid blue.


I love buttons. I have a massive button box, many of them inherited from my mother and lots of vintage ones I’ve collected over the years but I’ve always wanted to have a go at the fabric covered ones.

I made the first ones ever on the Bento box cushions for the living room and I had some left so on they went. Nothing quite like them for a perfect match.

Number Two

The seaside fabric I originally thought would be curtains is certainly going a long way, and it hasn’t finished yet. I have  another idea up my sleeve but it may be a way off making.

The beach huts were going to feature on cushion two. There are four different ones and they just fitted along the cushion. So no patchwork, no borders, just the little beach huts appliquéd and some waves and clouds quilted on to the cushion front. This was a really quick make. IMG_4074