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If you want to create your own patchwork cushion, you needn't be experienced at sewing. Here's how. By Kirstie Allsopp
'I learned to hand-sew a cushion with Angel from Tobias and the Angel. Angel is an extraordinary seamstress who stitches everything by hand. Her lovely shop is full of the most exquisite items from hand-stitched cushions and quilts to fabulous embroidery. She taught me how to make a patchwork cushion - it's a lovely little decoration and the perfect craft for using up your bag of old material.'
Easy. We're hand sewing using the simplest of running stitches.
Very little. If you already have a rag bag at home, the materials will cost you nothing - otherwise you can scout charity shops for pretty things to turn into patchwork. For wadding, you can use old quilts or blankets.
An hour or so, but what I love is that you can take the small squares everywhere with you to work on as you're out and about.
Step One: Choose Your Material
You can use pretty much any material you like - the older the better. The material I picked out of Angel's rag bag turned out to be a sleeve from one of her dresses - but if you haven’t got a rag bag then search charity shops for material.
Step Two: Cut The Cloth
With the cloth chosen, we cut it into four equal size squares. Try and feel the 'grain' of the material and cut with it, so that you don't end up with a bias cut. When you draw, don't drag the pencil across the cloth, as you'll stretch it - instead, draw a broken line.
We’re planning to appliqué a heart on top of the patchwork, so that gets cut out as well.
Step Three: Sew The Squares
Finally we get sewing. First we join the squares together with a simple running stitch. To make life easier, iron your squares every time you’ve sewn two together; flat fabric is a lot simpler to work with. Sew two lots of two, iron, then sew along the middle seam to make a square of four.
Step Four: Add The Heart Decoration
Once your patches are sewn together, it's time to decorate the top with the heart. Appliqué just means 'applied' - stitching one piece of fabric to another.
Fold the heart over to make little hems along its two sides, down to the point. Find where you want the point to be on the square you've already made. Starting at the point, stitch along a fold, using small stitches on the 'right' side and longer stitches at the back, so that what you’ll see is a heart with a series of small stitches holding it down.
Step Five: Add The Wadding
To finish the cushion, cut out a backing piece of fabric, layer it up with two squares of wadding, then put your patchwork front on the top. Fold the backing fabric over and sew around the edge like a hem. While you're sewing, make sure to keep turning the cushion over to check how the stitches are looking on the back as well as the front.
Step Six: Stuff Your Cushion
After sewing up three sides of the cushion, it’s time to stuff the middle. We used bran that had been infused with a Caribbean scent - ylang-ylang and bay - especially made for us by Angel’s sister.
Step Seven: Sew Up The Top
Once the cushion is filled, simply sew up the top to finish it.
This cushion makes a lovely present - and I particularly like is that it's small enough to carry around with you, to work on as you travel.
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