Patchwork Cushion Cheat Tutorial

You too could make one of these!

Remember I recently brought you up-to-date on the activities of my local sewing club? My friend’s mum came to show us all how to make a patchwork cushion. We didn’t quite achieve Finished Objects by the end of the evening, but we were waved off with supplies and handy hints. So today I decided to finish what I’d started. At the same time, I thought I’d give you a handy tutorial. You’ll need:

  • a 50x50cm cushion
  • Scraps of fabric
  • An old buttoned blouse (yes, intriguing!)

1. Cut nine 12x12cm squares. (All measurements below include a 1cm seam allowance on each edge.) Choose your fabrics with gay abandon. Ours were culled from charity shops, cheap table cloths and scraps lying around.

2. Sew your nine squares in three strips of three squares. Press your seams. Don’t press them open; press them to the left or right.

3. Sew your three strips together to make a large square of nine smaller squares. Remember that no quilt can or should be perfect. Your mistakes will let you know your make is unique so don’t worry too much about matching everything up perfectly.

4. Cut four strips of fabric that are 7x42cm oblongs.  Sew these strips around the border of your patchwork.

5. Cut four more strips that are 7x52cm oblongs. Sew these strips around the border of your patchwork.

Well done, you’ve made the face of your cushion cover!

Now for the intriguing part, a secret of quilting supplied by my friend’s mum. If you don’t have time, inclination or ability to make your own buttoned back cushion cover, pull out that old blouse or shirt that you’ve had hanging around. I remembered an old Liberty blouse bought from a charity shop and languishing in a drawer. Minutes later, I’d hacked it to pieces:

Take the buttoned-up front of the blouse and rescue as much of it as you can to make a square. Mine wasn’t quite deep enough so I then cut two 12x52cm oblongs from the back of the blouse and attached them to each end:

A buttoned cushion cover is starting to emerge.

Basically, you want to end up with a square of the right dimensions to match your front cushion cover. You don’t need to over-think this. A keen eye and a tape measure will get you to where you need to be. You’ll need two squares that, once sewn together, will fit snugly around a 50x50cm cushion.

Before you sew together both pieces, think about your details. I rescued the ‘Liberty’ label from my blouse and attached it to the front cushion for a quirky detail:

Nice, huh?

If, like me, you have a machine that can embroider letters, you might want to add some ironic labelling, just in case you forget what you’re sitting on later:

I’m forgetful, okay.

Now, simply pin your two squares, right sides together, and start sewing. As you can see, accuracy is not as essential here as it is in dressmaking!

Turn your cushion cover inside out, press, insert the cushion and do up those lovely buttons:

No pain, lots of gain.

That’s it. No agonising over button hole placements, no careful splitting of a button hole with a seam ripper. Just you, some scraps of fabric and an old blouse. Now you just need to find a good location for an afternoon nap.

Many thanks to my neighbour and her mum for sharing this project with me. Isn’t it inspired?

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16 Responses to Patchwork Cushion Cheat Tutorial

  1. Anja says:

    i didn’t think anyone was listening to me but you were A* pupil! love ‘the mummy’

  2. superheidi says:

    I see your new machine is in full swing!

    I’d like to pass on A Beautiful Blogger Award to you for your lovely blog.

  3. Just loved this idea. A friend posted this link in a craft newsletter.

    I liked it so much that I made up a “Memory Pillow” of it for one of my neighbors from one of her deceased husbands Hawiian shirts. Used the shirt fabric on both sides. I left the pocket on the pillow and put one of those cards from a funeral in the pocket before buttoning the pocket up. She is so thankful and really loves her new “Memory Pillow.”

    To see it, go to

    I also did cross posts with this link on my blogspot, too, to show folks where the original “Memory Pillow” idea came from.

  4. Karen says:

    I was so inspired I have just returned from the PDSA charity shop. I managed to buy a lovely plus size blouse with super silver poppers down the front, in fact I will be able to make two cushions and use the rest for patchwork squares!

  5. Louise says:

    how can I clean stored fabric that smells when I have no idea what the fabric is. I have lots of beautiful pieces that I have purchased over the years while active duty. Now that I am retired and the kids are gone I want to start sewing again. But, how to treat the fabric in preparation for sewing. Any help, ideas would be appreciated.

    • Liz says:

      I would sort the fabrics (similar colours/textures) and then wash them on a silk or wool cool, short wash and short spin cycle with a good liquid detergent. Then line dry so the fresh air gets through the fabrics, when almost dry I would press them with a hot iron (not a steam iron) on all the cottons and any mixed poly/cotton fabrics you will be able to tell these and seperate them for different projects. I always leave a few conkers and some lavender in my fabric trunk, keeps the spiders and other ‘creepy crawlies’ out!

  6. wera lucia says:

    i loved it! what a clever idea! i am always making patchork cussion and i never thought about it
    well done, every week i go to charity shopp look for shirts or any nice fabrics.
    i will start to make a cussion tomorrow for a good friend of mine .
    thanks for the idea

  7. Jan Carr says:

    Fabulous bit of recycling:o))
    I especially love the re-use of the label

  8. olive dobbin says:

    what a wonderful use of a old blouse and it saves so much extra work like buttonholes which i hate making, Thank you so much, Olive [a very novice sewer]

  9. fiona.morrison-skett says:


  10. Wendy says:

    Fab Idea – I make cushions for friends with Phtotos – and this is always the awkard bit – so Fab .

  11. Jenny says:

    This is brilliant! So inspiring and clever. As a newbie to sewing, this is a project I can’t wait to have a go at without any worry. Thank you so much for sharing and your neighbour and her mum for sharing with you! Now what else can I turn an old shirt into…. Jenny x

  12. Val says:

    Thank you i am now inspired to make my daughter a cushion for her 21 st B Day

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  15. Avril says:

    Great idea.Will have to try that.I usualy use a matching pillowcase for the back of cushions.I get these from cheap shops or use bedlinen fom charity shops

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