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This great project was the winning entry of our Christmas Creativity Competition with judges describing it as being stylish and the stand out project for design, originality and finish.  This project was submitted by Kerry Green who runs the craft blog Very Kerry Berry.  You can find several other great tutorials on her blog.

Scandinavian Christmas Tree Cushion

 Sew a Scandinavian style patchwork cushion

The perfect project to use up scraps and create an instant Scandinavian Christmas feel for your home!  It has an easy envelope back with optional ribbon ties.


To make an 18-inch Scandinavian Cushion

You will need

  • A selection of red cotton fabrics with a variety of red/white prints.  These can be scraps and bigger pieces.  It is better to prewash red fabrics with a colour catcher as they have a tendency to bleed. Your scraps need to range in size between 2-16 inches wide; variations in width are fine as you can join pieces together and 2 and 2.5 inches in length. 
  • Scrap of gold or yellow fabric for the ‘star’ motif at the top- 1.5 x 3 inches long.
  • Scrap of brown fabric for tree trunk 2.5 x 3 inches long.
  • 1 yard cream fabric for background and back of cushion. I used Kona quilting cotton fabric 44 inches wide in ‘Snow’.
  • White or cream machine sewing thread 100% cotton is best, polyester thread can melt under the heat of the iron.
  • Rotary cutter and cutting mat (you could also use scissors)
  • Quilting ruler
  • Usual sewing supplies, pins, small scissors, iron, etc.
  • Embroidery thread- 6 strand embroidery floss or perle cotton or Sashiko thread, plus a thin long embroidery needle.
  • 18 inch square cushion form
  • 1.25 yards ribbon for cushion ties- cut into 4 equal lengths. (Optional)
  • Piece of paper or newspaper exactly 20 inches square
  • I yard Cotton muslin or lightweight white cotton fabric. (Optional but will give a better finish and weight to your cushion).


From the cream cotton, cut the following strips across the width of fabric:

3 strips each measuring 44 x 2 inches long

1 Strip each measuring 44 x 2.5 inches long

1 strip each measuring 44 x 3 inches long

The cushion front is made from 12 strips, 10 of which are pieced.  You need to cut all your fabrics ready before you sew the strips together.  The red strips can be cut from one piece of fabric or from smaller pieces joined together to make the required width of strip.  If you are joining scraps together, use a quarter inch seam, set your machine to a small stitch e.g. 1.5 so you won’t secure each seam, and press your seams open.  Cut your fabrics to the right sizes using the table below.  It helps to pin a scrap of paper on the fabric pieces as you go along so you know which strip is which.  All measurements are in inches.


Strip number

Cream Section

Colour Section

1 (Top)

Cut 1 strip 21 x 2 long



Cut 2 strips 10.5 x 3

Cut 1 1.5x3 gold


Cut 2 strips 9.5 x 2

3.5 x 2 Red/white


Cut 2 strips 8.5 x 2

5.5 x 2 Red/white


Cut 2 strips 7.75 x 2 .5

6.5 x 2.5 Red/white


Cut 2 strips 7 x 2

8 x 2 Red/white


Cut 2 strips 6 x 2.5

10.5 x 2.5 Red/white


Cut 2 strips 5 x 2.5

12.5 x 2.5 Red/white


Cut 2 strips 4.5 x 2

13.5 x 2 Red/white


Cut 2 strips 3.5 x 2

15.5 x 2 Red/white


Cut 2 strips 10 x 3”

Cut 2.5 x 3” brown

12 (bottom)

Cut 1 strip 21 x 2”



 Making Cushion Front

Lay out strips for patchwork cushion

Lay the strips out so you can see the layout. 

Join the fabric pieces to complete each strip.  Use quarter inch seams and press the seams towards the centre of the strip. To join the strips together you will need a centre marker to align them correctly. To do this fold the strip in half lengthways and give it a gentle press with your iron.  Starting with the top strip, join them together using the fold as a marker.  I pin at the centre, and at either end of each red section adding more pins as the red sections get wider and sliding the pins out just before they go under the sewing machine foot!  Press the seam to ‘set’ it after each strip is joined on and then press the seam downwards towards the bottom of the tree.

Placing strips for a patchwork cushion

Keep an eye on the symmetry of the tree as you add each strip.  The edges will not be completely even, don’t panic- I allowed a bit of extra room to trim the cushion front to size!


 Finishing Cushion Front

Finishing cushion front

Press the cushion front.  Place on top of your muslin fabric, use a few pins to keep the layers together, and put the 20 inch square piece of paper on top, placing it centrally over the tree motif so it is symmetrical, a centre fold line on the fabric and the newspaper helps with this.   

Pin paper to the two layers of fabric and remove any pins underneath.  There should be a strip of cream approx. 0.75-1 inch high running along the top and bottom of the tree.  If you are nervous about the size, first draw around your paper and then cut, otherwise cut round the paper with the cushion front and muslin as one layer to 20 inches square.  Remove paper but do not throw away- you will need it again!  To attach the 2 fabrics together, pin and zig zag all around the edge removing pins as you sew.  If you have 3-step zig zag, that works well for this.  If you have no zig zag stitch, you can use straight stitch and one-eighth inch seam.  Put to one side whilst you make the cushion back.


 Making the Cushion Back

For the cushion back, take the newspaper square and trim so it measures 20 x 14 inches long.  Use this as a template to cut 2 back pieces from the cream fabric.  Repeat for the muslin so you have 2 more rectangles.   For each rectangle zig zag muslin and cream cotton together just like you did for the front. This extra layer will give the cushion cover extra body and thickness.  Along the long edge of each rectangle, fold and press a quarter inch of fabric- treat the double layer as one layer- the cream fabric is the right side.  Then fold again half an inch to make a hem.  If you are using ribbon ties you will need to tuck them into this fold. 


Making ties for a cushion cover

Place the two ties 6 inches apart either side of the centre of the fold, right side upwards.  Pin and stitch along the edge of the fold using a mid length stitch.   Press ribbons outwards and secure at the edge with a short row of stitches.

Repeat without ribbons for the other half of the cushion back.  Lay the 2 halves-the ribbon half on top- over each other so that they produce a 20 inch square.  Stitch 1/8 seam to hold the overlapped area.


Tutorial for making a cushion cover

You can now work out where the other half of the ribbon ties will match up.  Use a pin to mark where the ribbons will go, place half an inch of ribbon over it (the long bit will lie facing away from where the two back pieces meet).  Stitch half inch from the end of the ribbon; press the ribbon back over this fold, stitch again encasing the end of the ribbon.

Adding ties to a cushion cover

Both ties should be facing each other.  Tie two loose bows to keep the cushion back in shape for the next stage where you will join front and back.


Joining Front and Back

Lay the front and back over each other, right sides together.  The back should have the ribbon ties towards the bottom.  Stitch a quarter inch seam all around.  If you slow down at the corners and use a very small stitch around the points this will strengthen the corners so you can trim them to remove bulk.


Finishing a sewn cushion cover

Turn cushion through, (you will have to undo your ribbon bows!) pushing out the corners.  Press and pin through all layers approx half inch from the outer edge.  Stitch following the pin line, removing them as you go, a long stitch length-3- looks good here.


Neatening a seam

Decorative hand stitching

For extra decoration and a handmade touch I use embroidery thread and stitch through this line with a chunky running stitch.  Make sure you hide the knots inside the cushion seams. 

Insert an 18-inch cushion inner- and admire your work!


Designed and sewn by Kerry Green

View the details of the other winners by clicking here.


For other great Christmas ideas take a look here.

Free Christmas sewing ideas