Sustainable fabrics
Jersey fabric stockist
Oakapple haberdashery modern quilting fabrics
The Quilt Shop UK
Live fabric sales
Pound Fabrics UK
Sewing pattern printing
Quality quilting fabrics UK
The Fabric Loft
Bespoke fabric printing

Applique Cushion Project

Stitch a garden applique cushion

This applique cushion project has been written by Karen Robinson.

Supplies needed to make an applique cushion

This project is an introduction to free machine embroidery, and also includes some hand embroidery, follow the instructions to make a beautiful cushion.

Supplies List

Assortment of flower themed fabrics – I used Dreamin Vintage by Jeni Baker for Art Gallery Fabrics provided by Hantex (templates of similar flower shapes are included in the templates should you wish to use different fabrics)

Backing fabric size 19″  by 15″  this will cover the front of a 17″ by 13″ cushion (I have used a linen look cotton in a sage green spot) 

2 pieces of fabric for back of cushion each measuring 12″ by 13″

17″ x 13″ cushion pad

2 buttons

Tear away Stabilser

Embroidery hoop


6 stranded hand embroidery  threads

Small amount green felt

Machine Embroidery Cotton various colours to compliment chosen fabrics

Assortment of buttons in various colours – round buttons for flower centres and decorative flower shaped buttons

For hand embroidery supplies and haberdashery, visit Minerva Crafts

Templates (click to download in PDF format)

Sewing Machine with drop feed

Needles, Scissors, Water Erasable Marker Pen, Pencil etc ….

Making a cushion pattern

Prepare the main fabric – Mark out a 17″ wide by 13″ high rectangle in pencil on the main fabric.  Marking out the cushion size on the main fabric also helps with placement of the appliques and will keep the design the correct size.

Using Bondaweb for applique

Start by adhering Bondaweb to the back of the flower fabric, to avoid wasting the fabric or the Bondaweb cut enough Bondaweb to cover the flower on the fabric you wish to use then using an iron on appropriate heat setting adhere the Bondaweb to back of the fabric and then cut out the flower shape. Repeat this until you have a selection of flowers, petals, leaves, the  ladybird, watering can and wellington boots.

Secure Bondaweb pieces with an iron

Take the backing paper off the Bondaweb and place the flowers/felt and cotton leaves/wellingtons/watering can/ladybird onto the backing fabric and arrange as in the picture (or if using different fabrics you could arrange them into a design of your own).

Once you are happy with their placement, press the all of the appliques and adhere them to the main fabric. When placing the appliques onto the main fabric keep  1″ all the way round clear inside the pencil border otherwise when the cushion is sewn up they will disappear into the seam allowance and will not be seen.

Marking a design on fabric

Using a pencil, draw some teardrop shapes onto the fabric, coming out of the watering can as in the picture, don’t worry about the pencil marks as these will be covered up and will not be seen once embroidered.

Hopping up for free motion embroidery

The appliques now need to be sewn into place, this is where the free machine embroidery begins. Place the tearaway stabiliser on the back of the fabric and ensure that you hoop up the fabric and stabiliser as in the picture below and make sure that the fabric is tight in the hoop as this will prevent puckering.

Getting ready to machine stitch applique

Instructions for free machine embroidery

Drop the feed dogs on your sewing machine (if your machine has drop feed facility there will be a switch which will allow them to drop or refer to the manfacturers instructions).

If you are new to free machine embroidery you  may wish to have a go on a spare piece of fabric,  it does take a little practice as you are in control of moving the fabric and  the speed of the machine, you  may also need to adjust the tension on your machine. different tensions will give different effects,  for this project you do not want to see any of the bottom thread on the top of the fabric.

Lift the presser foot up and place the hoop under the foot (you may have to take the foot off on some machines as the presser foot may not lift up high enough to get the hoop underneath),  the stitching is done inside the embroidery hoop (as in the picture above).  I use a darning foot on my machine when free machining as you can see in the photo.

Before you start to stitch bring the bobbin thread up through to the top of the fabric, with the presser foot in the down position turn the wheel on the side off the machine a few times (the needle will move up and down)  hold on to the top thread and pull it upwards and the bottom thread will come through to the top.  I always start with my needle in the down position, make sure the presser foot is also in the down position or the tension on the machine will not engage.

When you start to stitch hold onto both  the top and bottom thread and  stitch a few stitches, stop and then cut off the long ends then continue to stitch. With the appliques already in place, move your fabric and stitch round the edges of  the flowers .

Learn to do free machine embroidery

Try to keep the sewing machine at a consistent speed this will ensure that your stitches will be of a more regular size, the beauty of free machine embroidery is that if you stitch and are not happy with the way it looks just go over it again, you may find that you like the effect more anyway.

Stitch round each one at least a few times, the amount of times you do this is really of personal preference and the effect you wish to achieve (see picture above).  I like to use threads that compliment the fabrics I am using but you could also use grey or black for a more sketchy look, experiment before you stitch onto the actual fabric to see what you like best.

Applique flowers

Continue to free machine until all of the flowers have been appliqued onto the main fabric, then do the same with the ladybird, wellingtons and watering can. Embroider the ladybirds head and line down the middle of the wings, and then embroider the spots by moving the fabric in very small circles (as in the picture a couple above). The cotton leaves will also need to be machine embroidered around the edges, also machine embroider the veins on the leaves to give a realistic look, this has also been done on the petal flowers (as in the picture above).

Adding hand embroidery to a flower cushion

Using the template transfer the words ‘How does your garden grow’ onto the main fabric. Transfer them either by using a lightbox or tape the words onto a glass window then tape the fabric on top and trace through using a water erasable pen.

Using 2 strands of embroidery thread, follow the drawn lines and hand embroider the words  using a back stitch. Using a pencil or water erasable pen draw the tulip stems (as in the picture above) onto the fabric and back stitch the stems. Backstitch the veins onto the felt leaves as in the picture below.

Learn to do back stitch

Back Stitch – Bring your thread up from the back of the fabric as in the picture to the left above, place your needle back into the fabric behind your thread and then bring the needle back up through the fabric in front of your thread as in the picture to the right. Try to keep the stitches the same size for a neater finish.

Tear away the stabilser it will come away easily.

Cushion front is now complete, instructions below are to make it into a cushion cover, it could also be put into a frame or attached to a canvas and made into a picture.

Floral applique cushion

Cushion Cover Instructions

On the cushion front cut on the pencil markings (marked out at the beginning of the project) to obtain a 17″ by 13″ rectangle (see pictures below). This is the exact size of the cushion pad, the cushion cover will be slightly smaller than the pad once sewn up which wll ensure that the cushion will be nice and plump when finished.

Assemble a cushion cover

Take the two back pieces and pin (right sides fabric together) one piece to each side of the cushion front and stitch using a straight stitch on the sewing machine using a 1/2″ seam allowance (see picture above).

Flower applique pillow to sew

On each back piece on the opposite side to the seam just stitched,  fold over 2″ seam  then fold the seam in on itself which will give a 1″ seam folded double, (see picture) press and topstitch along the edge of the fold.

Sewing buttonholes

On one of the back pieces, mark out so that buttonholes are spaced equally and sew 2 buttonholes on the sewing machine.

Home décor sewing tutorials

With the right side of the cushion front facing upwards, firstly place the back piece with the buttonholes sewn over the top of the front and do the same with the second piece, the two back pieces will overlap each other, pin along the top and bottom of the cushion and sew a 1/2″ seam top and bottom using a staight stitch on a sewing machine as shown in the images above.

At this point either overlock or use a zig zag stitch all the way round to prevent the edges fraying.

Turn the cushion through and push out the corners.

Open up the buttonholes using a seam ripper

On the back piece (without the buttonholes) sew on two buttons to correspond the two button holes.

Place the cushion pad inside the cover then your applique cushion project is finished.

Free sewing projects