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This article is the final part of a three-part series covering the basics of free machine embroidery and is written by Julie Briggs of The Sewing Directory. The fabric was kindly supplied by Plush Addict.


Free Machine Embroidery - Part Three

Part 3 of free machine embroidery series

In this third part of the series, we will consolidate the skills we’ve learnt during the first two parts of the series by making a small cushion cover to show off machine embroidery techniques.


You will need...

Sewing machine

Free motion embroidery foot

Stabiliser (see part one)

Small pieces of Bondaweb

Machine sewing threads

Scraps of 3 different coloured fabrics for petals

Erasable pen

Plush Addict½ metre linen look cotton or calico – kindly supplied by Plush Addict

Spare bobbin holder for free machine embroidery (optional)

Machine embroidery needles (size 70 or 80). Look for machine embroidery needles (red shaft on Schmetz needles)

12” square cushion pad


 Cutting Out

Preparing fabrics for a project

Cut 13" x 13" square from linen for front of cushion

Cut two rectangles 9” x 13” from linen for back of cushion

Cut 13” x 13” square from stabiliser


Making the Cushion

1. Pin stabiliser to the back of the front square panel.


Cut out petals

 2. Draw three petal shapes onto a piece of Bondaweb and roughly cut out the shapes. Iron the Bondaweb onto the reverse of your three scrap coloured fabrics and then cut out carefully on the line.

 Marking petals for embroidery

3. Place your petals onto the cushion front, leaving space between each petal for the machine embroidered petals and leaving a central space to draw a small circle for the flower centre. Draw around your petals template to place three extra petal outlines for stitching. Draw a small circle for the flower centre. Once you are happy with the placement, iron on the fabric petals in place.

Stitch around petals

4. You need to stitch the fabric petals in place and I just did some free motion straight stitching close to the edges using a raw-edge applique technique. You could use a satin stitch or a zigzag around the edge to give a neater finish.


Vermicelli stitches

5. Now it’s time to fill in the petal outlines and centre with stitches. I selected thread colours to complement the three fabrics I have chosen and alternate the colours so they are spread around the petals.


Completed flower 
 6. For petal one, I chose to stitch using Vermicelli Stitch; for petal two, I stitched Pebbles Stitch; for petal three, I stitched Dotting Stitch. Be careful that your stitches remain within the drawn lines of the petals and fill in as much as you desire.

Stitch the flower centre

7. Stitch the centre as you wish – I just stitched around and around in circles to fill in the space.


Free machine stitched flowers

 8. If you wish, you can add some extra flowers around the remainder of the cushion cover by free-motion stitching the flower shapes. Mark on roughly where you want to stitch the extra flowers before you start and don’t stitch too close to the edge to allow for the seam allowance. Cover with as many or as few as you want.

 Stitch a cushion back

 9. Take one rectangle of linen and press under on one long edge by ½” and again by ½”. Pin and topstitch along the edge. Repeat for the second piece.

 Making a cushion cover

 10. Place the front of the cushion cover face up and then lay each of the two rectangles face down on top with the sewn edges in the centre - they will be overlapped to make a complete square with the cushion front. Pin all around the edge.

 11. Stitch all around the edge of the cushion with a ½” seam allowance. Reinforce where the two back panels overlap by reverse stitching a little way. Make sure your needle is down as you turn each corner. Clip the corners when you have stitched around to reduce bulk, making sure not to cut the stitching!

12. Turn the cushion cover to the right side and gently press. Insert your cushion pad through the overlapped back.

Completed cushion cover

Find the other parts of this series here

3-part free motion embroidery series