Thursday 16 September 2010

How To: Felt Argyle Cushion

As promised, here's the tutorial for making your own argyle cushion from felt. I'm not going to lie to you, it does take a while to sew this but it's a very relaxing way to spend a few evenings and you don't need any advanced sewing skills to make it, just a bit of patience!

To make this cushion, I used two old wool jumpers (sweaters) which I'd shrunk in the machine to make chunky, textured felt. I've had a stash of brown jumpers waiting for the right project so I was thrilled to be able to put them to good use... but you don't have to use recycled felt for this project. Any kind of felt will do for making the diamond pattern, and to make the cushion itself you could use felt sold by the metre or a co-ordinating fabric.

You'll also need embroidery thread to match your two chosen felt colours (I used almost 2 skeins of each colour making the cushion), sewing thread to match both felt colours, sewing thread in a bright contrasting colour, a cushion pad to fill your finished cushion, plus sewing needles, sewing scissors, a tape measure and lots of pins.

1) First, decide how large you want your cushion to be. Mine was about 15 inches (38cms) square because this was the largest size I could cut from my felted sweater. Cut out the pieces to make your cushion: you'll need one large piece for the front of your cushion (this should be slightly larger than the pad you want to use), and two smaller pieces that will overlap to make an "envelope" at the back so you can insert your cushion pad. This is pretty simple to do using felt, but for fabric you'll need to leave seam allowances, etc (there are loads of great tutorials on the internet for how to make a simple envelope cushion cover).

2) Next you need to plan out your design, what size diamonds do you want? and how many will you need to cover your cushion? To make your diamond pattern, use a ratio of 2:3 (width:height). Mine were 4cms wide and 6cms high. I drew a cross shape on a piece of paper using a ruler, and joined up the points to make my diamond template.

I was going to use 9 diamonds in a row (9 x 4cms = 36cms) and 6 rows (6 x 6 = 36cms) leaving a small seam allowance around the edge for sewing up my cushion, but realised my backing piece wasn't quite square (oops!) so it needed to be a bit narrower, and opted for 8 diamonds in a row instead (luckily my cushion pad squished to fit this new shape - don't try this at home, kids!)

Do some sums or a sketch of your design to work out how many diamonds you'll need of your first colour (dark brown on my cushion) and how many diamonds you'll need of the second colour to fill in the gaps (light brown on my cushion). My cushion used 48 dark brown diamonds and 35 light brown ones. Use your template to cut out all the diamonds you need.

3) Position the diamonds onto the front cushion piece, starting with your main colour and then filling in the gaps with your second colour. I spread the square out on a large tray to make working on it easier.

4) When you've got the diamonds arranged how you want them, carefully pin them all in place.

5) Using bright sewing thread and long stitches, tack (baste) the diamonds in place. I stitched vertically along each row, and then horizontally along each row. Pay special attention to making sure that the points of the diamonds meet. Remove the pins as you secure each row.

6) Using matching sewing thread, sew your diamonds to your backing felt/fabric using a whip stitch. I stitched all the dark brown diamonds in place first, then stitched the light brown ones but you can sew them in any order you fancy. Again, pay particular attention to making sure that the points of the diamonds meet. When you've finished, remove all the large coloured stitches.

7) Now it's time to add the embroidery. On each diamond you need to embroider a cross shape in the middle in the contrasting colour (e.g. I used dark brown thread on the light brown diamonds and vice versa). I found the easiest way to do this was to use a simple running stitch, 3 stitches across the diamond, and then 3 more stitches back to fill in the gaps, move the thread across to the other side and repeat to finish the cross... then move to the next diamond and start again.

Try to keep this as neat as possible, making sure that the embroidery at the edge of one diamond meets the embroidery at the start of another so you get continuous lines criss-crossing the cushion.

8) When you've finished the embroidery it's time to make up the cushion (if you're using fabric, refer to whichever envelope cushion tutorial you're using for instructions). Place the decorated cushion piece front-side up, then place the two back felt pieces on top of it so they overlap, right side facing downwards. I didn't take any photos of this stage, sorry, but this is what the back of my cushion looks like finished:

Pin all three pieces together and stitch all the way round the edge of the cushion using whip stitch. Remove the pins, turn the cover the right side out, and insert your cushion pad.

Then place the cushion on your sofa and beam with pride at all your hard work :)

(This tutorial is for non commercial use only, please feel free to borrow photos if you want to blog about it but remember to credit me and link back to the original source, and do not reproduce my entire tutorial on your site. Thanks!)
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touch the sky said...

Waaauww good work, I am sure it takes really much time !
Love it...

Unknown said...

Beautiful and interesting !

Dusia said...

good job!!!

fiona said...

Soooooooooooo much work!!!

texttussi said...

Thanks for sharing! It looks like an awful lot of work. Now I'm even more impressed.

Nic said...

I thought you had knitted it to start with and was thinking WOW! I still think WOW and now I want to have a go. Think I might have to go to the charity shop...

SewHappyGeek said...

That is SO impressive - I've never worked with felt before but that is really tempting...especially as I live in the UK now so Argyle isn't far away!

treaclezoo said...

A really original and wonderful piece of feltwork there, Laura - lovely job! said...

Whoa... that is SO COOL! I love, love, love it! This has to go on my crafting list. I'll be linking as well. Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

just saw this Lupin - got to say I think I would be the tiniest bit inclined to cheat and weave the pattern with felt strips instead of cutting all those diamonds (because I am lazy and just need stuff finished fast!) and then I can just enjoy sewing the stitched pattern over the top x

Bugs and Fishes said...

Thanks for the comments everyone!

& thanks for linking to this project Rachel :)

Lisa said...

This is adorable! It looks like it took a ton of patience and time! Love it!