The coral design on this embroidered cushion is simple and elegant, with texture introduced through the use of knotted embroidery stitches. There’s some freestyle stitching involved, as the design is outlined first and then filled in with more textural stitches. It takes a fair amount of thread, so have a few extra skeins on hand.
The navy-and-white-striped piping around the edges of the cushion reinforces the nautical nature of the design. The colours complement the bold red thread and the piping enhances the embroidery further by ‘framing’ the design.
Embroider knotted stitches first when filling in a shape — you need the needle room.
How to make an embroidered cushion
Prepare your fabric
- Cut a 50 x 50cm (20 x 20 inch) piece of white cotton and a 50 x 50cm (20 x 20 inch) piece of cotton voile. Draw a 43 x 43cm (17x 17 inch) square on the fabric.
- Centre the coral embroidery design on the white cotton and transfer onto the fabric. Overlock or tack the voile to the back of the fabric.
Embroider your design
- Other than the final French knots, the entire design is embroidered in 321.
- Embroider the design according to the instructions. First outline the coral in stem stitch, then embroider a second row inside the first.
- Next stitch long rows of Palestrina and coral stitch down the centre of the coral branches to create texture. Fill in the remaining space with stem stitch, using four strands of thread.
- Finally, embroider French knots in four strands of Blanc where indicated on the pattern, on top of the rows of red embroidery, if necessary.
- Press the finished work by placing it face down on a towel and ironing it from the back.
Cut the design out
- Check that the cutting lines haven’t distorted during stitching and redraw them if necessary, then cut out the embroidered cushion front.
- Cut two rectangular panels for the cushion back: 43 x 38cm(17 x 15 inches) and 43 x 15cm (17 x 6 inches).
- Piping the edges of a cushion always adds an elegant touch.
How to sew your embroidered cushion
- Sew the piping to the right side of the embroidered cushion front,1.2cm (½ inch) from the edge using the zipper foot of your sewing machine to stitch as close to the piping as possible. The raw edges of the piping and your cushion front should be on the same side. Start in the centre of the bottom edge of the cushion, round off the corners and cross the two ends of piping over each other neatly when you get back to the start point, in such a way that the loose ends will be stitched into the seam when you attach the back of the cushion.
- Overlock or zigzag the zip edges of each panel, then iron a 1.2cm (½ inch) hem into the smaller back panel and a 5cm (2 inch) hem into the larger panel. Using a suitable fabric marker, draw a line across the width of the larger piece of fabric, 4.5cm (1¾ inches) above the fold.
- Insert the zip: place the zip face down and centred on the top edge of the smaller piece of fabric. Tack it in place, keeping the zip’s teeth just below the ironed fold line. Stitch by machine along the fold line, using the zipper foot of your sewing machine. Fold the ironed hem back into place so that the zip flips over and is facing upwards/right side up.
- Position the larger (upper) piece of the cushion back so that the 5cm (2 inch) fold overlaps the lower piece by 4cm (1½ inches). (Lay the two pieces on top of the cushion front at this stage to check for size and adjust the overlap if necessary.) Tack the upper edge of the zip to the top of the cushion back and topstitch across the width of the cushion back – along the drawn-on line – using the zipper foot. Remove the line with a damp cloth or as advised by the fabric marker manufacturer.
- Open the zip halfway and pin the embroidered front to the cushion back, right sides facing.
- Using the stitching line from the piping as a guide, stitch over it, sewing around all four sides and joining the front and back of the cushion.
- Check that the piping is caught neatly between the front and back of the cushion, then overlock or zigzag the raw edges to finish off the seams.
- Turn the cushion cover the right way round through the zip opening and press with an iron from the back if necessary.
This embroidery project was taken from Embroidered Home by Kelly Fetcher, Kyle Books, R465