Sunday, 28 April 2013

Button cushion

This cushion was inspired by one I saw here.

The front is ever so simple to make.  I cut the cream fabric out as a 21.5" sided square.  I used thick curtain lining, I think: it's certainly considerably heavier than quilting cotton.  Then I folded it corner-to-corner and finger-pressed along the diagonals; this helps to find the centre of the cushion.  Don't iron these creases like I did, or you may never get them completely out again!

Cut 11.5" square piece of contrast fabric.  I used pink raw silk (which might just be polyester masquerading as fancy silk).  Place a 11" square piece of card in the centre of the fabric on the wrong side, and fold the edges around the card.  This helps you get the 1/4 turn neat.  See this tutorial (from Hyena in Petticoats) on how to deal with the corners in this method.  (The tutorial is unrelated, but there is a step in there on folding around a 9" square in the manner I am suggesting.)  You now have a neat 11" square.

Place your front-fabric right-side upwards on a flat surface, then place the contrast square right-side upwards on top.  Use those diagonal creases to help align the 11" contrast square in the centre of your cushion front.  Pin in place, then neatly top-stitch through all layers around the contrast square to attach it to the front.  For this, I'd stitch around close to the edge in a matching thread using a short stitch-length.  Then press the whole lot: it's your last chance to press the contrast fabric.

Securing the contrast fabric

Next comes the button placement.  I went for 100 buttons arranged in a 10x10 grid, spaced by 1".  Buttons can be bought cheaply online by weight, so if you don't mind pot-luck then it's the way to go!  Sometimes it looks like you get left-overs from clothing manufacturers.  I used a combination of these, and buttons taken from my husband's shirts (not the ones still in his wardrobe, I hasten to add!).  My average button diameter was 10mm.

I used my 11" card template and drew the 1" grid on it.  (Note that the first and last rows/columns of buttons start 1/2" from the edge.)  Next I transferred the markings to my cushion front.  There are probably much better ways to do this, but I aligned the template on the cushion front then stuck pins through the template where each button would go.  I then made a dot where the pin struck the fabric below using a dressmaker's pencil.  The world of quilting might have better ideas: perhaps you can puncture the card template at each button position, align with the cushion front, then shake chalk-powder over the template such that it marks the fabric where the holes are.

Once the holes are marked, I tediously stitched each button on by machine.  I tried to alternate the way I stitched the four-hole buttons from "x" to "+" across the cushion.  To machine stitch the button, I set my machine to zig-zag with a stitch length of 0.  I removed the very base of my presser-foot, leaving just the foot shank.  I then lowered the shank so that it held the button down onto the fabric, and carefully stitched between two holes about 7 times.  Next, I lifted the needle and presser-foot-shank, rotated the fabric, lowered the shank and stitched through the other two holes.  After removing the work from the machine, I pulled all the threads through to the back of the work and tied them off before trimming them short.

Varying the stitch pattern between "+" and "x".
This method requires you to hold the button with your fingers as the shank only presses on the back edge of the button (at least on my machine).  Watch you don't stitch your fingers!  When moving to the other set of holes, be careful not to move the fabric sideways while you rotate it, else you'll get knotty loops beneath the fabric.  You must also be careful in choosing your zig-zag stitch width.  On my machine, the needle always goes down on the extreme left for one side of the zig-zag, and it's just the right-hand position (for the other side of the zig-zag) that changes.  That means it's easy to stitch the left hole first, then tune the stitch width so the needle goes down the right hole.  You must stitch very slowly to avoid hitting the button and shattering it or breaking your needle.  Good times, but I think it's faster than by hand.

Piping: oops!  You can see the braid texture through my flimsy fabric choice!
Button back

The back of the cushion is a button-back (see here) made with upholstery weight stripy fabric.  I also used some piping I made myself using the same pink silk-stuff as the front.  I like piping, even though my sewing machine is very bad at attaching it - I need to do a post about my work-around for that.

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