Sunday 16 September 2012

I ♥ Liberty and Bluejeans

With the last quilt (which I thought of as Sea and Sand but is now christened Hot Chocolate and Marshmallows, thanks to Moira) out of the way I've had a bit of time for another project.

I like the texture and colour of blue denim and finding different ways of recycling old jeans (earlier attempts here) and I love the contrast of tough and delicate fabrics, so I thought I would make a jeans and Liberty cushion cover using reverse applique to showcase favourite scraps.  This is part of the grand plan to try and learn something new with each make.

It took a disastrous first attempt, and a lot of night time pondering but I made this.  I'm so happy with it!

There are some picture-heavy details below if you would like to find out more.

Reverse applique cushion using Bondaweb/Wonder Under

First take a square of fabric the size of your intended cushion cover, plus seam allowance all round.    Because I was using cut up jeans I made a 9-patch square (you can see how I turned the squares to alternate the grain of the denim, just for extra interest).  This gave me a ready-made grid into which to position my design.  If using one fabric, mark out a grid using your favourite marking tool, taking into account the seams all around the edge of the square.

Now, cut a cardboard template the exact shape and size you want your reverse applique "windows" to be. I was using Liberty charms behind my windows, so I made a heart template to fit. If you are using scraps, just test to make sure that they are big enough (or that your template is small enough!) that there is a reasonable border all round.

Scrap is big enough!
Now, using your template, and drawing on the papery side of the Bondaweb, cut as many shapes from it as you need for your design. My heart is symmetrical - if your shape isn't you will need to reverse the shape (just flip over your template).

Place these paper-side-up (glue-side-down!) on the REVERSE side of your fabric.  Make sure you have the spacing right taking into account your seam allowance all round the outside of the pillow.

Iron these in place:

Now, very carefully, cut away the middle section, leaving about a cm all around.  If you cut carefully, you can keep these little shapes and use them for another project - they are all ready to stick down. (see one reuse at the bottom of this post).

Having done that, snip carefully all around, to within a mm of the outside edge:

Make a cut at any outward facing points, and a notch at any inward ones.  This will help when you turn back these edges.

Here, I have snipped all the way round.

Peel away the paper of the Bondaweb.  See how you're left with a shiny residue?  That's the glue, which will help stick back those little flaps.

Using the edge of the glue as a guide for where to fold, take your iron and very carefully start pressing back those flaps.  Use the point of your iron to catch and flip them over.  Remember you left yourself a mm - you should find it easy to turn enough of the fabric over that the slits don't run right to the edge of your window - but just give it an extra tiny tug if necessary.

Work your way round carefully, especially at the outward...

...and inward pointing parts of your curve, where you'll need to make sure that you fold the flaps back appropriately (you'll have to overlay them a little here):

All done.

Hey presto!  Because denim's quite heavy, the bondaweb may not be enough to hold the edges permanently, but it does a great job of holding them in place until you stitch them down.

Now, take a piece of plain white cotton the same size as your front piece.  If you are going for a quilty look (and it does make those hearts look nice and puffy) you will also need a piece of batting the same size, laid on top (use spray baste to hold them together).

The following instructions apply whether you are using just fabric, or fabric and batting.  I will refer to the "backing".

Spray your backing with spray baste and lay out your scraps on top in the position they need to be under the windows.   My design was grid based, which helps - you could draw a grid on your backing fabric/batting, and use it to guide you (I just eyeballed it)

Here I'm laying the top piece loosely to make sure those scraps are correctly positioned:

All ready to go.

Take your top piece and place it on your completed backing.

You might want to run your sewing machine round the edges, or use a little skoosh of spray baste to keep the top from slipping while you sew it all together in the manner of your choice. You could machine round the hearts, and quilt along the lines of the grid, for example.

I did some tiny overstitching by hand round the edge of the hearts to fix them down, and then embroidered round the edge with stranded embroidery floss - I might have used perle if I had any, but I sewed with 3 strands and I think it's fine.  (In both cases you should stitch right through from front to back to hold the layers together.  You can't gather stitches on your needle but have to stab it through straight up and down.)

Trim your edges.

Finally add the back.   I made an envelope back - simply sewing it right side to right side with the front piece and then turning it right side out.  Just make sure you have a good overlap to avoid gaping.  It is made with the remains of an old Liberty brushed cotton skirt which I've been hoarding for years - isn't it nice to have your habits vindicated?!   Using the skirt meant I already had a hem for the opening too.

  • I want to make this again with flowers instead of hearts!
  • A bigger version of this might make a nice baby wriggle mat.
  • Because of the lycra/elastane content of a lot of jeans, you may find it difficult to cut and piece perfect squares. 
  • If you are using denim, make sure you use a heavier sewing machine needle
  • I got my Liberty charms from Ali of Very Berry Fabrics
Please do let me know if anything in this is unclear. 

Remember the Bondaweb-ed cutouts?  I gave them to my daughter, who made, and photographed this in secret:

I will be linking this post up to:

There and Back Plum and June
Sew Happy Geek


  1. it's gorgeous! so glad to see the whole thing :-)
    And what a clever technique - thanks for sharing!

  2. *chuffed* I am loving your cushion and that last photo is a hoot!

  3. What a great way to recycle old jeans. I love the stitching around the hearts.

  4. Really love the way toy turned the denim to alternate the grain, very clever, and thanks for the tutorial, never tried reverse applique before, but will give it a go now. :-)

  5. Of course that should have said "love the way you turned the denim" - Doh!

  6. This is an adorable project and I love the contrast between the delicate Liberty and rustic denim.

  7. That's cool!! I love denim schtuff! And it looks amazing with the liberty :) Thanks for the tutorial!

  8. The pillow is adorable! And that is a great tutorial! I'm sure when my middle daughter sees this with the hearts that it will be at the top of her list of things she wants me to make for her.

  9. Your cushion is just perfect! I love everything about it including your lovely stitching! Thanks for the tutorial! I've never done this before.

  10. Wonderful pillow and thanks for the tutorial. You made it look easy.

    Love the cat photo;-)
    blessings, jill

  11. That is just so gorgeous! I want one! I am going to have to try this one day soon, thanks for the tute :)

    1. oh I forgot to say that last photo is a cracker!

  12. Fabulous cushion and a great tutorial.

  13. Beautifully shabby chic, and the photo with the cat peering in makes me smile!

  14. Your cushion is lovely, I have been hoarding some Liberty fabric for ages, now I know what to do with it! Really clear tutorial too.

  15. This is fab Catherine, really inspiring and I've so many Liberty scraps and a huge pile of old jeans that I refused to throw. I know all my White Stuff jeans have floral fabric in the inside waistline, which I love, but it hadn't occurred to me to put denim and florals together in my sewing. Just brilliant :)

  16. It is beautiful Catherine! GReat tutorial. I love the the contrast of the denim with the liberty fabric. So pretty.

  17. What a wonderful cushion, the denim and liberty look perfect together. I've never had a ago at reverse applique, thanks for sharing a great tutorial!

  18. Great tute! Love the cat photo

  19. I love the reverse appliqué - great tutorial, thanks!

  20. Gorgeous! And thanks so much for the tute. I am so pleased to see some of my charm squares being put to good use.

  21. What a great cushion - great way to upcycle some old jeans! Interesting way to do reverse applique;)

  22. I love this, you are very talented xx

  23. A belated thank you for this tutorial - I am about to do a bit of reverse applique and wanted to know if there was a good Bondaweb trick and here it is! Thanks!


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