Grow Your Own, Make Your Own

a journey of discovery


Handmade cushion cover – a farewell gift: part 2

I have borrowed my Mum’s sewing machine this week and have spent the past couple of evenings whizzing away at it to complete Janet’s cushion cover before she goes to live in the UK for a year.

 We had a new fabric shop open in town a few weeks ago so I went hunting for some beautiful material. I didn’t have to look too hard. There is so much beautiful fabric out there! I chose a black and cream theme and decided to get some patterned pieces and some plain pieces, as I explained in part 1. I probably should have looked around for some pre-loved fabric to use but seeing as this is my first experience sewing for ever, I decided to go with a safe option of fabrics that I could easily match and had the same thickness and texture.

 1.    I decided to make a 40cm cushion cover so I cut 4 pieces of each type of fabric into 12cm squares. This leaves a 1cm seam line.

J layout

2.    Cut 16 squares the same size out of cream cotton flannelette, and pin them to the backs of the coloured squares.

3.    Quilt each square with a simple criss-cross with black cotton leaving a 1 cm seam line.

4.    Using the layout photo as a guide, pin the quilted squares together. Join 4 squares to form a row and sew together. Make sure you sew the squares so that the seam comes out through the front (see photo). This will give you the rag style look on the front.

 J Piecing front together

 5.    Iron the middle seams down flat to make it easier to join the rows together

6.    Pin your first row to the next one making sure that the vertical seam lines match up. Sew each row to the next to form your front square which will be 4 little squares across and 4 little squares down.

 7.    Using a very sharp pair of scissors, snip each exposed hem on the front of the cover to just above the seam line. Space the snips about 1 cm apart to create a ragged fringe.

J Stage of sewing front together

 8.    Next, get the black fabric for the back of the cushion cover. Cut to 43 cm wide x 50 cm long. Cut in half lengthways. You should now have 2 pieces that will form the back envelope.

 9.    Fold one short end on each piece and iron flat. Fold over again and iron flat. Sew along the folded strip to form a hem.

J Cut back pieces

10.  Pin the back to the front with the right side facing in. Make sure your 2 black pieces overlap at the back by about 3-5 cm. This will be where you insert your cushion. Sew a seam around the outside edge of the cover to enclose. Turn the right way around through the opening at the back and VOILA! Cushion cover is finished! Pop a cushion insert inside and admire your creation.

J Finished cushion cover

 11.  To finish off the raggy front, wash the cover, line dry and give it a good shake. This should help the front seams to fray further and will finish it off nicely.   

 If you decide to give this cushion cover a go, I’d love to see your photos! You can post them on the Grow Your Own, Make Your Own Facebook page or tag me in Instagram @growyourown or even just email a pic to me at




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Handmade cushion cover – a farewell gift: part 1

My dear inspirational work friend, Janet, is leaving these shores to travel and live in the UK for a year. I’m excited for her and upset at the same time. I will definitely miss her but I also know that this sort of experience is really life changing in many ways. I’m a teensy bit jealous too as I love travelling and would love to see the UK and Europe, but I have had my fair share of travelling journeys and I know that at this moment I am supposed to be here (not to say we won’t do a little short-term travelling as a family sometime).

 As I thought about this I wondered what sort of parting gift I might be able to give her. She is going to be limited in what she can carry on the plane – no heavy or bulky items. So that rules out books, journals, dinner sets or irons. 

I thought about my own journeys to other countries where I had stayed for a substantial amount of time and I really valued the little, sentimental things from home – the photos, a special ornament, a bottle of tabasco sauce. These sorts of things can help to ease the transition to a new place and act as reminders of the friends and family back home.

So I have decided to make her a cushion. Well a cushion cover actually. That way she can pack it flat in her suitcase and buy a cushion filler when she gets to London. It’s going to be a rag style patchwork. Given the fact that I haven’t sewn anything with a machine since I was in high school, I thought the rag style would be more forgiving.

The best bit about this cushion cover is that some of the patches will be patterned and some will be plain but adorned with the names and messages from our fellow work colleagues. Over the past week I’ve asked each of our workmates to sign a part of the patch using fabric markers. It is already looking great.

I’m going to use a pattern I saw on the Australian version of Better Homes and Gardens TV show ages ago. I have been trying to track it down but no luck yet so I’ve done a bit of internet searching and will piece together a couple of different patterns to get the result I am looking for. I will post pictures of the process and the final cover when it’s finished. Wish me luck!!

Have you ever lived in a different country to where you grew up? What helped you transition as you got used to the different culture?