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Making Snowy Night Cushions

Last year I was completely stumped as to what to get my family for Christmas. It was getting into late November, and because of Corona, I wasn't able to see them, so had to send their presents by post. I'd been doing some festive painting in the weeks before to be made into Christmas cards, and had a brainwave - I could print these paintings onto fabric and make cushion covers for my family!

These cushion covers went down so well, that my mother-in-law had people asking where they could buy some! This year, I've started (a lot) earlier, and am selling them on my shop!

Here's what's gone into making these cushions in case you want to have a go too!

To start, it's worth noting that all the cushions I sell are handmade with love. There's been some trial and error due to the fact that I'm completely self-taught when it comes to both watercolour painting and sewing, but I got there in the end. All of the cushions are finished with a zip and piping around all of the edges, and all seams on the inside have been finished with an overlocker to keep away any stray fibres.

For the two cushion covers I call Snowy Night, I was inspired by Nordic landscapes. White houses with brightly coloured roofs are commonplace, and, for me, the churches were a nod to Vík, in Iceland, where there's a famous church with a bright, red roof that stands out against the landscape.

The effect created by salt on wet watercolour paint
The effect created by salt on wet watercolour paint

For these cushions, the watercolours I used were Daniel Smiths Indanthrone Blue, a small amount of Winsor and Newton Cadmium Red and Dr. PH Martin's Bleedproof White to create the effect of falling snow. For the beautiful, branching effect in the background, I sprinkled salt onto the wet paint and let it dry. When the painting part was complete and dry, I added the snow on the trees and buildings with a paintbrush, then flicked more of Dr. PH Martin's Bleedproof White over the painting with a toothbrush, giving the effect of falling snowflakes.

Now I have two paintings, I needed to look into getting them printed onto fabric. There are several companies who do this, but I went with Contrado as I've had some experience with them before, and it's always been a resounding success!

I wanted the cushion covers to be a standard size, and this time, I'm only selling them in 45 x 45cm. I want to be as respectful to the environment as possible and figured that a standard size will allow any potential customers to use cushions they have at home, so there's no need to buy new cushions, just the covers, creating less waste overall.

The next hurdle was to choose the fabric type. There's a wide variety of fabric choices, but I thought a satin/cotton blend sounded soft and luxurious, and loved it so much that I'm using it again this year!

The supplies needed for each cushion:

  • Printed fabric, 50 x 50cm (2.5cm seam allowance around each side of the painting)

  • Backing fabric, 50 x 50cm

  • Cord for piping, roughly 190cm long and 3mm thick

  • Fabric for piping, roughly 190cm long by 4-5cm wide (I used the same as my backing fabric)

  • Zip, 45cm

  • Pins

  • Sewing machine and Overlocker needles (as this was my first, big project with my overlocker, I got through a LOT of needles at the beginning!)

  • Lots of thread!

The reverse-side of Snowy Night winter cushion covers. This is a dark blue background with gold, dotted trees.
Reverse Side of Snowy Night Winter Cushion Covers

As I ordered the winter backing fabric for the cushions so early on in the year, I wasn't able to get it from the fabric shop I usually buy from, so ordered it online instead. I chose a beautiful, dark blue fabric with gold, dotted trees as I thought this complemented the painting on the front of the cushion, making sure I had enough fabric for the piping as well. I ordered the cord for the piping online at this stage too. As the zips aren't

Christmas themed, I was able to get them from my local haberdashery (I always try to support small businesses wherever possible!) and opted for one long zip which I cut down to size, and enough zippers for each cushion which I put on the zip myself.


Pinning the piping onto handmade, winter cushion covers.

I sewed the cushion covers in several steps:

1. I started by adding the piping to the printed fabric. I did this by wrapping the cord in the fabric strips and pinning this tightly around the edge of the painting. I used the zipper foot on my sewing machine to get as close to the edge of the piping as possible to keep it nice and tight along the whole cushion.

Sewing a zip onto handmade, winter cushion covers.

2. I then pinned the zip along the bottom of the newly piped front fabric and sewed this in place.

3. I next placed the backing fabric over the top of the front fabric, right sides together, and pinned into place.

4. I sewed the backing fabric to the zip.

5. Next, I sewed around the rest of the cushion, making sure that I was as close to the piping as possible, again, to keep the edges of the cushion neat. The cushion should now work! Time to finish up the seams!

Sewing the de Havilland Memories logo label onto a handmade, winter cushion cover.

6. I used my overlocker to go around the three non-zip sides of the

cushion cover, then went along the printed fabric part by the zip, and finally along the backing fabric part by the zip, trimming all seam allowances to 1.5cm.

7. Finally, time to add my label! I added this on one side of the cushion cover to make the cushion complete and ready for sale!


As you can see, each cushion is handmade, and a lot of time has gone into each step of the process, from designing the painting, to choosing the fabric to sewing the cushion cover together, and I feel the price needs to reflect this hard work. I had a look at what was around on the market given the types of fabric used, and calculated how long it took me to make each cushion, including the cost of materials, and was finally able to come up with a price of 50€ per cushion cover.

What do you think? Do you think you'll have a go at making something like this?

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