Upcycling Jumper Project – Cosy Cashmere Cushion

Upcycled-jumper-project

There is nothing more satisfying than creating something new from an old jumper discovered in a charity shop. I was initially attracted to the pretty shade of pink, but it was far too big for me. It was back in the Autumn when the nights were drawing in – when my thoughts turn to cosiness, wooden blankets and log fires that I decided to upcycle this unloved jumper into a cushion to feather my winter nest.

I have not seen smocking for a long time, but the idea for this front panel came when I was flipping through some old sewing books – the smocking method was lengthy and (to my mind) laborious. I thought it would be fun to play around with the technique to make it a little simpler as well as make the most of the texture of the jumper.

up-cycled-jumper-smocking

I started by using the front piece of the jumper for the smocking panel. I wanted to create a deep raised pattern so I made 1cm pleats across the panel. Then I marked across at 2cm intervals along the folds using a washable pen.

upcycled-jumper-smocking-cushion

The pleating and marks made it very simple to create a honeycomb pattern across the jumper panel. I would alternate the pleat joins so that it ended up with regular diamonds. I liked the pale green Perle cotton – the shade was in harmony with the pink.

up-cycled-jumper-smocking-cushion-panel

As with all things hand sewn, it was such a relaxing panel to do that I often wonder why I don’t do more embroidery. Watching TV with my fabric on my lap, tea within reach the panel was done in no time at all. Despite the sewing book instructions making it seem laborious, it was quickly and easily achieved and I loved the texture.

Up-cycled-jumper-cushion-front-panel

The smocking does reduce the width of the front section of the jumper by around a third so I used the sleeve sections either side to create a square panel. The ribbing at the bottom of the jumper created a nice frame bottom and top, so the front section was completed.

Up-cycled-jumper-cushion

I used the back of the jumper to make the back and stitched it loosely closed. If the cushion needed to be washed it would only take minutes to unpick. I also did not want zips or buttons to interfere with the softness of the cushion.

upcycled-jumper-flowers

I felt the cushion needed a little more decoration so I made a few suffolk puffs (or yo yo’s as our American Cousins Call them) and utilised the ribbing off one of the sleeves. I also embroidered leaves and stems with wool. (Also pre-loved).

Up-cycled-jumper-cushion

I am rather thrilled with the finished cushion, its so lovely to sit against (or lie next to as my dog prefers). It is quite easy to work with knits, just a case of selecting a straight stitch with a little zig zag in it and a ball point needle.

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Tweed Union Jack Cushion

Autumn is the time for warmer textures, and I love the feel of this soft tweed, the colours are so pretty and I think it is only right to have a union Jack cushion in 2012! The bath bombs are ready to use on those dark winter nights, nothing like a bit of strawberry fizz to perk you up.
I have just hooked out my cord skirts and jumpers, I love this time of year, cosy nights, warm clothes walking in the crisp air with sunshine. A poet once said that Autumn makes every leaf a flower and that is true. It is late coming here, we are already in October and from my window I watch the trees dancing but they are still very green. I have the heating on, and I am wearing my lovely soft velvet coat again. Simple pleasures.

Cup Cake Cushion

My friend was moving  to a wonderful flat situated above a baker shop, we discussed the marvellous delights of waking up to the smell of warm bread and baking on cold mornings it seemed such a lovely place.
It was while I was making a card for her, using crayons I came up with the idea of a cup cake house, but then I realised it would also make a lovely cushion and a great a housewarming present – since we were coming into Autumn I wanted to use warm fabrics like wool and tweed – there is something really comforting about these fabrics in Autumn when all I can think about is cuddling up on the sofa with a good book as the evenings draw in.
I love working with tweed, it is so soft and easy but can fray, so I made sure all the appliqué was backed – it is much easier to draw the outline on the fusible interfacing first then adhere the pattern to the fabric – then cut out it seals the edges much better.
I took a square of fabric, and added a contrasting border – adding side strips first then adding the top and bottom. It was approximately 3 inch strips of pink tweed.
Taking the hill template, I cut the background green then added the fabric strips on top, I loved the flower cotton and the curved edges added to the overall effect. The pathway was from beautiful textured tweed, which is why this is such a delight to work with. After attaching the hill to the cushion top I simply added decorative stitched lines in green to continue the flow – it looks just like an upturned umbrella!
The top of the cupcake was made in layers, first I mad the little window, using a reverse appliqué technique topped off with a little machine embroidery.  I added a little roof topping and used black stitching to give the child like drawing to the project.
The cupcake base had a little curved door and I used stitching lines to indicate the folds in the cupcake adding two more windows. Then it was a case of layering it onto the backing fabric
I found a delightful tiny heart shaped button in my stash that made a lovely door handle. As you can see I was considering using a different background while I was at this stage but in the end decided on the pale blue – I was concerned that the cupcake would not stand out enough but I resolved that by using the black stitching.
After backing the cushion with wadding, I quilted a cloud with the sun just peeping behind, using a simple zig zag stitch. I used crayons to increase the shading slightly to give a hint of colour change.
So the top was ready, I machine stitched the edges down now that the cushion had some backing it gave a lovely quilted effect, I followed the edge of the appliqué shape as well which gave it a little more depth. I also stitched my ‘cherry’ red button to the top.
I felt a button closure was more important and used these lovely wooden buttons from a stash I bought in a charity shop. I always find it easier to mark out the button gaps before stitching otherwise I end up with the gaps either too big or too small! It also means that I have a good spacing, which tends to go awry when I do it by eye! As it was a gift I wanted to get it right!
So here is the finished cushion, I found it hard to part with it! Maybe I should make one for me too now!

Cable Cushion with Crochet back

I have completed my cable cushion! I love the texture that can be achieved by knitting, it is astounding just how many variations of pattern that can be made with two simple stitches.
I used a very chunky yarn, in soft pale cream – it was satisfying as the knitting grows so quickly! I did not manage to copy the pattern, rather making my own using the technique.
I chose to use crochet for the back as the tweed yarn was only two ply, I would still be knitting until next year it was so tiny! The effect of the two textures add interest.
I always use a single crochet to stitch the cushion together, it makes a lovely edge and creates more of a contrast between the crochet back and the knitted front
As each stitch is worked together it makes the finish tidier.
The button edging was created afterwards using crochet which handles buttonholes easier than knitting techniques. I also added a slight curve / frill to the edge.
The crochet back is wider to create a pillowcase effect, folding over inside covering the cushion.
While I enjoyed this project – I could not help but consider how expensive it is to knit or crochet, the wool was approximately £7 per ball! I used two balls for this project but fortunately I had the buttons in my own button box.
So when I came across a cable scarf in a charity shop it gave me an idea…..
This cable cushion is made like a patchwork quilt with the cable squares rotated at 90 degrees.
I zigzag stitched the edges to prevent the kitting from fraying and then used one longer piece as a flap for the back.
I wanted a contrasting back re-using this old white jumper. The bottom edge meant I could use it for the opening – there was no need to hem the open edge.
The back looks like this – and this cushion was made for £5. I love up cycling – it gives me a real thrill.

A great source for cabling instructions and lots of knitting techniques can be found here

Tweed cushions for Autumn

Tweed made a huge impact on Autumn interiors, (it is a recurring theme) our leather sofa needed something warm, nothing is nicer than tweed and wool.
I decided to make a set of cushions working loosely with deer, so created this little friendly chap. The blue is an dissolvable pen which disappears once the embroidery was done, in a little water.
Hand embroidery is a pleasurable delight, while slower than a sewing machine, I love the connection with creating each stitch – there are times when hand made is nicer to do than machine stitching,  I love the irregularity outlining the deer in blanket stitch and using stem stitch to follow the curves of the antlers.
Then it is a case of trimming the tweed to a square and edge strips to frame it.

I love the way the deer’s body is a diagonal while the strips are fairly straight, it creates a lovely contrast.

The back was made easily; lay a zip under the folded bottom edge, stitch in place. Fold the top piece with a deep fold, (enough to cover the zip). It is simply a case of following the bottom stitched edge for about 2 inches, then going vertically up until you reach the other zip edge. Stitch along until you are 2 inches away from the side, stitch vertically down over the zip again and then stitch along to the edge. It creates a lovely concealed zip effect on the back keeping the cushion nice and soft with no hard zipper.
I always push stuffing into the corners of the cushion, it creates a nice neat edge then add the cushion.
I made another three cushions with the tweed, creating a trio. The left hand deer is a machine embroidery pattern, the patchwork squares were angled again to give a more interesting effect.  The blanket is a beautiful blue welsh wool we bought at the Country Living Christmas Fair.
Now the sofa is a cosy warm place to watch the crackle of the log fire hearing the wind and rain pelting against the window, a perfect winter’s evening.