A half-square triangle cushion

I’ve finished another cushion in my ‘refresh the household cushions’ campaign – this one made up of half-square triangles and alternating plain patches. The block pattern comes from Mary Etherington and Connie Tesene’s latest book ‘Sew Charming’, and in the book produces a wall-hanging, but as I am on a cushion run…

The ‘Homey Triangles’ project (that was the name of the wall-hanging) was the second from the book that Mary has run as a quilt-along on her Country Threads Chicken Scratch blog. It is great fun seeing the photos that she posts of how other blog readers have interpreted the pattern and used colour and contrast.

Because each block finishes at 6″ square, and I needed a 20″ cushion, I decided to make 3 x 3 blocks and add a 1″ border to bring the top up to size. Each block consists of eight 1 1/2″ HSTs and two 3″ squares. The cushion is for the bench in our dining area, that has a cream and white theme with pine furniture, so I decided to make my HSTs cream and rusty red, which is one of my favourite colour combinations, and go with a contrasting petrol green for the squares.

I played about a bit in EQ7 to decide how I wanted the layout (light triangles up or down, triangle sections left or right, that sort of thing) and in the end came up with a layout that I liked, even if the colours are a bit off…

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The lay-out for the cushion top

I decided to have my rusty red triangles pointing up and my cream triangles pointing down. I had two pieces of fabric that I thought might do for the squares which is why there are two colours of green on the lay-out.

Mary had suggested that if one was making the pattern from scraps instead of charm squares (as I was, all the fabrics were fat quarters from my stash) then using Thangles™ to make the HSTs could save a bit of time. I have never used Thangles™ before, but it seemed like a fun thing to try. Thangles™ are printed paper foundations for making HSTs. You buy them in specific sizes, and use them on strips of fabric. If you place the lighter fabric strip on top of the darker fabric strip, then the finished HSTs automatically have the seam pressed to the darker side.

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Thangle strips pinned and ready to sew

In principle, you cut your strips the exact width of the paper, and then after sewing you just cut the patches apart, but, Mary had suggested, that if you have a bit extra fabric, it can help to cut the strips slightly wider: then you don’t have to worry about strips shifting, or squares coming out ever so slightly too small due to the stitching. So thats what I did (I know expert advice when I hear it!). I have to say, this was a wonderful tip: if I’m not using a Jelly Roll or something, where the width is pre-determined, I would always use this method.

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Thangles stitched and ready for trimming

I needed 12 of each combination of HST, from 6 different colour combinations, to make the 72 HSTs that I needed for the cushion. The 1 1/2″ Thangles™ come in strips that make 6 HSTs, so I made two strips of each colour combination. I chain sewed them from one strip to the next, so it went quickly.

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Sides trimmed

Then I trimmed along the edge of the paper with my rotary cutter.

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Trimmed and ready for pressing

Then I sliced the HSTs apart, also with my rotary cutter. You press the HST open with the paper still in place, then tear the paper away, by gripping at the seam, and tearing away the large triangle of paper. It went easily, and without distorting the seam. The strip remaining pulled away easily too.

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6 HST squares from one Thangles strip

So soon I had this:

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72 HST squares in cream and rusty reds

I sewed the HST squares together into groups of two by two, using the same combination of fabrics for each set. That gave me three mini blocks (2×2) of each colour combination.

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The HST squares ready to be sewn 2 x 2

Once that was done, I experimented with the lay-out of the HST squares and with the two candidates for the plain squares. I didn’t want any triangles from the same fabric combination adjacent to each other, vertically or horizontally.

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Auditioning fabric for the plain squares

To my surprise, the fabric that I had thought would look nicest, when I was pulling fabric from my stash, at right in the photo above, didn’t look right to me at all. It was too fussy, I think. So I went with the darker fabric (they were from the same range) with a subtle moire effect. 

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The pieced cushion top

I laid the red HSTs out so that each combination appeared once in each of the three columns, and once in each of the three rows, but never next to each other. Then I sewed the top together.

I had a red and cream striped fabric that I wanted to use for the border, but as it was a fat quarter, there was not enough fabric to have the stripes running lengthwise (unless I had seamed them, and I didn’t want to do that) so I cut them so they would be crossways.

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Border attached and top layered for quilting

I layered the top with two layers of cotton batting, so that the quilting would be well-defined, and to give the cushion a bit of extra body, as it will be sat against three times a day! The I hand basted it, to stop the layers from shifting, and machine quilted it in a variegated 40 weight cotton thread from YLI, that went from cream through red to dark brown. I quilted 3/8″ from the diagonal seam through all the HSTs – that way I avoided the bulk where the seam allowances came together. I also quilted in the ditch just inside the border, and in the border itself, 3/8″ from the inside edge.

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The cushion top quilted

From the back, the quilting pattern is easier to see.

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The quilting on the back of the cushion top

I made the back of the cushion with a double layer of fabric, the outside from two pieces: the remaining striped border fabric and a coordinating cream fabric, with an invisible velcro fastening. Because of the shape of the striped fabric, the opening in the cushion back is horizontal, instead of vertical, as I usually make it. I’ll be interested to see how it performs: perhaps it will be an improvement!

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The cushion back, with label

Then I sewed the back to the cushion top and finished the seams with my overlock machine. Then I turned the top the right side out, and pushed the corners out.

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The front of the cushion cover

I inserted a 20″ cushion pad, and went downstairs to put the cushion on the bench next to the dining table.

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The completed cushion on the bench

It is nice and cozy to sit against!

 

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