Outdoor living means outdoor events, which mean outdoor sitting – often on "non-chair surfaces." From summer concerts to Shakespeare in the Park, when the weather turns wonderful, activities move to more natural venues. These beautiful, wide open spaces can offer an auditorium made from a soft green meadow. Actually, they're more likely to offer a lumpy field of damp grass. For portable comfort, bring along your own stylin' set of round seat cushions. We used water-resistant rip stop nylon on the back and pretty outdoor polyester prints on the front, and they come with their own handy nylon drawstring duffle. Toss them on the lawn to keep your pants dry and your bum comfy.
Each cushion is made up of four quarter round wedges (we offer a pattern below). It's a great way to use a number of fabrics from within one collection. We mixed and matched six different Premier Prints 100% polyester indoor/outdoor fabrics. They came from within the same colorway, but all the designs were unique.
To keep the cushions water resistant through-and-through, we chose rip-stop nylon not only for the back, but also for the piping. And, the two layers of interior padding are a polyester batting rather than the more water-absorbing cotton batting.
The drawstring duffle is sized to easily hold the four cushions along with a blanket – great for when an outdoor event lasts into the chilly evening hours.
No worries about tossing these on the ground! The cushions and the duffle can be machine laundered on the delicate cycle with a mild detergent, then hung up to air dry.
Get a little extra fabric and make two sets - one to keep at home and one to stow in the car so you're always ready to sit for a spell, chillin' out in the summer sun.
Each cushion finishes at approximately 19½" in diameter, excluding the piping. The duffle finishes at approximately 26" tall with a 10" diameter base.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Zipper foot
- Walking or Even Feed foot; optional, but very helpful for the straight line quilting
Fabric and Other Supplies
Quantities below are for a set of four cushions and one duffle.
We used ONE ½ yard cut of SIX 54" wide Premier Prints Indoor/Outdoor fabrics from Fabric.com in the following combinations. You could certainly use more or fewer fabrics for your cushion set (as well as increase or decrease based on the number of cushions you make). To figure yardage, a ½ yard (at the 54" width) will give you the most flexibility for the best fussy cut of two quadrants, especially for large and/or directional motifs.
NOTE: The Embrace in Oxford is currently out of stock. As an option, we suggest Caroline in Oxford and Ocean, which carries the same color palette. The swatch is shown below.
Cushion 1 (quadrants listed in clockwise order)
- 2½ yards of 59"+ rip stop nylon; we used Rip Stop Nylon in Navy
- ONE twin size cut of polyester batting; we used a Twin Sized PAckage of Soft & Bright Polyester Batting
NOTE: You could certainly buy batting by the yard, widths vary so you would need to calculate yardage based on cutting TWO 19" rounds for each cushion.
- 7½ yards of ⅜" piping cord; we used Size 3 Cotton Piping
- ¾ yard of 1" polyester webbing for the duffle's handle; we used 1" White Polyester Webbing
- 1⅛ yards of polyester cording for the draw cord; we used a navy & white poly cord purchased locally at The Rain Shed
- ONE large toggle cord lock; we used a plastic cord lock in navy purchased locally – the hole in the lock must be large enough to feed through the polyester draw cord when folded in half
- All purpose thread to match fabric
- All purpose thread to in a spot color for straight line quilting; we used the turquoise
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Iron and ironing board
- Straight pins
- Hand sewing needle
- Large safety pin
- Download and print out FOUR copies of each of our THREE Cushion pattern sheets: Cushion Pattern Piece 1, Cushion Pattern Piece 2, Cushion Pattern Piece 3.
- Download and print out ONE copy of our Duffle Pattern sheet.
IMPORTANT: Each pattern is ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF files at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on each page so you can confirm your final printout is to scale.
- Cut out each pattern piece along the solid line.
- Butt together (do not overlap) one Cushion Pattern Piece 1 and one Cushion Pattern Piece 2 along the solid center lines (marked with the short arrows). Tape together to create the bottom of the quarter circle. Butt one Cushion Pattern Piece 3 along the top of the assembled bottom section, matching the longer arrows.
- Repeat to assemble the remaining three quarter circles. Set aside three of the four quarter circles.
- Butt together the two Duffle Pattern pieces to create a half circle, which will be cut on the fold to create the base of the duffle.
- From each of the front fabrics, use one quarter circle pattern to carefully fussy cut each piece. As we mentioned above, accurate fussy cutting is important to this design, not only to center a focal-point motif, but also to make sure your quarter circle is straight and true so the final straight-line quilting looks good.
- Most of our motifs were directional, so we also needed to be careful the quarter circle pattern was facing the right direction for each quadrant's fussy cut. Start with the pattern right side up and facing up to fussy cut the upper right quadrant. For the lower right quadrant, flip the pattern on the horizontal axis so it is upside down and facing down. For the upper left quadrant, flip the pattern on the vertical axis so it is upside down but still positioned curve up. And for the lower left quadrant, rotate it 180˚ from the starting upper right position (curve down). Think of it as a circle to help keep your quadrants straight.
- Once all your front quarter circles have been cut, find the other three quarter circle patterns. Rotate them so the four quaters fit together to form a circle. At the center lines where they join, trim away the seam allowances. When placed together correctly, the seam allowance now runs only around the outer curved edge; its dotted line should match from quarter to quarter. Tape the four quarter circles together to create a full circle pattern.
- Use this circle pattern to cut FOUR circles from the rip stop nylon.
- Then use the same circle pattern to cut EIGHT circles from the batting (there are two layers of batting for each cushion).
- Also from the rip stop nylon, cut the following:
TWO 18" wide x 25" tall rectangles for the duffle sides
Using the base pattern, cut ONE piece on the fold to create the base circle
Finally, cut enough 2¼" wide bias strips from the rip stop nylon to yield a 65" strip for EACH cushion (260" total). This may require strips be pieced together.
NOTE: If you are new to working with bias strips for piping, take a look at our detailed tutorial, How To Make and Attach Piping.
- Cut the piping cord into FOUR 65" lengths.
- Cut the draw cord into ONE 40" length. You'll trim just a tiny bit off each end of your 1⅛ yard length to neaten the ends. If your cording ravels, tape the ends during construction.
- Cut the webbing into ONE 18½" length.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Assemble wedges to create front circles
- Arrange each set of four quarter circles into a finished front circle
- This helps you keep track of the quadrants and insures the motifs are all going in the right direction.
- Place the upper right quarter circle right sides together with the upper left quarter circle. Pin in place along the center seam.
- Repeat to pin the bottom right quarter circle right sides together the bottom left quarter circle.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch both pairs together.
- Place the two halves right sides together, carefully aligning the center seams. Also, be sure to "nest" your seams, which means one seam allowance should be pressed to the right and one to the left. Pin in place.
NOTE: There are more notes about this and other patchworking steps in our Quilting Basics series.
- Open up the completed circle and press flat.
- Repeat to create all the front circles.
Add piping to each front circle
- Find the four 65" piping strips and the four 65" lengths of piping cord.
- Wrap the fabric strip around the piping cord. Align the raw edges of the fabric and pin in place.
- Attach a Zipper foot.
- Secure the fabric in place around the cording with a basting stitch, running your seam as close to the cording as possible. Go slowly; it's important the raw edges of the fabric stay even with one another.
- Find one of the four front panels. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Starting at the center bottom seam, pin a length of piping around the entire panel, aligning the raw edges of the piping with the raw edge of the fabric.
- Leave about 1" - 2" free at the head and the tail of the piping.
- At the starting/ending point, use your seam ripper to reveal the cord. Cut the ends of the cord so they butt together.
- Trim away the excess fabric, then re-fold and overlap the remaining fabric in place around the cording.
- Re-pin the piping so it is now a continuous loop around the panel.
- Still using a Zipper foot, stitch the piping to the panel.
NOTE: If you are new to attaching piping, check out our full Piping tutorial, which has great step-by-step notes on joining and finishing.
Assemble fronts to backs
- Find all the batting circles, front panels and back panels.
- Place two batting circles down first. On top of these, place a front panel, right side facing up.
- Place a rip stop back panel right side down on top of the front panel, sandwiching the piping between the layers and creating a four layer stack.
- Pin around the outer perimeter, leaving an approximate 6" - 8" opening for turning.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch around the entire perimeter. We are still using a Zipper foot. Your seam allowance may be slightly wider or narrower; the goal is to stitch as close to the piping as possible. Go slowly and keep your seam allowance consistant. Remember to lock your seam at either side of the 6" - 8" opening.
- Clip the curved edge all around. Turn the cushion right side out through the opening and press flat. Remember to use a pressing cloth and/or a cool setting on your iron for the rip stop nylon.
- Fold in the raw edge of the rip stop nylon at the opening so it is flush with the sewn seam and sitting up against the piping. Lightly pin in place.
- Thread a hand needle and whip stitch the opening closed.
- Repeat to assemble the remaining cushion panels.
- Flip over the cushions so they are all right side up. Using a see-through ruler and a fabric pen or pencil, draw guide lines for the straight line quilting. Start at the vertical center line of the cushion. Measure 2" to the right of the center line and draw a parallel line. Continue parallel lines at 2" intervals across the entire front of the cushion until you reach the piping.
- Repeat to draw vertical lines at 2" intervals to the left of center. When finished, there should be four drawn lines to the right of center and four drawn lines to the left of center.
- Re-thread the machine with the contrasting thread (we used turquoise) in the top and bobbin.
NOTE: If you are new to quilting, you may also want to review our guest tutorial by Modern Quilting Wonder, and S4H friend, Heather Jones on Straight Line Quilting.
- If possible, attach a Walking foot. Increase the stitch length.
- Stitch in the ditch of the center vertical seam, then stitch along each eight drawn vertical lines. Start and stop your topstitching as close to the (but not on top of) the piping. If possible use a lock stitch for the neatest finish. If this is not an option on your machine, leave the thread tails long and hand knot to secure.
NOTE: As shown below, you could use a Walking foot and quilt bar without drawing lines. You can set the quilting bar at a 2" interval to create the vertical lines. We tested both methods, and with the thickness of the layers and the tendency of the rip stop nylon to be a bit slippery, we found it easier to use the drawn lines rather than just the quilt bar.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to match the duffle fabric in the top and bobbin.
- Find the two 18" wide x 25" rip stop nylon rectangles.
- Pin them right sides together along one 25" side.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch together. This creates the duffle's back seam.
- Finish the seam allowance with an interior flat felled seam.
NOTE: If you are new to flat felled seams, we have a step-by-step tutorial.
- Find the 18½" length of 1" webbing. Lightly melt both ends to seal and finish. To do this, simply wave the flame of a lighter or match across the webbing a few times. It doesn't take much to melt.
- Center the webbing over the back seam you just made. The bottom of the webbing should be flush with the bottom raw edge of the panel. The top of the webbing should be 5½" down from the top raw edge of the panel.
- Pin the webbing in place at the top.
- Stitch in place with a 1¼" "X box". We continued to use the navy thread for a contrast; you could also use a matching thread if you'd prefer your X box be more invisible.
- Fold the panel right sides together, aligning the remaining 25" edges. Measure 2" down from the top raw edge; start your pinning at this point and pin down to the bottom.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, and starting as pinned at 2" down from the top raw edge, stitch in place.
- At the 2" top opening, finish the edges with a narrow hem. To do this, fold back each short raw edge ¼" and finger press. Then fold back an additional ¼" and pin in place.
- Topstitch to secure this tiny hem on each side of the opening.
- To finish the 2" remainder of this front seam allowance, tuck under both raw edges of the flattened seam allowance ¼" and topstitch each side in place through all the layers.
- To create the casing, fold down the top raw edge ¼" and pin. Topstitch to hold this tiny fold in place.
- Fold an additional ¾" and pin in place all around.
- Edgestitch in place all around, starting and stopping your seam at the front seam split.
- Find the base circle for the duffle. In order to attach the circular base to the duffle tube, it helps to make "quarter-marks" on each piece. To do this, fold the circle piece in half, then in half again. Lightly press at the raw edge to set creases. Unfold and place a pin at the end of each crease. Like the four points of a clock face: 12:00, 3:00, 6:00 and 9:00.
- Find these same points on the duffle tube. Fold the open bottom of the tube flat, matching up the front and back seams. Place pins at the outer folds. These are the 3:00 and 9:00 pin points. The 12:00 and 6:00 pin points are the seam lines themselves.
- Place the base inside the bottom of the exterior bag tube, right sides together. Match up the pins you put in place on your base circle quarter folds with the pin points and seams of the duffle tube. Then fill in with pins all around. It's okay to use lots of pins! If you do garment sewing, this is similar to how sleeves are set in.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, sew around the circle.
NOTE: IF you are new to this technique, we have a full tutorial on how to insert a flat base into a tube.
- Finish, as above, with a flat felled seam.
- Find the 40" length of draw cord. Fold it in half.
- Insert the folded end into the cord lock, bring it through about 1" - 2".
- Insert a safety pin through one end and run that end of the cord through the duffle's top casing.
- Once the cording has been run through the casing, bring both ends together and knot them to secure (you could sew together to secure but a knot is easier and it will be hidden inside the casing).
- Pull the drawcord through the casing so the knot is hidden inside.
- Tie a knot in the folded end about 4" down from the point of the fold
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild