Christmas Tree Cushion tutorial

A simple but effective Christmas Tree cushion cover, and a great way to practice getting your half-square triangles as accurate as possible.
To make this project you will need a selection of Christmas fabrics (I’m using a small selection from the Moda “The Cooke Exchange” collection), something relatively plain for the background and whatever you fancy for the cushion back.

Step One: Fabric cutting
You need to cut the following pieces:
2 7/8″ Christmas fabric squares (x12)
2 7/8″ background fabric squares (x12)
2 1/2″ background fabric squares (x20)
4 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ tree trunk fabric rectangles (x2)
16 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ background fabric strips (x2)
16 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ background fabric strips (x2)
18 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ background fabric strips (x2)

1.fabric cuts

Step Two: Half-square triangles
Take all of your 2 7/8″ squares and separate them into pairs, each pair having 1 Christmas fabric square and 1 background fabric square. Arrange each set with the right sides of the fabric facing and with the four edges perfectly lined up. Draw a diagonal line, using a fabric pen, from one corner to the opposite on the wrong of the fabric. You only need the diagonal line on the top square of each set (so you are drawing a total of 12 lines).

Now its time to sew each pair of squares together. You can pin each pair to hold the two pieces together if you want to. Sew a straight line 1/4″ away from your drawn line, then turn the square around and sew another line 1/4″ away from the drawn line on the other side. Do this on all 12 square pairs.

Now cut along the drawn line on each one.

Fold one triangle of fabric back and press. Repeat for all 24 triangles. You now have 24 2 1/2″ squares.

TIP…be careful when you press the half-square triangles open then you don’t distort the shape by stretching the weave of the fabric.
Now is a good time to check they are all exactly 2 1/2″ square, and trim if they are not.

2.making halfsquare triangles

Step Three: The design
Now you need to arrange the half-square triangles you have just made, the 2 1/2″ background squares and the two rectangular pieces into the Christmas tree shape.

You can play around with your fabric positioning to get the “look”you want from the tree. I wanted my blend of greys and turquoise fabrics to be random but you may prefer a more uniform look.

Re-arrange as much as you like until you are happy. If you aren’t sure then walk away and come back to it later…it’s much easier to change your mind before you start sewing!

3.arrange the squares

Step Four: Sewing the tree
Now it’s time to start sewing again. The best way to sew all the little squares together is in horizontal rows. Just start with the top row first then work your way down one at a time. Sew the squares together using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Try to line up each edge as accurately as possible and pin to hold in place if you prefer.

After you have sewn each row you need to iron it. To help match up the squares neatly and get nice sharp points on your triangles I recommend using the “nesting” method for your seams…
On row 1 iron as follows:
– press open the middle seam (where the two triangle sides meet)
– all the other seams press to the left
Then on row 2 iron as follows:
– press open the middle seam 
– all other seams press to the right

On row 3 iron as follows:
– press open the middle seam 
– all other seams press to the left etc etc
Continue like this, pressing open the middle seam and alternating between pressing left and right for all the other seams.

Once you have finished all 8 rows, lay them out again to check the design is looking right.

4.piecing squares and rows
Now its time to sew all the rows together.

As you have ironed the seams alternating left and right, you can “nest” them which means matching the seam line with one seam allowances pressed one way and the other pressed the other. This avoids too much bulk and makes it easier to match the seam lines perfectly.

Sew all 8 rows together working from the top down. I highly recommend pinning at this stage to keep all the seam lines matches up as you sew. Press open all the horizontal seam allowances (again this helps to avoid bulk).

Now trim the edges of your Christmas tree.

5.ironing and trimming

Step Five: Adding the edging
Now its time to add the long edging strips to turn this rectangular tree into a square cushion front.

Start with the 16 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ pieces. Pin them along the two long edges of the tree and sew using a 1/4″ seam allowances. Press the pieces out.
Now pin the 16 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ pieces along the top and bottom edges of the tree and sew using a 1/4″ seam allowances. Press the pieces out.
Finally pin the 18 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ pieces along the sides of the tree and sew using a 1/4″ seam allowances. Press the pieces out.

You should now have a piece that is 18′ x 18″.

6.adding the edging

Step Six: Quilting
Now its time for the quilting!
Cut a piece of wadding/batting roughly 19″ square. It doesn’t have to be perfect as we will trim it later but it is a good idea for it to be slightly bigger than your cushion front at this stage. Place the Christmas tree on top of the wadding. Make sure it is smooth and even…this is very important! Pin the two layers together to secure them. I would recommend using quite a few pins because you don’t want the two layers to shift and cause bulges while you quilt.

Now its the really fun bit…quilting!
You can hand or machine quilt.
In my example I have used machine quilting (a quilting stitch is just a straight stitch but slightly longer stitch length than usual; all machines are different but as a guide, my default straight stitch length is 2.5 and I use 3 for machine quilting).

I have quilted with diagonal lines running from top left to bottom right. You can draw lines on as a guide before you start or just go for it! Its really up to you.

7.quilt sandwich

Step Seven: The last bits
To create the cushion back I am using an envelope opening as its quite quick and doesn’t involve messing around with button holes!

Cut two pieces of fabric 18″ x 14″.
Hem one long edge (18″) on each piece as follows:
turn the edge down 1/2″ and press
turn down again another 1/2″, press and pin
sew these edges down with a regular straight stitch.

Take one piece and lay it on top of your quilting cushion front, right rights facing. Match the raw edges of your backing piece with the top and two sides of the cushion front, pin in place. Then lay the second backing piece on top with the raw edges matching with the bottom and two sides, pin in place. These two pieces should overlap in the middle. Sew around the entire square using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

8.cushion back

Neatly trim the four corners and press the whole thing.
Turn the cushion cover out through your envelope back , gently poke the corners out as much as you and press again.
Add your cushion pad then sit back and admire your new Christmas cushion!

10.Christmas tree cushion


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