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Celebrating spring with a cheery quilted umbrella cushion

It feels like spring is taking a long time to arrive this year, at least where I live. I’m actually wishing for rain and thought making an umbrella themed cushion for the season might be just the thing to share this week! April showers do eventually arrive and it’s fun to make seasonally themed decor. I used the PFAFF quilt expression 720 to help me stitch up this bright quilted cushion.

Quilted umbrella cushion
Quilted umbrella cushion

April 22 is Earth Day when we take time to educate ourselves and raise awareness about environmental issues. When I think about how to reduce, reuse, and recycle, when it comes to quilting, I think about using my stash and scraps. For the reverse side of the umbrella cushion, I went through my stash of small scraps to make four patches and set them with larger squares.

Reverse patchwork side of cushion with PFAFF quilt expression 720
Reverse patchwork side of cushion with PFAFF quilt expression 720

Cutting Requirements for Umbrella Block

Umbrella fabric
two 5 squares
four 4½″ squares
six 2½″ squares

Background fabric
one 8½″ square
two 5 squares
two 4½″ squares

Accent squares – six 2½″ squares

You will also need
rick rack – approximately 11″ long and ½″ wide

8½″ square of stabilizer for attaching the rick rack

two fat quarters for backing the quilt panels
two 16½″ squares of batting
zipper – I used 18 and cut to size

Fabrics for the umbrella block
Fabrics for the umbrella block

I do all of my piecing on the PFAFF quilt expression 720 with the straight stitch plate attached. I chose to use the ¼″ quilting foot for my piecing, but I could have also used the regular standard foot (OA) that also comes with the machine.

Presser feet used for straight stitching
Presser feet used for straight stitching

Sew four-patch units

The umbrella block is made up of a few different types of units, all of which are easy to make. The first ones are the four patches: you could make a rainbow like I did or simply use one fabric and alternate it with the umbrella fabric.

Sew the right edge of one accent square to the left edge of one umbrella fabric square; press the seam to the umbrella fabric.

Next sew the left edge of an umbrella square to the right side of a second accent fabric square, pressing the seam to the umbrella fabric.

Sew the two sets together so that the accent fabrics are diagonally opposite to each other. Press the seam to the bottom unit.

Repeat to make a total of two more four patch units.

Umbrella four patch units
Umbrella four patch units

Make HSTs

  1. Draw one diagonal line on the back of EACH background 5″ square.
  2. With Right Sides Together, sew one background fabric 5″ square to one umbrella fabric 5″ square by sewing ¼” away from each side of the drawn line.
  3. Cut on the drawn line to create 2 HSTs; press the seams to the umbrella fabric.
  4. Trim each HST to 4½” square. *You will have one leftover.
  5. Layout the HST units with the rest of the pieces as shown in the photo below. Notice the large 8½″ square isn’t added yet.

All umbrella block units laid out except handle square.
All umbrella block units laid out except handle square.

Attach rick rack handle

I enjoy adding rick rack as embellishment and in this case, I decided to use ric rac for the umbrella handle. If you don’t have any on hand you could make bias strips or try some ribbon or embroider stitches.

Pin the rick rack in place making sure it extends past the edge of the fabric. You could use fabric glue (embroidery glue) to tack it in place as well.

Then I used a decorative stitch on the PFAFF quilt expression 720 to attach the rick rack. I used a stitch that was close to extending beyond the inside curves of the rick rack to make sure it would be secure and less likely to curl. The stitch also required the use of a stabilizer beneath the fabric, which can be see layered beneath my fabric below.

Rick rack handle pinned in place
Rick rack handle pinned in place

With the handle attached to the background square, all of the units are ready to assemble into the umbrella block. Come back tomorrow to assemble and quilt the umbrella block using the PFAFF quilt expression 720.

Umbrella block layout
Umbrella block layout

This is part 1 of 5 in this series.

Go to part 2: Adding quilted details using the PFAFF quilt expression 720

I love to play with color and *quilts* are my playground! A self-taught quilter, I've been designing quilts for almost 20 years. I'm inspired by happy fabrics, selvages, traditional blocks and nature. I'm also a wife, mother, and elementary school teacher, and enjoy drinking coffee on my front porch in northern Ontario.

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