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Honoring Earth Day: use your stash to make a quilted patchwork cushion

Spring cleaning is so popular this time of year and what better way to tidy your sewing room than to use up some stash! Plus, we’re still thinking about Earth Day and recycling next week and making something out of what we already have. In yesterday’s post, I showed you how I quilted a large pieced umbrella block as the front of a cushion cover.

In today’s post, I’ll use the PFAFF quilt expression 720 to piece together a back panel from scraps. The back will also finish at 16 square and could easily be pieced from 16 different 4½″ squares from your stash. You might even have some scraps this size. I decided to make four patch blocks for half of the squares by cutting 2½″ squares from my scraps.

Quilted patchwork cushion and PFAFF quilt expression 720 machine.
Quilted patchwork cushion and PFAFF quilt expression 720 machine.

Fabric requirements

I have some scraps sorted by color, so I started looking there for big enough pieces. You’ll need a total of 32, 2½″ squares. I looked for bright fabrics, mostly that read solid, and tending to be warm colors. I also made my backing scrappy by using a different fabric for each piece.

You could decide to use your background fabric from the front as your 4½″ squares and simply use 8 different 4½″ squares to complete the back. But I took this on as an environmental challenge with Earth Day coming up and encourage you to use up your scraps as a way to reduce, reuse and recycle!

To recap, you’ll need eight 4½″ squares and thirty-two 2½″ squares for the backing I made.

Small stash scraps sorted by color.
Small stash scraps sorted by color.

Arrange your selected pieces on your cutting mat until you’re happy with the arrangement. I took a digital photo to help me decide if I liked where all the fabrics were placed, then I moved a couple of them around. I alternated the pieces with in a pattern of large square followed by a four patch, then switched started the next row with a four patch and continued this way until I had four rows laid out.

Layout for patchwork panel
Layout for patchwork panel

Sew together the four patches then place them back between the larger squares referring back to your photo if necessary to keep the same orientation of the fabrics.

The PFAFF quilt expression 720 has a feature called the Patchwork Program that lets you record a length of stitching as a program in the machine.  To activate the program you touch the stitching programs icon in the middle of the menu on the right side of the Color Touch Screen. Then from the next screen you select the Patchwork Program icon which is in the middle of the top row. In the photo below you can see the icon is green on the Color Touch Screen.

Patchwork Program activated.
Patchwork Program activated.

Now you can sew the length of the seam you want to repeat. When you stop press the reverse button to tell the machine that is the end of the stitch length. The screen will then change and indicate that there is a stitch program available – it’s icon will now be green.

Stitch program icon activated.
Stitch program icon activated.

Once set, you can use the Start Stitching icon and the machine will automatically stitch the length of stitching programmed. I’ve included a brief video here so you can see that the machine literally does the work! I decrease the speed on the machine and then use the program by pressing the Start/Stop button; you can see the machine finishing the programmed stitch length in the video – no foot pedal or button pushing required.

Stitching several patches of the same length is an ideal time to use this feature! I used it here for the four patches and again in the next step.

Four patches sewn together
Four patches sewn together

Sew the pieces into rows, pressing the top and third row seams to the left and the second and bottom row seams to the right. Sew the rows together to complete the back panel.

For this project, because it’s made up of only squares, the piecing is easy with less seams to join up. I decided I could even sew these rows together all at the same time, by not cutting the chain piecing threads as I sew the pieces together. This method is referred to as webbing and Bonnie Hunter is a well known advocate of using it to put a whole quilt top together quickly.

Sewing the rows together without clipping threads
Sewing the rows together without clipping threads

The large harp space on the PFAFF quilt expression 720 is a great extra work surface – it comes in handy for quilting projects too. The LED lighting lets me see to enjoy working on my project no matter the weather affecting indoor light or time of day. Plus the IDT system helps guide the fabric pieces evenly under the needle which means I don’t need to use pins while sewing the patchwork panel together. Using all these features, I was able to quickly put together the patchwork panel.

Large harp space of PFAFF quilt expression 720
Large harp space of PFAFF quilt expression 720

Once the patchwork panel is assembled it’s time to layer it with some batting and backing to quilt it. Cut the remaining fat quarter from the supply list into a 16½″ square and place it, right side down, on a pinning surface. Put the batting on top and then place the patchwork panel on top, right side up. Pin through all three layers to secure.

Tomorrow, we quilt!

Patchwork panel layered and pinned for quilting
Patchwork panel layered and pinned for quilting

This is part 3 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 2: Adding quilted details using the PFAFF quilt expression 720

Go to part 4: Using Handlook Stitches on the quilt expression 720 for quilting patchwork

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.

1 Comment

  1. Cathie Scanlon

    Love these stash buster projects!

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