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Making a faux hand embroidered cushion cover with the Brother Luminaire XP

by Shaelagh Kirkey

Hello all—as promised, I’m back for another week of embroidery projects on the Brother Luminaire XP! If you recall from last month’s appearance, I’m a beginner in the world of sewing and embroidery machines, and I’m hoping to inspire you all with some fun and easy projects geared towards exploring some of the ‘newbie-needs-to-know’ features of Luminaire embroidery.

Brother Luminaire XP

The Brother Luminaire XP

So, coming at this adventure knowing little about the machine, my Pinterest board is where I started. Of course, that gave me a potential to-do-list a mile long, LOL! I was able to group my ideas into themes, and narrow down the last batch to five outdoorsy, nature-related projects to proudly share. This week, however, is all about the indoors. Not just any indoors, though, but the super-cute and trendy cottagecore theme is what motivates me this week.

Yeah, ‘cottagecore’. It’s a thing.

Cottagecore is a fashion aesthetic that romanticizes country cottage living. Think of a cozy farmhouse with plenty of chickens, flower gardens, linens on the clotheslines, and the smell of freshly baked goods wafting out from within. Try a Pinterest search of your own and you’ll get the idea! The hobbies associated with cottagecore are slow, relaxing ones, such as hand embroidery, baking, and plant-tending. Many of us are incredibly busy and lack the time (or patience) to make our own hand-embroidered decor, so I figured that an adorable, faux hand-embroidered cross stitch cushion would be the next best thing for us busy folk—and for me to indulge in some more exploration on the Luminaire.

I am once again using my mom’s embroidery card reader to get my design from an old embroidery card in her collection. It features lots of cross stitch designs, perfect for my intent.

A Brother embroidery card and a card reader; Brother Luminaire XP, Brother Embroidery Card Reader

Cute lil’ cross stitch cards

From the card, I grabbed a cross stitch corner design to play with. Old technology isn’t always such a bad thing, huh? And then I chose a cross stitch cottage (that one’s available for free on Brother’s web site, too, under the Sceneries category).

The border pattern I chose for this project was only a single corner design, so I needed to add three more to complete the frame effect. Adding more of the same design can be kinda slow—if you go through the menus—but did you know that there’s a handy-dandy Duplicate button in the Edit menu? I just tapped that (three times) and in a blink I had all four designs on screen to play with.

Three computer screens that show the duplication tool on the Brother Luminaire XP

Duplicating additional border designs

First, use the Rotate by 90° Tool to spin the designs as needed to orient each of the four corners correctly for a frame, as shown in the last pic in the above sequence (You’ll notice that I already did that and I also dragged them roughly into place).

Now to line ‘em all up. Here is where we get to explore another handy tool that makes lining up your designs a breeze – the Alignment Tool! When you have designs, such as my rose border, which require some arranging to set up, using the alignment tool to place things on the same plane makes precisely arranging your designs automatic and saves you a heck of a lot of guesswork! Here’s how.

  • Touch the Multiple Select Tool, select the two bottom designs, touch OK, Align Tool, Align Bottoms, and then OK.
  • Now click an empty spot on the screen to ‘let go’ of one design and use the Move Arrows (gotta be the arrows to prevent shifting out of alignment!) to edge the selected design over to perfectly meet its mate, then select OK.

TIP I set the onscreen magnifier to 400% to do this – isn’t it great to be able to work up-close.

  • I went and re-selected the pair and then grouped them to lock them together.

I then repeated this sequence for the top pair, using Align Tops instead, of course. And then, I did that once more to Align Centers of the grouped pairs and arrowed the pairs to meet in the middle. Perfect! Sounds complicated, but it’s not really, it’s more repetitive and you know what they say about repetition, right? Oh, one more thing, in Multiple Select, I selected everything and then Grouped it. Then I used the bullseye in the middle of the Move Arrows to center the whole shootin’ match in the hoop area. I’m likin’ these tools! And, I mentioned this waaay back, but the icons on screen just make sense, even for a beginner!

Three computer screens that show how to use the alignment tool to perfectly arrange designs on the Brother Luminaire XP

Selecting and aligning the designs in stages

Once you have your border all set up, then you can add whatever you want to the inside! Or even leave it blank. Here’s where I used Add to bring in that little cottage design. Perfect for my cottagecore theme, hey?

Now that the whole design is set up and ready to go, it was time to get to work. All went well, the machine embroidering away, until disaster struck! My dark bobbin thread started to show through onto my designs and obliterated the pink of the flowers!

Once I saw this, I had to stop the machine and undo all that color. It turns out that my top thread was caught on something, and it pulled too hard on the bobbin thread which upset the tension balance. A flash of insight. Now I understand the frustration when someone says, ‘my tension is off’. But, I was assured, often re-threading completely resolves the issue. And, of course, it did.

While my progress was hindered a bit, it was a quick recovery and I continued without any issues this time and finished the flower border (after about a bazillion color changes). Thus, I began on the cottage, and it was going pretty smoothly. I obviously have to pay more attention while threading, because, close to the end of the stitchout when I was embroidering one of the bushes close to the front, the same disaster struck! (Every setback at my age is a disaster, LOL.) The bobbin thread started to show through again.

 A cross stitch house and garden with some bobbin thread coming through

Argh! My bobbin thread rose to the top (no pun intended)

This time my mother decided to tell me the story of the humility block.

Unquestionably, some of you have heard of the humility block, and may know what I am about to tell you. For those of you who may not know what it is, a humility block is a purposeful mistake made by quilters. These quilters say that perfection is for God and God alone. However, the humility block has since been proved a myth. Some people are even of the mindset that intentionally adding imperfections would be prideful. Therefore, for my project, I left the small imperfect patch as a nod to this fun rumor, and a reminder to myself to thread more carefully in the future!

After completing the embroidery, I finished sewing up my cushion. Making a cushion like this is super easy! For a 12” pillow form, I embroidered smack dab in the middle of a 12” x 30” strip of fabric. I overcast both short ends and hemmed the bottom only; I didn’t need the bulk on the inside flap. You’ll see what I mean in a few minutes.

I measured out (and marked) a 12” square with the design perfectly centered in it, and then folded the fabric of the hemmed end (the top) down along the marked line and over the design, right sides together and pinned it in place along the edges.

Brown fabric folded down over a design embroidered on the Brother Luminaire XP

The first fold of this easy pillow construction

I then folded the top part over that and pinned it in place, too. Then I simply serged the side edges.

Brown pillow panel folded and serged

Serging makes the pillow construction quick, easy, and clean finished

Turn the cushion cover right side-out and stuff it (I mean that literally, LOL!). Insert your pillow form and plump it into presentability, and there you have it! A super-simple, super-adorable decorative cushion to brighten up your space.

A cross stitch embroidered pillow with a flower border and a cottage in the middle stitched on the Brother Luminaire XP

My little cushion looks at home on my Grammy’s couch

But they’re kinda like potato chips – betcha can’t stop with just one! You can make them for every season, reason, or occasion. And… it’s so easy to customize designs to suit your sewing whims when you have the toys and tools of the Luminaire to play with!

Not really being a sewist, I really appreciated the simplicity of the assembly of this one! But the real showstopper was how the Luminaire’s on-screen tools made it so easy to set the design up just the way I wanted… and how it cross stitched it for me at lightning speed! If I were doing this by hand, I’d be retired before it was done! Now, if you like the simplicity of this project, I have some more little stash-buster projects for you to complete while exploring some more features of the Brother Luminaire XP. Be sure to join me again tomorrow!

This is part 1 of 5 in this series

Go to part 2: Embroidering preserve jar covers with the Brother Luminaire XP


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