PROJECT: Anna Joyce Cushion Project

Wednesday 3rd October 2012, 15.13


We meet Anna Joyce who is an artist, designer and mother from Portland Oregon. Anna specialises in beautiful designed home wares which are often made from hand printed designs. Appliqué apparel and items for children are also part of Anna’s varied collection. High quality craftsmanship and locally sourced produce is an important part of her work. Anna shows us how to make a Lifestyle inspired appliqué cushion which will brighten up any sofa!

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

My name is Anna Joyce and I live and work in Portland, OR. My husband Victor is a painter and professor and we have two lovely daughter’s ages three and six – it is a very busy and lively household! I grew up surrounded by artists and teachers. My mother is a printmaker and my father was a photographer and sculptor. I have been making art for as long as I can remember and have always had a passion for making things by hand. I have a degree in printmaking from the California College of Art, and have always felt drawn to working with textiles.

In 2009 I started my own business making one of a kind appliqué housewares, apparel and accessories. In the years since, my business has grown to include a collection of hand printed textiles for the home and teaching has become a large part of the work I do. Here in Portland you can find me teaching at Modern Domestic and recently I hosted a machine appliqué workshop in New York City at Purl Soho.

When making your own products, how important is it to you to source locally?

I choose to source my products locally whenever I can. Portland has a thriving and very talented design community and having a personal connection with other small business owners is a part of my job that I most enjoy. We work together to make each other more successful when we source our work locally.

Hand printing plays a large part in your work, are there any other techniques you will be trying in the future?

I love the look and feel of hand printing and think that it will always play a large part in my work. In the future I would love to have my fabric made available as yardage for apparel, home décor and crafting. I am also very interested in designs to be printed on paper. Wallpaper, stationery and gift wrap are all products I hope to add to my line.

What is it about sewing that you enjoy the most and where do you find your inspiration from?

What I most enjoy about sewing is the fabric! I love hunting for vintage fabrics to use in my work and mixing patterns in unexpected ways.  I gather most of my inspiration from vintage textile and wallpaper patterns, Scandinavian folk art, Japanese craft books, and odds and ends that I find in thrift stores. I am most drawn to designs from the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s and love finding new sources to work from.

Who taught you how to sew and what was your first project which you made?

I was given a sewing machine as a wedding gift and my mother gave me a few lessons, but I am almost totally self taught. My first project was a woollen felt pouch that had two seams and raw edges. After my first few stitches I was hooked. Sewing and textile design is the perfect combination of everything I love about making art – colour, pattern, process and product all in one. It is also important to me that the products I create serve a function, and I enjoy thinking about the life they will have when they leave my studio.

How did you decide on the project you are going to show us how to make?

I have had a love affair with Liberty fabric since I was a little girl, so working on this project has been a dream come true. Small appliquéd cushions are my absolute favourite product to make in the studio. Cushion are simple to construct, add tons of personality to a room and show off everything I adore about Liberty Lifestyle fabrics- bold colours, amazing patterns and rich history.

I hope you enjoy making this project as much as I enjoyed creating it for you!


Required Supplies

Patterns – download the printable patterns you’ll need from the links below:


Download the PILLOW FRONT

1/2 yard (50cm) iron on fusible webbing of your choice. Read the instructions for the webbing you choose carefully before starting to use it

1/2 yard (50cm) medium weight cotton or linen in a solid colour (for your cushion background)

1/2 yard (50cm) Liberty Lifestyle cotton for the contrasting back of your cushion

1/8 yard (15cm) – 1/4 yard (25cm) of each of your appliqué fabrics from the Liberty Lifestyle Collection

100% cotton thread in colours to match your appliqué fabrics, one spool for each colour of fabric you choose

One 14” x 14” (35cm x 35cm) Cushion insert

Sharp scissors

Sewing pins

A pencil

A sewing machine

An iron

*A note about choosing your fabrics: Get creative. Select the Liberty Lifestyle fabrics you are excited to use in your design. Do not be afraid to mix your colours and patterns- choose what you love!

Getting started


First begin by cutting the fabrics you are using to the construct your cushion –


Cut one 14” x 14” (35cm x 35cm) square from a solid fabric of your choice – this will be the front of you cushion.


Cut two 10” x 14” (25cm x 35cm) rectangles of Liberty Lifestyle patterned cotton – these will form the contrasting envelope closure (back) of your cushion.


Set aside the 14” x 14” (35cm x 35cm) cushion front and two 10” x 14” (25cm x 35cm) rectangles for now, and begin preparing the fabric for your appliqué.

Trace the appropriate number of pattern pieces from the templates provided in your pattern on the paper side of your fusible webbing and cut them out. One side of the webbing is a very thin web of heat sensitive glue, the other side is a paper that can be drawn on easily – it is transparent enough to see through and trace your pattern pieces with a pencil or pen.

When you have finished tracing the pattern pieces onto the fusible webbing cut out all of your shapes and use a hot steamy iron to adhere them to the WRONG SIDE (BACK) of the corresponding fabrics.

Make sure your iron is on the “cotton / linen” setting and set it so that there is plenty of steam.

**TIP: Do not peel the paper backing from the appliqué pieces until you have fused them onto your fabric. It is much easier to handle the appliqué pattern pieces when they still have the paper backing in place.

When you have ironed your shapes in place on your fabrics, carefully cut the shapes out around the perimeter of the paper, and peel off the paper backing. After you remove the paper, there will be a very thin layer of heat sensitive glue remaining on the fabric.

Next, following the guidelines on your pattern image, place your cut out pattern pieces onto your 14” x 14” (35cm x 35cm) cushion front. When you have everything where it should be, use your iron to slowly set all in place onto front of your cushion. The heat from the iron will fuse your appliqué pieces to your cushion front and eliminates the need for pins.

To prevent the edges of your appliqué pieces from fraying, sew around each individual appliqué piece with a tight zigzag stitch. Each sewing machine is different so you will have to adjust your machine’s stitch settings, varying the width and length of your zigzag stitch. Adjust you machine until you have a zigzag that is the width you like, with a short stitch length so that the stitching is nice and tight and will stop the fabric from fraying.

Centre the stitch over the outer edge of your appliqués and simply sew around the perimeter of each piece. I strongly suggest using a thread that is the same colour as the appliqué piece. It will hide flaws and make your finished cushion look much cleaner and professional.

**TIP: Since you are using all curves in this pattern, take the time to cut out an extra a circle, and practice your stitching on a scrap piece of fabric- you will be very happy that you did!

When you have finished zigzag stitching around the perimeter of all of your appliqué pieces give your finished cushion front a good press with the iron and set it aside.

Now begin work on the two 10” x 14” (25cm x 35cm) rectangles of the contrasting Liberty Lifestyle print fabric that will make up the envelope closure (BACK) of your cushion. On each of the rectangles, fold over and press a 1/2” (1.5cm) seam, and then fold over and press again, pinning into place. Run a straight stitch with your sewing machine through the centre of the fold creating a finished edge. Repeat on both pieces of fabric.

When you have sewn finished edges onto both 10” x 14” (25cm x 35cm) rectangles that make up the back of your cushion, place them RIGHT side down on top of your finished appliqué cushion FRONT. The right sides should be square and the seams of the envelope closure overlap. Pin all sides of your project together and sew around the edge of your cushion using a straight stitch and 1/2” (1.5cm) seam allowance.

When you have sewn all sides of your cushion together remove all of the pins, turn your pillow right side out and press until it is flat and crisp. You can now open the “envelope” that was formed at the back of your pillow by the overlapping rectangles and place your cushion insert inside.

Photography by Lisa Warninger, Styling by Chelsea Fuss



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