Guest blogger: Emma Jean Jansen, cushion project set

Monday 17th February 2014, 16.14



Emma Jean Jansen is this week’s guest blogger, well know throughout Australia for her fabric designs and original quilt patterns. A fabric guru when it comes to choosing colours and prints for projects, she also designs quilts and uses traditional techniques with a mix of bright contemporary prints.  Since focusing on her blog, Emma now has more time for her design work and has even managed to create a step-by-step tutorial of a set of Liberty print appliqué cushions for us. Look out for her second cushion to accompany this project later this week.

We caught up with Emma to find out more about her life as a fabric shopkeeper, quilter and being ethical with her designs.

Tell us a little about yourself?

After finishing year 12 I completed one year of visual arts at Ballarat University College, then I completed a Bachelor of Arts in Textile Design at RMIT in Melbourne. After studying I had a number of jobs, firstly as a Design Assistant at Warwick Fabrics. I then worked at Tennyson Graphics separating designs for printing. I was a CAD and hand painter in textile design at Greenwich Design Group, afterwhich I started freelancing as a textile designer for a number of years, designing fabrics for various uses, from childrenswear to ladies wear and bed linen.

I opened Ballarat Patchwork with my mother and ran that for nearly 11 years. The shop closed at the end of September 2013 and since then I have been concentrating on my design work. Creating new quilt designs from my range Terra Australis, selling my original patterns designs from my website and designing the next range of patchwork fabric.


How long has sewing been your passion and who taught you how to sew?

I have been sewing most of my life, starting as a child making toys and clothes for my Barbies. My mum taught me to sew. She started quilting in the early eighties and passed her love of fabric and quilt making onto me. I made my first patchwork cushion when I was 9 and my first quilt when I was 16. I always helped my mum choose the colours for her quilts, even when I was a young!


Since giving up your patchwork shop and concentrating on your blog, how has this changed things? Do you have more time to work on projects?

Leaving the shop has been a massive change for me. Having more time to design my fabric and write more quilt patterns has been fabulous. Before, I only had time to sew in the evenings and sometimes I would have been so busy in the shop that I didn’t have the energy. Getting to sew all day is pretty special. However, I do miss the daily contact I had with my customers. I miss getting to help them with their quilts, choosing fabrics and chatting about projects.


How do you begin to design your quilts, what processes do you go through before you begin to sew?

Once I have the fabric in my hands, the fabric speaks to me. I also design quilts that use fabric economically. I hate waste so I always try to design using all the fabric. I think that comes from owing a shop for many years and hearing customers complain about large amounts of fabric left over after making a quilt from a pattern or kit. I design by drawing – no computer programs for me – and I still use my coloured pencils. I am very lucky that I can also visualise quilts really well, this helps so much in the design process.


You tend to use traditional techniques with brightly coloured fabrics. Where do you get your inspiration from?

I have always called myself a traditional piecer, but with modern fabrics and colours. I love the look of vintage and antique quilts and then reinventing them with modern colours. I also like to draft blocks myself, they aren’t always new, but they are to me.


Being in the patchwork and quilting business for over ten years, how have you seen it change?

Over the last 10 years I noticed a big change in the fabric. When we first opened it was all soft florals and more traditional fabrics. We were one of the first shops in Australia to stock Kaffe Fassett and then Amy Butler. I love bright modern fabrics and was very excited to be able to specialise in these. My store was full of bright fresh colours like a rainbow! Blogging also started to become popular whilst I owned the shop. This allowed me to connect to other shop owners and quilters around the world.


Make a Liberty print appliqué cushion using Emma’s easy-to-follow tutorial below:

Requirements for two cushions

Five fabrics

Fabric A  – 1 x  fat eighth (10” x 20”)

Fabric B, C, D, E – 25cms (10”) across the width of the fabric

Linen Background – 2  x  17” squares

Batting – 4  x  17” squares

Fusible webbing (Steam a Seam 2 light recommended)


Thread to match chosen fabrics (for raw edge appliqué)

2  x  12” Zipper to match

2  x  16” Cushion inserts

Download the template and placement diagram for cushion one here.


Finished size 16” x 16” (40cms x 40cms)


Preparation and cutting out

Cut out the fabrics for the back of the cushion first

From fabrics two and five, cut 1 x 4¾” x 17” strip

From fabrics three and four, cut 1 x 4½” x 17” strip

Trace templates A, B & C, D & E onto Templastic and carefully cut out

Trace around each of these templates onto the paper side of fusible webbing

You will need:

Fabric one – 1 x 3½” circle Template A

Fabric two & three – 4 x 2¼” circles Template B & C

Fabric four & five – 8 x 1¾” circles Template D & E

Roughly cut out each of the traced templates.

Using your iron fuse the webbing onto the wrong side of the fabric and trim to the correct size.

From the Linen Background fabric cut 1 x 17” x 17” square

From the Batting cut 2 x 17” x 17” square


The next step is to fuse the circles in place. This can be done in one of two ways.

Both ways start by folding the background square into quarters and ironing the folds.

This then allows the Circle Placement diagram to be used either with a light box or a template on the top of your work.

When using a light box the Circle Placement diagram goes under the background square and the circles are placed directly over this. It is easy to do if you are using Steam a Seam as it will hold temporarily before ironing allowing you to easily  arrange and move your work. Work with a quarter circle at a time.

The second way is to cut out the circles of the Circle Placement diagram and place this on top of the quartered background square. Once again work with a quarter circle at a time.

Whichever method you decide to use remember there is a ½” seam allowance around the outer edge of the background square which is not included in the Circle Placement Diagram.

Once all the circles are securely fused, they need to be appliqued in place. Raw edge applique was used in making the original cushion, but hand or machine buttonhole could be used. Use a thread to match the fabrics in the circles.

Whichever method you decide to use remember there is a ½” seam allowance around the outer edge of the background square which is not included in the Circle Placement Diagram.

Once all the circles are securely fused, they need to be appliqued in place. Raw edge applique was used in making the original cushion, but hand or machine buttonhole could be used. Use a thread to match the fabrics in the circles.

With raw edge applique you will need to sew around three times to ensure the edges are secure. It is not necessary to use free motion sewing for this, it works just as well with a normal sewing foot and with the feed dogs up as the work is small enough to turn as needed.

Piecing the cushion back

The wider strips of fabric two & five (4¾”) are on the outside of the pieced back.

Sew fabric two to fabric three, and fabric three to fabric four and fabric four to fabric five. Use a ¼” seam allowance.

Finishing the cushion

Baste the cushion back onto a batting square and the cushion front onto a batting square.

Quilt as desired, by hand or machine.

Now the back and front are completed it is time to sew the cushion together. There is a ½” seam allowance around the entire cushion.  Trim any excess batting, around both the cushion top and cushion back. Neaten the edges (with a zig zag stitch or overlocker) of both the front and back pieces where the zipper will be placed.

Pin the two neaten seams together and using a ½” seam allowance sew in 2.5″ at both ends of the seam.

Press the seam open along the entire length of the seam firstly from the wrong side to ensure the ½” seam allowance and then from the right side.

With the zipper closed place it under the pressed seam and pin the zipper in place. Try to keep the zipper teeth directly under the center of the seam and the pins in the directions you will be sewing.

Attach your machine zipper foot with thread to match cushion fabric and start to sew at one end. The idea is to use the zipper foot as a guide to keep the line of stitching about ¼” away from the zipper teeth. When you reach the zipper pull, stop sewing, leave the needle down in the fabric and lift the foot. Carefully pull the zipper open for a few inches sew along a while and then reclose the zipper. Sew across the end of the zipper taking care to catch the end of the zipper fabric but not the metal end, complete the other side and end.

Once the zipper is sewn in, leave it open, and pin the back and front of the cushion together. Sew around with ½” seam allowance. Trim the fabric bulk from the corners and pull the cushion to the right side. Place cushion insert inside cushion and admire your work.


You can share your Liberty print projects with us on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest by using #SewLiberty.


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