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Mini-cushion with free-motion machine embroidery

Added Sep 22, 2007

by emilykate

Melbourne, Austr...




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I love making cushions, cos they’re so easy! I made the piping for this myself and did the embroidered bird using the machine free-motion technique.* If you haven’t tried this technique you really should, it’s a cool way of doing sketchy pictures in thread and it’s really very quick. If the feed dogs on your machine drop, or you have a feed-dog cover plate, you can do it. You just put the fabric you’re going to embroider on in an embroidery-hoop, but it’s opposite to hand embroidering in that you have the fabric on the bottom hoop so you will be able to fit it under the presser-foot and it will sit flush to the bed of the machine. Then with feed dogs dropped/cover plate on and a straight stitch you start to sew and move the embroidery hoop with your hands to make lines. You move it slower and sorta back-and-forth to build up thicker amounts of thread. It feels weird at first but you get the hang of it very quickly. Use your darning foot if your machine came with one, or you can also buy “spring” needles that make the movement feel a bit more controllable. If your machine has a vibrate setting on the needle bar that will help too. The red loopy-arrow was done by hand just with red yarn.

*I think it’s a hummingbird, I’m no ornithologist but I think I remember reading they have a strange wing motion going on that would seem to be indicated by the loopy arrow!

Material Notes

cotton canvas.





The “Work Issue” of ReadyMade magazine is where I got the picture of the bird.

10 Comments Sign in to add a post

  • 98b4ed50248d21ff92e3129ccd135707a13bf28f_large

    Aug 9, 2008, 12.49 AMby josefinax

    do you have any other cushions you’ve done that you can post?

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    May 20, 2008, 04.52 AMby littleladyluxe

    Beautiful! I’m obsessed with anything bird related at the moment and this caught my eye. Love love love it!

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    Sep 26, 2007, 11.51 PMby disfordelicate

    That’s definitely a hummingbird, one of my favorite animals of all time. I really like this a lot.

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    Sep 26, 2007, 03.57 AMby pen-purl

    This is very cool! Might have to give the technique a try.

  • Emilykate_large

    Sep 25, 2007, 06.57 PMby emilykate

    Thanks Mirela! My advice is to get the darning foot; the spring needles work well but they are easy to break especially when you are just starting out with the technique, and they’re a bit expensive, plus they wear out and a darning foot won’t. You gotta post pics when you finish yours!

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    Sep 25, 2007, 12.20 PMby mirela

    I have been thinking for quite some time to get a darning foot for my Brother, never heard of spring needles, I’ll have to ask at JoAnns maybe I’ll find some. Love this project and I’m already seeing some new pillows for a new day bed I need to buy. Thanks so much for the detailed description on how to do this.

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    Sep 24, 2007, 02.49 PMby pinkhibiscus

    :D I think it’s a cool concept anyway esp on a pillow!

  • Emilykate_large

    Sep 22, 2007, 06.48 PMby emilykate

    Pffft! Pinkhibiscus, the fact that it’s an infinity symbol went right over my head, but you must be right! I thought it was kinda showing that the wings went forwards and backwards in a figure-8- I’m afraid the infinity angle is too profound a concept for me to have come up with on my own :o)

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    Sep 22, 2007, 03.33 PMby pinkhibiscus

    I love it. Looks great. So, the infinity on the bird means the wings flap like a million times a second? Interesting!

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    Sep 22, 2007, 08.32 AMby marmota-b

    Sure it’s a hummingbird! We have a book about birds for children, where this is nicely illustrated… I really like the piping at it!

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