Patchwork & Quilting Basics: How to Sew a Unique Cushion Cover | Brigitte Heitland | Skillshare

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Patchwork & Quilting Basics: How to Sew a Unique Cushion Cover

teacher avatar Brigitte Heitland, Surface Pattern and Quilt Designer

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Your Class Project


    • 3.

      Class Materials and Downloads


    • 4.

      Choosing and Combining Fabrics


    • 5.

      Cutting the Fabrics


    • 6.

      The Perfect Patchwork Seam


    • 7.

      Sewing: Block 1 and 2


    • 8.

      Cutting for Foundation Paper Piecing


    • 9.

      Sewing FPP: Block 3 and 4


    • 10.

      Sewing the Front of the Pillow


    • 11.

      Bonus: Quilting the Front


    • 12.

      Backing: Sewing an Envelope Closure


    • 13.



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About This Class

Are you ready for a new hobby? Do you love the idea of learning how to sew a quilt, but don't know where to start? Or are you already an experienced garment sewer and are looking for a new challenge?

If so, then this class is made for you!

In this course, you'll learn the basics of patchwork and sew your own unique cushion cover. Modern patchwork is an increasingly popular form of sewing. The aim is to sew small parts together into so-called blocks that can turn into pillow covers, quilts, wall hangers, bags, table runners, anything you can imagine!

Throughout the class, we'll cover how to:

  • choose the right fabrics,
  • cut for patchwork,
  • achieve the perfect patchwork seam,
  • do simple and foundation paper piecing,
  • assemble patchwork blocks,
  • and sew it all together with a beautiful border, and a simple envelope closure. 

The course is for beginners who would like to learn the basics of patchwork and quilts or for anyone who is looking for a new hobby, a fun activity to try out on a weekend, or a lazy afternoon. Basic experience with a sewing machine and straight seams is required. It's also great for those who have some experience sewing garments and want to explore a new area of sewing. This class covers the most common techniques in making quilts, and will show you how easy it is to expand your skills into more projects like blankets, table runners, and wall art!

I love quilting because it opens endless possibilities for sewing with awesome fabrics and different techniques. Patchwork can be both very simple and very complex, but it’s also super easy to learn and so versatile. My lifetime really would not be enough to explore every detail of this hobby – so I'm very excited to share my knowledge and experience with you!

Don't miss the chance to learn sewing from a professional designer with a sewing experience of over 20 years. Transform an ordinary cushion into something unique and have your first patchwork project made in no time! See you in class! 

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Brigitte Heitland

Surface Pattern and Quilt Designer


Hello and Welcome!

My name is Brigitte, I am a surface and also a quilt pattern designer living in a small town in Germany.
I studied textile design at the Academy of Arts and am now working as a designer for the leading company for quilt fabrics in Texas.

Besides design, I love photography, traveling, dancing, and baking delicious bread. Oh, and not to forget: I love learning. I'm very curious about all new things related to my interests.

Check out my class, I really like to share my tricks of the trade.

And to see what I'm working on right now, follow me on Instagram and Youtube.


P.S. Let's be friends! Sign up for updates to be the first to know about everything new, exciting, and educational. 

&nbs... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Do you want to start the best hobby ever, something to create very personal things, maybe a few beloved worn-out clothes? Then patchwork is just the right thing for you. Hello everyone. I am Brigitte. A quilter and fabric designer from a little town in Germany with a lifetime of sewing experience, you could say, because my granny taught me when I was six years old. I have worked for avert leading company in quilting fabrics, Moda, and I'm an educator and the author of two books about modern quilts. Modern patchwork is an increasingly popular form of sowing. The aim is to solve small parts together into so-called blocks that can turn into pillow covers, quilts, volleying as bags, tape around, anything you can imagine. In this class, we're going to learn the perfect data project, how to sew a pillowcase with an envelope closure. You'll learn the basic skill of patchwork, including how to work with patterns, including a cutting plane, pick and combined fabrics, cut, pin, and sew pieces together for your patchwork, assemble the front, and finalize your pillow with an envelope closure. This project is perfect for anyone new to patchwork sewing or foundation paper piecing, or for anyone who wants to try out a fun new activity on a summer day. If you already know how to sew garments, but would like to expand into home deck, this class will give you a good foundation in creating quilts, pillows, and so much more so you can add that personal touch to any room in your home. I love quilting because it opens endless possibilities for sowing awesome fabrics and different techniques. I'm very excited to share my knowledge and experience with you. Let's get quilting. 2. Your Class Project: The Skillshare class is perfect for anyone who wants to learn how to sew patchwork. I've been sewing for a long time and I love it. The best part is that you can learn all the techniques you need for patchwork in a small scale and without investing a lot of time or money. For example with a pillow and that's why I chose this project for our class here. Anyone who knows how to use a sewing machine and has already sewed on a straight sim can get started right away. I show how to make a patchwork pillow with an envelope closure. This method doesn't require a sip and I like it because it's easy at fast. The first step is to choose the fabrics, then the pieces of fabric are cut to the right size according to the cutting plans. Next, I'll show you the correct sim settings and we'll then start with so-called simple piecing. Then it goes one step further and I'll show you foundation paper piecing, a paper sewing technique that produces very accurate results. We sew all our patchwork blocks together to form the front part of the pillow. Finally, we sew the back. There's an envelope closure, which means we don't need a zipper or buttons. For this class, you will need a sewing machine, cotton fabrics, sewing thread, ideally a rotary cutter, an inch ruler, and a cutting mat. I definitely recommend buying the latter three tools if you want to sew more patchwork, they make life so much easier. You will see it's so much fun sewing patchwork that the clothes just soak among ourselves. We are addicted to it we are hooked and we need new fabric all the time. To share your project, scroll down below the Class View and go to the Project and Resources tab. Click on the "Class Project" button. Name your project and upload as many images as you would like by clicking the image icon here when it says add more content. Don't forget to upload a cover image because sets what will appear in the gallery view. 3. Class Materials and Downloads: [MUSIC] Hey. Now, let's get started with the sewing. But first, we need our sewing instructions. You will find those in the resources area. Here is the download button. When you download your instructions, you will get the cutting plan for all the background fabrics. You will have the block layout diagrams, and also you will get the foundation paper piecing templates. I made these sewing instructions for you on US letter size. But, please make sure when you print out your sewing instructions, that your printing options are either on 100 percent or actual size so we get all that under perfect scale. Also, I have included a little proof for you of one-inch square where you can put on your inch ruler and see if everything printed out correctly. [MUSIC] When you have your sewing instructions, you want to start choosing fabrics, and for that, we will see each other in the next video. [MUSIC] 4. Choosing and Combining Fabrics: Now, when you have downloaded your song instruction, it's time to talk about fabric. Patchwork was originalism thing when you have used up the worn-out closes, and stitched them together to something new like a blank torso. Now, you might think, well, then I can bring every fabric together, which is true. But then on the other hand, imagine a rough linen and a fine taste in your pillow or velvet and leather. I don't think that would really look professional. Nowadays, we have a complete industry around patchwork, and this industry brings us beautiful quilting cotton to pick from. This is what we aim for. When we put so much time into our project, then we want to go for the highest quality fabrics. Quilting cotton have a durable quality. You can use them often in your washing machine by about 60 degrees. They're light resistant and they're just durable, and they have all the same thickness. These make for perfect look. Also, we want to consider which colors should our fabrics have? If you already know by now that your pillow will lead to lay on your blue couch, for example, then you can go and buy fabric matching a blue color scheme. Or you can go for certain topic in your fabric choices. Maybe you say, I want all of my fabrics having a geometric print or large flora prints, for example. you can also go with only solids. Solids make for a pure minimalist's look, and this is always a success. Or if you are already a soloist, you can go to your script box and pick some cottons there. If you want to make a really personal gift for someone, you could go and find their worn out to be left garments, maybe something from cotton, and use that for the fabric in your pillow. When we have decided which fabric we want to have, we can then go and talk about cutting. 5. Cutting the Fabrics: [MUSIC] Now when you have picked all your fabrics, you can finally start cutting. You've already downloaded your cutting charts and now let's go to the sewing table and let me show you how to do that. The cutting plans for the background in the blocks are included in the download. In the cutting plan, you see by colors which part belongs to which block. For example, block 1 has a pink heading and all pink parts in the cutting plan belong to it. Block 2 is blue and takes all blue parts. Block 3 is orange, and block 4 is gray. When you cut the pieces from your fabric, you always start with the largest pieces for our pillow this are pecking pieces A and B. [MUSIC] Then we cut the border strips, C and D. From the remaining fabric, we can then cut all the rectangles, squares and triangles we need in the blocks. You can find the measurements for these pieces, all in your sawing instructions, or in the block layout diagrams. For the two back pieces cut two rectangles with the following measurements. For the two longer and the two shorter border strips, you will need the following measurements. For the background fabrics in block three, follow the orange part and cut the following measurements. By the way, once you start cutting pieces for the blocks, it's a good idea to keep all pieces for one block together and my little clothes pins come in handy for that. For the background fabrics in block four, you will need the gray square that has these measurements. [MUSIC] Next, you'll cut the pink pieces, those are for block one and you'll look at your block layout chart for that. You will see a graphic of the finished block and a diagram with letters. The letters indicate what size the shape should be and how many of these shapes you have to cut per color. For block one, you see that you'd need two pieces, A, which are the large light squares measuring 4.5 by 4.5 inch. Then for B, you need two smaller light squares and two smaller dark squares, each 2.5 by 2.5 inch, and so on. You cut your light fabrics and also your dark fabrics accordingly. We ignore the dark fabrics for blocks three and four here, we will cut those in video eight. [MUSIC] We're done cutting, and this is the largest part of our project already so now we can start sewing but before we go to the sewing machine let me show you one important trick, how the setup for the perfect patchwork seam and I show you that in the next video. [MUSIC] 6. The Perfect Patchwork Seam: Now, when they have cut off fabrics, we can finally start sewing. But other than with garment sewing, in patchwork, you have to be very accurately and to be exact to the millimeter. The standard seam here is a quarter inch seam. I will show you on our sewing table how to install your machine to achieve perfect results every time? Well, I already mentioned that we have to have a very accurate quarter inch seam in patchwork, and you might already have a patchwork for your machine like that when your needle is exactly a quarter inch from your fabric edge apart. But if you don't own such a foot, I will show you how you can be to solve a helper. This is in your downloads, in the cutting edge is stands for fabric edge. We want to trim this part of our template off, which I already did, and it brings this particle with the machine, so I show you how I set up mine. I have the paper under my foot, and I brought the needle in a way that the needle is exactly a hair right next to the stitching line. You might wonder, why did you bring the needle exactly into the stitching line? Just because the fabric has its own thickness. Later when you hold your seam open, then the thickness needs a little bit of room, and we take it into account by putting our needle next to the line. Now, we can take a little bit of a thicker material like a cardboard, also place it on the edge of our template. This tape, we glue it down, and the tape allows us also to fold up this cardboard when you want to change the bobbin. Now, we have our template in place and you want to make a test strip now. For our test strip, you want to have dark middle strip, and too late side strip. The middle strip should be cut exactly one-and-a-half inch, and one inch is the finished size. A quarter inch on the left and a quarter inch on the right is for seams, and we start making this little test strip. I already have prepared mine here. This is how you test the strip [inaudible]. You just leave both fabrics onto each other. Oh, we have a help on board. Do you like cats? Mine loves to play with my fabrics old days. Whenever she sees me sewing with a new piece of fabric, she has to make her own print on my piece and leave her hairs on. This is how you see along. Let's see how this test strip turns out. Oh, hi, it's exactly what I wanted. If you have a little bit of a wider or tighter like strip in the middle, you can still adjust your card button and machine by bringing it a little bit more to the left or to the right, and then do a second test until you are happy with the results and then you are set up for our next video. Did you saw your test strip. Did you make any adjustments needed? Your patchwork seam is perfectly set up. Then we can start sewing Block 1 and 2 in the next video. 7. Sewing: Block 1 and 2: You have downloaded your sewing instruction, you have cut your fabrics, you have setup your machine for the perfect seam. Now let's start with sewing Block 1 and 2 here at my sewing table. We start with Block 2, lay out all pieces according to your layout diagram. Now we will join these pieces to single rows by using the perfect quarter inch seam allowance. Press seams while the seam allowance goes in one direction, no matter which one. Once you have pieced all the single rows, you will now join rows to get your square block. Block 2 is done and should measure eight-and-a-half by eight-and-a-half inches. In the same manner, we will now saw Block 1, but this time we go one step further. When you lay out all pieces according to the layout diagram, you will recognize that we no longer have single rows. To get to our shapes from the accentuating fabric, we have to solve first two sub units. You will first join the two little squares and then add the longer rectangle to this unit to get the square with this L shape. Now we have two sub units and two squares. You lay them out according to your block layout diagram and again, start with sewing rows together. Now press the seam allowances of Row 1 and 2 in opposite directions. This allows you to nest seams when you now join your rows. It will help you to achieve perfect matching points. Block 1 and 2 are done. This was a piece of cake, wasn't it? Now you're ready to learn something more difficult. We're going to patch the foundation paper piecing method in the next video. 8. Cutting for Foundation Paper Piecing: [MUSIC] With Block 1 and 2 we have learned the simple piecing technique, and it was really simple, wasn't it? Piece of cake. But now we are prepared to go one step further. We saw Blocks 3 and 4. This is the so-called foundation paper piecing technique, which is more in intermediate level. Usually, we have three teams or a 45-degree angle. But now imagine if you want to, so let's say a 67-degree angle. It's tricky to cut all these pieces exactly and gets them together. There's a technique which allows, no matter which angle you want to be perfect, and this technique is called foundation paper piecing technique. This technique has its own rules, for example, here is a similar one a little bit larger. In this video, we cut all the pieces needed for Block 3 and 4. We need some paper, we need to allow for a slightly more generous seam allowance for our pieces. When you bring the pieces together in the next video, it will quickly become clear why. For now, let's just stick to the rule of adding a half-inch seam allowance on all sides when cutting foundation paper piecing patches. We've already cut the background fabrics for Blocks 3 and 4. Now the next step is to cut out unnecessary pieces from the accentuating fabric. For Block 3, you need a large triangle and two rectangles with these measurements. For Block 4, three rectangles with these measurements. To stay well organized, you can now pin these pieces together, is the corresponding background patches of each block. [MUSIC] We have now prepared all the pieces we need for our Blocks 3 and 4. In the next video, we then can start putting these together. 9. Sewing FPP: Block 3 and 4: [MUSIC] All the pieces for Blocks 3 and 4 are now prepared so that we can start sewing on paper. When we sew on paper, we want to adjust the settings of our sewing machine a little bit. Why and how? I'll show you in my machine. Come on with me over there. [NOISE] For sewing on paper, we now change the stitch length on the sewing machine to 1.0 or 1.5 so that the seam will be perforated and the paper is easier to rip off later. We'll start with our template for Block 3. If you look at the template, you'll see a numbering of the individual pieces. This is the order in which we will sew the pieces together. I like to first slightly scratch all the lines with the point of a pin so that it will be very easy to fold over at that point later. You'll see why that makes sense in a minute. We fold the paper template on this line and turn the paper over so that we have the unprotected side in front of us on our paper pattern that would be this theme. Now place the fabric pieces for Sections 1 and 2 on top of each other, right sides together so that the edges are matching. The fold indicates the line that will be sown on. Now, all we have to do is place the edge of our two fabrics on this line and move it about a quarter inch beyond so that we get a seam allowance. We pinned the fabrics to the paper, turn the paper so that the printed lines are big on top and divisible. Now sew exactly along the printed line. Our seam goes a few stitches beyond the printed line at the beginning and end. [MUSIC] Next, we turn the block over again so that we are on the side with the fabrics, and we press. Now we go on with piece number 3. First, we turn all over again to the printed side and fold the paper back at our next seam line. The piece of fabric underneath has plenty of seam allowance after all, and we now trim that back to exactly in quarter inch. Why would we do that? Well, for one thing, this exact edge gives us a guideline, so it shows us exactly where to place the next piece and it makes our block look much neater and tidier right away. If we now turn the block back to the fabric side, we can place our piece number 3 exactly. First, we lay down as it should look when sewn on, then flip it over to the wrong side of the fabric so that both edges are exactly matching, and pin it in place. Always pin perpendicular to the seam so you can easily sew over it. Then we sew again from the side where you can see the printed lines. The following steps always follow the same principle. Fold the paper back on the printed side at the seam line and trim the seam allowance to a quarter inch. On the fabric side, place the next piece right sides on top of the other so that edges are matching. [MUSIC] Stitch on the printed side. [NOISE] Then press the attached piece. [MUSIC] For the large triangles, it's a good idea to mark the center line to be sure that the tip of the fabric triangle will lead to fill the corner of the block. Repeat the steps. You now sew together all the pieces for the block one after the other. When you're done, you only need to trim the edges. The dashed outer edges are the cutting lines and if they are, in some way, are missing on your print, you simply add a quarter inch to the actual block outer edge as a seam allowance. Your block should be 8.5 by 8.5. Now you can rip off the paper and your block is done. Sew block number 4 in the same manner. Block 4 is made of two segments. The paper template is just cut into two parts accordingly. The paperpiecing are then sewn as in the previous block for both segments and now they are to be put together so that the crossbar has no offset. For this, I drew small marks on the paperpiecing. Both segments are pinned together right sides with wonder clips and I make sure the marks line up. [NOISE] The block is finished, and the ruler shows me that the line of the crossbars has no offset. Perfect. [MUSIC] All the four blocks are now ready and we can assemble our pillow top. How to do that? I will show you in the next video. 10. Sewing the Front of the Pillow: [MUSIC] We have pieced single elements, and we have cut our border strips. In this video, I will show you how to put that all together to make our pillow front. Lay out all the blocks and border strips and they will be sown together later in the pillow. Your block should all be the same size. Sew the two blocks off the first row together, pressing the seam allowance in one direction. Then sow second row blocks together, now pressing the seam allowance in the opposite direction of Row 1. [NOISE] Next you can join the both rows to form the centerpiece while seams are nesting. [MUSIC] Press your joining seams all in one direction, either clockwise or the other way around. That way, you can press the center nice and flat later. Now that you've sown the centerpiece together, you will add a border. Pin the two shorter border strips to the centerpiece on the right and left and sow them in place. [NOISE] In this same way, sow the two longer border strips to the top [NOISE] and bottom. [MUSIC] The most important part, your pillow front is done. I'll show you how to add a special effect with clothing in the next video. [MUSIC] 11. Bonus: Quilting the Front: Quilting or simple stitch lines can even enhance your pillow front. I'll show you what I mean by that. This is a zigzag piece pillow, and I enhance it with zigzag parallel lines. While in this modern one, I want to have a humble quilting. I just have a free-motion grit. Here I wanted the color shapes pop. I used an echo quilting. In this video, I will show you for our project how we can enhance these shapes. I want to build a quilt sandwich and then use the domestic machine to close it with some simple lines. You might wonder, what is a quilt sandwich at all? Well, it is a layer of pecking or lining, it's in a layer of batting and then pieced top. Obviously a kind of sandwich. You're aligning and batting have to be a bit larger on your top. At plus three inch all around when cutting. Lay out all your three layers while making sure they moved out in free of any wrinkles. Before you can now start stitching through the sandwich you have to make sure it stays in place. You have to somehow fix it. You can do this either by pinning it together with safety pins or to use a spray glue. Safety pins don't leave a sticky residue on your fabric, which is a plus. The downside is that cell get in your way while you're sewing. I'm going to use a spray glue for my pillow, which isn't that large of a sandwich. When these three layers are fixed, you can start quilting. The stitch length can be set to three millimeter so that the stitches are clearly visible. You send it through all the three layers with your machine to create your pattern. Straight lines work best when quilting says pillow, such as a simple cross-hatch pattern. You can draw the pattern with the friction pen and then iron it out again after quilting. Another motive could be eco quilting where the dark fabrics of my pillow are highlighted by outlining some with a parallel line. I can use the width of my sewing foot as a guide for the spacing of the stitching lines. If you want to make your pillow stand out, try giving it some dimension with squilting. Maybe this video inspired you to try your hand on your own quilting and if not it doesn't matter you can use your pillow front as it is. In each case, I will show you in the next video how to do the backside with the envelope closure. 12. Backing: Sewing an Envelope Closure: [MUSIC] Now we're nearly done. We just need the backside of our pillow. We don't need any zipper or button here. We just go with a simple any loop closure and in this video, I show you how. The two pieces for the back are already cut. Saw a hem to both pieces by folding the fabric involved twice, half inch at a time and then top stitch the edges. Lay out the pillow fronts right-side up and then lay the larger big piece, wrong side facing you on top. Though set the hem is towards the center and the raw edges line up with the front piece. Then place the smaller back piece on top in the same way. The two back pieces will overlap by a couple of inches. So with a quarter inch seam allowance all the way around. If you like, you can search the seam so it doesn't fray when you wash it. Turn the pillow around, press it and you're done. [MUSIC] Our pillows are done and I will bring mine to my couch where I have already a collection of interesting patchwork pillows. What will you do with yours? I would love to see your result on social media. In each case, don't miss to show it in our project gallery. So you can be proud of yourself. [MUSIC] 13. Conclusion: [MUSIC] Metric is the best hobby in the world. It offers many possibilities and allows a lot of creativity. In addition, it is relatively easy to learn and this class will for sure get you started. Who doesn't love to have some handmade pillows? A whole series of cartoons and simply redecorate your living room from time to time. Once you've got the hang of things, you want to try something bigger, maybe your first quilt. The process is basically the same. It'll be easier than you think. The four blocks of our project are all for my new book, modern building blocks. There you will find 36 more blocks with detailed sewing instructions. Besides, you will get six inspiring projects, such as baby quilts, table runners, or quilts for your couch. You can sew along and make your own version. I'm so glad you joined me for this class. Don't miss to share your finished pillow in the project gallery and on social media. You can be proud of yourself. Show us what you have made [MUSIC] [LAUGHTER]