Bird of Paradise Cushion Workshop

As you may know, I blog for UKQU website – a wonderful resource for anyone interested in the world of fabric and also where my shop is hosted. They sometimes set challenges and we had one in 2020. (I was typing last year but it’s two years ago! – Where did that time go?) Way back in the first lockdown. I’d lost all my work that year between the stopping of workshops, redundancy and a ‘career break’ so I had found myself with plenty of time but a bit down. Luckily the sun was shining and sitting outside sewing was a good remedy.

2020 Free UKQU Flower block.

But what to do? I’d been playing with Hawaiian quilting and I do like a bit of hand sewing, so I decided to do a British take using leaves and flowers from my own garden as inspiration. The free pattern download for the smaller version can be found here. The full sized version ended up appearing in British Patchwork and Quilting magazine and was a good lesson for me – not really liking it until the quilting was added. The echo quilting made a huge difference and now I love it. This version was called Hawaiian Staycation as there was no way anyone was going on holiday that year!

The 2022 flower challenge was set and mine was the Bird of Paradise flower. Strelitzia Reginae, also known as a Crane Flower, native to South Africa and a stunningly, exotic choice.  Another one that reminded me of far away locations.

You may remember seeing some of the Dragon wall hangings which have also become workshops. As it happened, I was hosting one of these for Black Mountain Fabrics up in Abergavenny the weekend the challenge was set so I decided to use the same Draw, Stitch and Trim appliqué technique. This is relatively new onto the P&Q scene but one I came across some years ago. It’s very like painting by numbers, only with fabric.

For this one I found a beautiful piece of variegated batik fabric which was reminiscent of a tropical sea…. The flower itself, as we know, is bold and beautiful so again, batiks were my go to choice with the stunning orange taking centre stage.

What to make once the flower was completed was the next question. It was about the right size for a cushion and so the decision was made. A simple envelope back and it was done. (Don’t forget – use a cushion pad larger than the cover to give it a luxurious feel. My cover is 18″ square, the cushion pad 20″.) I’m really pleased with the result and am thinking it will look stunning on the garden furniture in the summer.

If you would like to make your own version of this cushion and learn the Draw, Stitch and Trim technique you can join me at the cabin for a day workshop on Saturday 9th July. Just email me at Helen@strictlyquilting.com for more details.

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