Upcycled jeans and floral print patchwork

I love the combination of aged denim with floral print cotton. The prints from The Kaffe Fassett Collective are absolutely gorgeous and I enjoyed selecting nine, predominantly pink and red pieces, for this cushion design.

I wouldn’t usually recommend combining different weights of fabric into the same patchwork project but sometimes it’s fun to break the rules. Backing each piece of printed cotton with a piece of calico adds a little more weight to the square.

I’ve used jeans given to me by a loved one, the weight is really nice, it’s lighter than denim used for, say, Levi 501s. If you haven’t any old jeans suitable to cut into strips, then your local charity shop is sure to have some of the right weight. The technique I used to make the gorgeous printed cotton squares a little heavier, was to machine stitch each one onto a 12cm square of calico. I really like the fact that, having done this, there’s still a slight difference between the weight of the denim and the cotton print, I think it adds to the charm.

The finished cushion size is approximately 46cm square.

I numbered each piece and here’s a list of the cut size of each one.

Pieces 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9: 12cm x 12cm

Pieces 10,11,12,13,14,15: 5cm x 12cm

Pieces 16,17,18,19: 5cm x 41.2cm

Pieces 20 and 21: 5cm x 48.8cm

Envelope back: 2 pieces: 38cm x 48.8cm each

Patchwork cutting guide

If you’d like to see me demonstrate a similar cushion cover on Sewing Quarter, here’s the link…

My demonstration on Sewing Quarter

The denim and pink cushion cover was sewn right sides together with the two pieces that form an envelope back, therefore not needing to be bound around the edge, as I did with the one I demonstrated on Sewing Quarter.

It’s also worth noting that fabric often lays in a way that tells you which way it wants to be pressed and this is definitely the case with the denim. I’ve included a photo of the back of the patchwork to show you which way I pressed the pieces.

Pieces laid out
All the pieces, in position, on a flat surface.
  • Using the cutting guide above, cut all the pieces. Mark on the back of the denim pieces which number they are. This will make construction much easier and save any guessing when you’re sewing.
  • If you’re using a fabric combination similar to mine then this is the stage to baste each floral printed lightweight cotton to another square of calico weight cotton of the same size.
  • Lay all the cut pieces, on flat surface. I recommend moving the printed squares around until you’re happy with the layout.
  • Take a picture, for your reference. This is very handy to refer back to in case the pieces become mixed up.
  • With right sides together, pin three squares to two small rectangles to create three separate rows. On the back, mark these with A, B and C and an arrow to show the direction. I find this helps as what can sometimes seem crystal clear at the cutting table is less clear at the sewing machine, especially if there are interruptions.
  • Sew the pinned pieces together, taking a 6mm seam allowance.
  • Press.
Rows laid out
Each row, sewn and pressed.
  • With a 6mm seam, sew each row to pieces 16, 17, 18 and 19. It’s useful to mark the centre and put several pins in place so that the pieces are in alignment (see my demonstration for my thoughts on precision and the similar cushion cover I made, live). Machine sewing rows of patchwork
  • Tacking them all in place by hand is also an option, before machine sewing.
  • Press.
  • Sew pieces 20 and 21 to the edges, matching centres and pinning or tacking in place beforehand, if you need to.
  • Press.
Back of patchwork
The wrong side of the cushion front.  I overlocked all around the edge to neaten it and reduce fraying. I think this makes the cushion cover not only more tidy but longer lasting too. 6mm seam allowances were sewn throughout, with the exception of the seam sewn all around the outer edge when attaching the envelope back pieces to the front. Here I stitched 8mm from the edge.
  • To create the envelope back, I cut two pieces, each measuring 48.8 cm x 38 cm. I overlocked the edge and folded back a 3cm hem. The reason for overlocking was to reduce the number of layers of denim when you come to sew the front to the envelope back. Some domestic sewing machines would struggle to sew over several layers of denim.
  • Fold and press 3cm to the wrong side of the long edge which measures 48.8cm. Sew the hem in place on both pieces.
  • Sew any decorative stitches at this stage while the back pieces are separate from the cushion front.
  • With right sides together place the back pieces on the front piece, matching the outer corners and with an overlap in the middle. Pin in place.
  • Sew all around the edge, pivoting at the corners.
  • Bag out, pinching and folding the corners as you turn right sides out.
Hemming of envelope back
Machine stitching the hem of the enveloe back.
Back cushion cover
Using one of the machine embroidery stitches on my sewing machine, I added a row of decorative stitching with pink thread. If you use this technique, remember to have this side of the envelope back visible when you fold them over each other and sew them right sides together onto the front cushion cover. It’s really easy to forget this!
Machine embroidery
Close up of machine embroidery stitch.

I thoroughly enjoyed making this, and all the other ones I’ve made using these beautiful prints.

Any questions? Fancy sharing a picture of one you’ve made? Drop me a line via either social media or my contact page.

Happy sewing!

Jennifer x