Hawaiian Cushion


  • 1.5m calico (includes cushion back)
  • 30cm of feature fabric for flower and border
  • 40cm zip or buttons for cushion back
  • 45cm cushion pad for a plump look or 40cm for slightly thinner effect
  • Tracing paper
  • Thin card
  • Pritt stick

Note: If your calico is 132cm/54in you will only need 1.1m

Finished Size

Approx 42cm (16 1⁄2in) square

Skill Level



Similar fabrics are available at all good quilt shops

This cushion is in the style of Hawaiian appliqué but doesnít need appliqué skills as there are no edges to turn under. It would look equally stunning with a red snowflake on calico for Christmas or swap the colours round and use a calico snowflake on a red background.


  1. From the calico for the chenille layers and background cut:
    • Four 17in squares
    • One 18in square
    • Two pieces 10 x 18in for cushion back
  2. For the flower pattern and border cut:
    • One 10in blue square
    • Four 2 x 17in strips of blue fabric
Figure 1: Making the folds
Figure 1: Making the folds

The Pattern

  1. Margaret has provided the pattern for you to copy, but why not get out the paper and scissors and try and cut one of your own. Remember making paper snowflakes at Christmas as a child? This uses the same technique.
  2. Take a 10in square of paper (greaseproof will do) fold as shown in Figure 1. It is important that you note where the centre is as otherwise it will all fall apart.
  3. Either draw a shape onto your paper roughly following our guidelines or just cut into it with scissors. Open it out Ė if it is still one piece, well done, that is half the battle. If you donít like the look of it - try another one. If all else fails trace the template. Stick your snowflake flower onto a piece of card and cut out exactly. Mark the centre point, diagonal and straight edges, C, D and S as shown.
  4. Take the 10in square of feature fabric and fold it in half RS together. Fold it in half again and finally fold it diagonally making sure you follow the diagram shown otherwise you will find the cutting stage will go wrong.
  5. Take your template and position the template onto the folded fabric triangle, lining up the diagonal, straight and centre point and draw round the shape onto the fabric with a marker pencil.
  6. Pin all eight layers carefully together to stop them slipping and, with sharp scissors, cut the fabric along the pattern edge. Take one of the 17in calico squares and carefully repeat the three folds as you did before. Press to create guidelines for positioning the flower.
  7. Unfold the blue flower and position it carefully onto the calico making sure the centre point, diagonal and straight creases line up with each other.
    Figure 2: Why not try some of these designs?
    Figure 2: Why not try some of these designs?
  8. Pin the flower onto the background and then tack to keep it in place. Remove the pins. Take the border strips and lay them RS up on top of the background lining up the edges, like a picture frame. The four corners will overlap each other to make a double layer. Pin and tack the borders as before. Set the piece aside for the moment.

The Chenille

  1. Lay the 18in square of calico down on the table, place the three remaining 17in squares centrally on top of this, then finally place your flower appliqué on top of the pile, RS up. You will find there is about 1⁄2in of the bottom layer of calico showing all round. Donít trim this off, you will find it helpful later.
  2. Pin all the layers together in a few places and machine diagonal parallel lines across your work about 3⁄8in to 1⁄2in apart (no wider). Use a walking foot if you have one as it really helps to stop the layers moving. Take the pins out and reposition them when necessary.
  3. Margaret says she usually does her first line of diagonal stitching from corner to corner across the middle of the work; this also helps stop the layers from slipping.
  4. When all the diagonal lines have been stitched, use a slash cutter or scissors to cut between the parallel lines on all the layers except the bottom one. At this point, you will realise why the bottom layer was cut slightly larger. This should slightly protrude, making it easier to slide the cutter or scissors into the correct layer.
  5. When the cutting has been done, you might like to wash and tumble dry the cushion front before making it up, to give the full chenille effect. Margaret hasnít done this with her version. She finds that calico fluffs up quite easily anyway and it was sufficient to rub over the surface with wet hands. Trim any excess calico away from the edges.

TIP! If you mistakenly cut through some of the bottom layer, all is not lost. Place a piece of calico underneath the work where the cut is, like a patch and slightly larger than the mistake. On the top of the work, machine along the diagonal parallel lines again around that area to hold the patch in place underneath. Then you can slash again and no-one will be the wiser.

Making up the cushion

  1. If wished, insert a zip between the two backing pieces of calico. Trim to match the size of the finished top chenille layer. Lay the cushion back RS up and place the chenille layer RS down on top and sew all round the edge. Remember to open the zip slightly so you can turn it through.
  2. If you donít want to use a zip, hem one side of each of the calico pieces and place together so they overlap in the middle and the cushion back matches the size of the front. Tack in place. Complete as above. Either add buttons and buttonholes or ribbon ties or just leave with an overlap. Insert the cushion pad and lean back in style.

First published in Popular Patchwork Volume 14 Number 6 - June 2006