Auspicious Symbols


You can make your cushion any size or shape you want. The best way to start is to measure your cushion pad and aim to make your cushion slightly smaller. To make one the same size as us, you will need:

  • An old shirt with buttons down the front
  • 35cm square of patterned fabric
  • 35cm square of Bondaweb or other fusible webbing
  • 40cm wadding
  • 45cm cushion pad
  • Sharp fabric scissors

Sometimes it can be hard to think up original presents to give at Christmas, especially for your favourite teacher. They may like chocolates or wine, but 20 boxes or bottles may be a bit too much. Callum adored his Year One teachers and wanted to make something special for them. As all our windows in the house were covered with snowflake paper-cuts he had made for Christmas decorations, it gave us an idea for a present. Rather than doing papercuts, how about fabric-cuts and turning them into cushions? Callum's teachers were delighted, as was his dad. He got so involved in making the cushions he insisted on making a third one for his father


  1. Get a responsible person to press the shirt flat, with the buttons done up. Draw a 40cm square on the top, with the buttons in the middle and cut out through the front and back.
  2. Press the Bondaweb onto the back of the patterned fabric and peel off the backing paper. This makes it easier to make your snowflake cuts. Fold the fabric in half, then in half again and again. See Figure 1. It should be a triangle shape.
  3. You may want to practise on paper first. Cut squares of paper, fold as in step 2 and then snip bits off. Open out and see what patterns you have made. If you use different colours of paper or old drawings, these can look very pretty and look good hanging in windows for Christmas decorations.
  4. Once you are happy with the paper snowflakes, cut shapes and snips out of your folded fabric. Open up and see the patterns. If you want to make more cuts, you can always refold it again, maybe in a different way to vary the pattern.
  5. When you are happy with your snowflake, press it in the centre of the shirt back square, using an iron.
  6. Pin the wadding behind this and then use the sewing machine to stitch lines all over to hold the snowflake in place. Even if you do not have a fancy machine, it will have lots of stitches you could use; just experiment.
  7. Place the shirt front, right sides together with your snowflake top and pin. Stitch carefully round the edges, maybe two times for strength.
  8. Turn through to the right side by unbuttoning the shirt. Push the corners out with a blunt pencil and insert your cushion pad. Button up again and it is finished. Remember to take a photo of it if you are giving it as a gift so you can remember what you made.

Figure 1: Folding the fabric

Handy Hint! If you are not too confident on the sewing machine, or are not allowed to use it on your own, you can still do this with a grown up. You could pick the thread and stitch to be used and guide it through the machine to create meandering lines and your grown up use the foot control or vice versa.

Handy Hint! If you want to decorate the cushion back, save all the little snippets of fabric you cut for the snowflake. Arrange them on the cushion back, making sure that the glue side is definitely facing down, then get a grown up to press them into position. You could always stitch them in place to keep them secure.

First published in Popular Patchwork Christmas Special 2008