Wednesday 5 September 2012

Nautical Cushions and a Challenge

When I made some extra Dresden Fan blocks for the Craftsy BOM a couple of months ago, and asked for suggestions on what to do with them, several people mentioned the Salt Lake Modern Quilt Guild EZ Dresden Challenge. Naturally I was intrigued so checked it out and discovered that the Challenge would run the first week in September and had three categories for entries, one of which was Small Quilts.

So I got my thinking cap on and tossed around ideas but nothing seemed to stick until I came across a cross-stitch pattern for a lighthouse! Suddenly all thoughts of circles and spinning went right out of my head and in came pictures of lighthouses instead, those Dresden blade shapes took on a whole new form. Instead of a small quilt I decided to go for a cushion/pillow too, as that would be much more useful.

When I was back in the UK at the end of August, I took the opportunity to stock up with a Dotty Mini Wheel of fabric in Reds and Blues. When they met the EZ Dresden ruler and some linen this is the result.

I managed to incorporate some embroidery in the seagulls, light railings and grass tufts as well as a little bit of FM quilting! Our son's bedroom at home has a nautical theme so this will fit in perfectly.

I really enjoyed making this and although I initially started it because of the EZ Dresden Challenge, in the end the process of making this, planning the embroidery and even trying more FM quilting was just so much fun. So to have a nice cushion at the end and an entry for the challenge are bonuses.

Working on this though has meant that all other WIP's have fallen by the wayside!

To make a similar Lighthouse Cushion read on


1 - 4.5" x 16.5" Sky blue linen
1 - 6.0" x 16.5" Natural linen
1 - 6.0" x 15.5" Blue linen

16 - 1.5" x 4" strips for the lighthouses (10 White/Natural, 6 Coloured)
16 - 1.0" x 4" strips for the lighthouses (8 White/Natural, 8 Coloured)

2 - 2" x 1" black strips
2 - 2" x 0.5" black strips

2 - 11" x 16.5" backing fabric
1 - 17" x 17" wadding/batting
1 - 17" x 17" quilt back
2 - 2.5" x WOF binding fabric strips

1 Sheet Steam-a-Seam 2
Tear-away stabiliser
Embroidery floss - black, white and green

Step 1 Background

Join the linen strips lengthwise in the following order;

Top         Pale Blue
Middle    Blue
Bottom    Natural


Step 2 Lighthouse strips

Join the 1.5" lighthouse strips in sets of 7 alternating the white and coloured strips, starting and ending with a white strip to make 2 large lighthouses.
Join the 1" lighthouse strips in sets of 8 alternating the white and coloured strips, starting with a coloured strip and ending with a white strip. Stitch a 1.5" white strip to the bottom coloured strip to make 2 small lighthouses.

Step 3 Easy Dresden cut

Using your Easy Dresden ruler cut out one lighthouse from each set of sewn strips. Line up the ruler with the seams of the coloured strips and the bottom edge. Cut the small lighthouses between the 1" and 6.5" inch marks to give a wide enough edge at the top of the lighthouses, and cut the large lighthouses on the 7.5" wedge line.

Step 4 Fusing to the background

Using your Easy Dresden ruler cut out and fuse Steam-a-Seam2 to each lighthouse. Cut out 2 - 1" x 2" pieces of Steam-a-Seam2 and fuse to the 2 - 1" x 2" black strips, then cut out 2 - 0.5" x 2" pieces of Steam-a-Seam2 and fuse these to the remaining black strips.

Arrange the fused lighthouse pieces on your background. When you are happy with the arrangement iron to fuse.

Back the background with the tear-away stabiliser then applique the lighthouses using white thread and satin stitch.

Arrange the black strips on the appliqued lighthouses, the 2" x 1" strips will go on the large lighthouses and the 0.5" x 2" strips on the small lighthouses. Each black strip should overlap evenly the edge of the top white and coloured strips. The black strips are wider than the lighthouses so will overhang on either side. When you are happy with the arrangement iron to fuse. Applique each black strip with black thread using a satin stitch.

Remove the tear-away stabiliser.

Using two strands of black embroidery floss back stitch a railing at the top edge of each black strip.

Step 5 Quilting

Layer the backing, wadding and appliqued cushion front in that order, then baste.

Quilt wavy lines in the blue section between the lighthouses to represent the sea. Using two strands of embroidery floss embroider tufts of grass in several shades of green (I used three shades randomly) on the natural linen and seagulls in white around the tops of the large lighthouses.

Trim the batting and backing.

Step 6 Envelope back

Turn under and stitch a 0.25" double folded hem on one long edge of each of the 11" x 16.5" backing pieces. Overlapping the backing pieces, place on the cushion front wrong sides together. Pin and baste all around the edges.

Step 7 Binding 

Join the binding strips together on the diagonal to create one continuous binding strip. Press in half lengthwise, open out and then press each raw edge lengthwise to the centre crease to create a double-fold binding. Open out and pin around the front edges of the cushion, mitring the corners leaving a 6" tail at the beginning. Fold back and crease across the binding where the beginning and ending of the binding meet. Stitch across the binding and cut off the excess binding fabric, pin down. Stitch the binding to the front of the  cushion. Fold over, turn under on the pressed crease and hand stitch to the cushion back.

Give the cushion a final press then stand back and admire!

Do let me know if you have a go at this cushion I would love to see the results.

Check out here for the Challenge entries.

Linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced and We Did it Wednesday at Sew Much Ado


  1. What a great idea. I love the lighthouses and the overall nautical theme of the pillow. So lovely.

  2. Aren't you the clever one??? I live by the sea, make lots of lighthouses, and might have made the connection sometime in my next life!! I love it!! Thanks for the tute, too!

  3. Loving the nautical fun! This was a great tutorial. Thanks for the peek.

  4. Oh, I love it! I especially like the first picture under step 5 - it really shows off how lovely it is.

  5. It's beautiful I am a sucker for anything Nautical, love how you used the dresden templates x

  6. Beautiful .. I do like anything related to the sea; it makes me nostalgic for home (I only see the sea when we go back to the UK to visit family or happen to book a holiday by the sea). Anyway - great cushion!

    1. Thanks Fiona, this is the closest I will get to the sea for a while I think, although we dream of living by the sea one day!

  7. Lovely - it is amazing how versatile a Dresden can be! And the little bits of embroidery really make such a difference.

  8. What a great idea for lighthouses! I'm sure your son will love it.

  9. Very pretty :-)

  10. This is wonderful! What a fab idea for a dresden blade. Where can we vote for you?

  11. What a great idea! Good luck in the comp :o)

  12. That is the neatest pattern!! Thank you for sharing it with us...I would love to do it one of these love love it!!

  13. Love it! Makes me think of the East Coast here-Peggy's Cove! Great use of the dresden.

  14. Wow, I never thought about lighthouses. Very clever.

  15. That is such a clever and creative way to incorporate Dresdens!

    Gorgeous cushion - well done!!

  16. What a great idea, the cushion is lovely, and love all the details you used with the embroidery.

  17. Such a fun idea! I can't believe how many great things can be created from the dresden blade template. :)

  18. Stunning!!! Perfect for someone with a nautical theme. Pinning this one... thinking of a birthday present next year for someone who lives near the beach.

  19. I love your lighthouse idea! It's just perfect with the dresden ruler.

  20. What a great idea! I never knew how versatile the dresden block was until this challenge. I love the sewn on waves and seagulls too!

  21. fabulous idea and what a great cushion you now have!

  22. what a great use of the dresden! what a perfect cushion for your son's room!

  23. How cute! Great idea and a lot of fun! This is a fun pillow to add interest anywhere!

    1. Thanks Rachell, I really enjoyed seeing this come together.

  24. Lovely pillow - I love how you incorporated embroidery, adds that extra dimension. And don't you love it when you can make one thing for two projects? AND gift it!

  25. This is so cute! Love the lighthouses-never thought of using the Dresden- what a smart idea! Thanks for the tutorial!

  26. I am in love with this pillow. Thanks so much for sharing the tutorial! : )

  27. Hi Fiona, Thanks for your help with blogging :o)

  28. Thank you for sharing how you made your lighthouses. It' absolutely genius.

  29. That pillow is wonderful, I love that you've oot a bit of embroidery in there as well as the great quilting!

  30. A perfect and beatiful pillow!

  31. Can't wait to make a few of these! New follower, too.


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