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For me, craft and feminism go hand in hand– and these cushion covers, as well as being practical, bright and pleasingly kitsch, celebrate some of the sassiest sisters in our history.
Made from felt and all the fun bits from your stash, these ladies are easily customisable so you can create your own icons – have a look at my list. I want a Dolly Parton cushion so badly! The cushions would make the perfect present for anyone who appreciates a little hussy in their homeware.

Ladies to lounge (on)
Emmeline Pankhurst
Princess Leia
Rosie the Riveter
Debbie Harry
Missy Elliott
Gloria Steinem
Florence Nightingale
Virginia Woolf
Dolly Parton
Angela Davis
Mad Men’s Peggy Olsen
Amelia Earhart
Joan Jett
Annie Lennox
Beth Ditto
Your mum

Just Sew Stories by Katie Allen, £16.99, published by Hardie Grant, available at Amazon.

Posted by Hardie Grant from London, United Kingdom • Published See Hardie Grant's 83 projects »

© 2022 Katie Allen / Hardie Grant Books · Reproduced with permission.
  • Step 1

    Making the cushion cover
    These loose cushion covers are essentially a rectangle
    folded around, with one end tucked inside the other, so
    there is no need for zips or any other fastenings. Yay!
    1. Press your white rectangle and coloured rectangle, and
    place one on top of the other. Pin in place. Sew around
    the four sides leaving a 1.5 cm (5?8 inch) seam allowance.
    Leave a gap of about 10 cm (4 inches) on one edge.
    2. Cut off the four corners (being careful not to cut the
    stitching) and turn the cushion right side out through the
    gap. Poke the corners out with something pointy like a
    pencil or chopstick.
    3. Press the rectangle flat, folding in the raw edges of the
    gap. Sew the gap closed.

  • Step 2

    Making your lady
    1. Draw a template for the head and shoulders of your lady
    on a piece of paper. I drew a rough oval, approx 20 cm
    (8 inches) tall and 15 cm (6 inches) wide with a small neck
    and shoulders approx 20 cm (8 inches) wide. it doesn’t
    have to be perfect! Cut out.
    2. Press your felt and pin the template in place. Cut out.
    3. Now it’s time to make your lady’s face. Copy my
    cushions on p. 91, or make your own by looking up
    photos of your lady online or in books.
    Sketch an eye, eyebrow and nostril shape on to paper
    and cut out. If you need help, use my diagrams
    opposite. Use these as templates to cut out of black or
    brown felt – then turn the template over and cut out
    another set. Now is the time to trim your shapes to
    make them more idiosyncratic – Frida Kahlo had a
    mighty monobrow for example.
    4. Fold a piece of paper in half and draw half a mouth on
    one side. Cut out, and use your symmetrical template to
    cut a mouth shape out of red or pink felt.
    5. Assemble your pieces on the head-shaped piece of felt.
    Remember that eyes are actually located half-way down
    the head. Carefully tweak the angles of your pieces to
    adjust your lady’s expression – one eyebrow higher than
    the other for a saucy minx, tilted eyes for a sad or in charge
    look. Use pins to keep them in place until you are
    happy with the position, then fix with a little fabric glue.
    Hand sew the facial features in place with matching
    thread, then take out the pins.
    6. Trim the sides of your head shape to make the face look
    more like your lady – she may have slimmer cheeks or a
    wonky hairline.
    7. Choose a large piece of felt for the hair, place the head
    shape on top and pin in place. Sketch out the shape of
    the hair using dressmaker’s chalk and cut out. If you are
    creating a fringe, cut out a forehead-sized piece from
    the hair-coloured felt, using the head piece as a
    template. Then place the hair on top of the head, and
    trim to the length you desire. Pin in place.

  • Step 3

    This is the fun bit – it’s time to rummage through your stash
    for all the gaudiest, most glittery beads and ribbons you
    can find.

  • Step 4

    Making the cushion
    1. Place your cushion pad in the centre of your fabric
    rectangle, on the wrong (white) side. Fold the remaining
    fabric around it. The idea is that you are creating a tight
    envelope, with one side tucked under the other.
    2. O nce you feel that it is in the right place, pin it and mark
    with a fabric pen on the coloured AND the white cotton
    where the top piece of fabric rests on the under piece.
    3. Turn the cushion over. Place your lady in the centre.
    Once you are sure of her position, pin her in place.
    4. Turn the cushion over again, and take out all the pins.
    5. N ow it’s time to sew your lady on. Using a ‘skin’-
    coloured thread and zigzag stitch on the machine, follow
    around the outside shape of her head. Sew around the
    outside of her face. Remove the pins.

  • Step 5

    How to make ribbon flowers
    Cut a length of ribbon, about 10 cm
    (4 inches) long.
    Knot a piece of thread and stitch loosely but
    neatly along one edge of the ribbon.
    When you reach the end, pull the thread and
    push gently on the ribbon so it gathers into a
    rosette shape. Stitch together through the
    centre, tucking in raw ends.

  • Step 6

    Finishing the cushion
    1. Place the cushion cover piece right side up, and fold the
    two sides in as before but inside out. Match up the top
    flap with the marks you made before. Pin in place.
    2. N ow stitch along the top and bottom edges of your
    cushion cover, leaving a 1 cm (3?8 inch) seam allowance.
    Fasten off.
    3. Turn your cushion cover the right way around, poking
    out the corners with a pencil or chopstick. Give it a good
    4. N ow stuff your cushion pad inside – it should be snug
    but moveable. And you’re done!

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