As my contribution to the BERNINA Advent Calendar, today I’m going to show you how to sew a cushion with a Mexican heart design.
Mexican sacred heart cushion
When the theme of ‘From the heart’ was announced for the BERNINA Advent Calendar, I immediately thought of these fantastic colorful Mexican designs. The sacred hearts are normally displayed alongside colorful skulls, symbolizing the special way the dead are honored in Mexico. You also often see them in fabric designs that pay homage to the ongoing legacy of Frida Kahlo. But on their own, there is nothing morbid about them and they radiate happiness!
This type of heart design has been on my list for a while and it has been a joy to make instructions for an appliqué patchwork version here.
Sewing cushion cover – Materials
For a cushion cover with the finished size of 40 x 40 cm
- 45 cm fabric for the cushion cover (fabric width 110 cm)
- 45 cm fusible embroidery stabilizer
- 30 cm Bondaweb
- Fabric remnants / slightly larger pieces of fabric for the inner red heart, the turquoise heart and the outer border
- Different colored threads – I used rayon thread for the embroidery
- Good paper scissors that can also be used to cut fabric
First you have to print out the PDF with the heart pattern. Please make sure that your printer settings are set to ‘Actual size’ when printing.
There are two pages and you need to join them at the dotted line once you’ve printed them out.
Now you can use a pencil to transfer the outlines of the individual elements of the heart onto the paper side of your Bondaweb. For parts that are overlapped (e.g. the two leaves and the inner heart) I drew on a small extra amount. This way, when you cut it out later on, you don’t run the risk of the outlines not matching up exactly. You can then simply put the individual parts on top of each other and secure them.
You can see what I mean more clearly on the next picture. Here, I traced the pieces of the Mexican heart design onto paper again before transferring them onto the Bondaweb.
There are 17 little circles to cut out on the outer border of the heart!
When you have transferred all the parts onto your Bondaweb, cut out roughly around the outlines. They will only be cut out precisely once you’ve ironed the Bondaweb onto the fabric.
Cutting out and ironing
For the front of your cushion cover, cut out a square measuring 45 x 45 cm. For the appliqués, proceed as follows:
Find the right colors for the various elements and then iron the Bondaweb pieces onto the fabric. If you use patterned fabric, the Bondaweb has to be ironed onto the back of the fabric!
Now use suitable scissors to cut out the pieces along the drawn lines. You can then carefully remove the Bondaweb paper from the fabric. If you have trouble with this, you can lightly score the paper with a pin. It is then easier to pull off at the scored area.
In order to place the Mexican sacred heart exactly at the center of the cushion, I folded the front piece once lengthways and then crossways. The vertical centerline of the heart can be easily aligned with the vertical line on the cushion background. The horizontal centerline of the appliqué corresponds to the tip of the inner upper point on the turquoise inner heart. If you look closely at the above picture, you can see the horizontal fold on the background of the cushion – it runs right through the tip of the turquoise heart.
Once you’ve placed everything correctly, you can iron the appliqué onto the cushion front.
Take as many thread colors as possible to your piece and then decide spontaneously which thread you want to use for each element of the design.
To see how wide or long you want your stitch to be, you can take your scraps of fabric and try it out. You can also do the same with your decorative stitches to check what they look like beforehand.
I used a zigzag stitch several times to appliqué the pieces. You can see which setting I used in the picture above. I like to choose Open embroidery foot #20C as the presser foot for appliqués as it gives you a clear view of the whole stitching area.
It can certainly be quite tricky at first to sew the small parts of the cross or around the curves of the circles using the zigzag stitch, but if you try it out beforehand on a test piece, it is sure to work out better afterwards.
Depending on which sewing machine you are working on, it should have some pre-programmed decorative stitches. Using them to appliqué gives an added special touch when sewing your Mexican sacred heart!
When you have appliquéd all the pieces, you can remove the stabilizer on the back of the fabric. Then trim the front of the cushion to a size of 42 x 42 cm.
I made my cushion with a hotel closure. Eda Lindgren showed how to do this well in a post here on the BERNINA blog:
I hope I have inspired you with my sacred heart cushion and maybe given you a suggestion for a great Christmas present!
I wish you a wonderful Advent, a happy Christmas and what will hopefully be an easier new year for all of us in 2021 – take care!