Add a touch of colour with these cushions

We love the painterly effect and wanted to give it a go ourselves while putting our own spin on it. These lettered cushions combine ink-blot techniques with embroidery to create a customised-look that can be changed to suit any colour scheme or décor.


You will need

2m white cotton, Dunelm
45cm square cushion inners, Dunelm
vanishing ink pen
masking tape
Electro Pop 24 pack, Hobbycraft
brown paper
spray bottle
rubbing alcohol (also known as isopropyl alcohol)
large embroidery hoop
embroidery needle
100 pack of 8m coloured embroidery floss, Hobbycraft
scraps of floral print cotton
pins sewing machine and thread



1 Begin by cutting out the cushion front pieces. For a good fit, cut them to the exact same size as your cushion pad – in our case, that meant cutting four 45cm square pieces of white cotton. The seam allowance (1.5cm throughout this project) will make the cover smaller once it is stitched, meaning it fits snugly for a nice plush look.

2 Draw your letters out onto the cushion fronts using a vanishing ink pen, then stick masking tape down around each letter to mark them out, rubbing it down with your fingers to ensure it is adhered well. Using Sharpie markers, scribble inside each letter, using a variety of colours and patterns. Do not completely colour-in the shape but doodle within it, as pictured.

Step 2

Image: Step 2

3 Place the cushion fronts down onto brown paper or another plain, scrap surface. Pour some rubbing alcohol into a spray bottle and carefully spritz all over the doodled pen with it, trying not to get the non-coloured parts of the cushion front too wet if possible. The ink will start to bleed and fade to create a painterly, tiedye effect. If your ink hasn’t bled enough for your liking, spray more alcohol until you reach your desired effect. Leave to dry thoroughly.

Step 3

Image: Step 3

4 Carefully peel away the tape. The ink should have stayed mainly within the confines of the taped letters, with some bleeding outwards onto the rest of the fabric to give a coloured, faded dye effect. Press the cushion fronts carefully, making sure not to use the steam setting if possible.

5 One by one, secure the cushion fronts into a large embroidery hoop and decorate with embroidery stitches. We worked two lines of wide, straight stitch around the outside edge of each letter. Do not carry the yarns across the back of the fabric, as this could be visible through the cotton. Instead, tie each length of thread off.

Step 5

Image: Step 5

6 Add flower appliqués. Cut out a few favourite floral motifs from a printed fabric (Philip Jacob’s bold cotton prints are particularly lovely for this type of work) and pin them around your letters, overlapping them slightly. Using a straight machine stitch, sew all around each one, 5mm in from the edge. This will eventually cause the edges to fray, which is our aim – if you’d rather keep a neat finish, back the appliqués with fusible interfacing and stitch them down using a zig zag machine stitch.

Step 6

Image: Step 6

7 Cut and stitch the two back pieces. For each cut 45cm x 35.5cm rectangle of white cotton, then fold and stitch a double hem along one 45cm edge of each.

8 Lay the cushion front out, with right-side facing up. Lay one of the cushion back pieces over it with right-side facing down, with the hemmed edge towards the middle of the cushion. Place the second back piece into position, overlapping the first. Pin, then machine stitch all around the edge of the cushion, leaving a 1.5cm seam allowance. Turn right-side out, press, then stuff with a cushion pad to finish.


Top tip

Try different Sharpie colour combinations on a scrap of white cotton before you begin, to find your favourite mixture.


Photos: Lizzie Orme
Feature and styling: Sophie Holt

Related articles

The 4 steps to picking the bathroom wallpaper for you

The 4 steps to picking the bathroom wallpaper for you

Get ready for Bake Off's return with this iconic release

Get ready for Bake Off's return with this iconic release

The ultimate mid-week meal: Shredded Beetroot Buddha Bowl

The ultimate mid-week meal: Shredded Beetroot Buddha Bowl

The 3 steps to preparing for any DIY job

The 3 steps to preparing for any DIY job


Subscribe to our newsletter