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Embroidered Breast Cancer Comfort Cushion

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Australian stitcher Paula and her team of volunteers have helped ease recovery for thousands of mastectomy patients with this breast cancer comfort cushion. Read her story here, then create your own cushion to provide encouragement and support for special women in your life -- or as a kindness to a perfect stranger! This Butterfly of Hope design is perfect for decorating your project of hope; scroll down the page to find more inspiring awareness ribbon designs!


  • 1/2 yard cotton fabric (for front and back)
  • 1/4 yard print cotton fabric (for bow closure and shoulder strap)
  • Medium weight cutaway stabilizer
  • Temporary spray adhesive
  • Air-erase pen or dress maker's pencil
  • Polyester fiberfill
  • Needle and thread for some hand sewing
  • 3 inch long piece of narrow elastic
  • Scotch tape

Special notes from Paula: Be sure to use cotton fabric instead of satin for the body of the pillow; women using the cushions have reported that satin is too slippery and hot. Use narrow elastic. The coordinating sets that the Breast Cancer Comfort Cushions team makes feature a cushion made all of one fabric, and embroidery on an X-ray bag. Read about the care packages and Paula's story here.

Designs Used

First we will prepare the pattern piece. Print the pattern linked above - two pieces will print on two separate pieces of paper.

Cut out the shapes and tape them together following the instructions printed on the pattern pieces.

Next, cut a 16 inch wide by 14 inch high piece of cotton fabric. Position the pattern piece on the left side of the fabric (about one inch from the edge of the fabric) and trace the shape using an air-erase pen or other marking tool.

Flip the pattern piece over and align the straight edge with the straight edge of the traced shape. Trace the shape again.

Create a paper template of the design by printing it at full size using embroidery software. If you don't have embroidery software, you can cut a piece of paper the shape and dimensions of the design to help with placement and centering.

We placed the design on the center bottom of the fabric. Place designs wherever you like, leaving at least one inch of space from the edges of the designs and the outer edges of the shape. Center the design by measuring the center top of the fabric down to the center bottom of the fabric and divide by two. Poke a hole in the center of the template and mark the fabric. Also, mark the horizontal and vertical axis points.

Remove the template and draw lines connecting the marks.

Spray a piece of medium weight cutaway stabilizer with adhesive and smooth the fabric on top. Hoop the fabric and stabilizer together by aligning the marks on the hoop with the lines on the fabric. Attach the hoop to the machine and load the design. Move the hoop so that the needle is directly over the center point on the fabric. Embroider the design.

When the design has finished, trim away the excess stabilizer on the backside of the embroidery.

Next, cut out the shape.

To prepare the fabric for the back of the cushion, cut another piece of fabric to 16 inches wide by 14 inches high and fold it widthwise (side edges aligned together). Place the pattern piece on top of the fabric with the straight edge aligned with the fold. Trace the shape and cut out the shape.

To prepare the fabric for the bow closure and the shoulder strap, cut one piece of fabric (we used print flannel) to 5 inches wide by 10 inches high (for the bow) and one piece to 3 1/2 inches wide by 10 inches high (for the  strap).

For the strap, fold the fabric lengthwise (long edges aligned together) and sew a 1/4 inch seam along the long open edge only.

Turn the fabric right side out and press with an iron. Also, turn one open short end in 1/4 inch and press. For the bow, fold the fabric with short edges aligned together and sew a 1/4 inch seam along all three open edges, leaving about 2 inches open for turning. Clip the corners, turn the fabric right side out, turn the fabric of the opening in 1/4 inch, and press.

To add the strap to the bow, gather the fabric in the center to form the bow. Wrap the folded end of the strap around the bow and stitch the strap in place.

Now it is time to assemble the cushion. Lay the front embroidered piece flat. Create a pleat on the raw end of the strap and tack it in place at the top left point of the front fabric. Be sure that the pleat is tight enough so that the edges of the strap will not be sewn over along the top edges of the front fabric. Also, cut a 3 inch long piece of elastic, fold it into a loop, and tack it in place at the top right point of the fabric. Pin the strap and the elastic in place in the center of the fabric so that it will not be sewn over later on.

Align the back fabric piece on top with the right sides together. Pin in place and sew a 1/4 inch seam along the side and top edges. Leave a 4 inch gap at the bottom for turning.

Clip the seam allowance around the entire shape about every inch or so. Turn the cushion right side out. Fill the cushion with polyester fiberfill. Then, turn the opening in 1/4 inch and hand-stitch the gap closed with needle and thread.

Your cushion is complete! To wear the cushion tuck it under your arm, bring the strap up and around your shoulder and bring the bow through the elastic loop to hold it in place.