I am often asked how long it takes to make A 'Beasties in Bonnet' cushion and how I came up with the concept - so for those interested, read on!
I have done animal appliqué on bags and cushions for a while but I wanted to create something different and original that would give the animals a character of their own. Hats are very defining and add interest and originality to costumes – perfect to give my animals a little sense of eccentricity.
After that, ideas began to tumble like a waterfall and the only problem was restricting the number of animals! For some of the characters I was happy to allow them to conform to expectations but others I wanted to be a little unconventional, like Mabel the Dormouse.
Drawing designs was fun but they had to be converted to patterns so it was important to ensure they were stitch-friendly. Clean lines with soft corners give the pictures fluidity and the animals a slightly caricature appearance without losing their identity. As the picture below indicates, there is a lot of trial and error but it's the journey of creation that is fun and ultimately immensely enriching!
Probably one of the most fun parts of the project for me was choosing the fabric and I had the most wonderful morning with a representative from Abraham Moon, (the last vertical wool mill in England) choosing patterns and colours. Moon’s supply high quality wool fabric woven in Yorkshire and the only problem I had was narrowing down their huge collection of delicious fabric! The colours I chose for the first Sherlock are probably my favourite!
Any seamstress will tell you that the most important part of a project is the cutting. Getting the shape of the cushion is vital but in appliqué, cutting has to be clean and absolutely accurate. Cutting can often take as long as the actual stitching, but well worth the effort.
Once the pieces are arranged on the fabric it is time to start sewing and I use a combination of machine and hand stitching. Hand stitching takes time but can finish a project with precision. I use this method for finishing eyes, nose and features such as Harold the Hare’s eyebrows.
Like any artist, I constantly critique my work, which is important because stagnation (not a pretty word) is a stifling experience. Nevertheless, I am delighted with the finished work and I hope you are too!
Come see me at The Great Yorkshire Show this week, Tuesday to Thursday, in Shop for Something Different on Fifth Avenue - it's a very yellow marquee - you can't miss it!
Harold the Hare - many thanks to super photographer, Yeshen Venema in conjunction with Folksy!