Blog, Makes

Embroider and appliqué a Seagull inspired Cushion

Three things inspired this craft project, the sea, gulls and the effective but random looking stitching currently used by many fine art embroiderers. They in turn appear to have been inspired by Asian quilts made out of recycled Sari’s. I embroidered the cushion front in free hand stitches. I wanted to create the curls where the waves turn over themselves and also the subtle changes of colour in the waves and the sky. To achieve the turbulence of the weather I used two background colours of felt and also different colours of the embroidery floss. The changing direction and sizes of the stitches helps to suggest movement.

If you are not happy just doing freehand stitches using a water erasable pen, draw your design onto the cushion front, embroider over the pen lines. To get rid of the pen marks, dampen a cloth and rub quite lightly.

I expect, like you, I am forever taking photographs when I am by the sea. I took the images of the gulls using my phone. I increased the size of them and then printed them out quite large. Before cutting out in felt, I placed the paper gulls onto the stitched front and arranged in a pleasing composition. I then drew round the gull images onto the felt and cut out and then pinned and tacked the grey felt gulls onto the cushion front.

You will need

Piece of felt 100cm x 100cm x 3mm deep in pale blue felt for the cushion cover

36cm square cushion pad

Felt squares or oblongs in Grey, marine blue and purple

Embroidery floss in light grey, white, mid blue and turquoise (Korbond)

Tapestry needle

Sewing needle

Printer and images of flying seagulls

Water erasable pen

Paper Scissors

Dressmaking Shears

Dress makers pins

For the back opening cushion cover

Cut the cushion front 37cm x 37cm and cut the two cushion backs one 22cm x 37cm and the other 30cm x 37cm in pale blue felt .

Step 1

Work on the cushion front, leave a 2 cm border round the edge, and using brightly coloured thread, tack a piece of dark marine blue felt onto another piece and onto the cushion front so it measures 22cm x 32cm

Step 2

Thread the whole six strands of a piece of white embroidery floss into a tapestry needle and sew random sized running stitches from the left side of the felt to the right and back again, creating 7 uneven rows of stitches. Change colour and sew 7 rows in pale blue.

Step 3

Repeat step 1 using the purple felt. Make sure it joins onto the blue felt and will measure roughly 32cm x 11.5cm. You don’t need to cover the whole of the cushion in stitches, the effect you are after is the waves of the sea. Print images of gulls, draw round and cut out in grey felt.

Step 4

Arrange, pin and sew the gulls onto the cushion front. Using turquoise thread, blanket stitch along one long edge of the cushion back. Make an envelope opening for the cushion pad. With the two back pieces over lapping in the centre of the cushion, pin the cushion backs to the cushion front and sew together round the edge using blanket stitch.

Needles

Embroidery Floss

Pins and scissors and erasable marker pen from http://sew.korbond.co.uk

I designed this project for Coast Magazine

Blog, Exhibitions, Features, Uncategorized

Chelsea Flower Show

I was lucky enough to attend The Royal Horticultural’s Chelsea Flower show this week. I got there at 8am, opening time and headed for my favourite section The Artisan gardens. I am not going to write about the large corporate sponsored gardens as so much has been written by others about them. Instead I am going to talk ARTISAN

Three gardens particularly stood out, The Finnish Summer Garden that was inspired by the biodiversity of Finnish Meadows and Woodland. The garden was designed by Taina Suonio a Finnish landscape designer, horticulturalist, environmental biologist and researcher in the Fifth Dimension- Green Roofs in Urban Areas research group.

The garden comprises clear Nordic lines and includes a 100 year old weather beaten barn wall made of granite. The cascading water feature reminds visitors to the garden about the relationship the Finns have with their roots in the country and the much-cherished respite by their countless lake-side, riverside and seaside cottages. The garden included many Finnish forest flowers and herbs.

The Donkey Sanctuary Garden celebrated the 50 years of transforming the lives of Donkeys. The designers were Annie Prebensen and Christina Williams.” We have a real fondness and appreciation for these hard The working animals, so were delighted to be asked by The Donkey Sanctury to design an Artisan Garden to explain ‘why donkeys matter’ The garden demonstrates how owning a donkey means access to clean, fresh water for some of the poorest and most vulnerable communities in the world. Set in an arid location a shelter near a well provides some shade. A dripping bucket hangs above the well and colourful planting surrounds it. The planting in the garden includes plants typical of dry regions, including Eryngium bourgatii, Iris germanica and Lavendula angustfolia. The colour palette is claret, purple and silver

The Camfed Campaign for Female Education won the Artisan Garden Gold Medal.

The designer of the garden is Jilayne Rickards

‘ I wanted the garden to reflect CAMFED’s strong commitment to supporting girls in eduction and the vibrancy of rural communities in Zimbabwe. It is a powerful message of how, by educating girls, we can tackle gender inequality and poverty, and break the cycle of poverty for good.’

At the heart of the garden is a classroom which is surrounded by plants and trees and edible fruit, leaves and roots that provide vital nutrition, particularly for mothers and school children.

The crops, which have been developed by scientists backed by UK aid, are also enriched with key vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A and iron, to tackle “hidden hunger” in developing countries. 

The plants include bio fortified varieties of maize, beans and sweet potatoes and are in a garden which, unusually for Chelsea, evokes a rural Zimbabwean school yard – complete with dusty red earth, a black chalkboard and orange trees. 

If like me you are interested in craft and design there are some first class designers showing in the artisan section of the show. There is a Dyers Studio set up by ex RCA student Lola Lely. She uses plants and natural materials to create dyes, pigments and paints.

Lola Laly setting up the studio

Charlie Whinney Wood & Steam celebrates what is possible using locally sourced green wood and eco-friendly steam-bending processes to create beautiful works that enrich your life.

Ceramic artist Corrie Bain is a British ceramicist based in Barcelona . she studied ceramics at Edinburgh college of Art. Her ceramics are inspired by microscopic imagery of seed pods, pollen and fractals. They are made from hand built porcelain clay.

From the Seed Pod collection

Botanicla, Applique Artist Natasha Hulse creates handmade fabric artworks for interior products such as bedheads lamps and cushions. She celebrates the beauty and phenomena of Flora found in British Woodlands, English gardens and the effect that nature has on us in our home.

Part of a head board by Natasha Hulse Design
Alitex Green House styled by Selina Lake

As well as the artisan sections, one of the other visual joys of the show was the Alitex green house styled by Selina Lake. She always designs her spaces to feel like somewhere you want to spend time.

My all time favourite, innovative and very comfortable seats in a variety of designs by Cacoon are on sale. Every season their chief designer Nick McDonald comes up with new designs, so watch this space.

As I finish writing this piece, I must not forget the Chelsea Pensioners who are still very much in evidence in their smart red uniforms.

The show is still on and the weather is good. so if you can get in, do go and visit.