Embroidered Portrait Satine from Mouline Rouge

I’ve taken a few days off from blogging for the holidays, and now that Christmas is finally over I can show you the stitchery I’ve been holding back on for fear the recipient might see it! This is the first one I ever worked on, which was maybe a bit ambitious, but I had a strong image in my head of what I wanted. It was also my intention to return the hoop I’d borrowed with something in it, so I knew what I had to do.
So do you recognise her?

My first ever embroidered portrait!

This was a gift for my friend Louise who put me onto embroidery in the first place. She loves all things Parisian and one of her favourite movies set during the Belle Epoch is of course Moulin Rouge. The most important thing for me was that she’d know who it was straight away, and I was very pleased to say she did! (RESULT! Although the Swarovski crystals (doubling as diamonds) were a clue). I’ve made a little album on flickr so you can see close ups if you like, and some of my other recent embroidery projects here: Cult Stitchin‘!

This was my first time using Osnaburg to sew on, which proved challenging as it wasn’t quite as neutral a background as I hoped, and I was worried my white stitches weren’t going to show up. I started out knowing a handful of stitches, I studied reference books for more, and if I’m honest, probably just made some up along the way, and I had a lot of fun doing it. I didn’t get hung up on stitch size or style I just whaled away, and the very lovely Louise has described it as ‘sketching with stitches’, which is kinda what it felt like for me. I just viewed this portrait as an extension of my digital sketches;

I found an image from the movie that I liked,

Niclole Kindman as Satine in Moulin Rouge

sketched over it digitally to capture the details that I wanted to include,

Quick digital sketch, in as simple lines as possible

and printed this off to make a tracing to form the basis of the embroidery.

I used eyeliner pencil as I didn’t have a proper fabric marker- ooops!

It really feels like a new way of drawing for me, and I’d love to do more portraits like this in the future. I’ll be sure to keep you posted when I do ;-)

Inis Magazine Winter 2011

Inis – children’s books Ireland- Issue 36

Look what I found in the post this morning! Well, isn’t this a pleasant surprise? It’s my contributor’s copy of the latest increasingly beautiful ‘Inis’ Magazine from Children’s books Ireland. ‘Inis’ has recently undergone a makeover and the new format makes for magazine you will want to keep and cherish, with its matt finish card cover to its lavish illustration spreads. I can’t recommend this magazine enough if you are interested in children’s books, either as a parent, a teacher or a book creator.

Illustration spread for review of Jon Klassen’s ‘I want my hat back’.

There are so many great articles, interviews and book reviews from the world of children’s literature in Ireland and beyond. ‘Inis’ covers children’s books for all ages and included in this particular issue (no.36) you’ll find an interview with award winning picture book editor Alison Green, well known adult authors talking about writing for children and young adults, in depth examinations on mental health issues in young people’s literature, and a look at the representation (or lack) of non-heterosexual characters, as well as a heavily illustrated book review section (in which I am one of many reviewers!) What more can I say? It’s a beautiful and intelligent magazine, well worth checking out.

Spot me in the spread about Vordak The Incomprehensible ;-)

Paper pieced hexagon quilt made from Spoonflower swatches

So what can you do with your 8 inch sample swatches when your done creating your fabrics on Spoonflower? I thought a scrappy quilt, using paper piecing hexagons might be an elegant solution. I wanted to make something from the samples of my ‘Neapolitan Bunnies’ range and for a quilting Newbie like me, randomly arranged paper pieced hexagons seemed like the simplest way go.

Paper pieced hexagon stack 1

My very kind friend Louise gave me some pre-used papers to start me off. They were 3.75 inches across at their widest, (with 2inch sides) which meant I got 3 hexagons from each 8in sq. But if you’re starting from scratch I’d recommend using an even smaller hexagon with maybe 1.5 inch sides for less wastage and more hexies.

Mini quilt centre made from spoonflower swatches 2

It turns out, I found adding these little hexagons quite addictive and I wasn’t quite ready to stop just there.So I ended up designing some polka dots to just to frame them! I made a whole range of polka dots here.

mini quilt with borders 3

Having gone dotty designing polkas, I decided on a brown with blue dot to literally bind the design together. My quilt hero Louise helped me do the math, and cut the strips to make the binding. We had six strips of 2 1/2 inches which needed to be joined together before they could go on the quilt. She  marked up my quarter inch seam for me, and taught me how to do a mitred corner like a pro. ( I was going to link to a tutorial, but it seems no two people do this the same way!)

quilt mitred-corner


hand quilting_close up


quilt_with binding attached


Now all I had to do was to fold the binding over and stitch it to the back.
Ta da! My first ever completed quilt!
hexagon mini quilt from spoonflower swatches
So there you go, an English paper pieced hexagon mini-quilt from Spoonflower swatches ;-)