A few sunny days this Summer has meant a lot of butterfly stitching in the garden. I love sitting in the sun, snipping tiny fragments of fabric from my scrap box and hand sewing them into place to create butterfly wings. I try to be as accurate and close to the real thing as I can, part of the challenge is finding the perfect fabric and I quite often use the backs of prints for a subtler shade, or even paint up ‘grounds’ of calico in just the right colour. Sometimes I add a sprinkling of hand embroidered stitches for extra texture. A lot of fiddly hand sewing goes into each one before they are finished off with machine stitching.
Here are a few of this Summer`s butterflies so far.
A selection of finished butterflies out in the sun.
Moorland Clouded Yellow, Clouded Yellow and Small Heath. These brooches are a dainty 7cm across.
I think Orange Tips are my favourite to make. I spotted quite a few real ones this Spring for the first time here.
Clouded Yellow. I love the soft illustrations in this vintage field guide book.
Four little ‘Cabbage Whites’. I couldn`t decide which one to make so I made them all!
A larger Large White.
This is turning out to be a bit of a butterfly summer for me. I`ve been developing my stitched 3d butterflies, thinking of them as little soft sculptures as well as brooches. My recent ones are all based on real butterflies and I`ve been trying to make them as realistic as possible, layering tiny pieces of fabric and stitch and even incorporating little pieces of calico that I`ve hand painted to just the right shade. They are miniature labours of love!
The butterflies have gradually been growing in size, culminating in my Red Admiral which measures just over 14cm at its widest point. This would be rather large to wear as a brooch, but would look striking perhaps pinned to a curtain. All my new butterflies would be equally at home pinned into a little box frame, or hanging on the wall just as they are, the brooch pin on the back will hook happily onto a little panel pin.
I`ve been adding a few butterflies to my Etsy shop, although some people have been buying them directly from my Facebook page where they`ve been having a wonderful response, which is really encouraging.
I`ve loved making these butterflies, especially with the gorgeous summer weather we`ve been having recently. I sit on an old quilt in the garden, with my butterfly books spread out for inspiration and surrounded by scraps of cotton, handstitching the first stages of the butterflies, then coming in from the heat to the cool of my sewing room to finish off with machine stitching. Perfect! I`ve been more aware of butterflies in general too, spotting lots in the garden and on walks, although I can`t always get a good look to identify them properly. I`d love to be able to identify them as easily as garden birds, I only know a few at the moment. I`m looking forward to making more butterflies and also perhaps incorporating them into larger embroideries inspired by their evocative names.
This has been a wonderful summer so far, in fact it`s wonderful to actually have a summer for a change! Long may it last, although the garden would love a little rain- maybe just the odd shower at night!
Here are a few of my new butterflies:
a special order blue butterfly
my favourite so far!
Inspired by my forsythia drawings, I made this little stitched sampler this week.
The forsythia twig is ‘drawn’ on some loose woven, vintage linen, framed by scraps of toning cottons, vintage lace, cotton tape and shell buttons, all sewn onto a small piece of pale yellow recycled furnishing fabric. I want to experiment with lots more botanical stitching, based on drawings, I`ll just play around with little samplers till I feel I`m getting it right.
These are some butterfly brooches that I`ve been working on over the last week.
It took a bit of trial and error to get them right at first, but I`m really pleased with the final result.
The butterflies are built up of layers of tiny scraps of fabric, handstitching and machine embroidery. I painstakingly snipped out tiny pieces of cottons, choosing fabrics in soft, muted tones of orange, yellow, blue and brown to echo the colours of wild British butterflies. I was influenced by the illustrations in this vintage wildlife field guide book. The layers of machine stitching softened the effect further, with the black stitching picking up details of veining on the wings, outlining the butterfly and drawing the antennae.
I wanted these butterfly brooches to act as companion pieces to my bumble bees and made them the same way, trying to keep quite a loose feel to them.
It`s been such freezing, wintry weather all week so I`ve really enjoyed staying cosied up in my sewing room, surrounded by scraps of fabric and accompanied by my cat and Radio 4, creating these tiny heralds of Spring.
During the past few weeks, I`ve been busy making lots of Valentine`s and Mothers` day brooches for my stockists. They all needed a good topping up after Christmas and I enjoyed making some pretty brooches that look forward to Spring.
Hearts galore for Valentine`s day! These round heart brooches are new.
More little stitched hearts and tweed hearts.
Some more stitched flowers, pretty for Spring and perfect for Mothers` day.
Another batch of layered corsages. I`m so pleased that these are selling really well. They`re my favourites at the moment, I`ve been wearing one almost every day!
I also had a couple of commissions last month, for a wedding fascinator and a Jaunty Jim cap.
These were people who had found me online and it has made me determined to get on with my online shop. Now that my stockists are topped up it will be my next plan of action!
My Edinburgh stockists have been keeping me busy over the last few weeks on the run up to Christmas. I`ve been making lots of all my best sellers to keep them topped up. This batch of heart brooches were for Flux in Leith.
Some of my favourite brooches to make for Autumn/Winter are my leaf corsages. Inspired by Autumn leaves, they`re made from recycled tweed and felt which I`ve dyed in leafy colours. Each corsage is made up of a layer of four leaves, finished off with a rustic wooden button. The leaf shapes are ‘drawn’ freehand on the sewing machine so they are all slightly different.
My new layered corsages have been selling well and I`ve just finished my fourth batch of them. I made some lovely muted ones using recycled velvets and brocades mixed with voiles, tweeds and vintage ties.
I even made myself a silvery one to wear on my sparkly Christmas jumper!
The corsages inspired some little fascinators which I made for Miss Katie Cupcake in Cockburn street. The flowers are layered onto black felt with lots of net. I made them on hairbands so they are very easy to wear, perfect for a Christmas party!
Yesterday I took some time off to gather greenery from the garden to make a wreath for the front door and lots of bunches to hang up in the cottage. I used lots of textures and leaf shapes, mixing holly and ivy with hebe, laurel, golden privet and other evergreens. I always add a few sprigs of rosemary to the indoor garlands for the lovely scent.
Merry Christmas to all and best wishes for 2013!
Look out for my online shop, opening soon in the New Year.
I met a lovely lady from Harris recently, who very kindly gave me a big bag of gorgeous Harris Tweed scraps and samples. What a treasure! I`m so grateful to her.
There are lovely deep textures and colours and also some interesting stitching linking some of the samples together. Most of the samples are little bits which are perfect for brooches or covered buttons, but some pieces are large enough for a cushion or a bag.
I`m sure I`ll get lots of pleasure using the tweed in many projects to come. To start with I made some more little owl brooches. The texture of the Harris tweed really suits them. The little purple one is my favourite!
I`ve just spent all afternoon making the leaves for these rosebud corsages. Not the most exciting job, but very satisfying to get them all finished.
The rosebuds are made from strips of cotton in toning colours and patterns, each one carefully folded and stitched to look as life-like as possible. Each corsage has three rosebuds and three quilted leaves.
I use mostly vintage cottons, recycling old sheeting, blouses, etc, in fact anything in the right shades. I collect cottons specially for my rosebuds and have bags of reds, pinks, yellows and blues, plus greens for the leaves.
I have a wonderful piece of vintage Laura Ashley cotton in leaf green printed with tiny white flowers which is sadly running out, but I found some lovely block-printed Indian cotton in K1 Yarns in Victoria Street, Edinburgh, which is the perfect leaf shade and a good substitute. I`ve also recycled some khaki trousers to make some solid coloured leaves.
I like mixing florals with polka dots and ginghams in my rosebuds. I`ll sometimes mix in some linens in the right shades for a different texture (like my old, much loved and missed, red linen trousers!). I found a red blouse with tiny white polka dots in a charity shop which is perfect for rosebuds, but that`s nearly running out too. I`ll just have to keep an eye out for more fabric, a good excuse for lots more charity shop rummaging!
I saw this gorgeous tulle in palest oyster in John Lewis a couple of weeks ago and bought half a metre to have a play with.
It coincided with lots of white flowers appearing in the garden. I love white on white, so fresh and pretty and really evocative of Spring.
I made these pretty corsages while sitting out in the garden, basking in the warm sun the week before last.
They combine recycled linen with the tulle and vintage lace, with a cluster of vintage crystals and pearls in the centre.
Very sweet and pretty, just right for a Spring wedding. Making them really fitted in with the gorgeous weather of that week, then last week we had white on white of a different sort- snow blizzards and hail!