26 November 2011

Autumn Cushion

I was inspired to make this cushion, which is going to be part of a set for my aunt, uncle, cousin and her husband for Christmas this year, by looking at all the trees which appeared in the Celebrate Colour contest as soon as it opened.

Being typically myself I procrastinated in starting the cushion, which wouldn't have been a big deal, except that I want to enter it into the Celebrate Color competition at Stitched in Color. The other issue is that although the competition ends tonight I only started it on tuesday, which causes major time issues when you're also revising for an exam and have no machine with which to do the piecing, it's not out of objection that I don't have a machine, but that as a student I can't afford one, and I find hand-stitching quite peaceful most of the time.

So I cut out my pieces, of which there are a grand total of 28 and started stitching the front together. I put the four non-descript pairs in the borders and a half of each of the 'seasonal' pairs in the corners. The Butterflies represent summer, the budding leaf pattern spring, the Snowflakes winter and the Ivy leaves autumn. It was essential these fabrics were highlighted in some small way as the set of cushions will eventually consist of Summer, Spring, Autumn and Winter.

Once I'd pieced the centre of the front I drew out my pattern on some squared paper that I use for my maths work and pinned it to the space which needed to be embroidered.  

I did the embroidery through the paper to use it as a guide, although I discovered a major issue that it can cause. I started by stitching the grass in a green thread and then outlined the tree in black, both were done using a simple running stitch.

The next stage was to infill the tree's 'bark', also in the black thread and running stitch. It was at this stage the problems started to arise as I realised I needed to remove the paper from beneath the embroidery, however the stitches in places were close enough togethe that this was practically impossible.

 When It was time to do the leaves, in a metallic orange thread, using a satin stitch, I cut a guideline area out of the paper before starting, a much better idea!

 Eventually I completed the embroidery, this part didn't actually take too long, maybe a couple of hours. To remove all traces of the paper I actually had to wet the fabric and rub it off the front, fortunately for me this worked and didn't cause ink from the pen I'd used to run onto the fabric.

 I was very impressed with how the tree turned out. The bark looked so realistic and the whole of it, except maybe the grass really contrasted with the general beigeness being used for the rest of the cushion. Exactly what I was aiming for as it really focused the eye.
 I'm actually in love with the colour of the leaves. So glad I found that thread!

 The next stage was to attatch the final border to the front of the cushion. The border fabric, also used in the centre, was from a pair of curtains I bought from the second hand shop where I worked over the summer. I was really concerned with how they'd hold up to my hand stitching but they surprised me :)

I pieced the back as well. this consisted of the same four focus fabrics appearing in the same size, order and places as on the front of the cushion. The rest of the back was made from the curtain material.

 After pieceing both front and back I pressed them, always makes a difference. Although I never press fabrics as I go along  I always do before putting the front and back together.

 The cushion was then pinned for the most time consuming part. Putting it together. I tacked with a loose running stitch from the bottom of the left hand seam, around both sides and the top to the same place on the other side. I then tidied it up with a tighter running stitch back the other way. This is the way I do pretty much all of my seams. At this point I turned it right way out and stuffed it, using the contents of a pillow I'd bought. I then pinned the back closed and finished off the last stretch of seam with a slip stitch.

I love how it turned out, I keep saying it but it's true, and I'm a tad disappointed I can't keep it, but I'm fairly sure my aunt will treasure it.

When I stitch I double all of my threads up to hopefully make them stronger and more contrasting. I think all of the threads that I used for embroidery were actually intended for machine stitching, however the orange and green came out of the bargain bucket because of broken spools and the black belonged to my mum but she doesn't sew often.

Hopefully this will link with Stitched in Color and I'll try and find the button.


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