Beetle cushions for Gus

posted in: Fabric printing | 4

I don’t like buying Christmas presents. I find it stressful, and I hate being under pressure to buy. So generally I give my children money and try to make something small, as an expression of my love, as well. Last year was very successful in that I made covered note books and diaries with my hand printed cloth or African fabric,  for the men, and (fake) fur collars for the ladies.

This year I considered my printing swatches and thought about how I could use them.

hand printed fabrics
Printing samples

By and large they are covered in beetles. Previously we had printed saleable items to support the centre. My calico shopping bag, printed with blue and green beetles, then overpainted with turquoise and navy metallic paints, had gone for £15! Maybe I should have made more bags?

Looking at the samples I thought maybe I could make cushions (and a few covered books with the smaller pieces) this year  – who doesn’t need an extra cushion, to add to the sofa, or put on a bed, or use to make a little boy or Great grandmama more comfortable at the table? I hope I have enough fabric to make one for everyone. I showed Gus my handiwork and he choose the same grey fabric as I have for my blouse, but said he would prefer it with gold or mustard on it. He has recently spruced up his flat with new carpets and soft furnishing (he doesn’t seem to have learned the value of “plumping up the pillows” yet, but he will learn). His colour scheme appears to include dark grey, light grey, white, mustard and turquoise.

four John lewis cushions
John Lewis selection

I decided to make cushions with the printed fabric, and as I had one half lesson to go (before our little party) I bought a metre of mustard linen. I planned to get a few dark grey beetles on this fabric, plus perhaps some light turquoise shapes.

1m mustard linen cloth
Mustard linen

So at the last meeting of term I arrived with a plan and worked hard for two hours. This is what I made. The shimmering gold and blue beetles are so exciting.

The grey and gold cloth was made in a similar way to my grey and silver beetles, but using a flat gold foil instead, followed by applying metallic fabric paint in gold, pearl white and turquoise on the preprinted white/silver beetles. The idea with this is to make a large cushion.

The mustard also turned out nice with a dark grey screen printing ink. I mixed quite a lot of black pigment with a bright white base, and the effect was rather nice. In fact so nice I didn’t really want to cut it into cushions. I asked Gus if he would prefer a throw, so as not to cut into the metre long piece, but he said a throw should be soft and cuddly – I do tend to agree, but thought the fabric would look quite impressive, draped on his black sofa (so all his friends might admire his mothers’ work – how craven of me!). Esme said she would like a skirt from the fabric. I am  now wondering if I can get a skirt and cushions from it. Gus said his girlfriend would like a dress, and suggested this style. It’s a film called Moonrise Kingdom.

from moonrise kingdom
Moonrise Kingdom dress

A dress like this, in the mustard fabric, perhaps with plain collar and cuffs might be nice, don’t you think?

The other thing on my mind was piping the cushions. I have never piped anything before – I don’t even put zips in cushions, preferring to just sew them up quickly (and resew after laundering). There are less than two weeks until Christmas. No wonder I was offering a throw – something I could “throw” together in ten minutes…

4 Responses

  1. Stephanie

    Kate these fabrics are stunning. Great work. Any number of things would look fabulous (I’m with Esme that a skirt would be special). A dress with plain Peter Pan collar would also be very cool. My mom takes the same approach with us – small, thoughtful gifts from time to time that she has made. I always appreciate the things she comes up with. We don’t really exchange gifts much otherwise, as as you said the pressure to buy is unpleasant and no one wants a gift just to have something in a package on a particular day. PS I love the idea of displaying your work across Gus’s couch for all to admire!

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