I'm starting to think about all the things I want to make for my home that I still haven't got round to doing. We have been decorating over the last few weeks and when all the painting is done and the furniture moved back into the sitting room, I'd like to have some lovely new cushions to throw around and a new cover for the old ottoman. Also I'm planning my list of Christmas gifts to make this year. I don't make clothes for other people as I think choosing clothes is a very personal thing and I'm also aware I personally have quite eclectic tastes, some of which won't be for everyone! But I do like making other kinds of things for people and last Christmas I really enjoyed sewing some handmade gifts for family. Obviously I will have to take care how I blog about them as I make them this year, as that would be a bit of a give away. But here is a gift that I made last year, a wool tweed cushion trimmed with leather. The appliqué design is of a fox. He looks just like the fox on my allotment, who I sometimes see standing motionless with his pointy nose sniffing the air, before he spots me coming down the path and melts away under the bramble bushes.
I used larger sections of tweed for the background in soft cream, grey and beige and at the bottom left a forest green. Then I enjoyed spending time piecing together my foxy face using deep reds, heather and rust coloured tweed scraps. I have a whole box full of offcuts and samples that were given to me in the hope I could use them up somehow as they are such gorgeous colours and lovely quality wool. Some of the pieces are only a couple of inches square, but perfect for this sort of project. I've also seen bags of offcuts come up on eBay from time to time as factories and mills sometimes sell these by weight. You can never be sure what you get in the bag of course, although you may be lucky and find one or two of good lengths. But for crafty projects a nice mix of scraps is just as good.
I drew a fox head first on sturdy paper and then cut up the drawing into pieces. I used the paper shapes to work out how the sections would fit together and play around with the colours. I wanted to leave some of the background showing through where his brown felt eye is in the middle. I also wanted his neck ruff to gradually disappear into broken sections, almost as though he's melting away into his tweedy background. I've used a mixture of stitches here to simply appliqué the design onto the backing sections and decided to use one colour thread all the way through, making the stitches visibly part of the patchwork effect. I've also used pinking shears to crimp the edge some of the pieces to add more texture.
His nose and one section of his neck ruff is cut out in brown leather and there are leather button loops at the back. The leather is recycled from an old garment. I used a fairly deep overlap section at the back of the cushion to insert the pad through and two button closures.
The back is one piece of lovely cream and caramel coloured wool and edges are finished with piping in the same fabric. I always use feather cushion pads on the inside as I think they look and feel nicer than synthetic ones and they mould better to the shape you need them when snuggling up. Another good tip, if you're using feather pads, is to always cut the cushion cover slightly smaller than the size of your cushion pad. This makes sure the feathers really fill the whole area right to the corners and the cushion looks plump and luxurious. This won't work if you use a synthetic pad though, when you should cut the cover to fit the pad exactly or it will just buckle inside. I'm glad to say the cushion was received well and went to join a collection of foxy furnishings in his new abode! I think I might take the idea and re-work it to create a design for my own home. I have some lovely grey and blue shades of herringbone and check, which might make a bold badger or a cheeky rabbit.
A collection of blue-grey toadstools could also work in these colours and I quite like this off-cut of Osborne & Little fabric called 'Mementoes' that I have in my stash. This would make lovely cushions, which I can pop them straight over the existing cotton cushion covers and instantly have a new and different look for the room this winter. Cosy!