Thursday, April 14, 2011

Life of an Item with SmithAndDaphne

Hi, all - this is Kristen from Smith & Daphne! I’m slowly working on creating more items for my shop, and one thing I’m focusing on is my line of animal pillows. I’ve been really inspired by the woodland trend that’s been happening, since it’s something that I love. At this point, I have a fox, a hedgehog, and a bear:

Each pillow starts with the drawing process. I’m not exactly an “artist”, so this sketching process has stretched me.

As you can see, there can be many versions of an animal before I get to the final one. I’m really drawn to graphic shapes so I wanted to use simple silhouettes, but you lose a lot of defining detail when you’re only working with an outline! It takes me a while to find the right balance for each new animal. The sketching often involve research, as well. For example, I now know two new facts about bears. 1) They walk flat footed/heel-first, like we do (many other animals don’t). 2) They move the legs on the same side of their bodies at the same time - unlike, say, dogs, which move diagonally-opposite legs together. Fascinating, eh?

Once I have the animal’s shape finalized, I draw it on plain white paper. If necessary, I can scan the image and resize it on the computer to print either a larger or smaller silhouette. (It was actually a much more difficult process to enlarge the image than I expected. My Mac didn’t want me to make an image that would print on more than 1 piece of paper.) I use fusible interfacing to transfer my shape into felt and place the felt on the fabric. The fusing process makes it simpler to keep my shapes consistent, and it also allows me to decide whether or not I want my hand-stitching to literally attach the felt or just enhance the design.

Each of my pillows has hand-stitching around the silhouette. I vary the stitches I use as well as the embroidery thread color. I usually pull out my boxes of thread (these were originally my mom’s!) and set them out next to the fabric to help me decide which to use. Sometimes I use a tone-on-tone look; other times, I go for contrast. I often watch Grey’s Anatomy or another TV show or movie while I stitch - it’s time-consuming!

After the applique is complete, it’s time to make the fabric into a pillow cover. I almost always use French seams in my covers for durability, and sometimes I use one of my machine’s decorative stitches as a little accent on the back. I include a small label on most pillows, but I just place it on the inner half of the envelope-style opening, so you only see it if you’re inserting or taking out a pillow form. Right now, I use iron-on printable fabric with my shop name and website that I cut into strips - quick and easy.

Each pillow is unique, but I can easily duplicate and customize them. My very first sale was a custom order for a pillow just like one I had listed but in a different color. I’m always open to custom requests, and I enjoy working on them. I have plans to keep expanding this product line, and luckily, once I have an image created, the entire process is much simpler. Many of my other items are one of a kind and not so easily recreated - it’s nice to have a “go-to” item that offers room for creativity but still lets me relax a bit on the design process.


  1. So cute! I absolutely adore your shop.

  2. Thanks for showing us your process, and your enthusiasm!

  3. Great detail and description. I like how you mentioned that you're learning about the animals too! Thanks for sharing your creative process with us!

  4. Thank you! It was fun to write. :)