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  • Tracey Bengeyfield

It's February!

Where has the time gone? February is with us and it will soon be Spring! I've been trying to think where January went and what I actually managed to achieve last month. It's begining to feel a little bit like groundhog day with the continuation of lockdown 3! Hopefully you have all been keeping occupied and busy painting. I've been keeping an eye on the members area, which seems to be getting a little busier with your posts which is great. There has been some absolutely fabulous work posted on there over the last week so do please keep it coming in!


Over the Christmas period I signed up for the Surrey Open Studios and decide to brave it this year (after pulling out of the event last year due to all the Covid regulations). I'm hoping that by June things will be much improved and that I will be able to open my little studio safely for my visitors. This does however mean that I will ned to get my skates on to make sure that I have everything in place as I only have 4 months to prepare (which seems like ages but from past experience, I know that it will fly by!). I thought I would share with you a little bit of backstage preparations in this post, which I hope will give you an insight into the processes behind some of my shop items.


Just before Christmas I was asked If I could make a Giraffe cushion as a gift. The customer had seen the painting on my website and got in touch to see if this was possible. You might recognise the painting as it was the one we created last year in one of our painting projects.

Hello Giraffe Original Watercolour

I always get asked at fairs if I make the cushions. The answer is yes, but still some folks think they are a wee bit too expensive than the ones you can buy which are mass produced! They also think I press a button and just order them and someone else does the sewing bit! But all of the fabric items are designed and made with love in my home studio.


To begin with I prepare the artwork for the fabric. This involves taking a photograph of the original painting and uploading it into a photo manipulation programme. I use a free one called paint.net.


In paint.net I open the photo and crop it to the correct shape of my cushion. In this instance it is a square cover. I then zoom into the image and carefully cut around the shape of the giraffe with the lasso tool so that all of the background is removed. In this case it meant carefully cutting along the edge of his mane and around his eyelashes! This will mean that when I send it to the fabric printers the background will be perfectly plain. I then place a thin square box line around the image so that I can plan it onto my fabric and use it later to help with the cutting out stage.

Transfer photo to Paint.net

Once I have saved my image, I upload it to an online fabric printers called Contrado who are based in London. I select the type of fabric that I want it printed onto (in this case it is organic panama cotton which has a lovely soft finish with natural flecks of the cotton showing). I upload all of the images that I need onto the same piece of fabric and plan them out so that I get the least wasteful layout.


Once my order is placed I get on with making the back pieces of the cushion cover. These are made of linen and overlap on the back to create an envelope cushion.





After a few days, my fabric order arrives as one large sheet of fabric. I use my metal rule and rotary fabric cutter to carefully cut out each piece. The only problem is finding a table that is big enough! You can see the square line around each image which helps when cutting out each item. When I first started I didn't do this and I hade to make a pattern blank and use it as a template. This way is much easier!

A sheet of fabric is delivered

Here you can see some of my other cushion designs that I have been working on over lockdown last year. The hare was a special order which is showing a reverse image to the usual one. I have also printed my Hydrangea design and developed a cushion based on the feathers we painted last year.





Once all of the pieces are cut out I can store them flat, ready to make up when I have the time!

Add the piping

Once the pieces for the front are cut, I select the best matching bias binding to suit the colours in the image and pipe the edges. This really adds the finishing touch to the cushion cover!


All that is remains, is to sew the front and back pieces altogether. You need to do this with the outsides facing in so that the seams remain on the inside when you turn it right side out!









Once the cushion has the inner added it will spruce up any chair or sofa!

Do note though, that when you order cushion covers they will come without the inner so that it makes for easier postage!

Ready to use!

You could get a matching pair of giraffes who face towards each other as a special request, which I think looks best on a sofa!


All in all it takes about a week to ten days to turn around an order such as this one. So there you have it ~ from painting to sofa!


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