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Design Threads: Applique


It is always important to add a personal touch to create interiors which tell a story. We love to use a collage of colour, pattern and texture, with handcrafted details such as applique and needlepoint. These details remind you of the hand of the person who made the stitches in a cushion or carved the curves of a table leg.

At the Kit Kemp Design Studio, we often create our own applique designs which we hand stitch on to cushions, chairs, and sometimes even a headboard!

In this lovely bedroom at Covent Garden Hotel we cut out these bold snail shapes and appliqued them onto a boiled wool.

Brumus Bar & Restaurant at Haymarket Hotel is named after one of my beloved dogs. In homage to our spaniel, we hand-cut and appliqued different breeds of dogs on to the back of each chair and barstool.

At Crosby Street Hotel in New York, we created orange motif bed cushions and an armchair which plays on the scale of the orange tree design on the headboard fabric.

In the Library at Haymarket Hotel, we created these polkadot cat cushions to add a hand-crafted element to the scheme.

For my ‘Folkthread’ collection with Anthropologie, we created upholstered armchairs with applique flying rhinos and hand stitched cushions which capture our love of folk art and handmade crafts.

This week for Design Threads, we have made our own appliqued bed cushion, which now sits in bedroom 109 at Dorset Square Hotel.

This little friendly creature has been cut out from dark blue boiled wool and fixed down using invisible stitching. He stands proudly with a strong red crown placed on his head. Jewels are embedded in the crown by using a yellow thread and little french knots. Surrounding the head there are yellow cut out moon shapes giving a dream like quality.

What you will need:
• A plain cushion cover
• Embroidery thread and a needle
• Scissors
• Felt or Wool (It is important to use wool or a felt as it does not fray like a linen or a cotton would)

Step 1 – Find your inspiration

We were inspired by David Yarrow’s wildlife photography. We flicked through images and found a few photos we loved of large cats. Once you have found something you like, trace over it and tweak it until you have a design you are happy with.

Step 2 – Scale and cut around the shape

Now you have drawn out your character, you may need to scale it up to the size you think works for your cushion. Then transfer your shape onto the felt or wool and cut it out.

Step 3 – Choose your colours

The room which we were designing this cushion for was a red, blue and white scheme. We wanted to stick with this colour palette so we decided to give our ‘catty creature’ a little red crown.

Step 4: Get stitching!

We chose four different threads – yellow, red, white, and blue. We used simple yet effective markings to show a mane, feet and a bushy tail! We used the yellow thread and French knots to create jewels in his crown.

We wanted to add a whimsical and dreamlike quality, so we cut out yellow felt moons, using red thread to stitch them down.

Step 5: Fix it down

Once you are happy with your work, fix your friendly creature to your cushion. We used invisible stitching by colour matching a cotton thread to our navy wool. We fixed him onto a light grey boiled wool, which was the base cloth of our cushion.

Applique is a wonderful way to give your interiors a personal touch. Get stitching and show us your applique designs! Tag us on @KitKempDesignThread and #designthreads and we will share our favourite pieces.

Kit Kemp Cushions

If you don’t fancy creating your own cushions, we also have a range for sale on Shop Kit Kemp, from our design collaborations with Andrew Martin, Christopher Farr, Fine Cell Work and Chelsea Textiles. CLICK HERE to find out more.

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