Embroidered haiku pillow


This project certainly wins the medal for being the one longest deferred – almost two years! I had started it in mid 2012, before I had much experience with embroidery. The idea was to embroider a pillowcase with a sweet Japanese haiku. In this case, I had selected

Under the moonlit sakura
A butterfly dances
I’ve overslept

Sweet, right?

The image is one of my own creation, drawn to match the haiku. The sakura tree was partly adapted from an illustration in a storybook I had as a child, while the moth was drawn freehand after a Nature photo I found on the web. The image was drawn on tracing paper, first in pencil and then in mirror-image using heat-transfer pencil. It is absurdly fun to cook up a pretty picture from scratch and so satisfying to see its dimensionality in the coloured thread.

IMG_3851Heat transfer pencils are lovely things. I picked mine up at a local craft store. Basically you sharpen the pencil, draw the image on transfer paper and then iron on the image using a dry (no steam, no water) iron. The key is to keep the image stable by lifting the iron up and putting it down on a new area each time; do not iron back and forth as this will cause jitter.

I’ve used a few basic types of embroidery stitches in the composition:

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The only aspect I will comment on here is that the tree is actually a gradient composed of three shades of embroidery floss. The effect is neat, and definitely something I would like to explore further in future projects.

Because this is a pillowcase and not a single-layered piece of cloth, I had to tie off the extra fabric to avoid stitching through both the front and the back of the pillow. Do-able but a pain. If anyone has suggestions for moving the pillow fabric out of the way I would love to hear.

Here is what the back of the embroidery looks like:

IMG_3817Not too shabby. And of course, because this pillow is going to be subjected to a wash now and then, I decided to seal off the back with a layer of thin muslin:IMG_3822Here are a few different pictures of the final piece:

IMG_3831 IMG_3836

Night, night!