So, I am playing Helena in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and needed a gift for my castmate playing Hermia. What better time to ask William Shakespeare himself what I should do :D
"We, Hermia, like two artificial gods,
Have with our needles created both one flower,
Both on one sampler, sitting on one cushion,
Both warbling of one song, both in one key,
As if our hands, our sides, voices, and minds,
Had been incorporate. So we grew together,
Like to a double cherry—seeming parted
But yet an union in partition—
Two lovely berries molded on one stem;"
So an embroidered cushion was the way to go. <3
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Step 1: The Preparation
You will need:
- Fabric - I chose a green gingham and a plain calico
- Red feature fabric - scraps of a fat quarter is what I used
- Embroidery floss in purple and green (the magical flowers in the play are purple)
- Red and white cotton
- Sewing needle
- Rotary cutter (optional, you could use scissors)
- Cutting mat and ruler (again, optional if you use the scissors)
- Embroidery hoop (optional)
- Safety pins and regular pins
- Knitting needle or chopstick (for turning out corners... if you choose a rectangular shape)
Start by cutting out your cushion. The exact size and shape isn't important (though I went with a 12x20 inch rectangle). You need to cut out a front and a back. I cut 2 pieces of the plain calico, as the green gingham was a bit see-through, so I wanted to line the back of it with a plain fabric before stuffing.
Cut out 2 small circles for the cherries. I made these approximately 3 inches across.
Iron all the pieces.
Step 2: Aplique Your "double Cherries"
Lay your red circles on the fabric, slightly overlapping.
Pin these in place.
Using your red thread, stitch a foundation stitch onto the fabric behind the cherry. Then carefully use the end of a pin to roll the red fabric under itself. Stitch the circle down. This stage does take time.... feel free to watch a Globe Theatre performance of "A Midsummer Night's Dream".
When done, your appliqued cherries will look like in the image, with the edges of the fabric that would fray all on the inside, protected.
Step 3: Embroider the "two Lovely Berries Molded on One Stem"
Using a length of green embroidery floss, full thickness, stitch the stem of the cherries as shown. I find a running stitch is easy to go in one direction, then reverse back through the holes from the first row.
Step 4: Embroider "with Our Needles Created Both One Flower"
Using a length of purple floss - split to be either 2 or 3 strands, pass the thread through from the bottom. Make a loop and drop back through the hole carefully. Bring your needle up at the point of the petal, and stitch the loop down with a tiny stitch. Return up through the centre hole to create the next petal.
When you have 5-6 petals on your flower, turn the work over, and stitch the end down firmly.
Create a cluster of flowers (I did this in a few shades of purple).
Carefully stitch stems on the flowers- which is easily done with another running stitch.
Step 5: Iron and Sew "on One Cushion"
Iron your cushion front. Do this carefully - you don't want to drag the embroidery floss flowers with the tip of the iron.
Lay the back piece on TOP of the front piece, with the embroidered pieces on the INSIDE. Pin these together with safety pins.
You can draw out the outline of your cushion, or you can just eyeball it. Go with your gut.
Sew up around the outline using a regular running stitch in white cotton (or a matching thread to your cushion). Only do this on 3 sides (or at least, leave an opening to turn the cushion rightside out and stuff through).
Turn the cushion the right way. Use a knitting needle or chopstick (or pencil) to poke the corners out square.... well, if you made a cushion with corners. You may have made a circle....
Step 6: Stuff Your "sampler" Cushion So That It Is "incorporate".
Iron the cushion so that it is nice and flat. Stuff the cushion through the opening. Using a pin, close the opening. Using your white (or matching) thread, whip or invisible stitch the hole closed.
Now you have a finished "A Midsummer Night's Dream" sampler cushion ready to use, or give away.