Summer Days by Jo Butcher
15th February 2019
We’ve been experiencing a heatwave in parts of Australia recently, with the team in the Inspirations office sweltering in record temperatures of 47C (116F). In extreme weather such as this, we can only dream of warm, halcyon summer days – neither too hot, nor too cold. Close your eyes and you’re surrounded by a cloud of scent from the myriad flowers growing, and you’re lulled by the happy hum of bees busily popping from one bloom to another.
This dream is precisely what Jo Butcher has realised in her project ‘Summer Days’.
Worked on uniquely hand painted calico, Jo has created a summer garden bursting with texture and colour. Before you begin to stitch, you get the chance to call on your inner artist by following Jo’s easy instructions and paint your background using water colours. Alternatively, you can purchase our Ready-to-Stitch kit with the calico fabric pre-printed and the background all done for you, ready to go.
Then with needle in hand, the stunning bullion knot lavender flowers, the striking detached chain lupins and the fluffy hollyhocks stitched with straight stitch, all bring the garden to life.
The tiny French knot bees though, are truly the icing on this deliciously visual cake. You can almost hear them buzzing away.
Jo’s designs always transport us into gorgeous landscapes and delightful scenes, but we asked Jo what her inspiration was specifically, when she created this piece:
‘The original idea came from The RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. It is the largest flower show in the world, with 34 acres of showground to explore. I saw a beehive nestled in a flower border on a show garden and loved the idea of stitching one. I had previously stitched beehives using pieces of vintage lace. I discovered there is a lot of love and appreciation for bees from these pictures, so it was a natural progression.’
We also fell in love with the beehive and those tiny, industrious bees who seem to be enjoying the most idealistic of gardens. What a cornucopia of flowers! We were curious about Jo’s favourite part of stitching this piece, with so many wonderful elements to choose from.
‘Though the planting scheme is definitely from a ‘dream garden’, it is stitched with some of my favourite flowers in my favourite colour scheme! In particular, I adore the rose tree with its shading and gorgeous little pink roses, stitched with my favourite stitch, the French knot. And hollyhocks are one of my favourite flowers.’
‘I love how by using just a straight stitch and French knots I can represent such pretty flowers.’
Simplicity is key to the effectiveness of this project. None of the stitches are complicated, but the combination is beautiful, reminding us that complexity isn’t always better. Sometimes just stripping back to the basics is exactly what is needed. But Jo did give some advice for those of us looking to create our own ‘Summer Days’:
‘My biggest piece of advice is to work this on a frame big enough to see all the area to be stitched and taut enough to support the long stitches. Also make a mock mount (a piece of paper works fine) to help focus the eye on the composition. But most of all, if you are struggling with a stitch or don’t like a flower, you can just change the planting combinations!’
So, it’s just like real gardening then… only with a needle and thread!
Make Your Own Summer Days
Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions
Summer Days by Jo Butcher is a delightful garden in full bloom with busy bees flying to and from their wooden hive.
Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit
The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Summer Days includes everything you need to re-create this delightful garden, including a piece of pre-printed calico with the background printed and ready to begin stitching, embroidery threads and needles.