Sunbird by Renette Kumm

21st September 2018

Renette Kumm made her Inspirations debut in spectacular fashion with her project ‘Savanna Glory’ that graced the front cover of issue #95 and became an instant hit with needlework fans the world over.

This week we’re taking a closer look at Renette’s follow-up project, ‘Sunbird’ from issue #99, in which the superb iridescent green and glowing tangerine plumage of the orange-breasted sunbird is magically captured using cotton and silk threads on a ground of beige poplin.

You may remember we first discovered Renette when she sent in her remarkable threadpainted bird portraits for inclusion in ‘What Are You Stitching’ in Issue #36 of our newsletter. Instantly we knew this was someone who was serious about needlework!

Looking at her work, you can see Renette has a real passion for birds as well as remarkable skill when it comes to stitching them, so we asked where her interest in feathered creatures comes from.

‘My hometown is Knysna, heart of the garden route, in the western province of South Africa. Nestled between the shores of the pristine Knysna estuary, Indian Ocean and thousands of hectares of beautiful indigenous forest as well as the famed Cape Fynbos, Knysna is home to myriad wildlife and birdlife.’

With such an incredible choice of muse in your own backyard, it’s no wonder your needlework is so vivid! Was there something in particular that drew you to the Sunbird?

‘In 7 June 2017 a terrible fire devastated the Western Cape, so badly that many of my friends and acquaintances lost their homes and escaped with only the clothes on their backs. It was a very traumatic and humbling experience, even for those of us who suffered no material loss.

This disaster became my motivation for the Sunbird. I wanted to stitch something as a reminder of the beauty of this area, hence the orange-breasted sunbird.’

Renette, that’s such a wonderful way of using needlework to help journey through a difficult time, and now when looking at your Sunbird with that backstory in mind, it speaks of resilience and almost a defiance in the face of tragedy, showing that beauty will return, despite the ashes. Do you have any advice for anyone who would like to stitch their own ‘Sunbird’?

‘When starting a project, I get all my threads together and stitch small samples blending the colours. My best advice is to do exactly that if you are unsure of blending the colours, use the right size needle for the thread and replace needles as they become blunt. Most importantly, enjoy the stitching.’

Are there some more bird projects you have planned that we can look forward to seeing in the future?

‘My first love is birds and specifically birds of prey and vultures. My current project is a vulture, still busy with the prep work and I will post my progress on Instagram. The next project that I’m planning will be a huge challenge and I am somewhat excited and nervous at the same time. It is a portrait of a beautiful and striking young African woman with a multi-coloured headscarf and beads, a first for me.’ 

Renette it has been so such a joy catching up with you, your needlework is spectacular, and we can’t wait to see more of your amazing designs.

If you would like to read more about Renette Kumm, you can check out her Needleartist Profile in Inspirations issue #99 plus check out some more of her work on Instagram here.

Make Your Own Sunbird

With nearly 80 different threads used in Sunbird, if you are interested in re-creating this amazing design, a Ready-To-Stitch kit is a great option to take the hassle and time out of sourcing all the materials.

Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

Sunbird by Renette Kumm is a fabulous threadpainted orange-breasted sunbird.

Printed Magazines

Inspirations Issue 99

Digital Patterns


Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Sunbird includes everything you need to re-create this stunning bird: Fabric (unprinted), embroidery threads and needles.


Sunbird – i99 Kit

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