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The Illuminated William Morris - Fox's Chest!

(originally published 27th September 2015)

This is one of my favourite parts of Foxy - all those lovely tufts!

The trick with this part of the fox's coat is to make it look a different texture to the body. Of course it's a different colour, but it's fluffier and the hairs are longer here too. In this design, the bib has to really stick out, as if the fox is puffing out his chest to make it look bigger anyway!

Split stitch front edge of the bib only.

The hind edge 'bleeds' into the red coat.

I wanted to give the front edge some 'heft', so I split stitched the outline. I didn't do the same with the edge that overlaps the body, as this needed to be a bit softer, with more blending into the main red fur.

Exaggerate the points of the tufts by taking the 'point'

stitch just past the split stitch outline.

It's usually a good idea to 'over-egg' the points in a shape, whether it's a fox's bib or a leaf tip - the central stitch of a point should extend past the actual outline, with the stitches either side tucking in quite tight against it - all of this makes the point look pointier. This is an important consideration when most stitching has the tendency to blunt points. (Try this, you'll find out!) This rule of thumb applies to cotton as well as wool threads, to silk shading and gold couching, generally a good tip to follow regardless of what you're doing.

Tuck the stitches either side of the 'point' stitch

to exaggerate the shape even more.

You can overshoot the split-stitched edge in other places besides the tip. If you want a jagged edge, you can extend the occasional stitch well past the outline. Just as with the point, you need to 'over-egg' this though - be bold! If you're not, then the edge you want to be all jagged and choppy will just look 'nibbled' and incorrectly done.

I filled in the points first, and then stitched the

rest of the bib's edge.

I've done a lot of silk shading over the years, and sometimes I do things I have no good reason for. Like doing the points first on this bib - I just HAD to! I think I was having too much fun on them...

Front edge of the bib up to the throat complete.

Notice how really choppy the first 'row' of the bib is here; even thought it will all melt into the subsequent rows, it sets the scene and rhythm of what's to follow, and keeps me on a choppy route, which is what I want.

Time to work the hind edge of the big, where it cuts into

the coat and is a brighter cream colour.

As I mentioned at the beginning, I wanted to have the cream fluff of the bib overlap, and melt into the rest of the coat, and so many of these stitches were worked far into the red stitches. I made sure the tips of the points on this side of the bib were equally over-egged, bringing my needle up deep into the body stitches.

Make sure the stitches look choppy and jagged,

remember it's fur!

I wouldn't normally stitch both sides of a design area, I would start at one side (call it row one, for sake of argument), and proceed through the next however many 'rows' until the area had been filled. But in this instance, the fur was sticking out in opposite directions at the edges, so I wanted to make sure I got the outer edges correctly angled. By edging both sides and working inwards, I could place subsequent stitches in a natural direction, the way they would lie as hairs on a real fox.

Bib complete up to the nose.

Lovin' that bib! REally pleased with the overall effect, the shading and the choppy edges. Doesn't it mush into the red coat nicely? Last job is the nose, which sits proud of the fur, and so needs to be worked last.

Remember the eye? Same attention to detail

and technique on the nose.

A nicely edged nose - the split stitch outline will raise the nose stitches to match the level of the fur leading up to it. It's tempting to rush the final bit, as I've been working on the fox for so long, but every little details needs the same care and attention.

Part worked nose. Sniff!! :)

And here he is, all puffed out and proud, nose in the air sniffing the wind for a handy rabbit or chicken on the wander...

Now there's a puffed-out chest,

Foxy's feeling proud!

The next part of the fox's body is the penultimate one, but possibly the trickiest part - his leg, or haunch, has a terrific curve to it, almost 90 degrees in some places! Lots of directional lines to help me out, I think. See you then.

Love 'n Stitches, Kelley p.s...If you liked this post, you might like this!

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