top of page

The Illuminated William Morris - Fox's Tail!

(originally published 31st October 2015)

And finally, the ‘piece de resistance’ for Monsieur Renard - his tail…

Fox tails come in all shapes and sizes, so I admit I'm idealising, stylising, and hey, 'bigging it up' in this design! In a way, it's his pride and glory, so it has to be impressive - he's got a lot of gold to compete with...

One last time - outline the edge of the tail tip with a small,

sturdy split stitch, and begin working at the bottom edge.

Fill in the points first, over-emphasising them with an

extra-long stitch at the centre, extending just past the

actual split stitched edge.

I filled in all the points and outer edge in a dark cream first,

then started introducing new colours as I proceeded into the shape.

I've used the same coloured threads in the tail tip as I have in the front bib, so there's a really nice link between the two. The dark cream on the outer edges of the one is the same as the other. It's almost like I planned it ahead of time... ;)

A slightly lighter cream in the second 'row' helps to give

weight to the first 'row', and therefore makes it look like

the tail is curving away from you a the edges.

A really pale off-white brings some highlights to

the tail fur, and adds interest.

I like the finished effect - now onto the rest of the tail!

When I'm doing a big project like this, it's always bittersweet to get to the final stage of the design - in this case, the fox's tail - there's still the goldwork to do, but basically once this bit is finished, Foxy's done, and I won't have any more of the shading to complete. On the one hand I'm thinking 'Thank GAWD for that!' but on the other I'm thinking "Awww, I was enjoying this!'

One last split-stitched outline, hurrah! (Getting

bored of this stitch...) :)

What's been nice about this part of the design is the repeating colourway in all areas of the fox's body - there were about 15 colours I think (?) and after a while it was pretty straightforward - darkest colours for shadows, lightest for highlights, everything else in between! (Oh yes, and only creamy bits for tail tip and bib...)

Making sure that the dark reds of the tail cut into the

cream colours in a pointy, choppy way.

When you look at an animal with fluffy fur, there is this 'darkness' that is either the shadows cast by the long hairs against each other, or sometimes even the skin showing through (like on ears, chins, etc) - the only way to do this is to use a really dark colour, even if it looks far too harsh against the other skeins of colour sitting on your frame.

There's that really dark brown again - to give the impression

of deep fur, casting shadows between.

A wee bit of dark here and there acts as an accent, a trick to fool the eye into thinking the fur is quite deep...

You can just see the pencilled in directional lines - even

on a gentle curve like this I draw them - if it's worth doing,

it's worth doing well!

That's it, we're done!

Here he is! Phew! :)

Now here's something I've learned since doing this design - in the summer, I spent a lovely day stitching with Trish Burr on a 1-day silk shading workshop at the Royal School of Needlework. I much prefer her way of depicting fluffy fur (in her birds) than my own, and never could quite figure out how she did it. Now I know, and I'm going to incorporate that approach in all future designs with animals. Foxy will have to be re-worked in the future, to become a standalone kit, and he will be a MUCH fluffier beastie then, I can assure you!

What I fondly refer to as 'Trish Burr Furr'! :)

Love 'n Stitches,


p.s… if you liked this post, you might like this! can see more of Trish's work by going to her website, here.

5 views0 comments

Related Posts

See All


bottom of page