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My portrait of Wilfredo the dog for Lisa Congdon

Today I am sharing a recent project I stitched for the amazing Lisa Congdon. Lisa is an American artist, author, fabric designer and somebody I admire very much.


Lisa has very kindly agreed to an interview which will be on this blog on Sunday (March 6th) so make sure you check back or sign up to Jenni Smith Sews on Bloglovin and don't miss it! There will be a fabric giveaway from Cloud 9 too. 

The textile picture I stitched shows Lisa's beloved dog Wilfredo, fast asleep beneath a quilt.  It has now made its journey across the Atlantic from Ilkley to Portland Oregon and has been very well received, much to my joy.

The story of how it came about goes like this:-

Many moons ago I pinned a graffiti wall from one of Lisa's Pinterest boards because I loved the play of colours and forms.

I am a modern quilter and teacher and I decided to make a little improv piece inspired by it. I chose a limited colour palette from my Denyse Schmidt Modern Solids charm pack and played happily until I came up with the miniature quilt top in the picture. Then I hung it in my workshop and carried on with a million other projects.

In the meantime I bought Lisa'a book Art Inc which is a guide to making a living from your art, and not being afraid to approach your creative development with a business mind-set. I have read a lot around this subject in recent years and found this book to be the most inspiring and comprehensive guide out there in terms of having the confidence to follow your dream, on your own terms. I studied Art History at University and used to have a successful career in TV documentaries, so making a change has been a little scary. Lisa's book made it less so. 


I also bought some of Lisa's fabric collection called Revelry for Cloud 9.  I love the soft voile and have a half-constructed Washi dress in it to finish sewing when the weather in England is a little warmer!

Over a period of months I had become a big fan of Lisa, and through following her on social media I had learned that Lisa was a big fan of her dog, Wilfredo. I then had the idea to challenge myself to see if I could make a dog portrait in thread for the first time.

For a number of years I have been making textile art based on sleeping animals and the story of why I started is on my blog (link below). Basically it came from a nursery rhyme I have sung to all of my 3 children. I have made hedgehogs, giraffes, elephants and many others all using Yorkshire wool spun at the mill in my home town.

So I worked from a photo of Wilfredo looking super relaxed on Instagram and had a go.

I began sewing on my machine with a mixture of Aurifil threads including their Lana (wool), linen and cottons of different weights. I worked from a black and white photo to look at the tones and also added some shading with pencil crayon. 

My first attempt was, for me, full of character but didn't look like Wilfredo and seemed to get older as I stitched away!  However,  I really enjoyed the process of working with new materials and essentially drawing with my machine, so I  decided to have another go.

I was much happier with my next version.  I reached the point where I felt I couldn't do any better unless I was to head across the water and observe Wilfredo in real life!


I then hand-quilted the mini quilt I had made many months before and put the picture together.  The background incidentally is a beautiful Indigo damask weave from the Gambia which has geometric patterns. I felt that it complimented Lisa's style as an artist and could also depict the night sky. The bow tie is Lisa's Revelry voile. Here are the many Aurifil threads I used...

On completing the work I sent an email over to Lisa's studio with details of the picture and the story of its creation. 

I received a lovely response and was very happy that Lisa wanted the original work.

As I mentioned earlier Lisa also kindly offered to be interviewed for my blog so it has been an exciting and challenging project, which I am happy to finally share. 

Please have a look at my online shop whilst you are here.  I sell greetings cards and fine art prints and ship worldwide:-

You may also be interested in reading about my two commissions for US actress Kristin Davis using prints from Liberty of London:-

Please also feel free to comment and share this post.  Thank you very much.  




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