cross-stitching x cardmaking

Susan Bates - Designing the “Tulip Dreams” Patterns for StitchableCards

Posted on January 16 2023, By: Waffle Flower Team

Susan Bates - Designing the “Tulip Dreams” Patterns for StitchableCards

In this blog post I thought I’d write a bit more than usual about where I got my inspiration from and what kind of imagery I looked at before coming up with these new designs. 

When thinking about putting together these new designs I realised that I rarely used the purple thread colours in the ‘stitchables’ range, so I chose to use this range of colours in these designs.

Dark purple tulips are the theme for these designs. I have always loved their look, and they always come to mind when thinking of what makes a beautiful flower. Tulips represent true love and the purity of love. They can also be used to signify rebirth and therefore are associated with spring. Purple tulips are synonymous with royalty. This is primarily because centuries ago purple was an expensive dye. So it became linked with wealth, and therefore royalty. These days tulips are thought to suggest elegance and refinement.

Tulips are found in many different countries and have been depicted in art and design, especially textiles. They were a popular motif in India and the Ottoman Empire and became very popular in Europe too; being exported as patterned fabrics by Dutch and English merchants. Tulip bulbs became an expensive luxury in the 17th century. The phrase ‘tulipomania’ was coined to describe this craze.

Being personally inspired by the work of the Arts and Crafts movement, I created my tulip ‘stitchables’. William Morris was the movement’s main proponent. His designs were usually based around flora and fauna. They often featured curling, intertwined leaves and flowers. Symmetry was a frequent element in his work. The beauty of his designs originated from his application of pattern. This is what drew me to his work. William Morris produced some designs for Liberty’s in London and such is his legacy, his work is still produced to this day.

I also love Art Nouveau. It is often inspired by nature and is largely defined by its curving, expressive lines and flowing organic shapes. Art Nouveau had its roots in Britain and was inspired directly by the Arts and Crafts movement. This style has been epitomized in all manner of art and design, such as architecture, jewelry, illustration, interior design and graphic design.

I begin by sketching up a few ideas in pencil. Then, once I’ve got a few different ideas formulated I work on improving them; adjusting details like the layout, how the borders frame the designs and how the stems and tendrils of the designs all link together.

This was the first design of the set of four that I came up with.  Everything after that grew from this image.

I went for a symmetrical layout, with the central purple tulip being the main focal point.  The leaves curve and bend pleasingly and the border has an Art Nouveau look to it.

The soft pink background works well with the shades of purple and lime greens.

When it came to charting this design up I simplified the curling border, as the amount of detail in the sketch wouldn’t fit into the scale of the stitchable template; however the finished design still keeps the essence of the style.

Here we have the flower as the centerpiece of the pattern.
Unlike the former example, we have three bulbs stemming from the middle, keeping symmetry. This time I chose to have a light turquoise background – I love how the shades of purple look on against this turquoise color.

For this pattern the flower is more open with the focus on the central flower.

I made the choice to change the background color from the pale pink seen here in the illustration to a light yellow. To me this improved the pattern's aesthetic qualities.

For this final pattern I introduced a new element: a female figure. I was inspired by the illustrations of Alphonse Mucha. His female figures often have flowing robes and long hair curling hair.
My figure is shown in profile and has her long hair styled in decorative coils. She is placed in front of a pretty floral background.

I had fun working on these designs, so I hope you enjoy them too! The symmetrical designs are pleasing to the eye and the female figure is a nice change from all of the floral motifs I’ve designed so far – and I really love how the green and purple palette of colors turned out for this design set.