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During the summer months, I often hear the very familiar sound of bee eaters around my home. Looking up, it is not unusual to see a flock of them flying high above my house. One seldom sees them perched on a branch for a rest so when I spotted one sitting on a fence in Delta Park, I was immediately inspired to create one in different mediums!

The technique that was used here, is fabric collage and thread paint and I decided to paint the background using Derwent Inktense paint blocks.

It is in the private collection of Mrs J Thatcher.

If you would like to create your own bee eater,


  • 40 x 60cm bull denim or artists’ canvas

  • Two sheets of Loomtex batting 45 x 65cm

  • Backing 45 x 65cm

  • Scraps of interesting 100% cotton with small prints on

  • Machine embroidery threads to thread paint

  • Machine embroidery thread to quilt

  • Matching all-purpose thread

  • A reference picture of a bee-eater

  • A light box

  • A marking tool

  • A sewing machine of which the feed dogs can drop

  • Stitch and Tear stabiliser.


  • Paint the background in a suitable colour Derwent Inktense paint and wait for it to dry. You want to choose a colour that is going to show off your bird so choose wisely!

  • Trace the picture of the bee eater on white paper and go over the lines with a black marker.

  • Use the light box to trace your design onto the bull denim using the turquoise marking pen.

  • Look at your reference picture and place the correct colour fabrics in the correct places.

  • Thread paint these in place on your machine. If you are using artists’ canvas, you will not need a stabiliser. For other fabrics, place a sheet of Stitch and Tear behind your work before you start thread painting.

  • Remove the stabiliser before the next step.

  • Once it is complete and you are happy with it, layer the quilt top, two layers of batting and backing and pin or use spray glue.

  • Quilt, using your favourite quilting design. I covered my background in pebbles but you can use any small design…you don’t want the quilting to overpower your bird! You should also choose a colour thread that will blend into the background (I didn’t do it in this quilt but you can see what I mean in the photo below)

  • Put a facing on and hand-sew it in place at the back.

  • Sew a hanging sleeve and a label on the back and remember, a quilt is not complete if it doesn’t have a label!

Enjoy your own bee eater!

If you are passionate about textiles and want to learn more about how to incorporate my innovative techniques into your work, follow me on Instagram @tillydeharde and Facebook, Tilly de Harde Fibre Artist & Teacher and visit my website & subscribe to my mailing list. You can also view my very informative videos on my Youtube channel. Please don’t forget to like and subscribe!

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