Inger Sorensen

           Making a swan

Before I start..A special mention goes to Sara Neves.

She writes beautiful interviews about artists around the world and I’m in it. She is a wonderful illustrator/dollmaker- discover this talented lady on Instagram

The beginnings of a swan.

I have always wanted to make swans. It’s been on my to do list forever. Finally I made one. Small, fragile and a brooch..But it was due to lots of practice and through trial and error. My first couple of attempts are indeed failures (ducks with floppy necks). I really had a challenge on my hand especially with the neck. dreamy, enchanting and wearable. The stitches are on the outside.

I even had a go at spun cotton character and this owl evolved… that was a challenge because this process takes a long time to dry. 

This is the process I used for making a swan.  beginner-medium skills


Calico, white acrylic paint, iridescent Medium, shiny vintage fabric, thread, cotton, wool stuffing, needle, scissors. Ink pen. Fabric glue.

There will be lots of stitches that will appear on the swan. I try to make them small and neat as possible.

I start by drawing the outline of a swan..Earlier in the week I was drawing lots of characters and a swan shape appealed to me. If you can’t draw find a picture and shrink it down to a size that suits you. You will only need the outline. Wings, neck and head. It’s going to be small.

Paint an area of cotton calico white and leave to dry.  Paint over with iridescent medium…a silver sparkling colour…when dry a most enchanting shimmering look appears. And the fabric is still pliable to put a needle through.

Fold fabric in half. Draw your outline of a swan body with neck on your dried fabric…and also draw the wings separately.  I usually use Indian ink.. and I just draw on the fabric straight away. This comes with practice..and it’s a quick way for me to get started. For this lesson I’m stitching on the outside so there is no turning right side out.
Cut out your wings and body. So you have a pair for each wings and a body with neck and head. 

Start stitching around on top of the ink of your outline. I am so use to making tiny stitches by hand that it becomes automatic. Leave a space for stuffing your wings as you stitch around.

Stuff your body and wings to what you feel is enough and not making the body too plump. The neck and face are very delicate I tend to be more careful…close the seam with small stitches. Keep in my mind that all stitching will be seen. 

Now you can quilt the wings with small stitches creating a winged effect with lines.  Run about 3 lines to add a wing like texture. 

Be careful sewing around the neck and stuffing the wool. If your swan neck feels floppy… I use fabric stiffener and let dry.  It sometimes does the trick. 

Place the wings on the back of the body. A small amount of fabric glue can help hold the wings to the body…and if you wanted you can choose to carry on with small stitches from edge of wing to the back body of the swan to tightened it more.

Lastly put a crown on the head of the swan. I cut a small piece of lace and make a crown and glue or stitch to the head.  Trim any excess threads that are not needed around the swan. Draw and cut a tiny heart and glue onto a wing. You can draw in the eye and beak or stitch over with black thread or colour it black with ink or paint. I also have cut tiny snippets on the bottom of the swan to create a feathered look.

Add a pin to the back to wear as a brooch.

This is another Swan I have made. Same procedures but a little more detail. I think a crown is needed.  It has a rustic wedding feel.  I’ve posted a picture of it on my etsy page and maybe if you want it I can list for you today. 

This is the same swan.. quite by accident the background was black when using the canva app. I kinda like the effect.  

Next time I promise to put more detailed photos in about how I make items.