Wednesday, 17 February 2016

A Fresh Approach to Embroidery on Irish Linen

Almost 2 years ago I was searching for unusual Irish Linen pieces to decorate a house in an old linen mill and Deborah Toner's cushions really caught my eye. I commissioned her to create a pair of cushions with an embroidered design inspired by an early 1900s postcard of the mill.

Deborah is a talented designer in my home city of Belfast.

Trained originally as an architect, she has chosen to use her architectural drawing skills to create beautiful embroidered pieces for the home, all stitched on locally woven Irish Linen.

As part of her degree thesis Deborah stitched a series of maps showing the evolution of the city of Belfast, and these pieces were purchased by the Ulster Folk Museum in Cultra. That was just the start…..

Inspired by the buildings and landmarks of Belfast, Deborah began to hand draw a range of images, which she then machine embroidered to form the first collection. A Belfast skyline, the City Hall, the Albert Clock, Samson and Goliath - the iconic twin gantry cranes of the shipyards are just a few of the subjects adorning a range of cushions, panels, lavender bags and cards.

When the Queen visited Belfast in 2014, the City of Belfast chose 2 of Deborah’s Belfast Skyline cushions as their gift to Her Majesty.  What a wonderful recognition of her skill and talent.

Now Deborah has an eye to a wider audience - she has just added Dublin to her collection. The intricate details of the front of Trinity College, a series of Georgian doorways of Dublin, the city skyline and the General Post Office all spring to life on fabulous neutral shades of linen. And I hear there are plans on the drawing board for London, Edinburgh and even further afield!

In the midst of all the drawing and stitching and stretching of linen, Deborah also finds time to offer her Bespoke service. I chose to have an image of the mill stitched as a cushion, but there are lots of possibilities.

Deborah can be found every Sunday at the ever popular St George’s Market in Belfast and later this month she will be adding an online shop to her website

It is really inspiring to see a traditional fabric like Irish Linen used in such a different fashion. 

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