Abigail Brown at work

What’s your background? ‘My grandma was a seamstress, so I spent my earliest days surrounded by sewing machines, fabrics and thread,’ explains Abigail, now a full-time illustrator and artist living in London. ‘While at university I did lots of drawing and printing designs for stationery and interior fabrics,’ she explains, ‘but it was only after I started a job in children’s book publishing that I started to make soft toys and appliqué artworks in my spare time.’

What inspires you the most? ‘I love watching animal documentaries and I have filled my studio with as many plants as I can handle,’ she laughs. ‘I collect illustrated children’s books, folk art and small toys from around the world – they all feed into my work.’ Abigail’s first fabric birds emerged in 2007, although they were loose and creative interpretations and, after a few years, she sought real species that she could recreate. ‘The more I researched, the more colourful and beautiful birds I discovered. Trying to replicate them in fabric has become such an enjoyable task.’

Abigail Brown's studio

How do you make one of your fabric birds? Abigail’s fabric birds require a time-consuming process, and she begins each design with extensive image research. ‘I make the pattern for the body, which I machine-sew, before inserting the wire for the beak and legs and stuffing.’ The legs require shaping and soldering (so each bird can stand up), and she then begins hand-cutting the feathers. ‘I try to work with fabrics that I have stored up, but sometimes, for a closer colour match, I hit the fabric shops.’ Abigail then glues each one into place. ‘I finish everything off with two tiny hand-stitched details: a beak and an eye.’

Abigail Brown sewing

How do you display your birds at home? ‘I often have them perched on high pieces of furniture, or displayed in little groups on the mantelpiece. In my studio I have a glass display cabinet filled with birds on little perches.’

* Visit abigail-brown.co.uk to see more of Abigail's feathered creations