Bed book peek: North Africa (part 1)

The book project is moving along, one stitch at a time. Or in this case, one roof tile at a time. When researching the architecture of North Africa, I was struck by the juxtaposition of white and tan buildings topped off with bright red or terracotta roof tiles. So that combination became the dominant color palette of this illustration.

The scene will be included in My Bed, which will be a book about where children sleep around the world, with each spread depicting a different culture and living environment. The story is written by Rebecca Bond and will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2020. Here are links to posts showing other finished illustrations for the book: South America, JapanIndiaAfghanistanRussia, North America, Scandinavia, Ghana and Iran. To see a list of all my books, click here.

Update: Signed copies of My Bed can be ordered in my shop here. Watch this 8 minute documentary about how I created the illustrations for the book.

Since I didn’t have any red beads to make the roof with, I stained some white and brown clay disk beads with red magic marker. Some came out bright red and others had a more earthy tone. I’ve had these beads for a long time and it felt good to finally use them. Don’t worry, the red on my fingertip isn’t blood, but magic marker ink!

The holes in the center of the beads make it easy to sew them in place. I used a range of subtle shades of beige and tan felt for the buildings.

For a decorative scalloped edge, I added thread-covered wire to this strip of rooftop.

Then sewed on the overlapping red bead tiles.

After the roof was sewn in place, I added a decorative bead under the top eaves and stitched a bead curtain in the doorway.

In this part of the world, roofs serve as open living spaces, surrounded by walls. For this one, I made a fence with thread wrapped wire that you can see through.

Clay tube beads stick out like the ends of structural beams.

I made a striped turquoise awning for shade…

and a shuttered window in blue, for color contrast with the red and white.

I’m always looking for opportunities to add patterns and this door needed a carved wood appearance.

This roof section is edged all around with wire, which gives it the necessary structure to stick out from the background fabric. Otherwise the felt would be floppy and not very roof-like.

I search through my stash of hooks and eyes to find the right hardware for the door and windows.

This house is made from a loosely woven, nubby fabric that I thought matched the texture of white washed masonry walls. To be continued… See Part 2 here.

I am happy to announce that the Cahoon Museum in Cotuit, Massachusetts will host the premiere exhibit of original illustrations for the book. The exhibit will be coordinated with the book’s publication in the fall of 2020. Like with Pocketful of Posies, I am scheduling a touring exhibit, so that more people can see the “real thing”, which is a totally different experience than seeing reproductions on the printed page. Interested museums and art centers are welcome to contact me (salley at for information about hosting an exhibit. It would be wonderful to have the original illustrations make their way across the whole country!

Please stay tuned for future posts, as I have lots more to show about making this illustration. To keep up with new posts, subscribe to this blog (top right column on the home page). Your contact info will not be sold or shared. If you’d like to see more frequent photos tracking the projects in my studio, please follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram.

16 thoughts on “Bed book peek: North Africa (part 1)

  1. Sally, Sally, Sally! Every single stitch is a delight to behold! I just love seeing your work in progress. It’s extremely generous of you to share it with us. Thank you, so very much.

  2. I just love seeing your work in progress. I keep all sorts of bits in my stash too and love to find uses for the odd bits. Love your roof! What a fun book this will be. 🙂

  3. When I receive your post I find myself holding my breath in anticipation! And you NEVER disappoint. Every loving, lovely stitch is perfection, with incredible interpretation of the story being told. You are amazing! Thank you for sharing!

    • Sharon, thank you so much for mentioning the story as well as the stitching. For me, it’s all about expressing an idea or narrative in a way that people can become engaged with. There needs to be a purpose behind all those perfect stitches, otherwise it’s just busy work.

  4. Fabulous stuff. Do you use proper wool felt for your work? I expect cheaper felts would fade quite quickly when exposed to the light.

    Loving following you.


    • Thank you Sandra. I use only wool felt, for its lusciousness and overall integrity. You have to be careful with light exposure, because the plant dyes fade. My finished pieces are framed under UV glass.

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