Bed book peek: North America (part 1)

This illustration features a little girl and her doll, tucked in and cozy under a quilt. She’s looking at a book in bed, in her bedroom, someplace in North America. The scene will be included in MY BED, 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 HoughtonMifflin in 2020.
Here are links to posts showing other finished illustrations for the book:
Holland, South America, JapanIndiaAfghanistanRussiaNorth Africa, Ghana and Iran. To see a list of all my books, click here.

I’m steadily making progress on the book, with the intention of meeting the deadline in a few months. This kind of work can’t be sped up and just takes the time it takes, kind of like children growing up. It’s important that my art have a handmade quality that shows that a real human being labored over it. If I can’t be in my studio, I stitch during every possible moment – in the car (in the passenger seat) and while waiting for appointments. Of course, I sleep, cook dinner, go to exercise class and even pay attention to my husband. Winter is speeding by too fast, but then I’ve come to the age where it seems like my life is going by in a blur. There’s no such thing as boredom.

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.

The quilt is embroidered with pastel colored cotton flower thread on wool felt. I chain stitched the squares from the outside in, around and around, like a Greek key pattern.

I’ve been using the chain stitch a lot in this book, as a way to fill in areas. After the squares were finished, I noticed that they needed more definition, so I outlined them with a darker purple and rose color.

I made the girl’s body out of pipe cleaners and her head from a wooden bead, using the same basic doll-making techniques that are in my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk.

Her doll has the tiniest wood bead head that I could find.

The book she’s holding is felt, edged with blanket stitch and wire to give it form. Otherwise it would be too floppy. I built the bed’s head and foot board of wood, gluing the parts together.

Her room has furnishings, too, such as this chest of drawers.

And there’s wall paper, which I decorated by stitching a vertical leafy vine on gold striped upholstery fabric.

This is the first in a 3 part series about making the scene. There are many more elements to show, which you can get a glimpse of in the photo below. Please stay tuned for parts 2 and 3.

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 the exhibit. It would be wonderful to have the original illustrations make their way across the whole country!

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17 thoughts on “Bed book peek: North America (part 1)

  1. I love ❤️ this post. I am looking forward to the book Salley. I have passed this post to many of my friends who are artists as well. I sure enjoy your posts, your patience and creativity…

  2. I can just see you driving down the street, needle in one hand and doll in the other…oh, boy!! I can’t wait for this book to come out!

  3. Every detail is important! I’m still amazed at your work, it’s so beautiful. I kind of gasped when I saw the wallpaper, it’s stunning… what a lucky little girl to have this bedroom. I’m envious.

  4. This may be my favorite one! The little girl and her dolly are precious. Her bedroom is so sweet. I love the quilt, and your chest of drawers is beautiful! I can’t wait to see the whole book. You are amazing, Salley.

  5. Salley, I so love all the details embroidered in. Someone else might have just used a printed fabric, but you embellish! I love the chainstitched quilt and the embroidered vine on the striped wallpaper. You know your people, even down to the dog on the rug and the toy on the floor. And reading in bed – I am there, I am that little girl!

  6. You are so talented: it’s a joy to look at all the details! I can’t wait to hold the book! But what would you do with the real stuff, once the book is printed? Just too precious to be locked away! Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Thank you Claire! To answer your question what happens to the real stuff – When the book is published in the fall of 2020, there will be a traveling exhibit of the originals, like I did with Pocketful of Posies. After it’s toured for a few years, the pieces will be sold.

  7. Love her reading in bed. I have to share this Instagram post about a book because it has your name on it: Chloe has a fascinating feed, though I know you probably don’t have time to squander on perusing social media. Maybe when the book is finished. As an aside, I found Mullen5102 through her. He does interesting surveys of book illustrations, among other graphic design pieces. Anyway, love having a new peek every day of your work.

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