Hanna-Mae Illustration

Illustrator & eco clothing designer



Monthly Tutorial: Neatening a seam by hand

As well as being an illustrator I’m also an eco clothing designer and sew all my clothing entirely by hand. Over the years I’ve learnt some basics that have roved invaluable and that I use time and again. Today I’ll be guiding you through how to beat unsightly, fraying seams, using my latest project (a skirt).


So you have your sides sewn neatly together and are left with a raw edge. Turn your work inside out. Trim the edge using pinking shears if you didn’t do this when cutting your initial pieces of material. The zig-zag will prevent further fraying. You’ll need to make sure you have at least 1.5cm excess.



Fold one edge over on itself until the tips of the zig-zags slightly overlap the sewn edge, and pin into place. Do this all the way along, taking care not to accidentally pin to the excess material on the other side.





Do a simple running stitch all the way along to hold the fold, like below. Keep the stitches quite small and close together so it will look neat on both sides.



Finish off in your usual way (I use a double knot)



You now need to do the same with the other bit of excess material. Repeat steps 1-5 on this bit.



Once you’ve done steps 1-5 on both edges, use a hot iron to press your hem open.




Turn your garment the right way, and you’ll be left with a neat, subtle line like the one below.




Accurate drawing for beginners – tutorial


For some, it can be a bit of a slog learning how to draw. This month’s tutorial is ideal for those who have always wanted to be able to draw but can’t get the accuracy, or as a practice in recognising shape and training the eye to depict what is actually there for those with a little more experience. I was taught this method whilst at college 11 years ago and have used it regularly ever since.

You will need:


  • A reference image (your own printed photograph is ideal, alternatively you can use free image sites – be aware of copyright)
  • A pencil (I use HB/2B for drawing)
  • A fine-liner drawing pen (optional)
  • ruler
  • paper


Take your reference image and draw a box around it, with a little space around the image. It’s easier to use whole numbers; mine was 12 x 14 cm.



Measure 1cm marks along the top and bottom of the box, then draw a line using your ruler to join them.




Repeat step above along the remaining sides of your box, so you are left with a ‘grid’, which you should then number per square (e.g mine is 1-12 and 1-14 – see picture below)




You now need to draw your grid on your plain paper. Make it the same size, with the same amount of boxes. So mine would be 12 x 14 cm, with each box labelled 1-12 and 1-14. Now it’s a matter of ‘transferring’ what you see in your reference image to your piece of paper.


Work square-by-square, concentrating on how much of each square the image takes up.


Below you can see how the piece progresses, stage-by-stage. (Darkened to show pencil better)








Once you’ve finished transferring your image, you now need to rub out the numbers and lines surrounding it. I recommend Derwent eraser pen as it’s easier to get into nooks and crannies. Eraser pencils are available, as well as battery-operated eraser pens, however i feel the most purse-friendly and best working to be this eraser pen.


step6 This step is optional, but if you like a defined outline, then now is the time to carefully draw around your image with a fine liner. Normal fine liners can ‘bleed’ so it’s best to use pens intended for drawing. I use Pilot DR drawing pen in either 01 or 02. They’re widely available, including from Amazon and The Range as well as WHSmiths and Hobbycraft.



The above method can also be used as an exercise in gaining practice with colour mixing. Below is an example which I have held on to since my college days when I realised the grid system has huge potential to allow novices to develop not only an eye for seeing accurate shape and space, but also allow you to home-in on each individual square, rather than the whole picture, meaning more attention is paid to the components of a painting/image, rather than the image as a ‘whole’, which can be daunting. Painting and drawing is all about adding bit-by-bit.

Left: A section of Leonardo DaVinci’s ‘The Annunciation’ Right: Colour study 2008 Hanna-Mae Williams


See what I created using our little robin friend! Perfect for kids and colouring fans, get a unique wipe-clean Christmas card here: Folksy shop


Finding inspiration


I have two ‘go-to’ ways of working, but I find the easiest and most relaxed to be working from a photograph. By working this way you don’t have to worry about changes in light, or changes in position, and are free to re-visit your piece at a pace to suit you.

There are many websites offering royalty-free images (some you pay for, others you don’t) but inspiration for your work can be found in unexpected places. The other week I visited a garden centre, which always offers a huge range of sometimes unusual, stunning flowers and plants. Build yourself a collection of photographs you’ve taken and store them in a file that you can revisit when in need of a quick reference image. This can save huge amounts of time searching for reference images on the internet. My own file has grown over the years and is organised into sections for easy navigation, including ‘plants & flowers’ ‘people’ ‘places’ and more.

Inspired by my recent trip I decided to create a painting that centred around a floral theme, using my favourite variety: the daffodil.

‘I wander’d lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils,
Beside the lake, beneath the trees
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretch’d in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: –
A poet could not but be gay
In such a jocund company!
I gazed – and gazed – but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought.

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills
And dances with the daffodils.’

Williams Wordsworth, 1802



Five fabulous florals to check out (click title to open new window):

The Last Flowers by TanyaShatseva

Alice and the Flowers by thedancingemu

When Flowers Dream by Puimun

Withered Flowers Illustration by Urielstempest

Watercolor Flower 4 by faegirlmara


Some Wednesday words of wisdom


When working on a fine-detail drawing, to get an extra sharp pencil point use both a sharpener and then gently run a very sharp craft knife over the tip. I use Kum Extra Long Point Pencil Sharpener and Jakar Hobby Knife.





If you use turpentine to thin your oil paints or oil pastels, a cheaper yet just as effective alternative is to head to the DIY section/shop and look out for ‘white spirit’. Price comparison: Winsor & Newton ‘Artists White Spirit’ (turpentine) from The Range – £7.99 per litre. Wickes ‘White Spirit Low Odour’ – £1.90 per litre. Note: Please follow environmental/safety advice provided with turpentine/white spirit.



Save jam jars, marmalade jars, coffee jars etc. Especially if you are using oils/water-mixable oils, you will need to replace water jars several times a year as grime builds up.




I was delighted to discover B pencils that exceeded the usual 6B maximum you often get in sketching sets, yet, in my personal experience 7B-9B pencils offer not much more depth. To get deeper shadows, try cross-hatching using a fine-liner. I use Pilot DR drawing pens in 01 and 02. BE WARNED: Use a light touch to avoid crushing the nib!


And whilst on the topic of fine-liners…don’t be tempted by pens that aren’t designed to be used in art work as they may bleed. Some things are ok to scrimp on, whilst others in the long run will cost you more. Plastic palettes and rulers – yes; paper, brushes, and mediums in general – no.

Taking Great Photos – Quick book review



Title: The Crafter’s Guide to Taking Great Photos: Foolproof techniques to make your handmade creations shine online

Author: Heidi Adnum

Publisher: Search Press Ltd (21st Dec 2011)

Price: £12.99

Are you a crafter looking to show off your work online? Or perhaps an artist wanting to show your work in it’s best light? Whether you’re a complete novice in the world of photography, or are an old hand just looking for tips and ideas on brushing up your skills, then this is the book for you!

Organised into logical chunks and divided by craft (for example ‘fashion & fabrics’ and ‘knitting & needle craft’) the book is easy to navigate your way around, whilst also having the benefit of visual examples to accompany written instructions, for those of us who learn better by demonstration rather than text alone.

However, to fully understand the layout I strongly recommend scanning the contents pages before you begin (something often overlooked in eagerness to ‘get stuck in’) as subjects such as ‘light’ are found not only in the ‘camera basics’ section, but also further on in the ‘DIY accessories tutorials’ section, which without understanding the layout could cause confusion.

What’s wonderful about the book is that, unlike some photography books, it’s not automatically assumed that the reader has extensive, or even further than a basic understanding of photography, and guides you step-by-step, from the very beginning (getting to grips with a camera) to the very end (editing, uploading, and generally making use of your photos).

The book also includes interviews with practitioners who work within each subject area, for example knitting, and presents relevant questions. This allows beginners to learn from other’s experiences, saving time spent ‘hitting and missing’ – this has already been done for you! and the resulting conclusions/tips there for the taking.

The book also takes into consideration cost, meaning it’s in-tune with the reality of the often limited budget of artists and crafters. What you spend on purchasing this book, you could potentially save on photography equipment. The section ‘DIY accessories tutorials’ offers relatively simple and low-effort (not to mention inexpensive) ways of creating everything from a tripod, to a light tent and light box.

My second recommendation is to arm yourself with a pen and notepad and take notes as you read, as there are so many useful hints and tips throughout. After reading the book I came away with several pages of useful advice. Below are my top 5 favourite:


  1. Read your camera manual! (yes, it may sound obvious, but we’re often so eager to get started with our gadgets that we fail to consult the manual. Learn the modes/settings on your camera)
  2. Plan your shoot beforehand
  3. To show the scale of your fabric, use items involved in the making, for example, dressmaker’s scissors
  4. You can add ‘value’ to your photo by using your own packaging and props
  5. Make use of what’s around you – try shooting in a forest or somewhere industrial


This book is available on Amazon .


Painting Clouds with oil paints – tutorial

Welcome to my first monthly tutorial! In this post I’ll be showing you how to use water-mixable oil paints to create realistic clouds.

I love using water-mixable oil paints in my work as they’re so wonderfully versatile! I began experimenting with normal oil paints 7 years ago and was somewhat put off by the stubborn nature of the paint – the never quite clean brushes, the lengthy drying time. Then I discovered Reeves water-mixable oils. If you’re on a tight (or student) budget, I can recommend Reeves as a fantastic affordable alternative to the bigger names, such as Winsor & Newton, though I tend to use both as Winsor and Newton offer the benefit of being able to pick individual specific colours, whilst you’ll usually find Reeves in a set. Use Reeves as a ‘starter’ and Winsor & Newton to build on this.

The set is available in The Range and can be found on their website.

Here are some examples of where I’ve used the following technique in my work:

Above: ‘Moo Shoe’ water-mixable oils. Below: ‘Rush Hour’ Water-mixable oils & gouache. Hanna-Mae Williams

Here’s how to do it:

You will need:

  • Water-mixable oil paints in: Lamp black, yellow ochre, burnt umber, raw umber & white
  • Liquin original (available at most art supply stores such as The Range, Hobby Craft etc)
  • Paint brushes
  • Optional: liquid clear oil paint





You need a base. This technique is all about building up layers. Begin by mixing some white with a little black and add liquin and liquid clear until the mixture is quite loose (oils are usually quite stiff and thick) In this instance we’re making a grey base but once you get the hang of the technique you can alter this. I sometimes use blue.



Cover your area with your base colour, then add some more black to create a darker tone. Roughly paint the outline of a cloud. You’re going to repeat this shape over your piece.




You need to add depth to your clouds and now’s the time to stop using liquin. Using a circular dabbing motion, blend some black into the grey of your clouds around the bottom/edges, and introduce some umber.



Remember this is all about layering. To add dimension we’ll be adding to the background/foreground as we progress.



If you look at storm clouds they often have a yellowish tinge to them. This is where the yellow ochre comes in. You only need a hint, so dab and blend around the bottom of the cloud/where the clouds meet.



It’s time to add white. Using a smaller brush, dab and slightly blend around the tops of the more prominent clouds.



Continue working through the steps until you have the amount of clouds you want. You can use your finger to slightly smudge the clouds – particularly to make the typical ‘cloud’ shape less defined.



Now make cleaning up easy! Choose the right brush cleaner by reading this review.



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