A Cat is a Cat

Yesterday, I attended the "A Cat is a Cat" class taught by June Jaeger at the Northwest Quilting Expo. I saw June's beautiful quilts at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show in July, and I vowed to take a class from her if I got a chance. As it turns out, I have one of June's books on my bookshelf,

and so I'll be able to take what I learned from the class, combine it with her book, and hopefully make some kitty portraits. The class was a little less instruction on the actual creating of the portrait and more focused on using a pressing sheet for fusible applique in the same way I've been working on Wind in the Whiskers. This was the portrait we were trying to recreate, and I'd say this was more of a "make and take" class than I was expecting.

It was a pleasure meeting June Jaeger, who was a lovely woman with a relaxed style. This is her cat Samson, and the photograph she used to make his quilted portrait.

You can see the transparency she created from his photograph there on the left. June draws her patterns free hand. Well, that's all well and good, but what about those non-artists among us who can't draw free hand to save our souls? So I asked her...what if I can't draw a cat free hand? What then? She explained that one can take a photograph and trace over it with a transparency, much the way I did when creating the blocks for the Doors of Ireland. Then, she suggested using an overhead projector to project the image onto a wall and enlarge it to the size desired. Okay, so that doesn't sound too intimidating.

Anyway...I've cropped Samson's original image to show the cat in the pattern provided with our kit.

And since this is fusible applique, everything must be done in reverse. Here's the pattern she created in reverse. All one needs to do is turn the transparency over to get the reverse image. She also explained that she thinks of the different colored sections as "islands" for the applique pieces. Each must be created in a circular fashion so that they can be cut into fabric pieces. There is a "tracing side" shown in the image below. This is used to trace the parts of the cat onto a fusing medium (her favorite is Wonder Under) to be cut out and fused.

Then there is a "placing side" and this part is color coded as she chooses fabrics for her piece. This particular portrait had six different fabrics. 

The pieces are also numbered in order of placement. However, it's more complicated than starting with one and going in order, as I'm about to explain.

We were provided with everything we needed in the kit, and the pieces were already traced and fused onto fabric for us. Our first step was to cut out the pieces. This took some time.

Then, she discussed the placement of the pieces, particularly that the eyes should be behind the lids and "eyeliner" since that is the way an eye looks on the actual animal. You can see in the image below that I have the "placing side" beneath my teflon pressing sheet. (If you're unfamiliar with what a teflon pressing sheet is, I've linked to the one I have right here.) Seeing the pattern beneath the pressing sheet aids in proper placement. The sheet simply allows you to fuse the little pieces together and then peel them up to be moved elsewhere. I've used this technique extensively in the Wind in the Whiskers project. Here is the beginning of the cat's eye:

All of the small parts of the face are created before the larger background part of the cat can be used. If the larger piece (piece #1) were done first, it would cover the lines from the placing sheet. This method allows for all the small pieces to be fused together for final application to the larger background. After creating the eyes, we created the cat's nose.

Here's I've fused the eyes and nose to some of the shading for the cat's face. I'd also created the ears at the point.

Here it is all put together.

From there, we were given a small piece of the blue background fabric and the whole cat was to be fused to that. I found my piece too small to accommodate the width of the ears, and so I'll be adding a border to my background before fusing the cat down. His ears will extend into the border. 

So, on my drive home, I got thinking seriously about this overhead projector idea. When she mentioned it in class, I instantaneously dismissed it thinking it was just easier to drive to Kinko's or Staples and have them enlarge the pattern. On the drive home, I thought it wouldn't hurt to look on Craig's List to see what used overhead projectors are selling for. Turns out there was one for sale about an hour north in Vancouver, WA, for $45. So Mike and I jumped in the car and drove up there. I didn't take a picture of the new-to-me overhead projector, but you know what one looks like, don't you? If not...here's one I swiped off the internet. In fact, I think this is just like the one that I purchased:

 I note there are used ones for sale on Amazon for $85 plus a hefty shipping charge. I got mine for $45 yesterday. Cool.

So now I have in mind to try making a portrait of Gracie. Her colors are probably a little easier to make into a pattern than Smitty's more busy colors (busy, like the cat). Here's a picture I snapped of the two of them sharing Mike's lap before I left for class yesterday morning. You can see that Gracie is none to happy to have interloper Smitty encroaching on the territory she's staked out on the lap.

She forgot that her sensibilities had been insulted when something outside caught both of their eyes.

When Smitty isn't taking up lap space or bringing in and eviscerating little critters on the carpet (oy), he's found a new favorite napping space on my quilts-to-be-quilted pile.

On Friday, I got a good start on catching up with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I should be able to finish my red, black, and orange kitties today, and I'll be able to show them to you tomorrow. If I have time, the next item to be ticked off my to-do list is to make two more block sets for the Yard Art quilt.

Before I go, however, I wanted to follow up on my smeared Sakura Pigma Micron pen problem. If you missed that post, you can read about it right here. I didn't get any response to my email from Sakura, and I'll just say that I find it extremely annoying when there's a "contact us" link on a website, and no one is minding the store. To satisfy my curiosity about this, however, I tested the same marker on several different fabrics. After giving them a chance to dry and then heat-setting them with the iron (which should actually not be necessary), this is what I found.

The fabric at the top is the background fabric for Hocuspocusville, and if it isn't obvious from this image, the marker did smear. The fabrics below are a Kona solid white on the left and a batik on the right. Neither of those smeared when subjected to the same smearing finger. Clearly, the Hocuspocusville background fabric is the problem. Also, I checked to see if I'd prewashed the fabric, and I had. So apparently there's something about the fabric...some kind of sheen...that doesn't wash out and causes the marker to smear. I'm glad to know the marker isn't the problem, and I'll just have to be more careful when handling the embroidery pieces. Also, I'll probably use a brown marker on the remaining 10 stitcheries. If it smears, it won't show as much.

So there you go. My life for the past two days. I'm looking forward to spending today in the sewing room.

9 comments from clever and witty friends:

BarbCarol said...

Thank you for such an informative article. Now to squeeze in time to practice a new technique.

Kate said...

Looks like it was a good class. Looking forward to seeing your portrait of Gracie.

gpc said...

A new tool for every project. All the guys in my life lived by that motto, it's good to see you adopting it so smoothly. :) I love the idea of the cat piecing, although I would have chosen something other than the brown that she favored on the face because it doesn't match the cat -- then again, maybe it matches his personality. I have a sneaky feeling I will like the ones you do better. :)

quiltzyx said...

Many years ago when I was on the Board of the So. Calif. Council of Quilt Guilds, we had the opportunity to take a quilt painting class from Patt Blair. It was a great class - especially because there were only 4 of us & Patt brought one of her other teachers with! We used our own photographs & did basically the same as you did, except we used the overhead projector to enlarge & outline the areas we were painting. Your cat looks wonderful & I'm looking forward to seeing your own cats in fabric! (Nice job on the bargain hunting too!)

Dana Gaffney said...

I wonder if you can take a picture into a photo program and turn it into a coloring page and have basically the same thing. Can't wait to see Gracie as the star.

Dana Gaffney said...

I wonder if you can take a picture into a photo program and turn it into a coloring page and have basically the same thing. Can't wait to see Gracie as the star.

Vroomans' Quilts said...

I'm not much of an applique person, but this looks like fun. I like Dana's idea of using a photo to make a coloring page - think that is possible with my program.

SJSM said...

Have you considered using a Frixion pen? It will erase with heat. It isn't as fine a point as the Pigma Micron so that may be a problem. There are a couple of points to remember if you use the Frixion. To truly take out the marks you need to use a fair amount of heat or you can wash the item. Otherwise cold will have the marks reappear. On silk I will press my project, throw it in the freezer to check the removal. If marks reappear I press again. I've only used the black pen so am not certain if all colors are as easily removed.


Celtic Thistle said...

Congrats on getting a great bargain on the projector, I am really looking forward to seeing what you do with it!
Thanks for linking up to New to Me too :)