Catapulting to a Finish

When I picked up with The Emperor's pawtrait yesterday, I'd finished the face but still needed to add a couple of little bits of shading at the ear and the right cheek.

The nose gave me fits on this one. Most kitties have a nose that is just one color. The Emperor has a nose of many colors...sort of a calico nose, if you will. And while it looked like a mess of different layers of applique, I laid the placement guide over the top just to reassure myself that the colors were in the right places. Satisfied that it was right, I moved on, knowing that stitching in the thread details would pull it together.

From there, I moved on to the "ascot." While there is no gray on The Emperor's coat, the gray will make the transition from black to white fur more natural. There are lots of little nooks and crannies in the edges of the applique, and so I try to minimize how much of that tedious cutting I'll have to do when I choose the order in which to lay down the colors. In this case, I started with gray.

Then added the white.

Finally, the black.

These are done using an applique pressing sheet. From here he's ready to be peeled up off the pressing sheet to be fused to his background. First, I hold the whole piece up to the light to check for holes.

This being my 6th pawtrait, I'm getting better and covering everything. There was just a little hole near the nose.

Holes can be fixed by simply laying a little scrap of fabric behind the hole when I fuse it to the background.

These pawtraits are so completely engrossing that I don't even notice the mess accumulating in the sewing room until they are completely fused. 

Scissors, rotary cutters, little bits of fusing medium, pictures, and fabric strewn everywhere, including the ironing board.

Okay, so I had to stop and tidy up a little before moving on. The next step was to fuse The Emperor to his background. In choosing a background color, I'll usually choose something to match the eyes, or else choose a color from the background of the original image. As an example, when I did Scooter, the dog, she was looking out the window of a car, and so I chose a color similar to the car.

Smitty's background was chosen for his green eyes.

In The Emperor's case, I chose his background from the turquoise strip in the background of his photograph.

And that looks pretty good to me.

I walked away from him for a little while, but when I returned, I decided to give him a border. He seemed to need a little breathing room.

The next step was to add the batting and then topstitch down all the applique edges. This was done using both clear and smoky monofilament thread and a microtex needle to minimize needle holes. It's best seen from the back. Also, I used two scraps of batting butted together and then stitched, which explains the seam you see down the middle.

Once that was done, I was ready to stitch in the details. As I've been writing this post, I've realized he still needs to have the gleam in his eyes added with a french knot, and so I'll do that first when I get back to him.

I was ready to quit for the day, but then started experimenting with quilting designs. Before I knew it, I'd quilted him too.

It seemed like a playful whirlygig design was the best choice.

In addition to the gleam in his eye, he just needs binding now, and he'll be finished. I'll give him a bright turquoise binding.

While all this was going on, Smitty was gearing up for a rumble with the squirrel.

Mike and I believe he and the squirrel have worked out an arrangement. He chases the squirrel, but never catches him. In exchange, the squirrel runs from him and the game is on. (Actually, I think Smitty might have tangled with this squirrel before, and learned to stay just short of catching him. He's a rather big fellow.)

In other wildlife news, this young buck enjoyed a snack of the scratch grains we threw out for the birds.

I was watching him through the window in Mike's office. Even though the office was dark, he could still see me moving around inside. You can see where he has antlers sprouting there.

The last stitches were taken in this go-round for Mumm's the Word. The areas inside the pink line are all quilted now, and a little over half the border remains. When this comes up again in my hand-stitching rotation, I'll probably be able to finish it off.

Cat Patches

But this is May 1st, and so it's time to start stitching the next bag lady. This month I'll be stitching Hildegard.

I'm taking the bag ladies in order, but if you're stitching along with us, please stitch whichever bag lady you want to. Also, the April linky party is live now, so don't forget to link up to be in the running for a fabulous prize. Even if you haven't joined in up until now, you can decide to join us any time. There are 12 bag ladies in all, and you can stitch all or just one if you like. Click on that button above Hildegard for all the details. 

Today is a big day. It's Mae's birthday. Happy birthday, to my beautiful daughter-in-law! Also, it's Mike's first official day of retirement. Up until now, it was the weekend following his day of work on Friday, but today...no alarm...no getting up...no getting dressed...no out the door. Instead, we're lazing around, moving slowly, and planning a day of it. We have a wine shipment to pick up, and then we'll probably pay a visit to the tulip festival going on at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm in Woodburn, Oregon. It's in its final week, and so there isn't much time left. Pictures tomorrow.

Finally, it's time to choose a goal for
Elm Street Quilts

My goal for May is to quilt and bind the Mommy & Me baby quilt.

I'll have to get busy on this because it needs to be done before we leave on our trip next week. 

22 comments from clever and witty friends:

Lyndsey said...

Another fabulous pawtrait. You are very good at doing them and really capturing the being of the cat. Happy birthday Mae, hope it's a great day. I joined you and Mike in a slow start today but only because it's a bank holiday here in the UK, so back to work tomorrow. Before then I do have plans this evening for some slow stitching to hopefully finish off Gertrude.

allthingzsewn said...

Happy Birthday somehow I missed that part. An I agree with Lyndsey, You have made an art form of the pawtraits. I really like the Mommie and me quilt too.

Shirley Elliott said...

The pawtrait is amazing! You really have the touch for bringing the animal to life in fabric. It is so amazing to see your process. There is a point where I would be inclined to trash the project and then magic happens. Thanks so much for sharing. And, a belated congratulations to Mike. I am sure you guys will have many fun adventures and look forward to your photos.

gpc said...

Another lovely pawtrait, the Emperor will be so pleased. And how nice to start Mike's official retirement on Mae's birthday so that you will more easily remember when to have those spendy taco bell celebrations! It's funny, my life is much scaled back from the places I used to eat and travel when I was working, but it is so much happier now. I wish you both much joy going forward.

Sharon - IN said...

Your pawtraits are amazing! So fun to look at your progress and seeing the finished art compared to the photo! Good luck with finishing your OMG too!

WoolenSails said...

I love how it came out and the stitching really put it all together. All my pets are black and white, no fun to do, lol. And I love your choices of fabrics around him, really beautiful piece.


Sally Trude said...

That bit of sparkle in the eye really brings the eyes to life. And your choice for background and border were perfect.

Junebug613 said...

The Emperor looks amazing! I forget, did you take a class on the portraits, or did you just work it out yourself? Either way, it's pretty awesome. Awww, you're so lucky to have deer! I am quite certain, you will accomplish your goal this month!

Junebug613 said...

Oh, Happy Birthday to Mae, too!!

Beverly Wood said...

Beautiful pawtrait. Wish I were braves enough to do one.

Jenny - the lilac cat said...

What a stunning portrait. It has so very cleverly captured him perfectly. I really must have a go as your posts on the process are so clear - you should write a book! We sadly lost a cat recently (sniff as you say whenever you mention the lovely Maggie). And this would a perfect way of remembering him but he was all grey so that rather daunts me. But I must build up my grey batiks and go for tonal variation. I shall use your examples to guide me.

Good luck to you both on the next step of your adventure together. I hope you both have the happiest and healthiest of retirements. I for one am looking forward to your travels knowing you are so good at keeping in touch so we all get to see the sights and sounds if not taste the yummy food.

PS I know I'm a no reply but try as I might regardless of which tutorial I come across to change this I'm afraid it never works (another sigh)

Kate said...

The Emperor's pawtrait turned out beautifully. The teal background is such a pretty contrast to all the black and gray. You got that one done really fast. Hope you and Mike enjoyed the first "real" day of retirement. Does Mike really feel retired yet, or does it just feel a bit like vacation at the moment?

Debbie said...

Love the added details and those whiskers are magnificent. Great job!

Dana Gaffney said...

The Emperor turned out awesome, adding that border was just the right touch.

Patty D from NC said...

Wonderful projects and cute elephant quilt. Thanks for linking up with Elm Street Quilts One Monthly Goal and good luck on your project.

Wendy Tuma said...

The pawtrait is amazing. You do such nice work! I hope you have a fun day celebrating with Mae and Mike! Smitty and the Squirrel -- hehe -- sounds like they indeed have an "arrangement". I would imagine tussling with a squirrel could be nasty!

Janet said...

For retired folk you sure are busy!! Love the Emperor's portrait.

Ioleen said...

I so enjoy reading your blog posts. Love the pawtrait. Happy Birthday Mae. Isn't retirement great, no rushing around because there isn't any where you need to be unless you arranged it.

kc said...

TERRRRIFIC Pawtrait, the Emporer's pawtrait captures his purrsonality purrfectly! Amazing how you always do that!

I'm so excited for your retirement to finally arrive. We had actually sold everything (well, except the camper and the sewing machine...) prior to my retirement day (yes, we were living in our friend's driveway for 2 weeks...) so on our "last day of work" we were really on the road, headed south. When we drove by the office, I called in, just to give everyone a last goodbye. Never looked back and have loved every minute of it since! Y'all will too.

Hubster informed me that our Great Hunter may have caught a squirrel the other day...we were redoing the mulch in the front flower bed, and there was a headless/hapless body...thankfully, I didn't get to (have to) see it. He got a decent burial, hopefully, far far away.

May your wheels always turn!

Brown Family said...

THe Emperor's pawtrait is beautiful. You captured him just right!

THe deer is very interested in your window!

I have not prepared Hildegarde yet. I am so close to having another calendar cross stitch finished, that I hate to put it down!

Michele said...

I love how the pawtrait turned out. You have become a true expert at them.

quiltzyx said...

The Emperor and his fabulous whiskers! What a jolly good job you did indeed!!

Happy Belated Birthday to Mae! It seems that you've got a good one in the daughter-in-law lottery.

Cool deer! Of course, I don't have to even think about them munching bulb or whatnot here. ;)