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HeartCat2: a Furstory

It all began with one of my favorite photos of my first most-beloved feline partners. The photo sat in my studio for years while I tried to figure out the best tribute to my boy.

I had run it through my favorite app to have a pattern ready…

…but, I kept procrastinating. How complicated a backing? A real quilt? Should I paint something?

Then this WIP took up residence…intended to be a lap quilt inspired by the “Zipper” pattern in one of Modern Quilt Studio’s fantastic books. It was slow going since a certain black cat was, umm, less than helpful πŸ˜‚

Then, it occurred to me that the never-to-be quilted top could be the perfect background for my boy…

And I began to sculpt it around him (thank God for MistyFuse). After struggling with the layout, I reverted to a more traditional rectangular shape. But…it occurred to me that, instead of fur, I could stitch in some of the story about how GL came to live with us. Hmm. So, first I quilted him separately, stitching in each word…then placed him onto the backing and quilted his furry edges and some lines of his body. This allowed me to keep him more 3-dimensional. As always, creating the eyes was my favorite part :).

Since he was my quilting buddy, I created some “spools” of Aurifil thread and added them, as well as a loose “thread” of Aurifloss (couched on with monofilament).

Finally finished πŸŽ‰ ;)…now to create a Furstory for Loki, the Kitten Who Lived (apologies to JK Rowling)!

Using Procreate to Work from Photos

Anyone who follows my posts has probably noticed that I have become happily obsessed with the Procreate app for iPad 😁. There is actually a method to my madness as I have some big projects for which this will be incredibly useful…but as I cannot share those yet, I wanted to show you this tool with a photo of our kitten as an example ;).

So…first import the photo into Procreate. You will see this on the screen…

Next – IMPORTANT! – add a new layer. (You’ll see why in a moment.) Select the “fine tip” brush from the inking category…it will be the most precise for tracing the segments of your subject. Select a color (I use black unless it’s a very dark photo) and carefully trace around each piece. The pencil felt awkward to me at first but it is pretty amazing how quickly you can draw smoothly with it. Ok, now you will see:

Now, UNcheck the photo layer and you will have your drawing:

See why it’s important to trace in a different layer?

Now, decide your palette. You might decide to select colors that represent fabrics you know you want to use…or, simply play with the colors you see and adjust as you so. I like to title my palette for a specific piece:

Next – yup, another layer. This one will be for the colors you use to fill each area of your pattern. This is a great way to play around with different shades and see how they look before you commit to cutting fabric.

This step is time consuming but great fun…I am still learning the color drop method which is much faster than filling each section in with brush strokes. Lots more to do on this kitty but meanwhile, I can decide on the best background fabric by testing background colors. Add another layer (you can label them) which will be the background layer. Using the freehand drawing function, draw all around your subject (It might need to be in two parts because you need closed shapes) and use color drop to audition your colors:

Try it with a simple picture and have fun playing with the tools 🎨!

Just for Fun

Sometimes WIPS do actually make it back to my Bernina and into “finished” status! After making a lap quilt and another art quilt from Tula Pink’s Tabby Road collection, I had one square left from nearly every fat quarter. I sorted then into backgrounds and potential hearts πŸ’• …pieced and MistyFused in place… layered and fused to batting and backing…did some quilting then…got distracted ;).

Last month I was in between big projects and had great fun finishing the quilting. Stitching around the motifs of Tula’s designs is FANTASTIC practice for anyone’s free-motion quilting skills.

In this square, stitching around the eyes felt like skiing around moguls:

While outlining these pattern details was a more precise process:

And the cat food cans demanded to be outlined then brought forward by teeny tiny matchstick quilting around them:

Of course I had to give the kitties some fur:

Pure play and a great thing to do for yourself if you have squares left from a big project you’ve done for a friend 😁! It gives you a tremendous appreciation for the fabric designer; I found the mice hidden here that I had completely missed in the big quilt ;). It is also interesting to study their color palettes…choosing my Aurifil shades for this fabric collection reminded me just how many shades one color can have.

So…stitch up that little quilt for yourself and you’ll have a perfect project waiting for those little slices of time! Consider doing this as a fun retreat project too :).

Time-saving tips:

-pre-wind a few bobbins of monofilament (i change thread colors so many times in a project, I would go crazy stopping to change a bobbin each time)

-MistyFuse all layers! This way you can have a party with your quilting right out to the edges without worrying about any shifting of layers.

-use Aurifil’s boxes to keep your thread palette in order..the slots also hold needle packets, bobbins and (small) thread snippers…great for easy travel to a retreat!

β€œJoyspotting” 🌈

My new favorite book: Joyful! Ingrid Fetell Lee’s marvelous study of what she has termed the “aesthetics of joy” – attributes of an object or an experience that make us feel, well, joyful.

Which got me thinking…aha, finally the right words for an artist’s statement for me. What do I want my pieces to do? Bring a little joy to the viewer, whether it’s a smile about an impishly cute pet or a bit of wonder about the beauty of nature. Nothing serious, no big message…just a little joyspotting :).

Not surprisingly, it is color that makes me feel the most joyful. This:

…and this…

…and most definitely this:

This weekend, find time for Ingrid’s TED talk…

https://www.ted.com/talks/ingrid_fetell_lee_where_joy_hides_and_how_to_find_it?language=en

And think about what brings YOU joy! 😊

Embarcadero at Dawn

During a business trip to San Francisco last year, I stopped to admire the sunrise…and, of course, captured it on my iPhone:

Ooh. It was even more fun with a neon filter…

Having a big stack of pre-MistyFused fat quarters…brilliant shades from Windham Fabrics’ Bedrock collection…and my favorite NeonKitty box of Aurifil thread on hand, I couldn’t resist interpreting this scene in fiber.

First step, rough out the background…decide if there is a predominant base shade (in this case, not really)..then choose which shades will overlap to form a base. I layered 4 colors for the sky…created the water by cutting little fingers linking the 2 water colors…and fused a thin strip across the horizon which would become the distant hills. This sun was incredible fun; I began with yellow and worked my way toward the center, shade by shade, to the red sun. LOTS of layers of fabric… I am grateful for a machine which can stitch though anything. For the reflection of the sun, I kept it simple with 2 shades, figuring I would use multiple shades of thread. I added 2 pieces of blue for the foreground, representing the street/sidewalk and dock.

Next, fuse all pieces down to the batting sandwich (I always begin with a piece of batting which already has a backing fabric fused to it). Then a super-fun part, picking the threads πŸ˜πŸŽ‰!

The sky and sun were quilted first…lots of thread! Then, I sketched in the lines for the bridge with a bit of fabric ink…

For a dramatic effect, I used Aurifil’s 12wt in midnight blue to stitch the bridge- this thread weight is a must-have in your tool box for elements that need to stand out. (A size 100 Topstitch needle is key here…)

Then, lots more stitching. Including some work to more smoothly blend the water:

Then, some straight-line work on the foreground…before the final addition of a few palm trees and a freighter ship ;). I try to balance high-impact of a few details and enough complexity to make the piece interesting. Sometimes (eg the seagulls) the elements are completely fictional but just look right πŸ™‚.

Now to consider the (dozens, oh so many) other images that are patiently awaiting their turn….

❀️ Day 14: Mosaic Crazy Quilt

This wall quilt is a fast fun afternoon project inspired by a favorite book and the incredible quilts created by Heidi Proffetty.

Early in my quilting days, I discovered this book-

…which I found to be a great way to begin to learn how to construct crazy quilts. The concept is that you stack your fabrics, make cuts, then re-arrange the order in each little ‘deck’…next, take the each new layer and lay them out to become a block.

I used Windham Fabrics’ blender collection and pulled black for a background, then 8 Valentine’s shades to create the faux blocks. Because, hey, if I can fuse instead of piece, I will πŸ˜‰! MistyFuse all, fuse black to a piece of batting and backing (here, an 18″ square but you could size up or down), then fuse and trim the colors to 5″:

Next, stack together, aligning all edges, and make 7 cuts at random to create 8 little stacks:

Note that the number of colors needs to equal the number of blocks. In this piece I wanted to leave the center alone to leave space for a πŸ’œ, hence 8.

Now, leave one stack alone…in the next, put one color in the back…the next, 2 colors in the back, and so forth, until you see all 8. This is easier seen than described:

Now, carry these carefully to your background sandwich (I used a small 6″ ruler) and arrange a layer in 8 roughly-square areas around the center. I am a HUGE fan of Heidi Profferty’s work (if you are not familiar with this star quilter, here is her website: https://www.heidiproffetty.com/ ) and decided to let the black background act as the ‘grout’ for a mosaic layout:

I decided to let mine be a little wonky. Alternatively, you could use a chalk pencil and neatly mark out the 8 square areas.

Yay! Now cut a red heart out for the center (you could cut out red lips too ;)) and center it.

Grab your Goddess sheet and fuse all in place. Ready to stitch:

Hmm, heart too big? Yes…the joy of MistyFuse is that you can reposition! I peeled off, trimmed down a bit and re-fused. Heidi stitches her amazing quilts with monofilament thread, so I thought I would try that (excellent stippling practice!) on all pieces except the heart (which I outlined with a pretty shade of Aurifil). When you’re finished quilting, trim and finish with a zigzag stitch and black piping.

Happy almost Valentine’s Day! πŸ₯°

❀️Day 13: Another Great Photo App for πŸ’•

Some of the most striking images in my photo album result from capturing Jackson in a pose against a light background. This is a fun example of how to manipulate a great profile into a striking design (and, in the case, the inspiration for a valentine! See, you knew I’d get there eventually… πŸ˜‰)

The free app used in this project is called Camera 4 Line Art; this is what the icon looks like:

Following the small photos in the composite above:

1-crop your great photo to square

2-run it through the app…it generates that black cat against the white background. Save that image.

3-in the controls, click “reverse”…

4-ta da, a white cat against black background!

5-crop both images to 2 x 1 rectangles

Now, paste those together to form the mirror-image shown in the large photo.

And…contemplate drawing a heart around the dual image to use as a pattern for a square fabric postcard! (On my to-do list for the weekend 😍.)