Our pets are our family, and this fabric portrait is the purr-fect way to prove it. A fun alternative to photographs, and a creative way to use fabric and stitch to create a unique piece of art.
You will need:
A photo of your pet
A scanner and printer or photocopier
Sticky tape (optional)
Fading fabric marker (optional)
Pins and needles
Fabrics for background and appliqué design
Fabric glue (optional)
A sewing machine with embroidery foot
Sewing threads in colours of your choice
A frame to fit your design
1. When you’ve chosen the photo of your pet, either scan and print it or photocopy it, enlarging it to fit your frame. If you’ve chosen a very large frame, you’ll need to print out tiled sections of the image and piece them together like a jigsaw and tape in place, to create your template. Then lay the tracing paper over the image and draw over the areas of the face and/or body you’d like to include in your final piece. Pick out specific features you’d like to include – it’s best to keep it as simple as possible. You may need to use several pieces of tracing paper for different areas.
2. Cut out the different shapes you’ve drawn around, and use these shapes as templates to cut your fabric, either by using a pencil / fading marker or by pinning the tracing paper to the fabric and cutting around each piece – whichever method you find easiest – remember to iron your fabrics first!
Ed Note: I used a linen, and the edges frayed when I cut the fabric, which I liked. You could use a felt or other non-fraying fabric if you want a smooth edge, or you could satin stitch around the edges.
3. Cut your background fabric at least 5in (13cm) bigger than the frame on each side, then collage all your cut-out pieces onto the background until you have the composition you want, and pin or glue them in place. You may choose to iron interfacing to the back of the background fabric to give it extra strength.
Ed Note: Try to find elements in the fabric that could be used as details in the design – I’ve used Liberty print flowers for the eyes, the centre of each looks like my cat Twiggy’s pupils.
4. On your sewing machine, use your freehand machine embroidery foot to sew around your design, adding details and defining the outlines. “Draw” around the eyes, nose, mouth, and patches of colour. Add embellishments such as buttons or ribbons if you want to, I stitched a ribbon around Twiggy’s neck for a collar, and hand stitched another piece I’d tied into a bow.
5. When you’re happy with the appliqué, iron out any puckers in the fabric, and place the fabric into your frame, making sure the design looks well positioned. Pull the fabric taut, so there aren’t any wrinkles. Then hang your picture on a wall or place over a fireplace, and admire your masterpiece!