A Golden Lab Emerges from My Stash

Labs appear to be the most popular dogs right now so it seemed fitting to do a quilted pet portrait of Max, a golden lab who is walked by our favourite dog walker, Paige, at Beyond The Leash Dog Walking. He’s on the design wall and looks like this:

quilted pet portrait

Max the golden lab

Here’s a recap of how this comes together. I began by posterizing the photo with Picasa and then went to work deciding how best to define all the different values (lightness/darkness).

Posterized photo

Posterized photo

Once I had outlined the shapes, I marked them with their values and arrows to indicate how they would be layered. I traced this onto a sheet of tracing paper to create my master.

Master for pet portrait

Master for pet portrait

The next job was to find the fabrics that would work for this portrait. I started pulling all the fabrics that might remotely be suitable and cut out a small swatch of each. I placed them on my value finder tool, aiming for eight different values of tan/cream/yellow and seven values of pink. From these, I chose the best matches.

Lab portrait

Fabric selection for quilted pet portrait

Next up was to trace the shapes to my Pellon Lite EZ and fuse these to the chosen fabrics. It didn’t take long before I realized this fusible product would not work for this job. I applied the sticky side of the fusible to the fabric and cut it out ok but when I tried to remove the paper backing from my cutout appliqué shape, it became clear that they overshot the amount of stickiness required. The tacky layer is so sticky that a thin plastic layer separating it from the paper backing pulled away from the paper, leaving me with a piece of fabric with a smooth plastic backing. I tried again and again to get it to work and after 5 failed attempts I threw the Pellon Lite EZ in the garbage. I went back to my Wunder Under and managed to finish the job. These are just some of the scraps remaining from all that fussy cutting.

Fussy cutting scraps

Fussy cutting scraps

So how long did all this take, you ask? I didn’t set any stopwatches but it’s in the vicinity of 16 hours. The funny thing is this: time seems to disappear from my awareness when I’m doing this. Yes, it requires patience and lots of decisions but that feeling of being in the zone is a mighty fine feeling. And seeing the dog take form is the icing on the cake.

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