whoopi!

I finished my portrait of Whoopi the poodle last night! She finished at 11.5″x11″. You may remember her from this post and this post waaaayyyy last December.  She was supposed to be a Christmas gift(yikes!) for my Aunt Kim, but I missed the deadline and decided to finish it later.  But I had worked on it SO HARD that I felt burnt out and didn’t want to touch it with a ten foot pole.  So, Whoopi got put into a project box and placed on a shelf.  Not the actual Whoopi, mind you, she’s enormous and we couldn’t fit her on a shelf if we tried.  Here’s a gratuitous action shot:

But now that I’m in my new sewing room, I got her out and decided to finish what I started.  The original plan was to do a blue background with abstract piecing to mimic the original photograph, but it felt wrong when I took a good look at it on the design wall.  Whoopi is clearly the star of the show (as in real life!), so in the end, I just kept her background plain and finished the edges with a facing.  Here’s the original photo I got from my cousin Spencer:

He had put his aviator shades on her & she posed for him.  She dearly loves accessories, might I add, & has been known to wear pearls on special occasions…

ANYWAYS, to design this art quilt, I took the photo and deconstructed into five layers of color using Illustrator.  I then separated out each layer and printed them onto freezer paper so I could iron them onto the correct color of fabric.  Then I laid a piece of clear, dissolve away Sulky stabilizer over top of each layer and traced the pattern pieces with a fine Sharpie to create a placement map.  Once I had placement maps for each layer, I laid down my background fabric and lightly misted it with water.  Then I laid down my first layer of Sulky and it stuck in place to the dampened fabric.  Next, came the hard work of cutting out all those teensy tiny pieces of fabric and sticking them down to the placement guide.  Once I had the first layer down, I zigzagged over top of them to hold everything in place, and set the project in a water bath to dissolve away the Sulky.  Then I repeated it with the next layer.  Then the next until it was complete.  Some of the pieces were smaller than a grain of rice.  I was working with my best Tweezerman tweezers to hold on to everything and to rip off the freezer paper pattern from the top of the piece after it was placed correctly.  Whew.  I’m tired again just from writing that!  After that, I needed to add dimension to her through quilting and it proved very difficult due to the amount of threadwork on the piece.  Here’s a detail shot:

In order to get the appropriate loft for her features, I had to stack four layers of wool batting underneath.  FOUR LAYERS.  It was scary.  Almost like putting a couch cushion underneath your presser foot.  But Rory (my sewing machine) and I persevered and added just enough dimension to really make her stand out.  Here’s a side view to kind of show you what I’m talking about:

Pure craziness!  But this is one of my favorite pieces ever.  I love it to death!  She’ll be packed up tomorrow and be shipped off to Edmond, Oklahoma.  & I suppose this was as close as I’ll ever get to owning a dog!

I’m off to take care of more skeletons in my sewing closet!  Have a happy Sunday! -rebecca

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