Thursday, October 22, 2020

The Cat in Stumpwork: A Tutorial

The final area of my Debbie Mumm Halloween ornament was the cat.  I decided I'd heavily pad the cat's face and its hind leg with layers of felt to raise it off the canvas.  I briefly considered padding the tail by doing satin stitches over some perle cotton or perhaps using repousse to make the tail very prominent but eventually I decided to let the tail be just in tent stitches. 

Before doing padding you have to do items around that area.  My cat ears and the collar were done first, as was the background around these areas and the tent stitches on the parts of the cat's body that weren't going to be padded.  I did check the body tent stitches after the padding was done to see if there were any stitches that needed to be done that the padding didn't cover.  I found several bare spots I had to cover.  It can be hard to judge this so always check later on to see if there are places you need to stitch.

The first step of heavily padding areas on a canvas is to make a copy of the canvas via your xerox machine to use as a pattern.  In the photo on the left you see the paper pattern of the cat's face and the four pieces of felt I cut out using the paper pattern.  I did this for the cat's hind leg, too, but I didn't show that for clarity's sake.  The process is the same.  I choose to make four layers of felt.  You will work from the small layer to the largest, attaching the tiny piece first, then the next largest, etc., ending with the biggest piece of felt on top.

Here you see the smallest piece of felt tacked into position.  Each layer of felt is larger and the last is slightly larger than the space you are covering.  The top layer has to be a tad larger because it'll be raised by the underlying layers of felt.  Normally you'd use the same color of felt as the thread that will go over it as the top layer, but I choose red for demonstration purposes so you could see what I'm doing.

You should baste each layer of felt into position, then go around the perimeter with tiny stitches to secure it.  As you can see, it's all too easy for this to get wonky!  I did better with the hind leg since I learned if you baste a layer first, it's easier to make it all stay where you want while you add the outside stitches that secure the felt over the previous layers.  Mary Corbet has a nice tutorial about beading over a felt pumpkin that shows the basting stitches and stab stitches around the perimeter well.  She's only doing one layer of felt but the principal is the same.

Here all four layers of felt are in position over both the cat's face and its hind leg.  Note that I used black felt for the top layers.  The next step is to cover the felt with black satin stitches.  Start by doing a layer of \ and / stitches that cover the area in an X shape.  (I used two plies of DMC cotton floss for my layers of satin stitch.  A laying tool is mandatory to keep the satin stitches smooth.)  

Once the first layer of satin stitch is done, do a vertical layer of satin stitches.  I worked from the middle out to one side, then worked from the middle to the other side, always using my laying tool.  

The final layer is a horizontal layer of satin stitches.  I worked these the same way, starting in the middle and working to the top, then from the middle toward the bottom, always using my laying tool.  In the above photo, the cat's hind leg is covered with satin stitches but the face hasn't been covered with DMC cotton floss yet.

Next time we'll talk about the final touches to give Mr. Cat personality.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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