Murphy was only 5 years old but had lived his whole life with a serious heart defect that he was medicated for since he was a couple of months old. We were told he might not live more than another year or two at his last appointment, but, sadly, he died just a couple weeks later.
He essentially died of a heart attack. He had been barking outside, came in, laid down, and died. We were all around him, and with him, as he passed over the rainbow bridge. And while it was tragic and heartbreaking, I’m glad he wasn’t alone when he passed away.
We didn’t get nearly the amount of years out of him as hoped, but in that short time, he stole the hearts of Tucker, our older dog, and our children. He was a very gentle soul and will be missed.
As a way to remember him, I’m stitching his portrait. It’s the first time I’ve attempted a mostly realistic portrait of a pet and I’ve stumbled a lot along the way but feel like the essence of Murphy is being captured and that is what my heart really wanted.
As you can see I have more than halfway to go, it’s a long, slow process. I hope to have the portrait finished in another month. And will likely do a portrait of Tucker, too, and hang them together. They were always together while Murphy was with us, always laying together, barking together, eating together, playing together – so it seems fitting to have their portraits together.
My tips for stitching a realistic portrait:
Eyes: it’s all about the eyes. And for me, this has been the most challenging aspect of this portrait. Study the eyes of the pet you’re stitching and maybe look at other pet portraits to see how they stitched the eyes for ideas.
One Ply: i’ve been using one ply of the 6 ply floss to make it even more realistic. The thinner the thread, the more it seems to flow naturally, as a thread painting. However, if you’d like a thicker and chunkier look, use more of the floss. Maybe try 3 ply.
Get the sketch right: take as much time as needed to get the sketch right before transferring it to the fabric. Once it’s on the fabric, it’s there to stay, unless you use a washable marker, of course. Not great at sketching? That’s okay, you can get a piece of copy paper, hold it up to your computer screen, with the picture of your pet, and trace the important aspects of the pet. Then you can either use white fabric and place the paper under the white fabric to trace onto the fabric, or you can use carbon transfer paper, and transfer the design onto a darker colored fabric.
Start more simply: instead of trying to do a full pet body and head design, just do the head and chest area. This is what I chose to do.
Take your time: don’t feel that you need to rush through the process. Take your time with each element of the portrait. It may take you weeks or months but when you’re finished you’ll likely love the finished result more if you took your time.
BONUS TIP: use a variety of slightly differently colored threads for shading and highlighting. And look at the picture reference often to get the shading and highlights as close to natural as possible.
I can’t wait to show you the finished design! I hope to have it completed within a month.
And if you stitch your own beloved pet, will you tag me on IG? I’m LavenderonMain there!
PIN FOR LATER: