Wednesday, September 22, 2010

On Broadway - Cats Postcards Mailed

Embroidery of the Cats logo went quickly using the design I digitized from the lettering of the Cats logo.I mailed off my Cats Postcards a few days ago, but am just now getting my blog updated with info. These are more photos showing my progress through the production of this mail art. I made a total of five cards. Originally there were going to be six, but one of the participants dropped out because of an injury. I thought I'd go ahead with all of them, but as you'll see in a photo further down, I goofed up on one of them. I decided to toss the messed up postcard. I planned to mail one to myself, so it worked out alright doing five cards.

This first photo shows the embroidery process of the Cats logo name. I downloaded a photo of the image from the internet and ran it through my embroidery digitizing computer software program. It is an easy digitizing job since the lettering was so simple. I just followed the image - easy, peasy digitizing. They didn't take very long at all to embroider out on my Pfaff Creative Vision.

I use Roxanne's Glue Baste It to adhere the little fabric pieces to add detail to the cat faces.This next photo shows my goof! I embroidered one of the cards with the logo upside down! I decided to toss this one. It was the very first one I stitched out, too. Obviously I wasn't paying attention. Good thing I caught it when I pulled it out of the hoop or I might have messed up more of them. I paid more attention after that. :)

Here you see a bottle of the glue I used to adhere the fabric pieces. I like to use Roxanne's Glue Baste It since the tip on this bottle of simple white glue places a fine, thin bead of glue directly where you want it. I can use just a tiny bit and not end up getting it all over everything. It's neater than regular plain old Elmer's white glue. I suppose I could refill my bottle with Elmer's glue when it gets low. So far, I've had this bottle for awhile as you can see from the crinkled label. I find it a bit irritating to have to always use a long, quilter's pin to clear the thin hollow tube applicator between uses. But that's a small matter considering it works so well - aside from that slightly irritating feature. I got this glue at my local quilt shop. They sell it for quilters who like to do hand applique without pins to hold down the small fabric pieces. It's so much nicer not having pins all over the place. And it is quicker and less expensive than fusible web that is ironed in place. It doesn't make your piece stiff like the fusibles. Plus it washes out if it were used on an item that is washable. Obviously that is not the case here for the postcards. Just a fine bead of glue does not show up from the front side, either.

Testing the position of the face over the fur head fabric.Here is a close-up of one of the faces. I trimmed around the face and positioned it in place over the outline of the fur head. I purposely made the necks a bit long since I knew I would end up trimming them off on the final cards. Fit looks good. Time to glue it in place.

Glue the face into place and trim excess at the bottom.This next photo shows the neck piece trimmed off at the bottom edge of the card. I am glueing the face into place. It doesn't take much time at all to dry when you are using only a thin bead of glue. Glue, press in place, move on to the next one . . . by the time I'm done with the fifth one, the first one is dry enough to start stitching.

Laying in a bit of color to the fur around the face with fabric snippets.I used a variegated ocher/tan piece of fabric to lay in some color to the cat's fur around the face. Using fabric was a quick way to add additional color to the piece. Originally I thought I would do all the additional color with a thread painting technique, but figured it would go faster filling in blocks of color with fabric snippets. After all . . . I was already late getting my cards sent off. Trying to make it go a bit faster cut down a few extra hours of sewing.

Thread Painting the details of the fur around this cat's face.I set my Pfaff 7570 up with the darning foot, dropped the feed dogs, and did some thread painting to add details to the fur around the face area. Thread painting is just a free-motion technique to create an image and add color by sewing details with different colors of thread. It is basically simple stitching here to simulate fur around the face. As the artist, I just move the fabric around to sketch the picture in thread. I had a movie set up in the DVD and listened to background 'action' on tv while I sewed. I 'watched' several shows on DVD while creating these cards. It's a good way to pass the time.

Zig-zag stitch around the outer perimeter of each postcard to prevent fraying of the fabric.After doing some simple thread painting with the tan color thread that coincided with the fabric snippets, I decided I ought to stitch around the outsides before I ended up fraying my edges. Here I set up the machine for a simple zig-zag stitch to cover the perimeter around the edges. This goes quickly, but I went around each card twice.

Previous work on fabric postcards has taught me that it is easier to stitch around the perimeter twice with a stitch that isn't set too tight. I used to try to go around them just once with a denser stitch and always had trouble with the way the cards were feeding through the machine. They tended to bunch up, skip stitches or snag at the corners where they wouldn't feed through at all. Lots of trouble! Now I just set the stitch length slightly looser than a dense, satin stitch and sew the card twice. Itt looks more dense and is easier to sew without problems with those nasty feeding issues.

After stitching around the perimeters, I went back and did more thread painting in a darker brown thread. I was going to add some black into the fur to match more to the original photos I was refering to as reference from the broadway play. I could hear my needle 'thudding' through some of the denser areas of stitching so decided against that. Sometimes when the stitching gets too dense it can get harder to sew. I didn't want to overdo it. It looked like it had the proper amount of stitching to suit me. So I called it done!

Here's a final look at the cards prior to sending them off in the mail. Note the reverse side as printed via my computer with the project description.I like to make up the back side of my fabric postcards on my computer and print them out on index card (110# weight) cardstock. This allows me to add detail about the project, the date and some info and provides a nice, stiff heavier weight paper base.

I use an old graphics program I've had on my computer for a long time for this step. I actually used the program years ago when I had an older computer. When I got my current Vista computer several years ago I figured this old program wouldn't run properly. Thankfully it did, so I didn't need to invest in yet another computer program. I like it when things like that happen. The graphics program I use is called Art Explosion Publisher Pro. It takes awhile to learn to use some of these graphics programs. I know enough of this one to get by, and I'm glad to still be able to make use of it. I really should use it more often and learn it a bit more thoroughly. I have to work to keep refreshing myself on it when I am away from doing graphis work for awhile. Computer programs seem to take lots more time to learn than they do to forget!! LOL!!

So . . . that's my mini lesson on how I make my fabric postcards. Now, I'm looking forward to the next time around. This group of artists will soon be coming up with another theme for the next Postcard Swap. Go check it out at Three Creative Studios if you want to join in the next swap!


  1. Hi, Doreen: I just wanted to let you know personally how much I LOVE my CATS postcard! It's very special to me. DH is originally from Belfield, ND, so we are "kind of" North Dakotans as well! Thanks again. Sue

  2. Thanks! It was a fun swap. I just signed up for the next one.

    Funny how it really is a small world, especially now with the internet and instant communication. The snail mail art is another fun way to connect, too.


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