Brace yourself for a Cuteness Overload. And some incredible embroidery!
Whether or not you’re a cat lover (or a dog lover), if you’re an embroiderer and you appreciate meticulous embroidery, I think you’re going to be twitterpated with this book
Now, this is The Thing (full disclosure here!): I’m not a cat lover. I like the idea of cats. I’d like to like cats, but, thanks to the horrid allergy that plagues me whenever I’m around the little beasties, I try to avoid them at all costs. It’s a matter of being able to breathe, you see. I get a little testy when I can’t.
That said, I love looking at them from a distance. There is something rather regal, majestic, adorable, endearing about cats. And looking at them through the artistic renderings of an embroiderer makes these particular cats that I’m going to show you even more enchanting!
If you’re on social media – Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram – you may very well have come across Hiroko Kubota’s cats and kittens, many of which are featured emerging from the pockets of shirts. They are, in short, adorable.
In order to answer the questions she received over and over again about how she manages to embroider such perfect renditions of cats, Hiroko has written a fabulous book detailing her style and how she accomplishes her pet portraits.
Embroidered Cats: Hiroko’s Style is more of a visual documentary of how she creates her cats with needle and thread, rather than a strict how-to manual. It’s a fascinating little book, packed full of cat (and some dog) embroidery, each displayed in a series of developmental photos.
I mean, really. What is not to love?!?
And if the kittens don’t get you, the puppies will!!
While the book does cover some preliminary information about the embroiderer’s tools and supplies, keep in mind that it is not a project book and not entirely an instructional book, either.
You won’t, for example, learn specifics on design development or stitchery in general.
Instead, Hiroko takes the observer step by step through specific cats (which fall into categories – no pun intended – such as simple black and white cats, multi-colored cats, and so forth). She shows you how she develops the particular cat, working from a photo, progressing from her line transfer through to the finishing details that bring the cat practically to life!
Each cat is broken down, step-by-step in its development, each step presented with the corresponding thread colors used for each tiny section.
She uses three brands of stranded cotton throughout the projects: Cosmo (also called Olympia), DMC, and Anchor.
Under the photos in the developing series, she comments on technique, difficulties, and delights…
…until she brings you to the final stitches that complete the portrait.
Throughout the book, aside from the cats and the dog that she shows in series, you’ll find collections like the one above, featuring multiple cats of certain types (like long-haired cats, multi-colored cats, and kittens). Each collection is astounding! Her embroidery captures the personality and quirkiness of each animal in incredible detail!
Although there is no clear direction on creating your cat design, it’s clear that she works from a photograph, most likely tracing the main lines of the animal’s features to create a pattern, and then tracing those onto the fabric.
She goes from the line drawing…
…to the finish, taking you along each step of the way!
The photos in the book are somewhat small, but they’re very clear. To really get in on the super-close detail, a magnifier helps. Viewing the pictures under magnification, you can see each little stitch, the way they blend and work together.
While I wish the pictures were slightly larger, I can see why they are not. The book is loaded with photos, and it would have been a huge volume if the pictures were reproduced at a larger size!
Hiroko has put together three fantastic videos, that I’ve shared below so that you can get a good idea of the process that unfolds in her book.
For subscribers who receive this article via email, the videos won’t be visible. Feel free to view this article on Needle ‘n Thread to play them.
The first video features the cover cat:
This second video features a drop-dead-cute kitten:
And this third video, a dog:
In a Nutshell
Embroidered Cats is an inspirational and eye-opening book. Although not strictly an instructional book, there’s much to learn from it and it’s definitely worth the investment if you have a love of realistic embroidery.
That said, I wouldn’t call it a beginner’s book. However, for the aspiring beginner who loves cats and dogs – well, I think this book will go a long way to inspire you!
On the pro side, the whole process is amazing to see unfold bit by bit, the animals are adorable, and the book is well written, simple, and charming.
A little con: again, the pictures are small, but if you have trouble seeing the detail, it’s nothing a magnifier can’t solve. I only used one when I wanted to really get in close and see a particular series of stitches. For casual viewing, the pictures are just fine.
Where to Find
Embroidered Cats: Hiroko’s Style is only available online in Hiroko’s Etsy shop. The book is self-published, and it ships from Japan.
For cat and dog lovers who stitch, it’s really a no-brainer! You will definitely want this book in your library! And even if cats and dogs are not your particular favorites in the animal kingdom, the process unfolded in the book will help you tackle any kind of animal that you want to stitch.
To sum it up in one line:
What a purrrrrrfectly happy book!!
(You knew that one was coming, didn’t you?)