A happy accident

What started as a sketch-vent later turned into my first fabric collage.

My neighbour’s renovation drills right into my head rather than the wall that separates our two units. Instead of the doll I had planned on making today, all I could visualise was my brain liquidising.

Afterall, a pen is a much safer weapon to wield anger than my 11″ scissors.

Using references found on Pinterest, I drew a bunch of devils trapped inside the form of a cat.

I felt so much better the instant these felines materialise on paper, staring right back at me, purring words of affirmation to me. They too are annoyed at the drilling noises, if only they could jump out of the paper and scratch up the new flooring next door.

From sketch to stitch

Excited by the idea, I traced the sketch onto the cotton muslin draped over the sewing machine right next to me. The thrifter in me found a small spot in the oddly shaped fabric, between the cut out free-motion embroidery experiments.


I love embroidering little faces, even a 1/16 inch—no, half that measurement—deviation of the needled placement would turn a happy face into a sad one. Perhaps it is the mindfulness required at the task that I enjoy, but that’s a story for a different post.

After a short burst of intense focus, little grump is looking at me. I am happy with how it echoes my emotion right now.

Easy task falls prey to the mindless trap

Next, it is time to ’round things up’ by drawing the body, giving the cat form.

It is so easy to embroider in any direction to depict the unruly fluff of the animal. I jumped at the chance and before long I was a quarter way through.

Old headache, new headache

Wait, what was this supposed to be again?

I wanted to make a doll, I had a headache, I couldn’t, I sketched, happy, headache gone, I sketched in stitches, now I have a new headache.

This was stitched to the sliver of fabric so small I won’t even have enough to make a doll.

Using newly learned language

Without thinking twice, I cut the threads of the ‘fur’ part of the embroidery.

When one language fails me, vocabulary from my second language tumbles out unconsciously.

The solution tumbled out: This grumpy cat is going to be a piece of flat art.

Apparently, my recent venture into improvisational quilting (really more like mini quilting), has given me a new language to express myself.

Giving the cat a context

This cat is in it with me now. We have been through ups and downs together, she deserves better.


I used the most naive looking fabric I have (part of a scrap stash of hand-me-down), one I wouldn’t buy for myself, or even my dolls. And that’s the fun. This cat would hate it, which explains the expression. I love the sense of irony in all things.

Instead of using the sewing machine like I did with the previous doll quilts, I collaged the fabrics with hand stitches. Simple whipped stitch and running stitch, simple and get the job done, without stealing the show from our already-grumpy star.

To finish, I trimmed the rectangular fabric collage with bias binding, by hand, by hand, by hand! How do quilters do it on a big human size quilt? I had difficulty concentrating even on this 6 by 7″.

What I learned

The angst I felt dissipated as soon as the first face emerged in ink on paper. Then, the creative process carried me further, transcribing the marks onto fabric, and later leads me to complete a fabric collage.

What started as a pot of negative emotions, and thoughtlessness (of using a too-small scrap), driven by the creative process, lead me to a pleasant and unexpected result. Every day through the process of art-making, I am learning to be a better version of myself.

We don’t make mistakes, just happy accidents.
Bob Ross


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