Learning a new skill can be daunting, but embroidery artist Michelle Staub (of Stitching Sabbatical) is proof that practice makes perfect. She recently shared a stitched portrait of her cat Purrl that she made in 2014, next to one she created in 2020—and the difference is mind-blowing! Over the last 6 years, Staub has clearly worked hard to purrfect the art of embroidery. Today, each design she creates captures her furry subjects in hyperrealistic detail.
Staub began crafting as a way to pass the time while her boyfriend (now husband) finished grad school. “Feeling listless and uninspired during the summer months, I decided to take up a new hobby, cross stitching,” says Staub. “I quickly grew bored and decided to move on to embroidery. I loved how free I was to make whatever I wanted on my fabric. My stitches didn’t have to be in uniform sizes or widths. I could do whatever I wanted with it. And I did.”
Staub has come a long way since her first embroidered portrait of her cat Purrl in 2014. Today, her fluffy friends are stitched with so much detail, they almost look like photographs. Every whisker and furry feature is intricately rendered in thread using multiple stitch styles to capture the animals’ tones and textures. “The main thing that drives me to keep improving is that I want my pet portraits to look as realistic as possible,” Staub tells My Modern Met. “I like the challenge of only using thread to capture the pet’s features and represent their likeness. I see ways I can improve with each portrait I make and try to apply that knowledge to the next one.”
Staub’s progress shows that with enough dedication, anyone can become a master of their chosen craft. “If you want to be good at embroidery, or even art in general, it really does just take practice, curiosity, and time,” she says. “We all start somewhere.”
Take a look at some of Staub’s pet portraits below. If you’re inspired to learn embroidery, check out our ultimate guide on how you can get started today.