Once upon a time, before the real-life Peony the Cat came into my life and changed everything, I was a Dog Person. Or, to be more accurate, a dogs person. Many of them. For many years, we had an extra-large canine family, and friends would urge me to put them in a book. Well, with Myrtle Hardcastle Mysteries Book 5, Myrtle, Means, and Opportunity, that book has finally arrived! And because I’m me, the way to commemorate this momentous event was to make something! Come see how I brought Minna the Foxhound to 3D life!
The scene above comes from the beginning of Myrtle, Means, and Opportunity, when Myrtle & Co. first meet Rockfforde Hall’s foxhound pack, and is the moment so magnificently rendered by Brett Helquist for the cover:
This time, for reference images, I sent photographs of my own dogs—specifically our coonhounds Ladygirl, Rusty, and Flint.Flint and Ladygirl were our pack leaders, so it only seemed right for them to star in the new book! Flint (right) became Cleveland, and Ladygirl (left) became Minna.
To fit with the Peony I had already made, Minna/Ladygirl is made of felt. I found a wonderful pattern by textile artist Emma Hall, for a seated dog perfectly in scale for my 18″ Myrtle!
With some modifications, Hall’s lab makes a perfect foxhound!
The first step was working out Ladygirl’s distinctive markings.
Mostly snow white, Ladygirl had a beautiful brown and black forehead and ears, one large black spot on each side, and a wonderful nearly-circular spot on her right hip that was neatly bisected black on top and brown on the bottom (sort of like a black-and-white cookie).
Felt is a malleable and cooperative fabric—easy to work with and a joy to sew (and beginner-friendly, too! Although this pattern is a little more challenging than Peony.). Minna is a mix of acrylic and wool felt.
The piece is constructed entirely by hand, with blanket stitch/buttonhole stitch—a classic stitch for wool applique. It combines a seam with an edge finish, and it’s very neat and pretty—important because the seam allowances are to the outside of the piece.
For the most part the construction went swiftly, but figuring out her eyes was a challenge. When I tried simply using black buttons, she looked… soulless. After studying photos like the one above, I realized she was missing Ladygirl’s dramatic black “eyeliner!” A teeny-tiny black felt oval solved that—perfectly capturing her keen expression!
I ended up giving Minna slightly larger ears than designed, because those marvelously soft and floppy ears are so characteristic of our scenthounds! (The original smaller ear is shown above, before I changed my mind.)
Revisiting my life with hounds was one of the great joys of writing the latest Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery, and I had an absolutely delightful time making my felt Minna! She is a wonderful addition to Myrtle’s miniature world, and a splendid companion for Peony (whether Peony will admit it or not).
Minna, Cleveland, and the other hounds of Rockfforde Hall play a key role in the new mystery, and I know you’ll love the Buncehounds as much as we do.