Lifelike embroidery from artist Michelle Staub has a leg up on standard pet portraits. 

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Michelle Staub doing embroidery with dog on lap
Credit: Courtesy of Michelle Staub

The piercing green eyes of a tabby cat peer out from a frame. The image almost seems like a photograph until you look closer and see the thread. This über-realistic embroidery is the work of Michelle Staub, who one day progressed from photographing and painting her cat, Purrl, to stitching the kitty's visage on fabric. "I fell in love with the medium," Staub says. She launched Stitching Sabbatical in 2014.

in process embroidery project of a cat
black embroidery project of two dogs
finish embroidery project of a dog
Left: Credit: Courtesy of Michelle Staub
Center: Credit: Courtesy of Michelle Staub
Right: Credit: Courtesy of Michelle Staub

Her intricate creations soon drew an avid social media following; high demand and a lengthy wait list for her "thread painting" portraits followed. But it's her uncanny ability to showcase each pet's character that makes her work stand out.

Her full-color pet portraits utilize dozens of colors and take up to 70 hours to make, with a price tag to match (from $950). She also stitches black-and-white outline portraits (from $85).

"I can embroider ten black cats, and each portrait will be wildly different from the next one," she says. And while dogs and cats are her top commissions, Staub is open to all species—she has an embroidered cow to prove it.