Archive for the ‘Featured Project’ Category

Featured Project – Steampunk Marie Antoinette

Happy holidays, crafters!

Before we headed off for our little festive break, I thought I’d share with you an amazing project we got a peek at way back in October, for our Halloween costume contest. Back then we got a peek at this photo below, and you really can’t see that without needing to know more about that dress.

And that headpiece.

And well, everything really.

The lovely Liddy all the way from Holland is nice enough to join us today to talk in depth and share more amazing photos on what has to be our most embroidered costume to date, this incredible Steampunk Marie Antoinette creation…

DSC_9182

This is an incredible costume! Talk to us a bit about what started it. Was it for an event in particular?

Yes, it is a costume I made for a festival in Holland called Castlefest. I’d been wanting to create a steampunk end-of-the-world Marie Antoinette style gown ever since I saw a couture creation in this apocalyptic style, and this was a perfect occassion for it.

What made you choose steampunk? Had you always been into the style?

Not necessarily, I’m into a lot of styles and steampunk is one of many that appeals to me. Especially because of the unlimited possibilities and alterations of existing patterns! I’ve made other steampunk gowns in Victorian style as well. Last year I went to a Danish 1700s weekend, and all the fun of creating a costume for it is why I chose the Rococo era.

How did you go about choosing designs? How many are on there?

*Phew!*I’ll have to count them.

Wait a minute…………….at least some 30 patterns!

The heart on the corset is one design that I’ve enlarged to the utmost corners of my largest hoop, I really wanted it to stand out. It’s then embellished with keys, gears and aluminium coil springs.

Then I did the choker, which i’ve also enlarged, and the gloves. To give the gloves an extra point, I reduced a tiara pattern (loved the shape of it) to have a nice pointed cuff. They are also embellished with keys, chains and gears.

For the headdress, one large tiara pattern. Then the skirts…each pannier section is embroidered with the key border, of which two fill a pannier. Then on each section I embroidered different patterns, like the birdcage, the Marie wig, gears, the Cthulhu, etc. These were embellished as well with gears.

The bronze overskirt is embroiderd with the raven border pattern, using a glow-in-the-dark thread. They don’t really show as well in the pictures but it was a huge project to embroider all these borders. For the corners I used the corner pattern.

For the spats I upsized the patterns quite considerably and in the heart I put an extra clock (embroidering two designs over each other), then they were made in the cameo shape. There is a matching jacket with another Cthulhu embroidery, but I’ve no pictures of it yet.

Choosing the designs was not difficult, since there are so many in this nice steamy theme!

How long did the embroidery take?

Well, only all summer ;)

No, I think about one and a half months to two months (sometimes up to 11 hours a day).

How long did the whole thing take you to make? Was the costume designed by you, or was it based on a pattern?

The actual making of the garment went rather quick compared to all the hours of embroidering. After embroidering it took another two to three weeks to complete the patterns. The patterns used are the Mantua Maker’s hooped petticoats pattern for the hooped panier and for the corset I used the Butterick stays pattern. The black underskirt, silk overskirts and spats were handdrawn, cut on my dummy and improved along the sewing process. Though the spats didn’t fit as accurately as I wanted them, I’ll have to rework them a bit.

Did you run into any problems along the way? Any tips for people trying something like this?

Just this: Start in time to avoid last minute stress. Had quite a hassel with the spats! And, very important, keep the cat away from all the moving parts :) it’s just too tempting.

Talk a little more about that fabulous headdress…

This headdress is inspired by the Kraken creature from the Pirates of the caribbean. It is made up of an embroidered tiara, which I’ve underwired for extra strength.

The octopus is tearing the galleon down to the dark depths of the ocean with its tentacles. He is made up of Fimo clay in coppertones and dusted off with silver and bronze powder to let him gleam. 

He was made in one evening when I had an inspired friend over who encouraged me to make the creature that was popping up in my mind. The galleon is from a miniature store. The cyberlox are purchased by the yard in colours matching the costume and cut to the desired length. My cat loved these coily things!

How did people react to the costume and the embroidery?

Awesome! They were impressed by the amount of embroidery and all the details.

What’s your favorite part about this costume?

I think the Kraken creature….because he turned out just as he envisioned himself in my mind.

What’s your next project going to be?

That’s just finished, it’s a blood red Elizabethan court gown with standing collar….
The other new project will be a living Isis statue.

Such a gorgeous creation, I am totally blown away!

You guys keep pushing the limits of your creative creations, and boy do you love your steampunk. We’ll have to make sure we keep our designs up to the same caliber of projects they’re helping to create.

Thanks again for sharing with us Liddy. I’m sure this isn’t the last we’ll see of your beautiful embroidered creations here on StitchPunk.

Featured Project – Evolution of the Steampunk Girl

Do you ever come across one of those amazing embroidery projects that just hits you over the head with its intricacy, and you wonder… what was it like to make that? It all comes together so beautifully at the end, but sometimes, the process on these pieces is almost as fascinating as the result.

That’s why we’re lucky that 28 Sides Designs is a patient soul who takes the time to pull out her camera when the rest of us would just get lost in stitches and cuss words. She beautifully documented the evolution of this amazing Steampunk Nouveau embroidery, capturing the transformation from beginning to end. She joins us today to talk us through what went into this design, all while we can watch it take shape ourselves.

1 WIP Pic Steam girl

Early stages...

This is such a beautifully documented project, did you have a plan of how you wanted this project to evolve? Did you know you were going to document it like this when you started?

I didn’t really have a “plan”…

I had wanted to do a really heavy piece of embroidery, before I’d been doing mostly outlined pieces and then I did the May Monarch challenge which got my blood pumping for a larger filled piece. I knew this piece would take a really long time, especially one I was done with the hair, so I decided to take photos also in case I FUBAR’d it (or a cat, child or dog did that for me).

2 WIP Pic Steam Girl

Hair done, with the face is just starting to fill in.

3 WIP Pic Steam Girl

Face complete. Check out all those amazing fills!

What made you choose this design?

I fell in love with this one the moment I saw it and had to make it. It was perfect to work with fill stitches and textures.

4 WIP Pic Steam Girl

The fill starts to creep down the back. You can see her starting to come alive now...

5 WIP Pic Steam Girl

Encroaching Satin stitch skin complete.

Talk us through your embroidery… there are so many beautiful fills in this piece! What stitches did you use?

I had wanted to do many different stitches, more of a sampler type embroider but most ended up variants of satin stitches.

There’s the basic satin stitch (border, gears, goggles, eyes, lips, straps and corset), then the encroaching satin stitch (hair, skin), long and short satin stitch (background), fishbone stitch (flower petals), rows of split stitch (shawl), cross stitch (corset lacing), backstitch (gear outlines, clock hand), french knot (earing dot), chain stitch (earing chain).

6 WIP Pic Steam Girl

Larger satins start to fill the lips.

How long did this project take you?

It took a long time. I think I watched at least two seasons of Farscape, two seasons of Buffy, and listened to at least one Dresden novel.

7 WIP pic Steam Girl

A leap forward! Satins, fishbone stitches and many more fills.

Any interesting challenges along the way?

The biggest challenge was my son wanting to help (he likes to poke the needle and pull it through) and the solvy started to break around the edges where it was perforated by the stitches.  Eventually keeping the frame even and straight didn’t happen, so I had to trace out straight lines and redraw the frame around.

8 WIP pic Steam Girl

Details like background fills and goggles come to life

Do you wish you had done anything differently?

I wish I had not used the satin (rayon) embroidery floss for the background. I was probably using the wrong sized needle but it shredded something awful.

9 WIP pic Steam Girl

The background! It almost looks machine stitched...

What are your plans for the piece?

I have no idea…well I have many ideas, one of my favorites is to get my husband to make a box out of really nice wood and cover the top with this (or have him frame it in the wood under glass) and make it into a jewelry box, or possibly a purse flap, or a quilt or just find a really nice frame and frame it and hang it.

Steampunk Girl Complete

The final piece

It truly is an amazing piece of work completed. Fantastic work, 28 Sides Designs, and thank you again for doing such a beautiful job documenting the whole process. I hope you transform this piece into something you can display proudly forever.

I would be jealous of her mad embroidery skills, but you really have to love a person who measures project length in units of Buffy. I just can’t be mad after that.

Do you want to be a featured project on StitchPunk? Drop us a line at blog@urbanthreads.com or upload your Urban Threads stuff to our flickr group!

Featured Project – Illsabelline the Steamwork Doll

Happy Halloween, stitchers! Are you all geared up for a weekend of tricks and treats? Well, one of my favorite parts of Halloween is seeing all the fantastic costumes that come out this time of year, and I have a really great one to share with you today.

Lately it’s been so much fun to bust out of the world of traditional stitches, and today’s featured project just cranks this up on more notch. Ladies and gents, get your game face on and your machines at the ready, because you’re not going to believe the work of this next Urban Threadster, Azre Greis.

She’s created this absolutely stunning Steamwork Doll costume called Illsabelline, and she created this as a basic machine embroidery newbie! This thing is not only dripping with embroidery, but all kinds of amazing steampunk details you just have to see to believe.  Azre joins us today to talk a little about her amazing project, and the crazy amounts of hours of work that went into bringing this doll to life.

First off, this is no small project…what inspired this? Was it for a particular con or event? Or just for the heck of it?

I’ve always had an interest in Steampunk and its style, but never felt like I understood it enough or had enough of a reason to do anything relating to it. Unbeknownst to me, two of my dear friends were part of an ‘airship crew,’ the Sky D.O.G.s (Delirium of Grandeur) and were doing a convention in the summer called A-kon in Dallas, TX.

They encouraged me to make a costume to go with their group and hang out together. They hand held me through concept, design, back story and even character name to make my transition into this brassy new world a gentle one.

Did embroidery inspire the steampunk or did a love of steampunk come before the embroidery?

I had originally planned a fairly plain skirt/top combo with a small box on the back for a key to come out of and didn’t even actually own an embroidery machine at the time the costume was started.

The machine came in May as a belated birthday present from my fiancé and my best friend (it was a plot) and she showed me Urban Threads, specifically the gothic and steampunk areas. I was in love. I immediately began coming up with places to put the designs I found and began testing the waters of making my own.

Talk us through all the embroidery… how many designs are on here? How long did it take to embroider it all?

The skirt is 15 feet of hem and took 2 weeks to do using a grouped cog design that I married together into a bigger group so I wouldn’t have to re-hoop as often. All of the cog sets are unique as I used no colour set and changed them out on the mood of the moment as I worked through it. There is a seal on the front left side of the skirt bearing the character’s name, Illsabelline, and her make/model information as well as steampunk butterfly. 

The shirt has a collar and sleeve trim lined in cog borders with the neck piece being overlapped and the sleeve are just pairs with spaces so it didn’t get too busy. The arm cuffs have the same cog border on the top and the bottom, but only the front, as the back is tied in a bow. The socks have the cog border, but only on the front as they are also tied in a bow in the back.

Then there’s the box itself. The doll box has cog border corners turned at different angles on the sides and the front, while the top has the steampunk compass and the right speaker holes are covered up a steampunk globe. The final piece was a large keyhole embroidered to nest with the metal key, the actual hole of the keyhole is cut out on the top for the key to go in and out of, as well as spin when turned.

Total embroideries are 7 on the doll box, 16 sets of cogs (two groups each) and the 1 seal on the skirt, 2 (1 per) on the socks, 8 border sets on the shirt, and 4 for the arm cuffs, so 38 total. I only did about 27 of those between May and June, when the convention was, and then did the rest over the course of a few days later in the year to ‘finish’ the costume.

Did you design the costume yourself? Was it based off a pattern or did you make it up on your own?

I sketch out all of my costumes before I get started on them to make sure I’m not getting in over my head before all the fabric is in a heap in front of me. I designed the costume along with my friends’ suggestions about Steampunk, but I did use some patterns from Simplicity for some basics like general shirt and skirt shapes then exaggerated them. The socks and cuffs are just out of the ether, and the box was 100% made up by myself and my friend.

What were people’s reactions to the costume and to all the embroidery?

Everyone asked where I bought it and were shocked when I said I made it. Many people got confused and thought embroidery was done by hand only, so I explained that I have a magical machine that makes it all happen for me provided I give it a proper sacrifice of compressed air, oil and Robison Anton threads. Several people asked me how long it took and were aghast at how much time was spent on the skirt alone.

There were lots of pictures and a lot of people played with the key on the box and spun it around. I’d pretend to get wound up or down depending on what was happening around us. I’m extremely camera shy so it was very surprising to me to have so many people coming up with shutters in hand asking to touch it and take close ups. The embroidery makes the outfit, it wouldn’t be anything of note without all of it.

Any challenges along the way? What advice would you give someone trying an ambitious costume like this themselves?

These are all things that smacked me square in the face along the way working on the doll. I can’t stress this part enough, plan ahead, don’t try to rush embroidery or you’ll wind up making mistakes or trying to take shortcuts that will only increase the time you spend and lead to frustration.

Make sure you have all the colours of thread you need before you get started and if you know you’ll be using a particular colour a lot, buy 2 spools. Make sure you research how much space you’re working with and therefore what size hoops you need and if you need to resize your designs. Don’t be dead set on one kind of design or idea, let the outfit and the embroidery take you in other directions. I was originally very set on everything on the outfit being all butterflies, but there were so many interesting aspects to the world Illsabelline lives in I couldn’t imagine all she’d adorn herself with to be just butterflies and branched out after surfing and tinkering for 30 minutes here and there.

Know your fabrics, some designs are too heavy for things like organza and other sheers to handle, while some fabrics are too thick to really show delicate details appropriately, and if you’re not sure, find someone and ask for advice. Be ready to take breaks, most machines get tired running nonstop and will get very hot, sometimes even causing more frequent thread breaks (this happened on my original machine all the time).

AVOID METALLIC THREADS IF YOU CAN! They are so beautiful but they are full of grief and will snap even under the most perfect of circumstances. 

What’s your next project going to be?

My next steampunk project is an evening gown for Illsabelline based loosely off of Koi fish and I have my eyes set on the fantastic steampunk Koi in Urban Threads steampunk area to inspire me.

For Halloween I’m working on Morticia Addams, which wound up being a lot less embroidery than I had tried to will it to be. When something is all black, not much shows up. But I just finished a Mrs. Lovett that I managed to sneak some in on, so all was not lost this October!

A little to my chagrin, I’m actually being a stitchpunk windup doll for Halloween, and I am very much thinking I should have just saved that one for next year. How do you top this? Well, I don’t, but I for one couldn’t be more pleased. I just love seeing what creative minds can do with the right designs.

So, did you get your stitch on for this Halloween? If nothing else, I bet this will inspire you to give it a go next year — after all, this thing was made by an embroidery newbie! I cannot wait to see more creations from Azre Greis.

Hair by Jamie Lee Laratta, makeup by Julie Edwards, and CCI photos as marked by Stephen Hertenberger

Do you want to be a featured project on StitchPunk? Drop us a line at blog@urbanthreads.com or upload your Urban Threads stuff to our flickr group!

Featured Project – Victorian Capelets

The last warm days of summer are still hanging on here in Minnesota, but at nights you can feel the chill of autumn start to roll in.

Personally, autumn is my favorite season … the time of warm apple cider, boots, and fabulous layers. That’s why I thought it would be a great time to share something perfect for wrapping around yourself on a chill autumn evening, the capelet creations of Luci from DuhBe.

Luci joins us today to talk a little about the spark that started her upcycled Victorian creations, and the embroidery embellishments that go with them…

cherry chocolate bunny crop jacket

I just love that these are capelets, something you really don’t see much of these days. What inspired you to make these?

I had found this really pretty skirt, but it was too small for me. One day I threw the skirt over the shoulders of my dress form, and it occurred to me I could upcycle that skirt into a neo-victorian styled capelet.

I ended up putting that first one in my Etsy shop and it was featured in one of their emails which created demand for more capelets – so I made more! They are great for keeping the chill off your shoulders, and they are a good canvas for embroidery.

Blue & brown rabbit capelet

What made you choose the designs you did?

I love the Alice in Wonderland designs and for a while I was putting them on everything! So it just made sense to use those on the steampunk or neo-Victorian styled capelets I was making.

Did you make up the pattern yourself, or follow one?

My capelets are either upcyled skirts, or I make them from my own patterns similar to a-line or circle skirts. But I believe some of the big pattern companies have capelet patterns in their formal wear category as well.

Sold - Pink,blue & brown rabbit capelet

How long does one of your creations take you? Any interesting challenges along the way?

It usually takes 2-4 hours depending on how many embellishments I add. The biggest challenge with converting a skirt to a capelet is getting the shoulders to lie flat. If you remove the waistband and add a dart at each shoulder, you can fix that. Then create a new neckline with bias tapes or ribbon, or just hem it and add pretty top stitching.

Alice_jacket_back

Tell us a bit about those awesome fabrics you chose…

Many of the fabrics I use are upcycled from thrifted garments. You can get expensive suiting fabrics really cheap that way!

I also love the linen look, and have used Osnaburg muslin for some of the capelets because it has a vintage look that goes well with embellishments and embroidery.

Pink & brown cat capelet

Any advice for people looking to tackle a similar project?

Capelets are very easy to make – just like skirts. If you add embroidery, my tip is to embroider on separate fabric and then add the design as a patch, along with other scraps of fabric for a cluster effect. You get a lot of design pop for very little money that way. Look for skirts with pretty details like a fancy hemline, so you get all that frouf-y stuff with no work on your part!

Thanks Luci for sharing these amazing creations and adding a little more inspiration to the upcycling trend. I know I’m now secretly wishing fall would hurry up and get here so I can warm my hands on a cup of cider and go thrifting for skirts!

Do you want to be a featured project on StitchPunk? Drop us a line at blog@urbanthreads.com or upload your Urban Threads stuff to our flickr group!

Featured Project – Stumpwork Green Man

Today’s featured project is really a stunner, but once you find out a little about our stitcher Rebecca Ray, you’ll see why.

Rebecca stitched up this amazing stumpwork green man based on this Urban Threads design in all his dimensional glory. What is stumpwork? Well, basically it’s a kind of embroidery where the stitched figures are raised from the surface of the work to form a 3D effect. Often stitches are worked around wire to create the shapes. Sometimes machine embroidery tries its hand at this effect using foam to “puff up” areas, but Rebecca went old school and the effort really shows!

Rebecca’s kindly offered to talk a little about her stitchy background and some of the effort that went into this wild guy…

closeup2

Stumpwork is a medium we haven’t seen much of on UT designs, and I’m smitten! How did you get into this particular type of embroidery?

I was introduced to stumpwork while I was an apprentice with The Royal School of Needlework, a few years back. 

Holy cow! No wonder your stitches are so mesmerizing! That’s really the sort of thing you can’t say without going into a little more detail. Tell us a bit about your experience with the school?

I’d always loved embroidery but I wanted to learn more than the basics I knew, so I applied to the RSN back in early 2005 and started in September of that year.

Out of loads of applicants they only took on 7 that year. It was very hard work because you learnt each technique on your final piece, no practise runs, so much of my apprentice work you can see on flickr was the first time I had tried that subject! Because of that you really learn stamina for stitching, and you can become quite fast at it too.

How long did you study?

The school year was broken into 3 terms, and there are 3 years in total. You learn around 6 to 8 subjects each term, with a term being around 100 hours each. Between terms you worked in their commercial studio learning how to repair and restore embroidered textiles, taking on new commissions and preparing things for exhibition. It was very very interesting, and although it took a lot of blood and sweat and tears I enjoyed every minute of it.

Plus, I now have a rather snazzy certificate signed by the queen!

Wow! 

closeup3

What made you choose the design you did? Did anything in particular about the Green Man make you decide to take him on in 3D?

I originally chose this design because I was looking for something to give to a dear friend of mine who had just moved house. As it turned out she recieved something else and now someone else wants to buy it from me! But it was the leaf elements of the Green Man that I thought were perfect for stumpwork, even if I nearly poked my eyes out with the cake wire a few times!

What kinds of stitches did you use? Any favorites?

I used trailing to cover the edges of the 3D leaves (and cake wire), and couched threads over the edges of the flat leaves in the background. The gold curls are done in chain stitch and the eyes and mouth were done in satin stitch.

working small

In progress...looking a little naked!

How long does one of your creations take you? Any interesting challenges along the way?

For the most part my creations take a fair bit of time, because there is usually quite a lot of stitched detail in them, but I have learnt to have both speed and stamina thanks to my appenticeship and time spent in a commercial embroidery studio. When i can sit down and dedicate time to a project I can usually get it done faster than if I’m constantly stopping and starting.

Stumpwork Green Man

Any advice for people looking to tackle a similar project? Other than perhaps to study at the Royal School of Needlework? 

Spend a little time planning what has to happen before you start. Sometimes a problem arises and you have to make allowences for that, but a project like stumpwork will run much smoother if you plan out what needs to be done and in what order, before you start.

And when it comes to cutting out the leaves, take your time! It is so easy to cut through the stitched edge while your trying to trim back the excess fabric. Oh, and try to be carefull not to poke your eye out with the wire while your shaping it!

Green Man

Thanks so much for sharing, Rebecca!  I know your stumpwork style is certainly going to inspire someone else to take their work into a whole new dimension. I myself am pretty tempted to travel over yonder to England and try and get into the Royal School of Needlework, which I imagine to be in a large, medieval castle with Harry Potter-esque classes that may or may not involve magic.

I might be wrong in this assumption. Only one way to find out!

Do you want to be a featured project on StitchPunk? Drop us a line at blog@urbanthreads.com or upload your Urban Threads stuff to our flickr group!

Featured Project – The Indelible Mr. Gear

When people outside of this industry come across machine embroidery, they might be forgiven for making some assumptions about the kinds of crafters that participate. If you’ve come across the industry as a whole, you might believe it is populated by nothing but 71-year-old midwestern ladies who really really like paisley. And bears. And paisley bears. Perhaps ones wearing bows.

Or, on the other side, one might make the mistaken assumption that all Urban Threads customers are all thirtysomething urban mums with names like Brittney who cook vegan and whittle their own knitting needles from reclaimed sustainable barn wood. You might be right on both counts.  The truth is we have midwestern grannies and hipster parents. And hipster midwestern grannies. Yup, this is the embroidery your grandmother stitches. Your  grandmother is just that cool.

What you may not realize is all the people in between.  The guys, the teens, the young, the old, the hip, the crafty, the vampires.

Wait, what?

Yup, our crafty customers are as varied as your fabric stash, and if Brittney is your all-natural hand-dyed hemp-cotton-blend, then THIS guy is your black velvet embossed skull brocade. Possibly with sparkles.

And his name is Marty Gear.

I am so digging those glasses.

Marty is here with us this Friday to help us celebrate Halloween in July, and as a special treat he’s going to share some of his amazing embroidered costumes he’s made over the years! His most recent creation, above, is the long-awaited combination of fangs and gears … a steampunk vampire!

Marty explains how this creation came together…

For the last ten years I have been playing various vampire characters at a haunted attraction in western Pennsylvania called Castle Blood. When Master Tuxedos went out of business I went to their warehouse sale looking for “oddball” tux coats that I could use and found the one in the picture (without all the Urban Threads designs of course). I hung it in my sewing room and stared at it for several months, then replaced the black cloth buttons with pewter skull buttons.  That started the theme.  Since I do vampires, I had to have a bat and did the pocket flaps using the bat from Embroidery Library’s “Damask Bat” (sorry about that but I keep telling you that you don’t do enough bats) but then everything else was from Urban Threads.

Sorry about that, Marty. We do promise we’ll keep up on the bats from now on…

The Cameo Mori was next, and now the coat was starting to come together, but it needed something else to shine and that’s when I got the idea of using your Damask Skull on black velvet sleeve cuffs. (OK, it took me six tries to get it right. The velvet kept “eating” the pattern until I got bright enough to use soluble topping.)

I was now happy with the coat, but it needed something red around the top, and since I wasn’t willing to tear apart the lapels, embroidering the Skulls Nouveau in metallic threads on red finished the outfit.

Though this appears to be Marty’s first foray into the steampunk-vampire combination, he’s no stranger to either. You might have seen these photos of him before floating around our flickr group, showing off his gear-tastic (har har) style with some of our favorite steampunk designs.

And here he is in his full vampire makeup, scaring the bejeezus out of everyone who dares enter Castle Blood.

Marty is a longtime costumer and embroiderer, as well as a longtime customer of Urban Threads, for the three years or so we’ve been around. His favorite pastimes, it seems, are making awesome costumes and berating us for not having enough bat designs.

He’s also an enterprising digitizer himself, and faced with a dire shortage of bat designs, set about creating his own for the costume above. The right was his first attempt, and the left, his second after he lost the original file.

Pictured: what we don't do enough of.

Though he has recently been dabbling in the dark arts of digitizing, he has been costuming with embroidery for many years, long before Urban Threads came around. This costume, for example, was originally designed in 1984, but was up-cycled by Marty years later into this incarnation of a character from a book called “The Dragon Rises.”

You don't mess with a man with a sewing machine.

This wizard costume has been, as he describes it, “embroidered to within an inch of its life,” with impressive results. These designs are not ours, but awesome all the same.

The first thing my brain thought when it saw this was: Dumbledore! You're allivvee!

Being a wizard with the sewing machine means he’s certainly got more than one outfit. Here’s another fantastic example of one of his wizard costumes, complete, of course, with more embroidery.

It just goes to show you that a love of costumes can go hand in hand with a love of embroidery, and that any time of year is a great time to stitch up something fantastic. Personally, if I could I’d go around in costume all the time, I love dressing up so much. As far as Mr. Gear is concerned, he looks so at home in those outfits I picture him going around in his day-to-day activities with at least an eye patch or a pair of goggles at all times. Possibly with some embroidery about his person.

I’m so inspired by Marty’s work and creativity on all these costumes, it certainly raises the bar for what I hope to cook up for this Halloween. I hope it inspires you to try a little embroidery on your costume this year… you’ve got 3 months to try and top this.

Think you can take on the indelible Mr. Gear?

Featured Project – Steampunk Corset

Today’s featured project is keeping with our theme of everything steampunk, and I’m so excited to share this one with you!

Hand embroiderer Annie Maura (that’s right, this is hand embroidered) made this truly amazing steampunk corset to complete her geartastic costume, and she’s here to tell us a little about what went into this project, how crazy she is for trying this as a newbie, and how much she rocks at steampunk style!

Tell us a bit how you got into steampunk, and what inspired this project?

I guess I mostly got into steampunk through books and looking at pictures online of other people’s creations. It seems like a natural progression from growing up in a household where three airships chase each other around the top of the Christmas tree every year.

I’ve been costuming for a few years now and I realized that steampunk was a serious gap in my wardrobe. I think finding the boots was probably the final thing that inspired me to get to work.

Since you mention it, you might as well let us know where you got those boots, since I know people are going to ask! Like for instance, myself…

The boots! My husband and I were in Las Vegas for Thanksgiving last fall when we walked by the windows at ALDO and I saw them. I immediately went inside to investigate and found that they were rather outside my price range, but oh, so beautiful. After dinner, my husband, who had been struggling to find me a present for our fast approaching anniversary, decided that I had just picked out my gift. He liked the boots because they reminded him of WWII US Army Tanker Boots. He bought me the boots and I bounced up and down like a small child for the next two days. I found that you can still buy them on Amazon here.

Finished Embroidery

What amazing embroidery! Talk us through what it was like embroidering this by hand. Do you love or hate satin stitches now?

Believe it or not, this was actually my first embroidery project. I did a test square on a swatch of fabric to see if embroidering the corset was an option or if I should find another way of embellishing it. I pieced the facing of the corset together and started work, one side at a time.

First, I combined the embroidery patterns on transfer paper and attached it to the facing. I outlined the design with back stiches, one side at a time, then ripped the paper away. This was the first chance I got to see how the colors I picked out worked together on the fabric. Even as I was filling in the design, I experimented a lot with how to fill some of the larger sections with satin stitches. Some of the gears have stitches that run rather differently from the others. I don’t really love or hate satin stitch, but I’ll be avoiding it for a while. I used buttonhole stitch for the last set of eyelets I did.

Right Side - Finished Embroidery

What made you choose the designs you did?

I had already established that I wanted gears of varying sizes to travel diagonally around the corset. I was experimenting with creating my own pattern when I found Urban Threads.

On the first side I used “Clockwork Magic – Cogs Border” with the omission of one cog, and the larger cogs from the bottom of  “Clockwork Magic – Cogs in the Corner.” On the other side I subtracted two cogs from “Cogs in the Machine” and added the second flourish from “Cogs in the Corner” to tie it in with the other design. I played around a little bit before I found this combination. I considered including “Steam Octopus” as a reference to Gail Carriger’s “Parasol Protectorate” series, but I’m sure I’ll find some other place to put that little guy.

I can’t believe this was your first embroidery project! How long did it take you?

It took me about a month of embroidering 8-10 hours a day. How on earth was that possible? At the time I was working in a position where there were many hours spent waiting around for something to break and very little time actually spent working. To cope with this, I had previously been studying Latin and Old English at my desk. When I started this project, I switched to embroidery. It took my coworkers a few days to ask me what I was doing.

Was the corset made from a pattern, or did you design it yourself? What about the rest of the costume?

The corset was made using the Silverado pattern from Laughing Moon Mercantile, which is accurate from 1837-1899. This was my second corset made using this pattern, so I knew that if i didn’t screw anything up it would fit me perfectly. The facing is pieced from brown and red faux suede – completely not period, but I like how they look. The structure and boning are contained in the layer of white coutil underneath.

The skirt is from a Truly Victorian pattern for an 1878 Long Draped Overskirt (TV234) and is constructed in a brown pinstripe linen. I decided to go with something from the Natural Form bustle era because it doesn’t require wearing an actual bustle! I All that volume gathers in the back, but there’s no undergarment getting in the way as you explore the borders of the Empire in your airship. It was a very easy pattern to follow and it went together perfectly. The shirt is just something that I picked up at H&M years ago. I haven’t decided whether or not I’m going to replace it with something else. The goggles are a fairly recent acquisition, which I ordered from BrazenDevice’s Etsy shop. Setting them apart from many of the affordable goggles on the market, the strap is real leather and the lens frames are brass. This entire outfit is a work in progress, which I hope to continue accessorizing. I think at the very least, a hat is required.

Left Side - Outline

Any interesting challenges along the way? What if anything would you try differently next time?

For some reason I inserted the busk in the center front panels before I started the embroidery. This meant that I couldn’t hoop the most central parts of the design. So, yes, I would have waited to start the real construction of the corset until after the embroidery was complete. Also, my fingertips were completely destroyed. I only use a thimble when the needle is being especially difficult.I kept thinking that they would callus, but I think I lost the top layer of skin on my thumb and forefinger at least three times. Of course, now they have some very respectable calluses.

Any advice for people looking to tackle a similar project?

An abundance of spare time doesn’t hurt, and patience. This isn’t the kind of project that can be finished quickly by pulling an all-nighter (as I am often tempted to do), so just take your time with it. And if you’re working with a new corset pattern, definitely don’t skip making a muslin. It would be incredibly depressing to finish the embroidery only to find that the corset needs to be let out or taken in.

Thanks so much for sharing Annie! I know we can’t wait to see what you add to it in the future, and I seriously can’t wait to see what amazing hand embroidery project you take on next. Something equally simple, like oh I don’t know, embroidering that steampunk octopus. Life size.

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