Archive for the ‘Behind the Scenes’ Category

Corvus Cloak – Behind the Scenes

Last Friday, UT artist Dani enthralled us all with her UT Lab Corvus Cloak creation. As promised, this week, she’s back to share the realities of making a project like this, with behind-the-scenes photos and some basic instructions on how she made it. While it’s fun to see the chic finished photos, it’s a good reminder of how much work goes into big projects like these!

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In last week’s post, I shared the finished photos and talked a bit about my inspiration when creating the glamorous yet comfy Corvus Cloak. This week I’m here with the less-pretty (but certainly interesting) details of actually making it.

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I started with a sketch of the cloak. This sketch is from when it was originally envisioned with only the Ghost Baroque designs. Like most projects, it was modified as the ideas developed. While sketching, I had to keep in mind how I would be physically modifying the pattern I found, and where and how to place embroidery designs on the cloak. First I started with my fabric choices. I wanted to give the cloak some texture within the vast void of all black fabric, so I decided on a heavy linen for the exterior. The cloak’s hood is lined with a faux grizzly fur fabric, and the lining of the rest of the cloak is made of a velvety polyester fabric.

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This cloak is based mostly off this Burdastyle pattern, but with some heavy modifications, which I’ll explain as I go along. After purchasing the pattern, I started by bringing the pattern file into Adobe Illustrator to modify it before printing it off. I then cut out the pattern and tetris’d the pieces together on my folded fabric. I also had to consider where I was putting the embroidery during this step so I could leave enough room to hoop the fabric.

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Here you can see how I modified the back pieces. (These are the pieces for the lining, without extra room for hooping.) The original pattern ends where those two very faint lines are, and the extra points are my addition. I extended the interior seams of each piece by about 18 inches and shaped the new line to meet up with the original cut line. I also extended the front cape and hood pieces to make the double-breasted closing I wanted.

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I then had to pick the colors I was going to use for the embroidery. I originally wanted the cloak to be all black with charcoal or black embroidery, but the bird skull buttons I found were a shiny gold brass, so I ended up rethinking my original color scheme to include a gradual shift to metallic gold thread… except I wasn’t actually sure if I could get a good transition from black to metallic gold. I dug around in our less used thread and found…ta daa! A black thread wrapped in gold! (The second one in from left in the picture.) After a few test sew outs to see if it would even work, I finally decided on the threads I was going to use. (Since many of you have asked, I originally purchased those nifty bird skull buttons from this Etsy store, but at the time of posting the store was not currently open.)

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After cutting out the pieces and embroidering the front Briar Rose Buttonholes and the back Ghost Baroque Bird Skull, I stitched the three modified back pieces together so I could start the long and arduous task of embroidering the toile pattern.

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I started by printing off lots and lots of Toile Noir Raven templates and lining them up on the fabric using a yardstick and ruler. This tutorial explains how to line up designs in this manner. Instead of using a fabric marker, I just taped the templates on because I was using black fabric, and I wanted to be able to move my designs around to correct for errors in stitching it out so many times.

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I used one large piece of medium weight cutaway stabilizer with this. It was very large, and I got stuck to it when trying to adhere it to the fabric. These things happen.

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It took me three days and 33 sewouts to do all of the toile pattern on the back. This machine apparently loves me because there were very few thread breaks and I didn’t sew any of the fabric together. It was a Halloween miracle.

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After all the embroidery was done, I cut off the excess stabilizer and fabric. I had already sewn together the back lining pieces, so I pinned the finished embroidered back and the lining together at the bottom hem with the wrong sides facing out. I then sewed the bottom hem together, sewing right through the embroidery. I did the back hem in this manner so I could easily hide the edge of the embroidery pattern and so I could get the clean, sharp trails I wanted. I cut off the excess embroidery, flipped the hem right side out, and ironed the trails flat.

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Then I started to piece the rest of the cloak together. While the BurdaStyle pattern I used was perfect for my modifications, the instructions were a little trickier to understand. I ended up pinning the entire hood about five times before I figured out how it was meant to go together.

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Another problem I ran into was that the hood ended up being really square with the stiffer furry lining I was using. I took the top edges of the hood in by about an inch and rounded them off to make the hood shape smoother.

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I hand-sewed the interior of the hood to the interior of the cloak. There was a neck piece from the original pattern that I ended up not using because it didn’t fit with my modifications.

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I began finishing the edges of the cloak, but while I was working on it I realized that the bottom hem was billowing out because of how I sewed it together. (Also, you get a great peek here at the state of the studio while I was working on this. Don’t pretend your studio looks any different in the middle of a project…)

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My solution to this billowing was to use a large piece of iron-on adhesive on the inside of the outer cloak and the lining. It was tricky to get the giant piece of adhesive in there once I had most of the edges done, but once I had it set and ironed in place, it fixed my billowing hem problem perfectly.

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My last steps were to finish the edges and hand sew the snaps and buttons on to the closing. I used snaps on the inside of the double-breasted closing along with the bird skull buttons. And finally, I was done!

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So that, ladies and gents, is how I made the Corvus Cloak. Be sure to check out the original post for more gorgeous photos of the finished project. It was just the thing to frolic in the woods on a crisp fall day!

Fridays At The Office

Behind the scenes peeks at life and work at the Urban Threads office

We sew out each and every design, in every size, multiple times to make sure it comes out just right. That means lucky Karline always has a stack of the latest designs on her desk! A great place to peek at upcoming releases ;)

Want more sneak peeks, office life, and behind the scenes? Follow us on Instagram at urbanthreadsemb

Fridays At The Office

Behind the scenes peeks at life and work at the Urban Threads office

Artist Dani (one of our resident Halloween Queens) puts the finishing touches on an upcoming gothicly glam Lab project – coming next week!

Want more sneak peeks, office life, and behind the scenes? Follow us on Instagram at urbanthreadsemb

Fridays At The Office

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Someone on Facebook suggested that the big lace skull could be used like a mask. Naturally, we had to test this theory. Our digitizer Bonnie volunteered. We have deemed it a terrifying success.

Want more sneak peeks, office life, and behind the scenes? Follow us on Instagram at urbanthreadsemb

Fridays At The Office

Fridays at the Urban Threads office

Artist Taylor reminds us on the office calendar that today is international Talk Like a Pirate Day. All meetings today must be conducted in pirate speak. He added a tiny lace pirate hat for emphasis. Because pirates.

Want more sneak peeks, office life, and behind the scenes? Follow us on Instagram at urbanthreadsemb

P.S. – If you take a closer look at the calendar you might just get a sneak peek at some upcoming series ideas! Ye scurvy dawgs.

Fridays At The Office

Fridays at the Urban Threads office

When you’re drawing or digitizing all day, a little lunchtime stretching goes a long way. Especially with a little help from your friends.

Want more sneak peeks, office life, and behind the scenes? Follow us on Instagram at urbanthreadsemb

Diving Into Digitizing – A Newbie Digitizer’s Experiment

As Urban Threads grows, now and again we get to add to our talented team of digitizers and artists. Our most recent addition is our pink-haired digitizing queen Bonnie. She came into this with a lot of artistic talent to begin with, so her experience of diving into the strange and technical world of digitizing as an art is a fascinating one. The rare peeks into the world of digitizing often come from those who have worked in the industry for awhile, but what’s it like facing this unique technology as a total newcomer?  

Bonnie gives us that peek by sharing a fun personal experiment she embarked on when she first started, and shares her insights as to what it was like to work through the weirdness of how machine embroidery really works when you’re totally new to the medium…

New UT digitizer Bonnie

New UT digitizer Bonnie

When I first started digitizing I felt overwhelmed and amazed by the beautiful designs that were on the Urban Threads site. How was it even possible to paint with stitches? I was learning the science of the process, but I wanted to experiment with the art of embroidery. My dogs Hopscotch and Possum were my first choices to work with as inspiration, but the design needed to be as unique as they are…

It was obvious that embroidered dogs in space suits were the only possible thing I could do.

I found some great photography references for space stuff and started looking through the painterly designs on the Urban Threads site to see how the light-stitching effect was created. I wanted to plan how I was going to create shading, and I studied how the filled areas were layered to create subtle regions of color while keeping the stitch count low. The trick seemed to be finding the right density so that there were enough stitches to visually fill the space, but few enough to leave the fabric and layers of color beneath peeking through.

This really is an artistic process and it felt like learning a new medium. Technically, I was not officially doing this advanced type of work at the time, so this was all about fun experimentation!

UT digitizer Bonnie shares her experience of diving into the strange and technical world of machine embroidery digitizing as a total newcomer with a fun experiment. See what it's like to work through the weirdness of how machine embroidery really works when you’re totally new to the medium…

Early sketch ideas

UT digitizer Bonnie shares her experience of diving into the strange and technical world of machine embroidery digitizing as a total newcomer with a fun experiment. See what it's like to work through the weirdness of how machine embroidery really works when you’re totally new to the medium…

The most important part of course – dogs in spacesuits

I created a few loose sketches of how I wanted the cockpit of the spaceship to look. I decided I was going to flip the first design and just change some details to save time and make them look symmetrical. Then it was time to turn them into stitches…

UT digitizer Bonnie shares her experience of diving into the strange and technical world of machine embroidery digitizing as a total newcomer with a fun experiment. See what it's like to work through the weirdness of how machine embroidery really works when you’re totally new to the medium…

The on-screen digitized designs in Wilcom

I had to first choose a few shades of gray to work with so that I could blend them from dark to light, just like painting. It became quickly apparent how difficult this is to manage while keeping the number of color changes low. When you are painting, it doesn’t matter how many times you go back and forth between colors to add more shading. When embroidering, the progression from one color to the next needs to be planned out so that as much of each thread color is stitched out at once as possible before moving on to the next. The freedom of moving from place to place within the embroidery design as you would with a painting is also lost, because each time you move from one area to another it creates a trim. This requires planning as you move throughout the piece, making sure each area of color has a way to connect to the next. This was difficult for me because my artistic style is extremely spontaneous. Creating the painterly style of embroidery was more like building a complex puzzle than pushing color around with a paintbrush.

UT digitizer Bonnie shares her experience of diving into the strange and technical world of machine embroidery digitizing as a total newcomer with a fun experiment. See what it's like to work through the weirdness of how machine embroidery really works when you’re totally new to the medium…

After digitizing a few layers of open fills (the same technique used to create the painterly designs), I added touches of lighter colored satins to add shine, and imply a light source outside of the window. That is usually my favorite part of working on any piece of art — making things look shiny! In addition, by choosing a dark fabric to act as part of the design, I was able to leave the stitching light, and work mostly on the highlights.

Not everything worked exactly as planned, but it was amazing to use my traditional art skills to blend colors and layers of embroidery. It felt awkward and challenging, but the excitement of the potential outweighed any problems I ran into.

UT digitizer Bonnie shares her experience of diving into the strange and technical world of machine embroidery digitizing as a total newcomer with a fun experiment. See what it's like to work through the weirdness of how machine embroidery really works when you’re totally new to the medium…

The final stitched versions

During the sewing out process I witnessed firsthand why we work so hard to limit the number of color changes and trims and why we make sure that there are not more stitches in a design than necessary. The best part was learning why people enjoy embroidery so much — it’s incredible to hold the finished product in your hands and love it!

UT digitizer Bonnie shares her experience of diving into the strange and technical world of machine embroidery digitizing as a total newcomer with a fun experiment. See what it's like to work through the weirdness of how machine embroidery really works when you’re totally new to the medium…

I learned so much more than I was expecting to during the creation of these designs. Drawing and digitizing them gave me a whole new respect for our artists and digitizers here.

UT digitizer Bonnie shares her experience of diving into the strange and technical world of machine embroidery digitizing as a total newcomer with a fun experiment. See what it's like to work through the weirdness of how machine embroidery really works when you’re totally new to the medium…

Plus, the little astronaut approved!

If you want to see more about how we experiment with the medium of machine embroidery in often totally weird ways, you can also check out another project that our head digitizer Danielle and art director Niamh teamed up to make happen, called the Crane Wife. You’d be surprised how many techniques and new art styles we’ve discovered with off-the-wall experimentation like this!