Archive for the ‘Behind the Scenes’ Category

In Memory

Of the beloved and indelible Mr. Gear. We all aspire to one day be anywhere near as cool as he was. Your crafty and offbeat spirit will be remembered fondly, as well as being the coolest guy with an embroidery machine.

To you Mr Gear, we dedicate the newest design and your favorite request…

marty

If you want to know more about this awesome man, check out the original post that introduced us all to the Indelible Mr. Gear.

Machine Shaming

Maybe you’ve been seeing the particularly hilarious meme of Dog Shaming, where owners add signs recounting the shameful misdeeds of guilty pets. Well, on a day where my machine was being particularly difficult, I thought it time for a little public payback…

machine shaming

What is your machine guilty of? Post a captioned photo of your machine’s worst crimes on our facebook page or upload it to our flickr group and we’ll collect the best! 

*UPDATE – You have responded. Your machines have been shamed*

The Steampunk Type Specimen

Having already gotten a taste for the fun of Lab projects, artist Caitlin teamed up with our newest addition to the team, fellow artist Danielle! As the two artists designed the new Steampunk Alphabet together, they wanted to create a special project to show it off in both a traditional and distinctly UT style.

Type specimen posters have long been a way for typography designers to showcase a new font. As we had done just that, it seemed the perfect way to celebrate our newest alphabet collection. Danielle schemed up this amazing poster design, and then Caitlin went Spoonflower crazy and got it printed up as a giant fabric piece she could customize with embroidered letters and hand stitches to really let it shine in a larger than life way.

I’ll let the girls tell you all about what schemes and shenanigans went into this fun project…

poster_side

Danielle…

“When I first heard we were doing a Steampunk Alphabet, I foamed at the mouth at the thought of doing an embroidered type specimen poster. For those who aren’t giant design and typography dorks like I am, a type specimen poster is usually a type of printed publication that designers and typographers use to see how a typeface functions at different weights and sizes. Essentially, it is a piece of work that showcases a typeface in its purest form.

My background is in printed typography and design, so throwing embroidery into the mix was new and exciting! I knew we were using Spoonflower to print the poster on a fabric we could embroider on, so I naturally wanted to print it on the biggest swath of fabric that was possible. Go big or go home! Which, in this case was 36”x 54”. This meant I could get away with using huge letters that would become dimensional once we embroidered over them. (Huge, dimensional letters are every designer’s secret fantasy.)

poster_topdetail

As per the nature of a type specimen poster, I wanted to showcase the beauty of the alphabets and how they functioned together in a physical setting. When Caitlin and I were planning the alphabet, we drew inspiration from Victorian design that would fit in a steampunk realm. However, Victorian design is a hodgepodge of drastically different styles, so we had to streamline the look. We decided on a mix of art noveau and woodblock, perhaps giving into my embarrassing love of pointy serifs. Combined with Caitlin’s beautiful gears and wings, it became an elegant steampunk alphabet that made my job of creating an awesome type specimen poster way easier.

When I started creating the poster, I let the shapes and forms of the typefaces inform the design. I drew upon the wings and gears in both uppercase and lowercase to create accents that tied the poster together. I felt like I was still missing the delicate swirls that Victorian design liked to utilize, so I added some simple gold filigree as background detail.

poster_sidedetail

In the end, I’m really happy with how this turned out, and Caitlin seriously pulled through by embroidering the heck out of the giant poster I insisted on.  Also, a pangram with a fox jumping over zombies with his motorcycle is WAY cooler than a lazy dog. Just saying.”

poster_metallicdetail

Caitlin…

“In a previous life, I did a lot of analog artwork creation, also known as painting. I was excited to collaborate with Danielle in a way that could use her awesome type specimen design, and bring it into a multimedia 3-d embroidery extravaganza.

poster_side_lettering

On Spoonflower, there are many different qualities of fabric you can order, from light weight and gauzy, to the heavier cotton twill which we chose for this piece. Danielle sized the letters precisely so I could use the 4, 3, 2, and 1 inch versions of our alphabets.  I had to make sure I hooped the fabric just right, or the letters would skew or stretch and the embroidery would line up incorrectly.  Luckily I’ve had some practice hooping fabric, so the process was pretty painless.

poster_wideshot

One slight miscalculation in my measurements, was that we would have a printed piece of fabric that was 54×36 inches, and canvas stretcher bars that were 54×36 inches. Sounds perfect! But that left me no room for stretching and stapling the fabric on the stretcher bars. I ordered some heavy cotton twill of the Steampunk Gears fabric to sew a border that would give me the fabric I needed to stretch the poster properly.  It was a little wonky, but that is the beauty of human-made items. Machines are precise, and humans are wonky!

poster_making

I like to take risks and have happy accidents while creating art, but I also like to prepare. So I did make a smaller test poster, where I did some experiments with embroidery and tea dye to make sure I was going somewhere awesome. Above top: you see the smaller test poster, and bottom left: the raw canvas with the gear border fabric, and bottom right: me applying tea dye with a sponge! It worked great, if you ever find yourself about to tea dye a large piece of fabric and don’t have big brushes lying around.”

poster_thegirls

The two crafty and creative UT artists that made it happen, Caitlin on the left and Danielle on the right!

It was so much fun to see the girls work together to pull of this giant spectacle of embroidery/typography and printing all in one. The mix of printed and embroidered areas really gives the piece a great dimensional quality when seen in person. You think it’s printed… then you think it’s embroidered. Then you’re just not sure of anything except that it looks really cool.

It’s such a fun mix, and such a fun reminder to have around the office showing off the rad Steampunk Alphabet collection. It’s also a great addition to our other Lab experiments seeing just what fun we can have with stitches when we really push the envelope. You can be sure we have even more experiments in our future!

 
This project is part of The Lab, a UT initiative to experiment, collaborate and innovate to see just what can be done with the art of embroidery.
 
Check out our other projects by searching for the UT Lab tag.
 

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Want to dive into the Steampunk Alphabet in your own way? We have a big glorious set of steampunk upper case letters and spiky, elegant lower case to bring your embroidered type to life in whatever way you choose. You don’t have to go poster crazy like we did, but if you do feel like going big and bold on a project, we have these letters and numbers in sizes from 1 inch to 5 inches tall! That’s sure to suit all occasions where you need to make a big written statement in extra cool letters.

alphabet

Looking for the perfect fabric to complement your new steampunk project? We have a new collection of Spoonflower fabrics that match! Grab either our new Steampunk Alphabet fabric, or the Steampunk Gears fabric, in either brown or white to make any project extra gear-tastic.

Check out the whole fabric collection over on our Spoonflower page!

fabric

Finally, what if you want to recreate what the girls from the Lab did, but on a slightly more manageable scale? Well, instead of working huge, why not buy this little tea towel sized version of our type specimen poster!

It’s also available through Spoonflower, and is perfect as a towel or as a mini wall hanging itself. You can even do what we did and embroider on top of some of the printed letters to add that extra stitch-y dimension. The fabric comes with a pre-tea stained look so you don’t have to do the extra work. Back it with some matching gear fabric and you have a great little showcase piece!

swatch

So have fun exploring all the projects ideas you can dream up using the new Steampunk Alphabet embroidery collection, and the new fabric designs.

The UT Sketchbook

You all seemed to enjoy the little peek we gave you into our team’s sketchbook last time, we thought we’d share a few more!

crafty_tattoos

These are some of my rough sketches for the Craft or Die Collection. This series all started with the original Craft or Die design, and it became so popular we just had to expand it out as a whole series.

eatyourgreens

Caitlin created this delightful little Eat Your Greens design that was so bright and colorful even as a rough, I just loved it. Sometimes our artists will add color to a sketch, sometimes they won’t. It depends on how important they think color is to bringing the concept to life in a rough. You can also see they sometimes leave me notes and such on the drawings about corrections or ideas they may have.

Monster Halloweenies

Our little Halloweenies were popular enough that we thought we needed a few more monster friends for them. After all, you can never have too many little monsters, right? Taylor designed these to be the same basic height and dimensions as the others so they would play nice with each other.

hiptesrr

This trendy Hipster Sasquatch started out with lots of different looks before he became a popular freebie. Artist Caitlin played around with a lot of variations before we settled on the simplest version, on the right. I still kinda think that the guy on the left looks a bit like a caricature of Woody Allen in a Yeti costume.

No? Is it just me?

Steampunk Raven

Steampunk is always a popular one around here, in fact, we might be cooking up something new for you very soon (Friday, hint hint). This rough from Taylor is when he was working out ideas for the Steampunk Raven design as part of our western themed Steampunk series. Often when a design is symmetrical, an artist will just draw one half of it and finish the rest for the final design.

winter

This rough is an example of how sometimes an artist can take an assignment idea and pull something totally new out of it. All artist Danielle was tasked with doing was making a pretty typographic “Winter” design, but it was her idea to turn it on it’s head with the bottom Winter Ambigram design. When an artist hands you an idea this good, you run with it!

preview

Finally, this is a little sneak peek into an upcoming series I’m designing! I won’t tell you what it’s all about other than to say I think this should be a good one for the fellas and those who really aren’t into the bunnies and tulips.

So that’s just a few of the things that have shown up in our sketchbooks while we work hard to sketch up new ideas for you! We hope you enjoy these little peeks into our process, we’ll probably share a few more as we fill our sketchbooks up with crazy new embroidery designs ;)

A Peek Inside The UT Sketchbook

Though a lot of stock embroidery companies like ours may often use clipart, at Urban Threads we are thrilled to have a team of super talented in house artists that conceptualize and create all our designs from scratch. We thought it would be kind of fun to give you a little peek into the process of what goes into creating our designs, by letting you see some of the concept art that starts the whole thing.

So here today, we’re going to give you a peek into our artists sketchbooks!

gunslinger

This is an early stage rough from our artist Taylor, for what would be the final of the Gunslinger design. You can see he got it pretty spot on even in the early rough.

kraken

Our newest artist Danielle was taking a crack at concepting the Kraken/squid design for the Seven Seas Collection. She went through lots of iterations and layouts for what would eventually become this design. It’s a tricky business, you want enough detail to make it interesting, but not so much that it doesn’t work at small hoop sizes!

Print

Sometimes our artists can’t resist adding color to roughs to really bring them to life. The middle design of this drawing by Caitlin became the final version of the Winged Beauty design, but it was a tough call between that one and the one on the right. Sometimes it’s a tough job to choose final designs!

fez monkey

Taylor is a big fan of the cute and the cartoon-y, and he went a little nuts when he was told to draw a “cute fez monkey”. You can see just how many different ways this little monkey came to be! They’re all so darn adorable…

dream

This super popular Dream design came as a totally finished concept on my desk from Danielle. Already beautiful, the addition of a tri-color gradient and embroidery really brought this one to life! Sometimes things really take on a whole new level of amazing once they’re stitched.

primitive gothic

This is a rough of mine from our wacky Primitive Macabre Collection. I so love this style, it’s creepy and cute all at once and so much fun to draw! I could have drawn dozens of these characters.

So, that’s a quick peek into the sketchbooks of Urban Threads artists! What do you think? We’ll be sharing little peeks like this now and then just to share a little about the work and the process we love so much.

270 and counting!

We feel it’s important to let our customers know that we feel safety is a priority in the workplace, and we have had 270 successful robot-uprising-free days of work, despite that one instance of machine #4 talking back last week.

We hardly count that as an uprising. More just a gentle disregard for human authority.

270 and counting! Stay vigilant people.

Halloween At Urban Threads

Greetings ghouls and gals. I hope you’re up for a spooky Halloween tonight! We LOVE halloween around here at Urban Threads, and the gang couldn’t help but get into the spirit a bit….

If you’re going to have meetings on Halloween, they require giant glowing pumpkins filled with candy…

Our newest artist Danni, dressed as a darling witch!

Check out her slick boots and tights.

Meg, one of our newest digitizers getting spooky.

These may or may not be up all year round. Did I mention we love Halloween?

Teenage mutant ninja artist.

A yogi bear! We like our artists to be flexible to workplace demands.

Which is scarier, the beetlejuice jacket or my chipped nails? Eek!

And of course, Craft Bunny is always a little ham for the camera.

Finally, Steampunk Bacon Cat makes an appearance in pumpkin form! It was bound to happen eventually…

Happy Halloween, from all of us at Urban Threads!