Archive for the ‘Behind the Scenes’ Category

The Instant Design Generator

One great thing I really love about working at Urban Threads is that everyone on the team is always trying to think of new and more innovative ideas for us to try. Themes and styles come from all over and combine in crazy weird ways to bring you exciting and sometimes slightly bonkers new designs. Sometimes, though, our brains just can’t cope with all the possible awesome combinations.

Like on Fridays. After lunch. When all you really want is a nap but what you really need is an idea. You know those days.

Lucky for us, we have a super secret, ultra high tech way of creating new bestselling designs, and today dear readers, we’re going to share our secret with you. Try and contain yourselves, because I present to you…

The Instant Design Generator!!

Behold the Awesome.

Pretty high tech, hu? Those are the best post-it notes money can buy. Or lunch money can buy. Same thing usually.

So how did this start? One enterprising day at lunch, we got into a great conversation about this little video, or what the design world calls “Put A Bird On It!”. Despite the fact that it made the design world cringe and look a little sheepish for awhile, we are not beyond putting birds on things. We’re not too proud to admit it. Nor should you, really, since you guys are the ones buying the birds and presumably, putting them on things.

C’mon, raise your hand if you’ve put a bird on something.

You at the back. Put that hand up.

We also have another phrase around here at the office. It’s called “Put A Gear On It”, and it generally refers to our penchant for making anything and everything Steampunk. If you haven’t noticed, we’ll try steampunk-ing just about anything around here, and to be honest, you guys are to blame. Just when we think we’ve run out of things to steampunk, you always come along and come up with something to add gears to that we never would of thought of.

It’s one of the many reasons we love you guys. You’re just as crazy as we are.

So… put a bird on it… put a gear on it.. what other possibilities exist in the exciting world of design? We set about one lunch break to find out…

I'm a dedicated fan that everything should one day be zombie-ified.

It was just too much fun once we started out. We had two categories: one was random objects and things, the other, stylizations for those things.

Everyone chipped in! Granted, after too long, things started to get weird, and suggestions more and more bizarre. We drew the line at “LOL-cat-ifying” everything for humanities sake. Still, we had faith in our newfangled design generator!

We were sure it would produce glorious things, and we could all take the day off and go eat cupcakes, and soon we’d all be rich and living on yachts. Or something. We might have been a little fuzzy on the details at that point. Too much Red Bull combined with illusions of grandeur might not have been a good match.

So, once everything was written down and sorted accordingly, we arrive at our marvel of engineering, worth I think, a second look:

Notice the quality of craftsmanship, once again. We're schmancy around here.

Let’s try it out…

What has our splendiferous machine produced? Nothing but solid gold bestsellers I assume…

Erm.. hmm. Let’s translate these, shall we?

Gold, surely! Nothing but class all the way. Who wouldn’t want to buy cross stitched bacon?

So, let us test to see how well a few of our ideas translate…

Yup, there they are, in all their glory!

Oh, ok, so the steampunk lolly could use a little work, and I’m not sure Chuck has reached the right level of awesomeness, but I’ m sure there are solid ideas in there somewhere. Perhaps. Maybe.


Ok ok, so the machine needs a little tweaking. But I’m SURE one day, probably after lunch, when I’m out of sugar free Red Bull and in need of an idea, this thing is going to produce sheer awesome-sauce.

You be ready for it…

BTW… any contributing ideas and/or themes? Feel free to submit styles and stuff in the comments (“give it goggles”/ferrets!), and I’ll write them down and add them to the generator.

Together people, we will build the ultimate machine. First embroidery… then, the world!


**I might have had Red Bull today…

Leaving Your Comfort Zone

Every once in awhile, you have to try something new.

Not just new. Something new and exciting and maybe more than a little bit terrifying. But it’s good to do because it pushes you to try new things and see just what you can do with yourself. So in going outside of my comfort zone, this post has nothing to do with embroidery, but does feature a lot of mud.

Pictured: a lot of mud. And maybe some people.

That’s the gang of us after completing a 5k obstacle course called Warrior Dash, in MN. I’ll mention here that I do not run 5k’s. Ever. Normal people who do try 5k’s for the first time usually pick one with less obstacles. And fire. And mud.

Oh, and they don’t usually run them in floofy tutu skirts.

Pictured: a lot of floof. And some skirts. But no mud!

Here’s Danielle and I (our resident crazy digitizer) all prestine and pretty ready to run our race.

aannnd here’s the after….

That’s D and I afterwards with our respective (and crazy) hubbies. Did I mention there was mud?

By the way, I will note that the whole outfit thing started innocently enough. We were all going to wear red/pink. And then D found a crazy 80′s pink floofy prom dress at a thift store. And then she found a red tutu. And then one thing led to another and somehow I was jumping over fire and climbing rope nets in a tutu.

These things happen sometimes.

I suppose as long as you’re trying the whole “new” thing, you might as well add “wearing a tutu while trying to rappel down a giant wall next to a guy dressed as a viking”. Yeah pretty sure I haven’t done that one before.

And you know what? It was awesome. Sometimes, it’s a little thing like trying something you didn’t think you could do, and seeing that actually, you can. And it’s damn fun. And it makes you think…what other crazy things could I try? Maybe even like crazy embroidery things?

Well, the gals at Urban Threads are inspired to try, that’s for sure.

Just maybe this time we’ll skip the tutus.


Well, it was a heck of a weekend, but Convergence has come and gone.

It was my very first year at this geektastic event, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. There were rooms where a dalek served you tea, a zombie den, a masquerade, steampunk galore and lots… I mean LOTS… of nerds.

Exhibit A

Yup, that’s me, dressed to the nines like the nerd I am in our fabulously stitchy Steampunk Coat. My hope was to show just how awesomely geek machine embroidery can be, or at the very least, introduce the geek world to the fact that it exists.

Truth be told, this is really the easiest way to explain what machine embroidery is. At parties when someone asks me what I do, I always struggle to find a clear answer. Saying I’m the Evil Genius of an online alternative machine embroidery company doesn’t usually get me many coherent responses, just usually a lot of blinks and then slow, backward steps. I might as well say I’m the inventor of LOLcats for all the good it does me.

(Though that would be the world’s coolest business card)

So, unless I have some cool stitchy stuff nearby to point to, I’m usually lost. I sometimes do have other stitchy stuff around to reference, but pointing to an embroidered tractor on a trucker hat doesn’t really get me any father into explaining what I do.

See That? That hat? That’s what I do, except absolutely nothing like that at all. Oh blast.

See? It doesn’t help. So, armed with my steampunk-y stitched coat, and a bunch of business cards tucked amongst the goggles on my top hat, I waded into the crowd to try my best. And what a crowd…

Normal everyday office hours around Urban Threads. That's right, we have Iron Man.

The costumes were fantastic. Nerds are so darn crafty, I just love them. You can’t tell in the photo really, but that Iron Man is homemade. Homemade! The crafty skills were endless.

And why pray tell are all my photos in black and white? Well, it could be that we went back in time to the steampunky age and they don’t have color back then.

They have rayguns, but they don’t have color photos. Right.

Or it could be that all I had on me was my iphone camera and they’re really better off this way. Could be that.

As it turns out, actually, nerds are even craftier than you think. SO crafty, that they’ve already heard of Urban Threads! I met these two fantastic ladies while wandering around looking at steampunk goods for sale. They recognized me! I feel so famous. Or it was the coat… either one.

Don’t they look fabulous? We chatted a little and I gave them a card. And then I got a peek of their fabulous stitchery too!

Check it! Urban Threads was representin’ without me even being there. I actually spotted a couple of Urban Threads designs here and there. This was definitely our kinda crowd.

Steampunk Alice in Wonderland. My kinda people.

Plenty of people indeed inquired about the coat and the embroidery. A lot of people assumed I must have bought it. Most had never really heard of machine embroidery, so it was fun to introduce them to it in such a steampunky way. I gave away all the business cards in my hat by the end of the night!

A few people said they had even seen to coat online already, either through Craftster or various blog sharing. It really was great fun to walk around in it and show the world a little of what we do, despite the fact that it was like a billion degrees in the coat. Sometimes, you have to suffer for your art.

Other than enlightening the world a little about the world of embroidery, I had a grand time at places like the house of toast (toast with any three toppings you want… from bacon to sprinkles) getting drinks in a steampunk airship, watching an evil presidential debate between Dr. Doom, the Master, and Mr. Burns, visiting the Willy Wonka Candy Land, running into Voldemort (almost literally), waltzing at the Steampunk Ball, and dancing with a Stormtrooper (who commented here yesterday… hi Mr. Stormtrooper!) Mr. T, and a Jedi.

What, you thought I was kidding abour Mr. T? He's a darn good waltzer.

I’m wondering if stitching up a costume could be a tradition for me every year, it was so much fun! Plus it’s a great exercise to pull out all the stops and see what I can do with our designs.

If so, do say hi to me next year. I’ll be the embroidery covered lass eating bacon-sprinkles-hummus toast in the corner, next to Batman.

The Adventures of Keyboard Cat

National Geographic quality photos of Keyboard Cat in his natural habitat, my nerdy hubby’s office.  As you can see, Keyboard Cat has adapted well to his surroundings, loves playing on keyboards, chasing that one mouse that clicks a lot, and generally lounging around like cats do. He was a birthday present for my fella when I made him. They’re both very happy together.

Posted for no particular reason other than keyboard cat is really really fun to photograph. And to use. And to make. Go make one of your own.

Now, back to our regular programming…

The Steampunk Coat

I’m so excited to finally be able to share with you my super-secret steampunk project! If you follow us on facebook or twitter, you got a sneak peek at this coat last week, and here it is in all its gear covered glory…

The project idea for this was to take our designs and see how well we could incorporate them into a full fashion jacket, and somehow (not surprisingly) that turned into a full-on heavy stitched steampunk project!

The coat itself is handmade, though not by me. I actually picked it up at a clothing swap, so I’m afraid to say I don’t know who made it. Should someone spot their masterpiece do let me know, they did a fabulous job.

Everything from planning the designs to get everything to work well with the make of the coat, to figuring out which designs, where, and what colors took a a few hours of fiddling with templates. Then it was another full 8 hours of industrial machine stitching and a lot of praying that nothing would go wrong. Thankfully, it didn’t, which is kind of a miracle, because I’m known for stitching things to themselves at key moments.

The designs on the coat itself are as follows… I used the Clockwork Magic Keys border 8 times around the bottom hem, and an Airship Captain badge on the flap of each pocket with our large Clockwork Magic Raven on the back. Around the cuffs of the jacket are our Clockwork Romance roses & watch parts, hanging from a “pocket” is our Clockwork Magic Pocket Watch, and finally the Key To My Heart on the left breast. I stuck with the minimal color scheme of off-white and metallic copper, and I couldn’t be happier with how it all came together.

I topped it off with some new copper buttons, my trusty old top hat, and some steampunk-y accessories. I’m going to be marching around in it like a proper nerd at our local geek-fest Convergence this upcoming weekend, which this year happens to be steampunk themed! Here’s hoping I can open up some peoples eyes as to what machine embroidery can do.

If you’re in town, and as big a geek as I am, come say hi!

And trust me, this is just a peek of all the awesome steampunk stuff to come this week! Stay tuned…


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.



Back home…

I’m back!

Wait… back you say? What are you talking about?

Well, I worked my bum off a couple weeks ahead of time to get newsletters, blog posts, sales and all the rest ready to go while I was gone… and vanished all sneaky like off on my honeymoon! Yup. Sneaky like a ninja. That’s me…

My hubby and I ran around Portugal for two weeks and it was a dream, but now I’m back and energized and ready to get stitching. I did manage to photograph evidence of local Portuguese fanged bunny iconography and drink a lot of wine.

The bunny may have been a result of the wine. I can’t say for sure. But at least I was thinking of you guys ;)

The Sewing Room Sign

Posted on the door to the sewing room, where we stitch out all our samples…

the industrial embroidery machines will be the first to rise...

One whole day! We’re so proud of ourselves.