Posts Tagged ‘halloween’

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 or upload your Urban Threads stuff to our flickr group!

Spooky Sale – This weekend only!

Can’t wait to get crafting on all your Halloween stuff? Well you’re in luck, this weekend only we’ve got your favorite dark and spooky designs on sale for only a dollar.  Even better, hand embroidery is only 50 cents.

Go check out the sale page, and don’t forget to have a look at our Halloween tutorials roundup, and start planning what you’re going to enter into our costume contest.

Grab em quick, before this sale vanishes into the night!

UT Tutorial – Tattoo Tights

Halloween is starting to creep up on us, and it’s a perfect time to try out a whole new look, and whip up a fast costume. Don’t know what to be this year? How ’bout something with a tattooed rockabilly style? No ink commitment required! All we need is a pair of tights and a cool design.

There’s also no embroidery machine required, so everyone can give it a try.

Check out the tutorial here.

Embroidered Steampunk Lace up Spats

First of all, with those four words “Embroidered Steampunk Lace-up Spats” all in one posting, you can’t possibly go wrong.

My latest retail love.

I love them for many reasons… the super cute machine embroidery (not our design btw, but steampunktastic none the less) the peekaboo lace back, the fairly reasonable price tag ($16!) and the fact that they also look totally DIY-able.

What do you think? Just spring for the under $20 price tag? Or take em’ on yourself just in time for Halloween?

Get em’ over on FanPlusFriend.


Cross Stitch on a Pumpkin!

Well ok, it’s a fake pumpkin…

I guess Halloween is starting to sneak up on me. Want to cross stitch on a (fake) pumpkin? Here’s the how-to from elsie marley.

Urban Threads Costume Contest

There’s a crispness in the air, and September has begun…

Crafty minds everywhere begin to envision fantastical costumes and spooky nights, which means there’s no better time to have a costume contest!

It’s no secret that we love Halloween, but judging by all the cool, creepy and crafty costumes that often appear in our flickr pool, you do too! That’s why we thought it would be a great idea to celebrate your costume skills with a very special contest.

Now through Nov. 1, enter a costume you’ve made featuring an Urban Threads design, and you’ll be automatically entered to win a very special prize…

A totally custom design created by us, for whatever theme or wish you’ve always desired!

That’s right… have you been asking for costumed ferrets or steampunk bees for months, but we haven’t delivered yet? Got an idea you always wanted to try, but seemed too crazy to request? Now is YOUR chance.

If you win the contest, we’ll personally work with you and your ideas to made that one kick-butt design you’ve always wanted (and hopefully that everyone’s really wanted) that we just haven’t gotten around to yet. We’ll make sure it fits all hoop sizes and it’s for all formats, so no matter what, it will suit your stitching needs.  We’ll even dedicate it to you in the design description so you and your idea will live on the site forever!

Just a quick few caveats about the prize design:

-While it is a custom design for you, this is hopefully something everyone else has been dying to see too. So we’re not designing something with a personal name, your kid’s little league mascot, or a company logo. The design will be available on the site for everyone after it’s yours, so try and think of something worth sharing!

-We will not design anything copyrighted (no, we’re not drawing you a zombie Disney princess, as cool as that might be) offensive, or otherwise inappropriate for our audience. Let’s keep it safe viewing for the kiddios.

So, now that you know the prize, what and how can you enter?

First, you’ll need a picture of a costume that features at least one Urban Threads design. It doesn’t matter if it’s something brand new stitched for this spooky season, or if it’s something you’ve stitched up before. It doesn’t even matter if it’s been featured already. As long as it’s a cool costume featuring some Urban Threads sweetness, it’s eligible to be entered!

Once you have your costume picture ready, upload it to the Urban Threads flickr pool and tag it utcostumecontest or e-mail it in to (pssst…already have a costume added to the flickr pool? All you  need to do is tag it!) You can enter more than one costume to increase your chances!

Important! While it’s fine for you to upload/e-mail lots of pictures of your costume to share, please just pick ONE image to tag as your entry. As we said before, you can enter multiple costumes, but you should only tag each costume once.

Get your pictures in by Nov 1st @ 11:59pm Central time to be entered. (We understand, sometimes you’re hot gluing those last pieces on right before you head out trick-or-treating, so you have till the day after to get your images in.) We’ll choose a winner at random, and get to work on that custom design!

Ready to get stitching? We totally are. Halloween is right around the corner…

What awesomeness will you stitch up this year?


Flickr Roundup – Halloween Edition!

Well, it may all be sleigh bells and jolly tidings everywhere else around July, but around here we’re howling at the moon and having ourselves a spooky time. It’s Halloween in July! In celebration, I thought we’d have a ghoulish little roundup of some of the creepy crafts our stitching wizards have made for everyone’s favorite time of year.

OK, my favorite time of year. But on here I practically count for everyone.


Lace as always is a big hit with the gothic crowd (as you’ll quickly be able to tell from this roundup) and this gorgeous mask was whipped up by Storied Threads, embroiderer and costumer extraordinaire. I just love the addition of the flowing feathers! It makes it all look so dark and romantic.

Halloween Triptych

Our creepy take on old world primitive style was a big hit when we released them, and Lyn Sews wasted no time in stitching up three of the creepy characers of the Primitive Macabre series into this awesome Hallowen triptych. I’m really loving the burlap colored fabric she used as well, it really gives them an old world feel.

Tia in mask

It’s a little bit steampunk, to be sure… ok, a lot of steampunk… but steampunk is going to be huge for Halloween again this year, and you might as well embrace it! dj ghostuk made this gorgeous ensemble with the raven mask (pictured up top) minus the raven’s beak, but plus 4 different steampunky colors to fabulous effect. You’ll also notice a tiny little lace key hidden up top amongst the feathers of her hat.

The whole effect is really fantastic, and something I would be proud to rock on Halloween! It’s also making me wish I had a lot more hair…


Speaking of rockin’ it proud and loud, Carol stitched up this Dia De Los Muertos Calavera dress for a friend, and I am just loving the skull fabric! And the pose. But really, you can never have enough skull fabric, can you?

blue black bat choker test drive 3-1-2011

Lace is at it again, in full gothic effect! These lace bats were not originally designed to be a necklace, but when has a little thing like that ever stopped an Urban Threadster? Certainly not one like Nayayane, who stitched them together and added some bling for a festive way to celebrate the season.

Or any season really. Give them little Santa hats and I’m sure they’d fit right into the Holidays.

Moon-lit tree tote bag

Just feeling dark and spooky any old time?

Well like our any-season Santa-hat-wearing winged mammals (bet you dont see that sentence on a blog everyday) this bag is perfect for any time, provided you’re feeling a little spooky. And, if it’s not feeling spooky enough, well you can add some of our winged friends to this elegant tree design stitched up by My World’s a Stage, and call it good.


Need a costume in a hurry? Crafty Dame has just the thing! Stitch some freestanding lace wings and baste them onto a tee, and you’ve got a little magic in a hurry. Not feeling so heavenly? Stitch ‘em in black for a darker twist.

Handmade Vampire Bunny Felt Stuffie

Of course, who could forget our fangtastic little vampire bunny, who really us trying so very hard to hypnotize you with those beady little eyes of his. Hippofairy really captured the essence of everything I love about fanged bunnies, namely that they always look cute and little bit bonkers. He fits the bill nicely.


Finally, I just had to finish this one, because not only is it a truly epic picture of a Elizabeth’s grumpy kitty in our witchy little lace hat, but also, it’s really begging to be LOLcat captioned. Leave your LOLcat hilarity in the comments!

If this Halloweeny roundup doesn’t get you in a witchy mood, well just wait to see what stitching wizardry we have in store for you tomorrow. And when I say wizard, well, I really mean it…

Do you want to see your stuff featured in a roundup? Upload it to our flickr pool or e-mail it to!