Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

Featured Project – The Blue Fairy

Autumn is really starting to bloom around here, and it’s got me all excited about Halloween! Fall is my favorite season, and the array of amazing costumes it brings isone of my favorite things about it. I thought it would be perfect to kick off the costume season with a favorite costumer we’ve seen before… the amazing Urban Threadster, Azre Greis! You will probably remember her from the epic Steamwork Doll Costume, and she’s back and stitching with a vengeance. She whipped up this amazing water-themed blue fairy costume for a Ren fest she was planning to attend. She went just as crazy this time as she did last time, and the results are impressive! She joins us today to talk a little about what inspired the costume and what it was like to make…

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

Thank you! Out in Texas there is a large Renaissance festival called TRF (Texas Renaissance Festival) and I really didn’t have anything good to wear out to it as the mish-mash I had worn the prior year was very disappointing. We were going to it with a friend who was renowned for her adorable fairy costume and decided we’d make costumes to go with her. I chose a water fairy because I love the water and the color blue and had blonde hair at the time so they all seemed to fit together well.


She was very gracious and encouraged the project by asking me what kind of wings I’d like to have and made those for me along with the goggles I have on my head. TRF is typically a cold and rainy faire so the costume was made from many parts and has lots of opportunities for layering for the sake of warmth and weather compliance.


I wanted to look like I was flowing all the time, perpetually coming up out of the water so all the fabric is very light with a lot of reflective qualities. The cape I’m wearing was actually made for by a friend vendor at another faire called Sherwood Forest who was inspired by my costume and made it just for me, even with holes for my wings to go through!


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

I chose light designs with a lot of open space. The costume itself uses salt water animals while the cape is fresh water. Overall the costume includes about 31 embroideries.


How long did the embroidery take?

Probably about 70 hours. I used a lot of metallic thread which always slows me down.


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

The costume has evolved a bit over the last year or so. All told I think I put about 2 weeks of work into it. I added trims, more pearls, decorative stitching and knickknacks such as the satchel and a vial of perfume with some stones. The idea for the pants came from a genie pattern made by Simplicity, but I drastically exaggerated the drape pieces for it so that I’d get more swish when I walked.


The top is a common blouse again from Simplicity with the rest of the sleeves cut off and a looser neck. The rest of it is just kind of slapped together from late nights and “brilliant” ideas that didn’t always work out. The two drapes on my arms were originally meant to be tight against my arm the entire way up and then in strips hanging down. I dropped that idea in favor of the loose sort of drape effect it has now for the sake of warmth.


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

Always make sure you’ve got the right stabilizer. I had to do over one of the pieces for the chest because the stabilizer I had was too lightweight and collapsed under the design. The fabric I used had a lot of stretch and needed the additional support the stabilizer granted. I also learned a lot when I did the leg pieces (organza) and used the knowledge from that to do a better job on the cape with a water soluble one side adhesive stabilizer.


It took a really long time to properly rinse the cape so that it flowed properly, but it was worth it in the end. To anyone else doing such a thing, hang up your large project in a stand up shower, close the shower curtain and use hot water in a downward spray to get all the stabilizer out and keep it from making your ends stiff.


How did people react to the costume and the embroidery?

The best reaction I ever got was a small boy, around 4 years old, who flew at me when we were at Sherwood. He came to a dead stop in front of me and peered, stating with great confidence, “I remember you…!” And proceeded to tell me a story about how he’d met me in the forest once the year before.


This was impossible as the costume was new at the time, but it made me feel fantastic to know I had embodied a child’s imaginary experience and brought it to life. I’ve gotten many compliments, been mistaken for cast at two different faires (which I’d love to be one day) and it’s a fun costume to wear. It takes a lot of time to get on but it’s always worth it and it’s very comfortable to go tearing around being silly in.


You seem to always be cooking up new costume ideas! What’s your next project going to be?

I am currently working on several new things! A Princess Toadstool from Super Mario Land (SNES), Queen Frostine from Candy Land (the board game), and Queen Zurline from The Life and Adventure of Santa Claus (a Rankin-Bass movie) as well as a new sort of barbarian costume that I plan to use a lot of Celtic or Nordic patterns you’ve got up on, I’m having trouble deciding so all the printed out pieces are pinned to the dress in various places. I’ve also done several wedding dresses using designs from Urban Threads that I hope to get some good pictures of soon once the brides have had time to settle in and pick their favourites.

I’m totally addicted to you guys!

As usual, this costume gets my gears going about this year’s Halloween costume. Slightly out of character for me, I haven’t yet decided what I’m going to be, but this certainly gets me inspired to start! What about you stitchers? Have any epic costumes in the works? Well, if it’s anything like the stunning creations from Azre Greis, be sure to drop us a line at or upload your Urban Threads stuff to our flickr group so we can see what you’re stitching.

Makeup by Kristie MacLean, wings by Jenna Idaho, cape by Two Spools, and photos by Marcos Melendez. See Azre Greis’ shop here.

Shepard Fairey Designs An Awesome Embroidered ISS Mission Patch


If you’ve never heard of street artist Shepard Fairey, you still might have seen his OBEY iconography somewhere without realizing it. His alternative style makes it all the more exciting when an organization like the mission of the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space–the group that manages the research lab aboard the ISS, wants to collaborate to create their new patch design.

These little embroidered beauties have just the right sense or retro-futuristic flare and contemporary boldness to pull of a really cool look. Am I a little jealous we didn’t get to play with a patch like this? Maybe. But it’s still fun to look at.

The Latest from Maricor/Maricar

I always love seeing the latest creative embroidery goods coming out of dream team Maricor/Maricar. It’s always such a breath of fresh air!





Want to see more of these projects and their latest shenanigans? Visit their website.

You’re Off The Edge Of the Map Here, Mate…

Here there be monsters.

And seriously gorgeous stitching. I can’t stop looking at this! A super sweet, full color rendition of our Battle of the Sea design stitched out by flickr user Sewphie T.

In case I was in need of something to be thankful for, talented UT stitchers like this always give me something to be elated about.  Happy Thanksgiving folks!

Lookbook Refresh

Our lookbook has recently been updated! We’ve added lots of new pages of designs and ideas to let you explore all the awesomeness that is embroidery.

If you’ve never looked through our lookbook before, now is a great time to flip through nearly 60 pages of glossy photos and project ideas to get your gears turning for the holiday season.

Check it out here, or visit it anytime by using the link on our sidebar.

Digitized Art by Jess Larson

I love finding new an unexpected machine embroidery artists. I especially love finding out that they’re local! The fab Mr X Stitch featured embroidery artist Jessica Larson today, who happens to be a Professor of Studio Art and artist from Morris, Minnesota.

Her work is a sublime mix of machine and hand embroidery, digitized with some stunning detail. I just love seeing what creative folks get up to when they get their hands on digitizing software. See more on the X Stitch post, or check out her website!

13 Design Trends To Make Your Embroidery More Awesome

Often when we grab a new embroidery design, the first thing that comes to mind is where we’re going to stitch it. Will it be on a pillow? A tee? Maybe it will make an awesome wall hanging. The world has a serious shortage of awesome wall hangings. What we think about a little less is how the designs themselves can be used in all kinds of new ways, whatever you decide to stitch them on. To pull these off, you don’t need any extra equipment, or even any real sewing skills, and they can be used for hand and machine embroidery alike. All these trends just use the awesome potential of embroidery you might not have thought of until now. We’re sure this is what MacGyver would do when confronted with an embroidery design challenge equipped with just the design itself. We’re pretty sure MacGyver does embroidery.

Today these new design trends are modeled by our lovely digitizing diva Danielle. Danielle is the head of our digitizing department, makes a fantastic model, and is likely totally bonkers (Exhibit A). Luckily, we’re all crazy around here. She’s going to showcase 13 of our favorite ways of making your embroidery more awesome, just by using the design itself.

So, next time you grab a new design for stitching, why not try…


The Warhol

13 Design Trends To Make Your Embroidery More Awesome - The Warhol

Duplicate a single design in a four square pattern, all in different colors. Crazy sixties glasses, career in art and white hair optional.

Design: Astroman


The 3D Glasses

13 Design Trends To Make Your Embroidery More Awesome - The 3D Glasses

Give your design an update and your friends a headache by offset-stitching a design in red and blue. Find your favorite pair of retro 3D glasses and and rock your look in all dimensions.

Design: Lonely Robot


The New Black

13 Design Trends To Make Your Embroidery More Awesome - The New Black

Tone on tone is always king, and black is the new, well black. And the old black. Black is awesome all around. You can never go wrong by combining these two, with a solid stitched black design on a black tee. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you stitching pink on pink, or white on white (we call that one The Ghost). We just love black.

Design: Baroque Punk Skull


The Layer Cake

13 Design Trends To Make Your Embroidery More Awesome - The Layer Cake

Take your embroidery designs to the next level by layering. Light stitching designs can be embroidered right on top of each other for a totally psychedelic effect that takes two designs and merges them into one brand new amazing composition.

Designs: Tribal Deer Skull, Nautical Rose


The Mirror

13 Design Trends To Make Your Embroidery More Awesome - The Mirror

Designs repeated are twice as nice! Get a cool symmetrical effect by taking a design and flipping it on it’s axis for a great look on the back of shirts and jackets.

Design: Baroque Punk Swallow


The Painter

13 Design Trends To Make Your Embroidery More Awesome - The Painter

Dig up that old tie dye kit, or just grab some regular fabric paint, and splash it on a light tee. Then pick your favorite scribbly or light stitching design and stitch it on top for a painterly effect perfect for artists and retro fashionistas alike. It’s the perfect way to add a pop of color to your favorite one color running stitch designs.

Design: New Heights


The Dubstep

13 Design Trends To Make Your Embroidery More Awesome - The Dub Step

Grab a black tee and some glow-in-the-dark thread and you’re ready to rock the club all night long, whether it’s to dubstep, or old school techno. Heck, you could rock this while doing the polka. In fact, that might just be the coolest way to wear this one. Just tell them to turn off the lights have have plenty of glow sticks about. Want to see glow-in-the-dark thread in action? Check out this tutorial.

Design: Womp Womp


The Jewelry Box

13 Design Trends To Make Your Embroidery More Awesome - The Jewelry Box

You can turn any dangling design into a “charm” just by freestyle stitching a necklace with the design! You can see an example of how we did it with our Charmed Tee tutorial. Once you know how to freestyle stitch the chain, any design fit for it can become a stunning accessory just by adding a draping line in stitches.

Designs: Flock Together Feathers  23 & 4


The Not-So-Freestanding Lace

13 Design Trends To Make Your Embroidery More Awesome - The Not-So-Freestanding Lace

Just because it’s freestanding lace doesn’t mean you have to stitch it all by its lonesome. You can hoop a piece of fabric and stabilizer, and stitch it just like regular embroidery! It will be a little thicker than a regular design, but will give your shirt some awesome dimension. You can also stitch it on sheer fabrics like organza to “float” the effect, like we did with regular designs on this dress.

Designs: Antique Lock, Antique Key


The Runaway

13 Design Trends To Make Your Embroidery More Awesome - The Runaway

Did you know you can stitch some designs right off the edge? It’s mostly recommended for very light designs with mostly running stitch. If it’s super light, you can just let the design stitch right off the edge, onto the excess stabilizer. We did it on a men’s front shirt pocket in this tutorial. Once it’s stitched you trim off the excess, and you can add some patch glue to keep the thread from fraying. Design too heavy? Embroider it near an edge, then just fold the bottom under and stitch a new seam.

Design: Painted Roses


The Mini-Me

13 Design Trends To Make Your Embroidery More Awesome - The Mini-Me

Do you have a hoop that can stitch bigger than a 4″x4″ design? Well, why not grab two sizes of a design, a big and a small, and use a mirrored version of the other size to create a cute pairing! After all, you can never have too many flying monkeys, no matter what size they are.

Design: Flying Monkey


The Ransom Note

13 Design Trends To Make Your Embroidery More Awesome - The Ransom Note

Who says you always have to use the same alphabet series when making a design? Throw caution (and perfect alignment) to the wind and mix and match two alphabet series to make a punk rock text-only design. Best yet, you can make it say whatever you want.

Designs: Cirque Alphabet Pack, Handwriting Alphabet Pack


The Evil Twin

13 Design Trends To Make Your Embroidery More Awesome - The Evil Twin

Embroidery has a dark side… or at least it does when you can pick the colors. Found a design that’s just a little too cheerful to stand in its current form? Switch the colors around for a laugh. It works both ways; gothic stuff stitched in rainbows is pretty hilarious too. Every design has an evil twin just waiting to come out.

Design: You Are My Sunshine


So, there you have it … no fancy hoop tricks, no magic sewing skills required. All you need to rock that embroidery design is the design itself, and a little imagination. Got a design trend idea for us we didn’t cover? Share it in the comments!