Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

Embroidered Lampshade

I’m loving this adorable silhouette lampshade in the new Fall issue from Sweet Paul.

I’m especially loving that the magazine comes in a free online edition! It’s mostly filled with yummy fall foods to tempt the soul, but there are some super cute DIY ideas in there too. And it’s free! Who can say no to free.


Thread Art

Many thanks to Joetta Maue for introducing me to the amazing thread and pin art of Debbie Smyth.

You can see more on the original post or go look at Debbie’s stuff directly  here.


Painted Thread Spools

Categorize this as things I didn’t know I should never throw away (that is, if all thread were awesome enough to be on wooden spools)…

If you’re unlucky like me to pretty much have all plastic thread spools, especially ones completely devoid of charming illustrations , then lucky enough for you there’s Amy Blackwell. She paints and sells these adorable additions to anyone’s craft room, and has given me serious inspiration if I ever DO get a spool that isn’t a wad of plastic.

Embroidered Sculptures

Many thanks to Fingerpricks for sharing the amazing art of Helen McDonnell, a tattoo artist and embroiderer extraordinaire, who made a collection of these stunning embroidered sculptures. Check out her post for more pictures and links!

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…

Featured Project – The Indelible Mr. Gear

When people outside of this industry come across machine embroidery, they might be forgiven for making some assumptions about the kinds of crafters that participate. If you’ve come across the industry as a whole, you might believe it is populated by nothing but 71-year-old midwestern ladies who really really like paisley. And bears. And paisley bears. Perhaps ones wearing bows.

Or, on the other side, one might make the mistaken assumption that all Urban Threads customers are all thirtysomething urban mums with names like Brittney who cook vegan and whittle their own knitting needles from reclaimed sustainable barn wood. You might be right on both counts.  The truth is we have midwestern grannies and hipster parents. And hipster midwestern grannies. Yup, this is the embroidery your grandmother stitches. Your  grandmother is just that cool.

What you may not realize is all the people in between.  The guys, the teens, the young, the old, the hip, the crafty, the vampires.

Wait, what?

Yup, our crafty customers are as varied as your fabric stash, and if Brittney is your all-natural hand-dyed hemp-cotton-blend, then THIS guy is your black velvet embossed skull brocade. Possibly with sparkles.

And his name is Marty Gear.

I am so digging those glasses.

Marty is here with us this Friday to help us celebrate Halloween in July, and as a special treat he’s going to share some of his amazing embroidered costumes he’s made over the years! His most recent creation, above, is the long-awaited combination of fangs and gears … a steampunk vampire!

Marty explains how this creation came together…

For the last ten years I have been playing various vampire characters at a haunted attraction in western Pennsylvania called Castle Blood. When Master Tuxedos went out of business I went to their warehouse sale looking for “oddball” tux coats that I could use and found the one in the picture (without all the Urban Threads designs of course). I hung it in my sewing room and stared at it for several months, then replaced the black cloth buttons with pewter skull buttons.  That started the theme.  Since I do vampires, I had to have a bat and did the pocket flaps using the bat from Embroidery Library’s “Damask Bat” (sorry about that but I keep telling you that you don’t do enough bats) but then everything else was from Urban Threads.

Sorry about that, Marty. We do promise we’ll keep up on the bats from now on…

The Cameo Mori was next, and now the coat was starting to come together, but it needed something else to shine and that’s when I got the idea of using your Damask Skull on black velvet sleeve cuffs. (OK, it took me six tries to get it right. The velvet kept “eating” the pattern until I got bright enough to use soluble topping.)

I was now happy with the coat, but it needed something red around the top, and since I wasn’t willing to tear apart the lapels, embroidering the Skulls Nouveau in metallic threads on red finished the outfit.

Though this appears to be Marty’s first foray into the steampunk-vampire combination, he’s no stranger to either. You might have seen these photos of him before floating around our flickr group, showing off his gear-tastic (har har) style with some of our favorite steampunk designs.

And here he is in his full vampire makeup, scaring the bejeezus out of everyone who dares enter Castle Blood.

Marty is a longtime costumer and embroiderer, as well as a longtime customer of Urban Threads, for the three years or so we’ve been around. His favorite pastimes, it seems, are making awesome costumes and berating us for not having enough bat designs.

He’s also an enterprising digitizer himself, and faced with a dire shortage of bat designs, set about creating his own for the costume above. The right was his first attempt, and the left, his second after he lost the original file.

Pictured: what we don't do enough of.

Though he has recently been dabbling in the dark arts of digitizing, he has been costuming with embroidery for many years, long before Urban Threads came around. This costume, for example, was originally designed in 1984, but was up-cycled by Marty years later into this incarnation of a character from a book called “The Dragon Rises.”

You don't mess with a man with a sewing machine.

This wizard costume has been, as he describes it, “embroidered to within an inch of its life,” with impressive results. These designs are not ours, but awesome all the same.

The first thing my brain thought when it saw this was: Dumbledore! You're allivvee!

Being a wizard with the sewing machine means he’s certainly got more than one outfit. Here’s another fantastic example of one of his wizard costumes, complete, of course, with more embroidery.

It just goes to show you that a love of costumes can go hand in hand with a love of embroidery, and that any time of year is a great time to stitch up something fantastic. Personally, if I could I’d go around in costume all the time, I love dressing up so much. As far as Mr. Gear is concerned, he looks so at home in those outfits I picture him going around in his day-to-day activities with at least an eye patch or a pair of goggles at all times. Possibly with some embroidery about his person.

I’m so inspired by Marty’s work and creativity on all these costumes, it certainly raises the bar for what I hope to cook up for this Halloween. I hope it inspires you to try a little embroidery on your costume this year… you’ve got 3 months to try and top this.

Think you can take on the indelible Mr. Gear?

Sally Nencini

Kinda in love with this gal right now…

Check out more of her amazing embroidery and textile works on her website.