Posts Tagged ‘interview’

The Parisian Jacket

Jackets, I think, are my favorite thing to add embroidery to. This might be a fairly obvious statement, given that we’ve done a fair share of embroidered jackets like the ones here, here, and here. For me, it’s the perfect canvas; the best example of a wearable, durable surface that really lets you showcase your favorite stuff. It’s thicker than a tee, which lets you add more and varied designs, and it’s also a heck of a lot easier to show off and wear around than a quilt or a wall hanging. Yeah, people might look at you a little odd for wearing your wall hanging. Best just leave that one at home.

It should come as no surprise, then, that we’ve seen our own share of amazing stitched jacket examples from customers, and it was only a matter of time before a gorgeous Parisian version came along after the very popular Parisian Love Letter collection was released. Urban Threadster Gail created this jacket from a pattern, and it ended up winning her an award! You just never know where your next creation might go.

Gail joins us to talk about what went into this embroidered creation…

What started this project?

I wanted to enter a project into a “wearable art” challenge at a local quilt show.  I had never entered anything before and thought this would be a fun project.  

Did embroidery inspire the jacket or did the jacket inspire the embroidery you chose?

I always wanted to make a jacket that was unique.  When I saw your “postcard pillow” for the Parisian Love Letter design pack I got inspired to make a jacket using the same designs.

Where did the jacket design come from?

I used Vogue Pattern V2827.  It has been sitting in my pattern collection for a few years and I always dreamed of making it.  I did a sample jacket out of similar material (but less expensive) first to make sure it fit me properly.  Once I was happy with the results I then cut the material I wanted to use for the final project.

Talk us through the embroidery… which designs did you use? How long did it take to embroider it all?

I used all the designs in the design pack.  I duplicated 1 design 3 times on the jacket – once on the back waist and then again on the cuff of each sleeve.  I thought that would give it some balance.  I stitched out 21 designs and it took a week to complete the embroidery.  I took time to print out the designs off my computer and printer then I cut the paper down to just outside the embroidery design area.  I then placed those paper designs onto the jacket pieces – prior to construction – so that I could visualize what the jacket would look like. 

I started with the sleeves first, and I loved the results so I continued with the rest of the jacket.  This pattern has multiple front and back sections so I sewed those together first and then I sewed the shoulder seams together but left the side pieces un-sewn.  This way I could embroider the front, back and shoulder areas with ease.  When all the embroidery was complete on the front, back and shoulder I then sewed the side seam together then embroidered the side embroidery designs.  

Any challenges along the way?

I had some challenges with the lining of the jacket.  I had never done a lined jacket before.  I did an OK job but I know I could do better. 

What advice would you give someone trying to create something like this?

I would recommend doing a sample of the embroidery on the same fabric that you are using for you project.  I did that and I was happy with the results.  Just cut a piece of your fabric before you do any cutting of pattern pieces.  It would not be fun if you weren’t happy with the results once you had spent some hours stitching seams together!  

I would also say, personalize a label on the things you create.  I embroidered my name onto a piece of fabric and just sewed it onto the back of my jacket.  I think it looks nice and really, you should be proud to show off the things you create.

I hear you won an award with this jacket, congrats! Did you start this project with the contest in mind? How did people react to it and all the embroidery?

Thank you!

I actually had a different contest in mind.  The original contest was for a “quilted wearable art  jacket”.  After I was almost done the jacket it occurred to me that I had no traditional quilting in this jacket, and I was trying to think of how I could add quilting to the jacket somehow.  I thought of maybe quilting the collar or somehow quilting the sleeves but then decided to not add any quilting at all as I was afraid it would take away from the embroidery and stylishness of the jacket. 

I entered the jacket anyway to the contest and won an “honorable mention” ribbon.  I was ecstatic about winning a ribbon – it was the first time I won anything.  A few ladies from an embroidery group that I was a part of mentioned entering the jacket into the “Calgary Stampede” contest.  I was glad I did.  They did a great job displaying the jacket and I was so happy that I received a 2nd place blue ribbon.  I have had many compliments on the jacket and all the embroidery.  I love it.

What’s your next project going to be?

I have three young daughters and have a list of things I would like to make for them.  I have been thinking of what I could do with the Dark Fairytales design pack; I am trying to come up with something creative for that.  

Thanks so much for sharing this jacket and your process with us, Gail! I know you must just look fabulous in that jacket wherever you go, and your skill with sewing and design is really an inspiration. I can’t wait to see what you do for your lucky daughters. Perhaps more prizes are in your future!

Do you want to have your project featured on StitchPunk? Drop us a line at blog@urbanthreads.com or upload your Urban Threads stuff to our flickr group!

Urban Entrepreneurs – One 2 Stitcharoo

Back again for another edition of Urban Entrepreneurs!

Urban Entrepreneurs is where we feature sellers of any kind who have decided to take the plunge (with the help of some UT designs) and start their own small biz. We’re lucky today to be able to share our very first feature showcasing a hand embroiderer! Machine embroidery offers a lot of ease in speed and finish, but there’s nothing to beat the charm of a gorgeous hand embroidered piece, especially when they’re so darn adorable. One 2 Stitcharoo is that stitcher, and she’s here today to talk about what it’s like diving into a business as a stitcher who does all her work by hand…

What started you into embroidery?

I first started needlework when I was younger when my grandmother bought me my first cross stitch kit. The pattern had a very celestial sort of theme to it. You know… with a sun, moon and stars everywhere. Then some time after that, I took a stab at hand embroidery and thought this is easy-peasy! And the rest is history. 

Where did you first find Urban Threads?

It was back in February of this year, around Valentine’s day, and I did an image search for “Love/Valentine Embroidery patterns”. Not knowing what I was getting myself into, I went through hundreds of images of hearts, cupids, boxes of chocolates, you name it. When I was about to call it quits, I came across an image of a robot professing his love to a toaster, a pattern called Robot Love.

I clicked on it and that’s when my love/addiction to UT started. 

What made you take the plunge into starting your own store?

Well, I love, Love, LOVE to hand embroider. I love searching for patterns, picking the colors & I love the patience, time and effort myself (and other hand embroiderers) put into stitching each stitch. Well, I had stitched so many pieces, I had decided (on a whim) I wanted to share them with the world. I simply just thought, “I love doing it so there has to be people out there that would appreciate it.”

What kinds of folks are your customers? Who do you hope to cater to? 

Being that my shop is very new, my recent customers consist of friends & family (Hi Mom!) But I hope to cater to anyone/everyone. I don’t want to have to choose who I stitch for. Embroidery is such a flexible craft, I don’t want to have to put any limitations on it.  

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since you began? 

1.) Write down your ideas as soon as you think of them! I’ve had so many stitchy ideas, brilliant stitchy ideas that I’m still trying to remember to this day. I swear it’s like trying to remember a dream you had the night before.

2.) Don’t get discouraged that you haven’t sold anything. Success doesn’t happen overnight. Everybody has said this but it’s so totally true. 

Where would you like to see your shop in one year? Any fun stuff planned for the future?

Oh geez, I haven’t really thought about where I would want my shop to be in a year. I’ll just say if it’s still open, I’ve made some sales and it’s still full of hand stitchy goodness, I would be happy. There’s so much I would like to try but I do have some things up my sleeve I would like to achieve in the future.

For the immediate future, I’m hoping to add some customizable items to the shop. 

Thank you so much Jennifer for letting us share your adorable work. The wit and humor you bring to each piece, and the extra added joy of the captions really brings them to life. It’s such an honor to feature the amazing work of hand embroidery along with our fellow machine stitching entrepreneurs. We wish you all the best for your shop, your stuff is so cute, we just know people will love it!

Do you use Urban Threads designs to create one of a kind products? Want to see your story or your store featured here and join our gang of  Urban Entrepreneurs? Send us an e-mail at blog@urbanthreads.com with a link to your store/website or attach sample photos, and you could be featured!

Mother Eagle Interview

Feeling Stitchy has a great interview with micro stitcher Mother Eagle (whom we’ve featured before) on her amazing technique and creative inspirations. That tiny ombre rib cage piece is just about the prettiest thing I’ve seen of late. You can see many more pieces of hers over on the post.

Check it out!

Urban Entrepreneurs – Ganz und Garn

We’ve got another international edition of Urban Entrepreneurs today, with another crafty stitcher from Germany.

Urban Entrepreneurs is our series where we feature sellers of any kind who have decided to take the plunge (with the help of some UT designs) and start their own small biz. It looks like embroidery fever is catching abroad, and Martina from Ganz und Garn is showing us that the international community (and right now, Germany especially… the rest of Europe has some catching up to do, wouldn’t you say?) can really rock an embroidery machine.

Martina joins us today to talk about her love of embroidery, and her decision to jump from the production world and transform into the self employed business woman she is today.

Me

You look like you’ve been sewing for awhile, but what started you into embroidery?

It was just the logical consequence. After sewing stuff, you have to embellish it in some way!

lunchbox mix

Where did you first find Urban Threads?

It was one of the first sites I found on the net after I bought my embroidery machine. I was looking for more cool and contemporary designs, most of the other ones are either old fashioned or for kids.

tablet cover

What made you take the plunge into starting your own business?

I am a creative person, and I found sewing and embroidery combined my love of materials, colours, pattern and structures. 

Originally I am an interior and production designer but it was getting more and more difficult to find interesting and challenging jobs in the corporate world and so I decided to jump in at the deep end and try my luck with my own business.

alice in wonderland 2

Tell us a bit about your shop, Ganz und Garn. What kind of stuff do you do?

My shop is always in flux and I am permanently searching for new ideas! My focus lies on making things for grown ups with the aim of creating everyday things off the beaten track.

Happy Camper

What kind of customer do you cater to?

As all my stuff is handmade, I care most about the customers who are not interested in mainstreams products and big brands and appreciate individual things made with love.

Egg cozys

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since you began?

Despite all the other lessons I learned and still learning, one of the most important thing is to realize that it needs time to be successful.

Even if my products not selling as much is I wish for, it is not necessarily that the idea is poor, it ‘s just more often the fact that my small bussiness is still unknown and I don’t have to get discouraged by that.

market

Where would you like to see your shop in one year? Any fun stuff planned for the future?

I am always searching for new projects, nothing bores me more than sewing the same thing for the hundredth time!

I do have a lot of things in my head and I hope to achive some of that this year. I still want my business to grow, but I don’t want to lose the fun in it.

calender 5

If you want to check out more of Ganz und Garn’s amazing items, you can visit her DaWanda store, (kind of like a German etsy store… and yes, it is in German, but Google translate to the rescue!) and take a peek.

I just love how bright and bold everything she makes is, from all the patterns and colors in her fabric to the simple covers and cute designs she picks. It feels both whimsically traditional and contemporary all at once. All the best to you Martina, I’m sure armed with talent like this, Germany doesn’t stand a chance against the cuteness!

Do you use Urban Threads designs to create one of a kind products? Want to see your story or your store featured here and join our gang of  Urban Entrepreneurs? Send us an e-mail at blog@urbanthreads.com with a link to your store/website or attach sample photos, and you could be featured!

Featured Project – Ancestry Quilt

We’ve got an amazing new featured project for you today, one that spans generations of work, pulled together a family of crafters, and traveled back and forth across the country in its journey to being made!

Stitcher Jeanette and her two sisters created this quilt together as part of a thank you to a cousin who had spent many hours gathering treasured history of their family. What started as the idea of a simple wall hanging transformed into this stunning ancestry quilt as the sisters sent it back and fourth across the country to be made.

Jeanette tells us the fascinating story of its creation…

Talk about what inspired this. What’s the story behind this quilt? How did it all get started?

One of our cousins spent most of her adult life gathering genealogy that she compiled into a 500-page book, complete with photos, maps, and copies of all the documents she had found in her quest. She recently sent these to each of us and our parents (who are in their nineties). We were very touched and so happy to be able to pass on this knowledge to our adult children and their children given that we had no real “roots” to share with them, as we grew up moving around as “Army brats.”

My two sisters and I wanted to show our appreciation to her and conspired to make the wall hanging. The concept changed several times as we looked over options – everything from a “throw” to a book cover. We finally settled on a wall hanging.

Did embroidery inspire the parts of the quilt? How did you choose your designs?

I had no idea what the wall hanging should look like but imagined it filled with symbolism. My youngest sister, Jennifer, was trained as an artist but has not worked in that field for many years, so instead of drawing she told us what she “saw” when she thought of the quilt. She could “see” a raven, clocks, and a tree. I wasn’t sure what a raven had to do with genealogy but honored her vision and did some internet research. Lo and behold – in Welsh culture, the raven is a symbol of wisdom and the keeper of ancestral knowledge. How perfect!

Talk us through all the embroidery… which designs did you use?

Keeping my sister’s vision in mind I did an internet search for any form of art depicting a raven that I could find. As a last resort I included machine embroidery in my search for raven and found the Urban Threads site. When I saw the Clockwork Magic design set my jaw dropped open. Not only were there ravens but also clocks, gears, keys, etc. in that amazing design set. I chose the ravens, keys and pocket watch for the main designs I’d use. Then I found your Roots and Branches design and thought I’d gone to heaven.

How long did it take to make it all?

If we had lived near each other and not experimented so much I think between the three of us we could have finished the quilt by working on it several hours a day for a week or so. As it was, we conceived of it in September, started “piddling” around with experiments in October, began stitching in earnest in November and mailed it to our cousin in January.

Starting, I still didn’t know how I would incorporate the Urban Threads designs into a wall hanging, what size it would be or any other detail. None the less, I found an 18×22 piece of green Asian fabric that I thought would look great with the black of the raven and proceeded to embroider one of these.  The raven looked great but I didn’t use enough stabilizer and it altered the dimensions of the fabric, so I cut off a piece of that fabric and tried again. I still wasn’t happy so did another raven on an even smaller portion of that fabric and when I looked at them spread out, and the concept for a layout appeared. This was the beginning of the evolution of the project.

In the course of the process, I experimented with designs from the design pack and pinned them with the background fabrics to some brown flannel.  The tree took the longest to embroider since it is so rich in thread play. At this point I felt I needed to pass it on to my other two sisters, both of whom live in Colorado, to see how they would interpret the piece and add their touches. All of us work full time and the mail was pretty slow during the holidays getting back and forth across the country, so you have to take that into account.

Once the incomplete pinned together work got to my sister, Jacqie, she conceptualized the gold cotton borders that could have writing on them.  She and Jennifer spent a good portion of Thanksgiving weekend experimenting with writing tools and finally found that a plain Sharpie worked better than designated “art” pens. Jennifer wanted to practice writing first but Jacqie insisted that she use her unrehearsed, natural, printing in keeping with the “raw” look that we were going for. She and Jacqie spent more time selecting phrases from the genealogy book than actually writing it but it was a warm, interesting experience for both of them. We think the sizing still present in the unwashed fabric actually helped prevent the ink from bleeding.

The in-progress quilt on its way to the next crafter.

Once Jacqie sewed borders onto the brown flannel and sewed raw edge applique on the other shapes, she experimented with trying to machine quilt (combining top, batting and backing with sewing machine) the piece. When she was done she mailed it back to me in Texas.  There were several agonizing days where we feared it was lost in transit but it did show up, albeit a few days late!

Once I got it back, I had learned my lesson with the stabilizer problem on the ravens so I made everything that was going to be appliquéd on stabilizer plus a thick Pellon interfacing. This made them stitch out beautifully.  I colored the white edges of the Pellon with permanent colored felt pens which also added to the dimensionality of the object.

Inspired by the writing on the borders, I used a piece of the gold cotton to transfer some of the photos from the genealogy book with inkjet transfer paper. This was a first for me also. I found that selecting “mirror” image in my printer properties made everything come out just right for the transfer. I was skeptical about how this would work, but the photos looked appropriately ghostly for the topic. I did a simple decorative machine stitch around them to set them off.

The other fabric pieces were added to cover up boo boos I made when experimenting with adding extra puffiness behind the front pieces and were simply heat bonded on. Had I not been afraid of dragging the project out too long, I might have done this differently but there comes a time when all good things must come to an end and we wanted to get this to our cousin while she is still young enough to enjoy it!

Any challenges along the way?

I’m a novice machine embroiderer so I made several mistakes I won’t make again. When embroidering the Roots and Branches I was working on another part of the project and didn’t notice that it wasn’t signaling me to change threads. Ouch! After some research it turns out that PES format probably isn’t the best one to use as the commands may not translate well into my machine.  Fortunately, your website allowed me to revisit my purchase and download another format without charge (I’m using SEW and HUS most of the time now).

Also, we had thought I would finish quilting the piece on my long arm machine, but as I studied it, I realized that this would not “add” anything to it, so I elected to stitch around the shapes instead. In the process I knocked the beads off several times and finally resorted to not only sewing them back on but using fabric glue as well. Lesson learned – put jewels, etc. on AFTER all the sewing is done.

What were people’s reactions to the quilt and to all the embroidery?

We have been awed by the reactions of people who have looked at this. None of us feel as if it is something WE created but something that was created through us. Even in the initial stages people seemed taken with it – someone insisted my sister pull it out of her bag in the fabric store and show it off when they saw the edges peeking out.  My mother and father spent quite a bit of time poring over the unfinished piece. My father couldn’t get enough of reading about his ancestors and my mother was awed by the embroidery and embellishments.

Everyone comments on the quality of the embroidered stitch-outs. The raven’s wings are three dimensional - you can almost see the feathers. The tree is an amazing blending of colors and layers – people seem to feel compelled to touch all the designs and feel them. I am particularly fascinated with the overlay of mechanical parts on the raven’s wings and the gears on top of and behind all the designs in this set.

Our cousin has emailed us repeatedly telling us of family members she has shown it to in Georgia, where she lives. She seems very pleased!

What’s your next project going to be?

My sisters and I now want similar pieces for ourselves so we’ll be making them to honor both our mother and our father in the future. I’m running scenarios through my head, thinking about these Urban Threads designs and others – I’m envision letting the concept pick the embroidery and the embroidery enhance the concept. Thank all your artists and digitizers for inspiring us!!!

Thank you, Jeannette, and your amazing sisters, for sharing the story of this creative creation with us! Not only will this be an amazing quilt for future generations to share, but the story of its creation is almost as fascinating as the family history it portrays. I know I can’t wait to see what your next ancestral quilts look like. And seriously, incorporating steampunk into your family history? Awesome.

Do you want to be a featured project on StitchPunk? Drop us a line at blog@urbanthreads.com or upload your Urban Threads stuff to our flickr group!

Urban Entrepreneurs – 13 Days Embroidery

Welcome to another crafty edition of Urban Entrepreneurs!  Urban Entrepreneurs is where we feature sellers of any kind who have decided to take the plunge (with the help of some UT designs) and start their own small biz. We have an adorable new feature from 13 Days Embroidery today that will totally make you squee with joy.

Are you prepared for the cute overload?

13 Days Embroidery is the home biz of stay at home mum Kris, who discovered her love of embroidery after her little ones were born. Kris joins us today to talk a little bit about her growing business and how it all started…

                                                                                                                                      photos: Kimberly Card

What started you into embroidery?

When my daughter was born in 2007, I received a set of personalized, embroidered burp cloths from my sister.  That is how I discovered what machine embroidery was and that you could *gasp* get a home machine that could work this magic!  My friend and I bought one together and I just went with it, even though I had never sewn a thing in my life.

Several years later, my in-laws bought a commercial machine for use with their small advertising/promotional products business.  When I learned how to use it, I got stars in my eyes and the door of possibilities just opened up. 

Where did you first find Urban Threads?

I’m not exactly sure how I came across UT, it was probably a google search for goth-inspired embroidery designs.  But I do remember very clearly what a revelation it was.  I had quickly bored of the traditional monogramming and personalization type projects, and UT designs opened up a whole new world. 

They were like nothing I had ever seen on embroidery design sites.  The designs were modern and featured motifs and genres that were my style.  Behold, embroidery could be cool! 

What made you take the plunge into starting your own business?

I have been a stay at home mom since my oldest was born, and I have never liked any job that I have ever had.  There’s the saying “do what you love,” and I just didn’t know what I loved!  But I have always had an appreciation for art, yet no real artful ability, per se.  I discovered that this was my medium! 

I really enjoyed the rush of trying out something new, and it actually turning out good.  There is a creative art to embroidery … finding awesome images and interesting ways of displaying them.  And I really do love it! 

I had been personalizing and making gifts for my family and friends for several years, and have gotten a lot of great feedback.  Just this past summer, I decided to take some of the designs I liked the best, put them on sample items and create an etsy shop.   Sales have grown slowly but steadily since then.  It has been very exciting and fun for me!  The response has really pushed me forward and inspired me.  

Tell us a bit about your shop. What kind of stuff do you do?

My etsy shop right now is comprised mainly of items for babies.  My two little ones are my main inspiration, so it follows that when I see a cool design, I think, how would that look on a baby bodysuit or child’s shirt?  (Also, the little bodysuits are more readily available to me than anything else.)   But honestly, the designs I have used on baby items just seem to beg for it! 

As soon as I saw that spork image, I knew exactly what I would do with it!  To me, it is a no brainer.  I look for designs that I would buy on clothing for my own kids, and hope someone else would as well.  For most items, I also offer to personalize with a child’s name and many moms like that.  And I totally get it.  Mommies love to see their sweet angel’s name on things. 

Around the same time that I started my etsy shop, I started selling baby/child items in two different children’s consignment boutiques in my area.  I also do personalization on bags/purses, various designs on adult shirts, and have just started doing some commercial orders as well.  So my embroidery work is all over the board. 

A recent fun project was putting the Girl Power breast cancer ribbon UT image on some running shirts for some awesome ladies running in a breast cancer half marathon.  I love to be a part of things like that! 

 

I hear you have a good story behind your store name. Tell us a bit about it.

My husband and I were born 13 days apart in the same year, same hospital.  It just seems so serendipitous, that we both decided that if either one of us started a business, we would use the name.  I beat him to the punch! :)

What kind of customer do you cater to?

I think for now my target customers are moms from my generation that want to express an offbeat and modern type of style when dressing their child.  Because, let’s face it … until your child reaches a certain age, what they wear is an expression of your own personal style. I have found a bit of a niche with mommies of little boys, because there is a gap in availability of cute boutique type items for boys versus girls.  Considering my youngest is a boy, I am drawn to many boyish designs, and have received quite a response to them. 

But it’s hard to pick a specific market because one of the things I like best about embroidery is the completely customizable nature of it.  The ability to create something for virtually anyone!  I enjoy all the projects that fall in to my lap. 

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since you began?

There have been so many!  Keeping an eye on the machine is a big thing.  Making sure the design fits your hoop!  (which is a huge issue for me, considering the commercial machine does not have standard hoop sizes)  Picking images that are appropriate for the item you are using them on is a biggie as well. 

I have learned that delicate, simple images with a low stitch count are usually going to work best on baby clothing.  You don’t want images getting too stiff, instead you want them to move with the wearer.    I have also learned to accept challenging custom orders, because it will always be a learning experience. 

Where would you like to see your shop in one year? Any fun stuff planned for the future?

I would love to add more different types of items to my etsy shop for kids and adults.  My UT design collection is quite large and I have many ideas for them!  As of late, I am really into discovering and trying out “in the hoop” designs (the mustache photo props were so much fun!), so I would love to do more things like that.   Also, I plan to do several craft fairs in my area in the coming spring/summer months. 

I would love to learn how to use the digitizing software that came along with the commercial machine too, but that is further down the road.  Who knows where that could take me!  I honestly can’t wait to show myself what I can do. I just need more hours in the day to create and plan my world domination via embroidery.  But for now, etsy, boutique consignment shops, and a few craft fairs will do.

The ultimate goal is to create a career for myself – to “do what I love” and make a real income at it.  That’s the dream, right?! 

I think Kris has truly captured a magically playful side with her embroidery, and her models are just too cute! It shows you that embroidery can still be totally adorable yet modern. Who wouldn’t want a spork bib for their little one? I think it beats plain ol’ teddy bears any day.

Want to grab some goods for your kiddo? Check out her etsy shop for more fun!

 

Do you use Urban Threads designs to create one of a kind products? Want to see your story or your store featured here and join our gang of  Urban Entrepreneurs? Send us an e-mail at blog@urbanthreads.com with a link to your store/website or attach sample photos, and you could be featured!

 

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?