Posts Tagged ‘steampunk’

Sneak Peek – Mechanica Aquatica

Sneak peek at our new Underwater Art Nouveau Steampunk series, Mechanica Aquatica.

A whole bunch of Steampunk goodness coming your way next week, including another steampunk series we haven’t shared yet. It will be epic. I promise.

Exclusive Poster Giveaway – How Machine Embroidery Designs Are Made

*UPDATE – Commenting is now closed. Thanks to everyone who took part! Winners coming soon*

When this little number showed up all about how machine embroidery designs are made, many of you asked for it in poster form, and we had to agree that would be pretty awesome.

Well this is the day you’ve been waiting for, because in today’s contest we’re giving away four professionally printed full color posters of “How Machine Embroidery Designs Are Made”, an exclusive you won’t find anywhere else!

All you have to do to enter is to leave a comment on this post telling us what part of the machine embroidery process from the poster you think is the most important (gnomes? monkeys? diet coke and sprinkles? I bet it’s the tiny tacos…) and you’ll be entered to win one.

Then sit back and start planning where you might put this big and beautiful 48 inch poster in your crafting room, and then start planning for all the weird looks everyone’s going to give you for it. Don’t worry about it. They’re just jealous they don’t have a Steampunk Bacon Cat.

Today’s contest is open from 10 am to 10pm US central time. What are you waiting for? Get commenting!

Behind the Scenes Video of the Steampunk Fashion Shoot

Remember the Clockwork Natura Gown?

Well KMK Designs (the designers who made the dress) have posted a fun little behind the scenes video of the fashion shoot, so you can see the dress in action. It’s not super high quality, but you can get a good idea of just how beautifully this thing moved, and see how the shots came together.

P.S. -No making fun of my modeling attempts. In my defense, I totally forgot there was a camera around most of the day.

How Machine Embroidery Designs Are Made

How machine embroidery designs are made

Many of you have asked before about the process that goes into making a designs, well today just felt like the right day to come clean about how the magic happens. Literally. You have no idea how many tiny tacos it takes to stitch out all our designs.

Ok, so I know it’s coming… how many of you really want Steampunk Bacon Cat as a design?

*EDIT* – Ok, your wish is my command. That’s right, your Steampunk Bacon Cat design is here! Get him right here. Just make sure your tiny sewing gremlins are well stocked with tiny tacos.

(Also, I feel it prudent to note that I am the first person on the internet to put the words “steampunk bacon cat” together. It’s true. I googled.)

UT Tutorial – Steampunk Wind Chime

Spring has sprung and Steampunk is in the air! Check out this tutorial for how to make your very own Steampunk wind chime out of embroidery supplies and found trinkets.

Non embroiderers, If you’re feeling curious, you don’t need an embroidery machine to give this one a try, just substitute real keys in place of the lace ones, and leave the hoop blank.

It won’t be quite as awesome, but really, nothing is without the magic of embroidery. Sadly, it’s a fate some suffer in life.

Also noted – this tutorial manages to combine freestanding lace, embroidery supplies, vintage trinkets, and gears. If only we could involve a bird somehow it would be a trend compilation masterpiece.

Heard enough already? Check out the tutorial to find out how to make your own.

Urban Entrepreneurs – Custom Wears by Claudia

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.  Today’s feature takes us onto a delicious twist into the wilder side of the west, with Custom Wears by Claudia. Claudia specializes in vintage inspired gear with a decidedly modern twist, and she has me wishing for warmer weather and a good pair of cowboy boots.

Claudia joins us today to talk about the fateful PBR event that pushed her into the happy happenstance of modern western ware, and the cool customers she designs for…

How did you get into designing clothes?

My pink nylon quilted robe was the show stopper in the 9th grade fashion show, and when I was 14, I won the local, state and regional Singer Sewing Contests.  For the past nine years, I worked at Hancock Fabrics in Overland Park, Kansas, teaching sewing classes and garment construction, and also demonstrating sewing machines and techniques.

What started you into embroidery?

I started out just wanting to embroider things for my children, when they were small.  They are grown now and I still love embroidering their clothes!

Where did you first find Urban Threads?  

I did a google search looking for skull designs.

Ha! Yeah, that would certainly be a surefire way of finding us. So, what made you take the plunge into starting your own business?

I didn’t so much plunge as I was pushed!  

Custom Wears by Claudia launched in 2009 when my husband wore a shirt that I had used an Urban Threads design on and it was seen by the Pabst Blue Ribbon rep.  She asked if I could make a shirt for an event PBR was hosting and 42 shirts later I was in business!

Tell us a bit about your shop, Custom Wears by Claudia. What kind of stuff do you do?

I work out of my home doing mostly one of a kind, custom ordered and fit pieces.  I make the garments from scratch, so each piece is decorated for the individual customer and fit to them.

Folks are always asking me to bring my work and show it at their shop or their event but I don’t have any inventory; each garment is made just for that one customer! 

What kind of customer do you cater to?

I do a lot of work for folks in bands.  I digitize their artwork and put it on a custom made shirt, dress, etc. I do my best to make sure my work fits properly, is comfortable, and is a reflection of the person wearing it. 

I love how tickled folks are when they try on a finished piece and they love that the vintage-inspired garments offer a modern spin. Folks like that the designs look vintage but aren’t rotten under the arms and hard to care for.

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

To trust myself in my ability to bring a customers idea to realization on their garment. I love the challenge of making difficult items. I want to learn something new each time I make a new piece.

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

I just bought a 15 needle single head embroidery machine so that is a huge step up from my home embroidery machine.  It provides a giant leap not only in the size of design but in the time and quality of the stitch outs.  

I am learning so much about it and the new software that I also purchased so I guess the old adage of ‘bigger and better’ holds very true for me!

Aren’t you just dying to get a hold of a western steampunk raygun duster? If you weren’t before I bet you are now.

You can find more examples of Claudia’s work on her awesome website, and see just what she can cook you up with her shiny new machine. Just make sure you bring the attitude to match, because with clothes as awesome as these, you better have the swagger to back em’ up.

Hats off to you Claudia, for creating such an awesome blend of old and new, western and punk. Can’t wait to see what you whip up next.

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!