Posts Tagged ‘UT Lab’

Corvus Cloak – Behind the Scenes

Last Friday, UT artist Dani enthralled us all with her UT Lab Corvus Cloak creation. As promised, this week, she’s back to share the realities of making a project like this, with behind-the-scenes photos and some basic instructions on how she made it. While it’s fun to see the chic finished photos, it’s a good reminder of how much work goes into big projects like these!

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In last week’s post, I shared the finished photos and talked a bit about my inspiration when creating the glamorous yet comfy Corvus Cloak. This week I’m here with the less-pretty (but certainly interesting) details of actually making it.

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I started with a sketch of the cloak. This sketch is from when it was originally envisioned with only the Ghost Baroque designs. Like most projects, it was modified as the ideas developed. While sketching, I had to keep in mind how I would be physically modifying the pattern I found, and where and how to place embroidery designs on the cloak. First I started with my fabric choices. I wanted to give the cloak some texture within the vast void of all black fabric, so I decided on a heavy linen for the exterior. The cloak’s hood is lined with a faux grizzly fur fabric, and the lining of the rest of the cloak is made of a velvety polyester fabric.

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This cloak is based mostly off this Burdastyle pattern, but with some heavy modifications, which I’ll explain as I go along. After purchasing the pattern, I started by bringing the pattern file into Adobe Illustrator to modify it before printing it off. I then cut out the pattern and tetris’d the pieces together on my folded fabric. I also had to consider where I was putting the embroidery during this step so I could leave enough room to hoop the fabric.

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Here you can see how I modified the back pieces. (These are the pieces for the lining, without extra room for hooping.) The original pattern ends where those two very faint lines are, and the extra points are my addition. I extended the interior seams of each piece by about 18 inches and shaped the new line to meet up with the original cut line. I also extended the front cape and hood pieces to make the double-breasted closing I wanted.

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I then had to pick the colors I was going to use for the embroidery. I originally wanted the cloak to be all black with charcoal or black embroidery, but the bird skull buttons I found were a shiny gold brass, so I ended up rethinking my original color scheme to include a gradual shift to metallic gold thread… except I wasn’t actually sure if I could get a good transition from black to metallic gold. I dug around in our less used thread and found…ta daa! A black thread wrapped in gold! (The second one in from left in the picture.) After a few test sew outs to see if it would even work, I finally decided on the threads I was going to use. (Since many of you have asked, I originally purchased those nifty bird skull buttons from this Etsy store, but at the time of posting the store was not currently open.)

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After cutting out the pieces and embroidering the front Briar Rose Buttonholes and the back Ghost Baroque Bird Skull, I stitched the three modified back pieces together so I could start the long and arduous task of embroidering the toile pattern.

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I started by printing off lots and lots of Toile Noir Raven templates and lining them up on the fabric using a yardstick and ruler. This tutorial explains how to line up designs in this manner. Instead of using a fabric marker, I just taped the templates on because I was using black fabric, and I wanted to be able to move my designs around to correct for errors in stitching it out so many times.

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I used one large piece of medium weight cutaway stabilizer with this. It was very large, and I got stuck to it when trying to adhere it to the fabric. These things happen.

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It took me three days and 33 sewouts to do all of the toile pattern on the back. This machine apparently loves me because there were very few thread breaks and I didn’t sew any of the fabric together. It was a Halloween miracle.

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After all the embroidery was done, I cut off the excess stabilizer and fabric. I had already sewn together the back lining pieces, so I pinned the finished embroidered back and the lining together at the bottom hem with the wrong sides facing out. I then sewed the bottom hem together, sewing right through the embroidery. I did the back hem in this manner so I could easily hide the edge of the embroidery pattern and so I could get the clean, sharp trails I wanted. I cut off the excess embroidery, flipped the hem right side out, and ironed the trails flat.

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Then I started to piece the rest of the cloak together. While the BurdaStyle pattern I used was perfect for my modifications, the instructions were a little trickier to understand. I ended up pinning the entire hood about five times before I figured out how it was meant to go together.

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Another problem I ran into was that the hood ended up being really square with the stiffer furry lining I was using. I took the top edges of the hood in by about an inch and rounded them off to make the hood shape smoother.

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I hand-sewed the interior of the hood to the interior of the cloak. There was a neck piece from the original pattern that I ended up not using because it didn’t fit with my modifications.

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I began finishing the edges of the cloak, but while I was working on it I realized that the bottom hem was billowing out because of how I sewed it together. (Also, you get a great peek here at the state of the studio while I was working on this. Don’t pretend your studio looks any different in the middle of a project…)

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My solution to this billowing was to use a large piece of iron-on adhesive on the inside of the outer cloak and the lining. It was tricky to get the giant piece of adhesive in there once I had most of the edges done, but once I had it set and ironed in place, it fixed my billowing hem problem perfectly.

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My last steps were to finish the edges and hand sew the snaps and buttons on to the closing. I used snaps on the inside of the double-breasted closing along with the bird skull buttons. And finally, I was done!

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So that, ladies and gents, is how I made the Corvus Cloak. Be sure to check out the original post for more gorgeous photos of the finished project. It was just the thing to frolic in the woods on a crisp fall day!

The Corvus Cloak – Wearable Fashion for Everyday Fairytales

Today is another long-awaited addition to our line of Lab projects designed to push the boundaries of embroidery and the imagination of our team. This lab project is a repeat performance of artist Dani, who decided to come back for her favorite season after last year’s amazing Gothic Loli dress and try her hand at another project…

Many of our fashion-based Lab projects focus on the fantastical, but this year Dani decided to make something she could wear practically through the season. Of course, a gal who gallivants around with fabulously purple hair and space tights on a regular basis has a decidedly awesome sense of what “everyday” wearables means. For this year’s autumn project, she took inspiration with a few newly released gothic designs, most notably the new Toile Noir collection.

With her theme of the raven (known as Corvus in Latin) and utilizing the unique interlocking qualities of the Toile Noir series, she created a brocade of embroidery to emblazon the back of the cloak, and made something unique for the season that’s just perfect for exploring the woods on those crisp fall days. 

Today Dani is here to tell us a bit in her own words what inspired this project…

The Corvus Cloak - Artist Dani is back in this latest project from the UT Lab, where she uses the Toile Noir collection to stitch a brocade of dark loveliness and show how to rock your everyday fairytale fashions in the woods.

I had so much fun making the Gothic Loli Dress last year that I knew I wanted to do another Lab project for this Halloween. While last year’s dress was fun to wear to Halloween parties, the frills and corset made it not so practical on a day-to-day basis. With Minnesotan falls being usually frigid, I thought a cozy cloak would be ideal for this time of year.

The Corvus Cloak - Artist Dani is back in this latest project from the UT Lab, where she uses the Toile Noir collection to stitch a brocade of dark loveliness and show how to rock your everyday fairytale fashions in the woods.

While I wanted the cloak to be more utilitarian than the Loli Dress, I didn’t want to lose the dark glamour that I’m all about. So, I started with a sketch of the cloak, deciding on a raven theme and taking inspiration from modern neo punk fashion in the dramatic cut of the design.

The Corvus Cloak - Artist Dani is back in this latest project from the UT Lab, where she uses the Toile Noir collection to stitch a brocade of dark loveliness and show how to rock your everyday fairytale fashions in the woods.

I scoped out this BurdaStyle cape pattern to use as a base for the cloak, thinking of how I could modify the pattern to fit the look I envisioned. I knew I could pretty easily change the hem of the pattern, so I went all out–going for an extreme high-low asymmetrical hem with trailing tails and a double-breasted front.

The Corvus Cloak - Artist Dani is back in this latest project from the UT Lab, where she uses the Toile Noir collection to stitch a brocade of dark loveliness and show how to rock your everyday fairytale fashions in the woods.

I originally designed this with the Ghost Baroque series in mind, selecting out the bird skull crest and raven designs to go with the raven theme. However, upon seeing the first few sketches of Toile Noir I knew I wanted to incorporate the raven design from that series as well.

The Corvus Cloak - Artist Dani is back in this latest project from the UT Lab, where she uses the Toile Noir collection to stitch a brocade of dark loveliness and show how to rock your everyday fairytale fashions in the woods.

I found some awesome brass bird skull buttons, and the first thing I thought was “sparkly toile gradient…”

There was a bit of a challenge in getting the gold to transition to black, but with the color stop in the Toile Noir designs and three days of embroidering, I got it to look just fine.

The Corvus Cloak - Artist Dani is back in this latest project from the UT Lab, where she uses the Toile Noir collection to stitch a brocade of dark loveliness and show how to rock your everyday fairytale fashions in the woods.

Now that this is done I just want to wear it all the time because it is so snuggly and warm!

The Corvus Cloak - Artist Dani is back in this latest project from the UT Lab, where she uses the Toile Noir collection to stitch a brocade of dark loveliness and show how to rock your everyday fairytale fashions in the woods.

If you’re as bold in your fashions as Dani is and in love with this cloak, you’re in luck. Next Friday, Dani joins us again to give am exclusive behind-the-scenes peek at the making of this cloak, so you can see just how it was constructed, and whip yourself up something equally wicked (and cozy) for the season. In the meantime, be sure to grab your Toile Noir collection and try your hand at stitching up everything from one to a magical brocade of designs too!

 
This project is part of The Lab, a UT initiative to experiment, collaborate and innovate to see just what can be done with the art of embroidery.
 
Check out our other projects by searching for the UT Lab tag.

Gothic Loli Dress – Dark Elegance for the Spooky Season

Today is another very special addition to our long line of Lab projects designed to push the boundaries of embroidery and the imagination of our team. This lab project is pretty special for our newest member Danielle, because everything from the embroidery to the dress to the modeling is done by Dani herself! 

Starting from the ground up with the designs, UT artist Dani took on a new project perfect for capturing not only the darker sentiments of the season but the inspirations from whole new subculture. She is the illustrator behind the darkly glam new Gothic Gala embroidery designs, and created this amazing project to show just what can be done with them. Similar to a previous October Lab where we explored the subculture of steampunk (a style has been explored often by UT stitchers) it seemed time this October to try something a little more classically gothic to suit the season. Dani is here to show off her amazing creation she designed and embroidered, and to tell us all about the Victorian-influenced style of Gothic Lolita

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“I’ve always been fascinated by the vibrant street fashion that comes out of the Harajuku district of Tokyo. It’s a fashion culture that is brimming with creativity and a certain kind of fearlessness that allows one to don giant Pikachu pajamas in public or to apply grotesque amounts of makeup or to wear the most frilly, lacy, doll-like dress you can find. There are many different subcultures that have roots in the streets of Harajuku, but the one I wish to bring to you today is Gothic Lolita.

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Gothic Lolita, sometimes abbreviated as GothLoli, is a style of the more widely recognizable Japanese fashion subculture Lolita. The original Lolita fashion is based on Victorian-era clothing, aiming for frilly blouses, cupcake-shaped petticoats, more lace than is humanly acceptable, and an air of innocence. There are many styles of Lolita, each of which have their own distinct look and take on the modern Victorian-inspired fashion. The Lolita spectrum can range from sweet pastels and stuffed animals to classic, true-to-form Victorian elegance to black upon black and dark frills that mimic the look of a nineteenth century doll.

I decided upon going the Gothic Lolita route because I felt it had the most consistency in style that would lend itself to a series of elegant gothic embroidery designs. And, with Halloween approaching, I figured I could make a kickin’ costume at the same time.

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I started with a sketch of the dress, designing some of the embroidery I knew I wanted to have featured into the sketch. It was really nice being able to design the Gothic Gala series and the dress simultaneously, as I could draw pieces to fit together in ways that I knew would be functional for this type of project.

For the Gothic Gala embroidery designs, I envisioned it with an overall gothic feel rather than an exclusively GothLoli feel that would limit the reach of the designs. Rather than drawing in the lacy, frilly elements of the dress, I kept the series more versatile without losing some of the beautiful elegance I drew from the Victorian styling of the Gothic Lolita style. I had a lot of fun piecing different parts of the series together and making them work in conjunction to one another, so that the shapes of different designs work seamlessly with one another, making the series flexible for all kinds of creations. This way, the Gothic Gala series can be used far past the realms of this subculture, perfect for any Halloween project or for that gothic project you’ve always secretly wanted.

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While incorporating the designs into the dress, I wanted the skirt to feature the cathedral and gates designs most prominently in the outer layer of the dress, forming a sort of gothic scene along the bottom as they lined up. Originally I had thought of doing an inverted bat centerpiece in the back of the dress, but then I laughed at myself and decided that I didn’t want to torment myself that much. I did end up designing the swoop of roses to line up with either side of the bat design, so the shape constructed by the two pieces complemented the shape of the dress as it opens up in the back.

Then I started the grueling process of actually making the Lolita dress. It had been several years since I had sewn anything, so I did a trial run to make sure I hadn’t forgotten how to do it. Evidently, sewing is like riding a bike, as you don’t quite forget, but you’re pretty much freaking out the whole time and you’re so very exhausted afterwards.

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There was still a lot of ripping seams and re-sewing , and I did manage to stitch several pieces of fabric together that were certainly not supposed to be stitched together. Although, the biggest hindrance to making this dress was that my cat wanted to help.

Overall, I’m really excited with how this project came out, and I’m so ready to greet Halloween in proper Gothic Lolita style!” -D

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Doesn’t this make you want to just frolic in the forest like a crafty and dark fairytale princess?

Experiments such as this help push our team of artists and designers to make better designs by remembering that these embroidery collections are meant to create projects larger than themselves. There’s nothing better to help inspire a series then by knowing it has to be something flexible and usable on a real sewing project, and these new Gothic Gala designs are sure to take you from frightful October festivities to gothic glam occasions and beyond. For some (especially those in love with offbeat subcultures), October isn’t the only time to add some bats and swirls to your life.

Still, the bright and bold autumn leaves do make a fantastic backdrop to the darker styles, and now is the perfect time of year to experiment with some darker inspirations you may not feel bold enough to try the rest of the year. As always, if you do grab the new Gothic Gala collection, be sure to share with us your dark and beautiful creations. There’s no better time to get stitching!

 
This project is part of The Lab, a UT initiative to experiment, collaborate and innovate to see just what can be done with the art of embroidery.
 
Check out our other projects by searching for the UT Lab tag.

Nature’s Curiosities Quilt – Free Pattern

It’s about that time again, don’t you think? Time for what, you ask?

For another crazy Lab project dreamed up by the UT team! This quilted creation is once again the product of artist Caitlin’s crafty fingers and a design collection created by me, your resident Evil Genius. This new project features the lovely and light-stitching Miniature Menagerie machine embroidery designs. These pieces were created in the popular style first debuted in the Parisian Love Letter series (which you can buy here) but in this case were inspired by nature’s tiny wonders and the world of entomology. Butterflies, moths, dragonflies, and more enchanting insects were framed with light-stitching accents and elegant baroque style borders to bring the beauty of nature to life.

Once the designs were completed, Caitlin took them into her capable hands and crafted a pretty, naturally inspired quilt perfect for a picnic in the great outdoors, or just a splash of summery home decor. Below Caitlin talks a little bit about the process of creating the quilt, and then shares a very special bonus…

A new project from the Urban Threads lab, featuring a gorgeous quilt with new Entomology inspired embroidery designs. Includes a FREE pdf pattern to make your own.

I had been wanting to make another quilt using our fabulous embroidery designs for a while, ever since I created the Celestial Quilt at the beginning of the year. Recently I stumbled across a beautiful 1950s vintage baby quilt, featuring little applique flowers, and it inspired me to start a whole new project with the new entomology-inspired designs.

I loved how the nine-piece blocks framed the applique designs on the vintage quilt, so I designed my own larger quilt pattern to feature the new Miniature Menagerie series in a similar fashion. I imagined a big bright quilt that you would want to lay out for a summery picnic!

A new project from the Urban Threads lab, featuring a gorgeous quilt with new Entomology inspired embroidery designs. Includes a FREE pdf pattern to make your own.

I liked the idea of creating a soft place to spend time eating savory snacks and enjoying good company.  In this world, beautiful insects lived only as gorgeous embroidery on the quilt (and not as uninvited picnic guests), and there was always a sweet smell of flowers in the air. I wanted a quilt that evoked the warm days of summer!

A new project from the Urban Threads lab, featuring a gorgeous quilt with new Entomology inspired embroidery designs. Includes a FREE pdf pattern to make your own.

I tried to keep these summery feelings in mind while I worked on the project. I got a few helpful pointers from my quilter-extraordinaire mom about how I could accomplish the effect I wanted with the quilt blocks and embroidery, then I went to it!

A new project from the Urban Threads lab, featuring a gorgeous quilt with new Entomology inspired embroidery designs. Includes a FREE pdf pattern to make your own.

I took inspiration from everywhere while researching the quilt, but I especially liked this entomology illustration as color inspiration for when I went fabric shopping. I loved the weird greens and purples together with the cream and tans, but I wanted to keep the colors as soft and muted as possible so the embroidery designs could really pop.

I really like bright and bold color, so I put as much in as possible!

A new project from the Urban Threads lab, featuring a gorgeous quilt with new Entomology inspired embroidery designs. Includes a FREE pdf pattern to make your own.

What I love most about this pattern is its versatility. You can go through your fabric stash and easily start cutting squares out of your favorite colors to create the quilt blocks. If you want more structured, geometric color design, you can just as easily do that too!

The quilt fits the versatility of the embroidery designs themselves. They can be layered and grouped and sewn in so many different arrangements. For instance, in the photo above, the butterfly design is layered on top of the baroque corner, to make a larger, more delicate and detailed design. I really love the effect of the moon corners under the insect features. I was also really excited that I could extend the baroque corners using the baroque features, making a big and beautiful extra large embroidered corner. It’s so fun to create such embroidery effects through the magic of layering.

A new project from the Urban Threads lab, featuring a gorgeous quilt with new Entomology inspired embroidery designs. Includes a FREE pdf pattern to make your own.

Of course, no project like this is without its challenges. I ran into some trouble with my triangles and setting the quilt blocks on point. There are some more practical quilting techniques that I learned after I had already pieced my side triangle blocks together. Mainly that you should cut triangles using a particular math formula, so you have the appropriate 1/4 seam allowance on the diagonal. Quilting is very mathematical. We’re always learning new things with these projects! Sometimes the best way to create is just to dive in and experiment. It all turns out in the end.

All the same, next time I’ll be sure to do a little more research before I cut a million wonky triangles…

A new project from the Urban Threads lab, featuring a gorgeous quilt with new Entomology inspired embroidery designs. Includes a FREE pdf pattern to make your own.

Experimental crafting and quilting is always so much easier with a little help. I wouldn’t have been able to put this all together without the skills of my mom. My home is filled with amazing quilts she has made, and being able to call her and ask random quilting questions was a real lifesaver. She’s even working on her own version of this quilt pattern! It’s always great to pull a personal history of crafting into new projects like this.

A new project from the Urban Threads lab, featuring a gorgeous quilt with new Entomology inspired embroidery designs. Includes a FREE pdf pattern to make your own.

I am really excited about how this project turned out. It’s exactly the warm and summery kind of quilt I was hoping for, and really helps bring the Miniature Menagerie designs to life. Don’t be afraid to dive into a big project like an embroidered quilt. It’s not as hard as it looks, and the results are so rewarding!

Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Caitlin! Feeling inspired? Well, now for the best news. You may remember the last time Caitlin took to quilting, SO many of you requested a pattern of the quilt she created, and we thought there might be mutiny if we didn’t do it this time around. So today for the very first time, we’re offering a FREE downloadable pattern of a Lab project for you recreate in your own home.

To get your very own downloadable instructions to make your own summery quilt, click here, and of course, don’t forget your new Miniature Menagerie embroidery designs. Have fun, crafters, and as always if you make one of your own, be sure to share it with us!

 
This project is part of The Lab, a UT initiative to experiment, collaborate and innovate to see just what can be done with the art of embroidery.
 
Check out our other projects by searching for the UT Lab tag.

The Steampunk Type Specimen

Having already gotten a taste for the fun of Lab projects, artist Caitlin teamed up with our newest addition to the team, fellow artist Danielle! As the two artists designed the new Steampunk Alphabet together, they wanted to create a special project to show it off in both a traditional and distinctly UT style.

Type specimen posters have long been a way for typography designers to showcase a new font. As we had done just that, it seemed the perfect way to celebrate our newest alphabet collection. Danielle schemed up this amazing poster design, and then Caitlin went Spoonflower crazy and got it printed up as a giant fabric piece she could customize with embroidered letters and hand stitches to really let it shine in a larger than life way.

I’ll let the girls tell you all about what schemes and shenanigans went into this fun project…

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Danielle…

“When I first heard we were doing a Steampunk Alphabet, I foamed at the mouth at the thought of doing an embroidered type specimen poster. For those who aren’t giant design and typography dorks like I am, a type specimen poster is usually a type of printed publication that designers and typographers use to see how a typeface functions at different weights and sizes. Essentially, it is a piece of work that showcases a typeface in its purest form.

My background is in printed typography and design, so throwing embroidery into the mix was new and exciting! I knew we were using Spoonflower to print the poster on a fabric we could embroider on, so I naturally wanted to print it on the biggest swath of fabric that was possible. Go big or go home! Which, in this case was 36”x 54”. This meant I could get away with using huge letters that would become dimensional once we embroidered over them. (Huge, dimensional letters are every designer’s secret fantasy.)

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As per the nature of a type specimen poster, I wanted to showcase the beauty of the alphabets and how they functioned together in a physical setting. When Caitlin and I were planning the alphabet, we drew inspiration from Victorian design that would fit in a steampunk realm. However, Victorian design is a hodgepodge of drastically different styles, so we had to streamline the look. We decided on a mix of art noveau and woodblock, perhaps giving into my embarrassing love of pointy serifs. Combined with Caitlin’s beautiful gears and wings, it became an elegant steampunk alphabet that made my job of creating an awesome type specimen poster way easier.

When I started creating the poster, I let the shapes and forms of the typefaces inform the design. I drew upon the wings and gears in both uppercase and lowercase to create accents that tied the poster together. I felt like I was still missing the delicate swirls that Victorian design liked to utilize, so I added some simple gold filigree as background detail.

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In the end, I’m really happy with how this turned out, and Caitlin seriously pulled through by embroidering the heck out of the giant poster I insisted on.  Also, a pangram with a fox jumping over zombies with his motorcycle is WAY cooler than a lazy dog. Just saying.”

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Caitlin…

“In a previous life, I did a lot of analog artwork creation, also known as painting. I was excited to collaborate with Danielle in a way that could use her awesome type specimen design, and bring it into a multimedia 3-d embroidery extravaganza.

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On Spoonflower, there are many different qualities of fabric you can order, from light weight and gauzy, to the heavier cotton twill which we chose for this piece. Danielle sized the letters precisely so I could use the 4, 3, 2, and 1 inch versions of our alphabets.  I had to make sure I hooped the fabric just right, or the letters would skew or stretch and the embroidery would line up incorrectly.  Luckily I’ve had some practice hooping fabric, so the process was pretty painless.

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One slight miscalculation in my measurements, was that we would have a printed piece of fabric that was 54×36 inches, and canvas stretcher bars that were 54×36 inches. Sounds perfect! But that left me no room for stretching and stapling the fabric on the stretcher bars. I ordered some heavy cotton twill of the Steampunk Gears fabric to sew a border that would give me the fabric I needed to stretch the poster properly.  It was a little wonky, but that is the beauty of human-made items. Machines are precise, and humans are wonky!

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I like to take risks and have happy accidents while creating art, but I also like to prepare. So I did make a smaller test poster, where I did some experiments with embroidery and tea dye to make sure I was going somewhere awesome. Above top: you see the smaller test poster, and bottom left: the raw canvas with the gear border fabric, and bottom right: me applying tea dye with a sponge! It worked great, if you ever find yourself about to tea dye a large piece of fabric and don’t have big brushes lying around.”

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The two crafty and creative UT artists that made it happen, Caitlin on the left and Danielle on the right!

It was so much fun to see the girls work together to pull of this giant spectacle of embroidery/typography and printing all in one. The mix of printed and embroidered areas really gives the piece a great dimensional quality when seen in person. You think it’s printed… then you think it’s embroidered. Then you’re just not sure of anything except that it looks really cool.

It’s such a fun mix, and such a fun reminder to have around the office showing off the rad Steampunk Alphabet collection. It’s also a great addition to our other Lab experiments seeing just what fun we can have with stitches when we really push the envelope. You can be sure we have even more experiments in our future!

 
This project is part of The Lab, a UT initiative to experiment, collaborate and innovate to see just what can be done with the art of embroidery.
 
Check out our other projects by searching for the UT Lab tag.
 

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Want to dive into the Steampunk Alphabet in your own way? We have a big glorious set of steampunk upper case letters and spiky, elegant lower case to bring your embroidered type to life in whatever way you choose. You don’t have to go poster crazy like we did, but if you do feel like going big and bold on a project, we have these letters and numbers in sizes from 1 inch to 5 inches tall! That’s sure to suit all occasions where you need to make a big written statement in extra cool letters.

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Looking for the perfect fabric to complement your new steampunk project? We have a new collection of Spoonflower fabrics that match! Grab either our new Steampunk Alphabet fabric, or the Steampunk Gears fabric, in either brown or white to make any project extra gear-tastic.

Check out the whole fabric collection over on our Spoonflower page!

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Finally, what if you want to recreate what the girls from the Lab did, but on a slightly more manageable scale? Well, instead of working huge, why not buy this little tea towel sized version of our type specimen poster!

It’s also available through Spoonflower, and is perfect as a towel or as a mini wall hanging itself. You can even do what we did and embroider on top of some of the printed letters to add that extra stitch-y dimension. The fabric comes with a pre-tea stained look so you don’t have to do the extra work. Back it with some matching gear fabric and you have a great little showcase piece!

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So have fun exploring all the projects ideas you can dream up using the new Steampunk Alphabet embroidery collection, and the new fabric designs.

The Celestial Quilt – Sleeping Under the Stars

Today we bring you a very special Lab project from a member of our team, artist Caitlin! This is Caitlin’s first Lab project and she jumped in with gusto. She helped design the new Ecliptic Constellations pack and wanted to take the use of these designs to a whole new level. Here she is to talk about her experiences with this fun and ambitious project…

Here at Urban Threads, we are always searching to explore new frontiers, and this Celestial Quilt is no exception. I wanted to explore the final frontier, in fact … space! When we first started scheming about space designs, I was drawn to the idea of making a quilt. Quilts are many tiny pieces joined together to make a whole, just as billions and gazillions of tiny stars and planets and asteroids and space debris and comets and satellites and UFOs come together to make the whole night sky.

Celestial Quilt

As I began to plan out the quilt, I used the circle of the ecliptic as a starting point. The ecliptic is the apparent path of the sun on the celestial sphere as seen from the earth’s center. These constellations are based on all the constellations that appear on that line (which is why there are 13 constellations instead of the 12 from astrology), and so it was a natural place to start.

My mom is an avid quilter, and I grilled her with questions about the space quilt scheme. Could I applique the embroidery on after I pieced? Could I stop and start quilting as many times as I needed? Do you trim batting before or after you start quilting? She was an invaluable resource in getting this project completed. I researched star charts and celestial maps, and found they showed stars in various sizes to describe their brightness. I realized, with the availability of various individual star sizes, I could build any constellation, from any corner of space I desired! No hoop was standing in my way, I was free to add as many twinkly stars to my design as I could handle. Since I was building a quilt, I hooped up each square one at a time and began stitch stars, one by one. This process was nice, because if I had any fabric tearing, or some crazy thing happened with my embroidery, I was only risking a little piece at time.

Celestial Quilt

I worked with a fabulous new UT artist, Danielle, and we began by illustrating the 13 constellations that fall on the ecliptic. This is path of the sun from our viewpoint on earth, as it travels across the sky throughout the year. These are also known as the signs of the zodiac, along with the addition of the Ophiuchus, the 13th constellation on the ecliptic line. We wanted to keep the actual stars prominent, since they have inspired stargazers throughout time. Then we added the zodiac imagery with a dreamy, celestial quality that stayed light and airy. Each sign of the zodiac has such a fantastic story and feeling, it was fun to try and capture it with embroidery thread.

Celestial Quilt Celestial Quilt

Since I had such beautiful embroidery to feature, I decided I would keep the actual quilting stitches to a minimum, and use the imaginary lines between stars to quilt the top and bottom together. Here I faced an interesting learning curve. I was doing free motion quilting for the first time on our UT embroidery/sewing machine, and didn’t realize I could move my fabric backwards, forwards and sideways, without turning the entire piece! I was slowly rolling up, and pushing parts of the quilt though the machine over and over before I realized it was unnecessary.

Celestial Quilt

Quilt stitches are similar to embroidery running stitches, and the can be decorative and complicated, while also functioning to hold the quilt together. The effervescent swirls behind each zodiac design could easily be used to quilt with, and I tried to replicate the swirls and loops with my free motion quilting.

Celestial Quilt

Since it’s too cold in January to sleep out under the stars, I am super excited to have brought the stars inside, to a much warmer and snuggly place: my bed.

 
This project is part of The Lab, a UT initiative to experiment, collaborate and innovate to see just what can be done with the art of embroidery.
 
Check out our other projects by searching for the UT Lab tag.
 

The Giving Bunny Project

 For new readers: Are you visiting here because you found a bunny? Read on about The Giving Bunny Project, maybe even join in! Then we would love it if you left a comment telling us the name of the bunny you found and a little bit about your experience. You can even make a note on our Google map where you found your new friend. We hope your bunny brightened your day!

This is a project that has long been in my head, and I’m so excited to be able to finally share it with the crafty community and see where it goes. The idea, you see, is called The Giving Bunny, and this time of year seemed the perfect time to introduce this giant collaborative project where YOU take part.

The giving bunny is just what he sounds like. He is a little bunny who is made for the sole purpose of giving away! He is a plush design that you can download totally free, for machine embroiderers, hand embroiders and other crafty enthusiasts. The idea behind him is that you stitch up as many little adorable bunnies as your heart desires (they’re really easy to make) and then you leave them in public spaces with a little tag as a gift for a stranger to discover.

Can you imagine the unexpected delight of going about your day, maybe even not a very good day, and discovering this little gift left just for you? A tiny plushy bunny with a tag asking you to take him home. Maybe even a few of these people will follow the link on the bunny’s tag back here, and make one of their own to share with someone else. And thus the bunnies can spread … well, like bunnies!

It’s a small thing, but a little bit of vigilante embroidery mixed with street art, and you can spread a tiny bit of bunny-shaped joy to someone you’ve never met, and maybe make what was a grey day a little brighter. Plus, with your help, this project can spread from one free design to hundreds, maybe even thousands of bunnies all across the world!

Want to make one? Of course you do! Grab your FREE machine embroidery bunny file here, or your hand embroidery bunny file here. Then follow these step-by-step instructions to make your bunny. It’s simple, and it’s tons of fun to give each one its own unique look…

Once you’ve made a bunny (or twenty) you can personalize them, dress them up, and make them your own. I made a couple of tiny scarves for a few of mine, since it is winter after all. Bunnies get cold too. You can go really crazy, stitch them in wild colors, add mustaches, hats, tattoos or bow ties. The simplicity of the bunny design leaves lots of room to make him your own. Go nuts!

Once you’re ready to share your bunnies, print out a bunch of tags on cardstock (they’re available as a PDF in English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, and Dutch – thanks, Urban Threadsters who’ve generously helped to translate!), cut them out, and attach them to your bunnies before you leave them somewhere so folks know that the bunny is theirs to take home. Be sure to name your bunny too! It gives him a personality, and it also lets people share which bunny they found if they come and leave a comment.

The army of bunnies assembled and ready for deployment

So, where can you leave your bunnies? Well, I went on an adventure this weekend, and here’s where some of my bunnies ventured off to…

Yes, a bunny really did make it into the Tornado Intercept Vehicle. He fancies himself a tornado chaser.

I had such fun running around and leaving little bunnies around to hopefully bring joy to their unsuspecting new owners. They hid in museums, bookstores, theaters, and cafes. I gave one to a friend to hide in the library where she teaches, and I had one lovely moment when a hostess at a sushi restaurant spotted a bunny even before he was hidden, and asked about where it came from. Since it seemed to be as legitimate a way of finding a bunny as any other, little bunny Neil got a new home right away! It was such fun to see what joy the little bunny could bring, and she assured me Neil will be well looked after. I also already got word that the two bunnies at the science museum were found! All the rest of the bunnies are scattered about Minneapolis, waiting for their new homes.

I had such fun that I’m thinking I should keep a stash of bunnies in my purse at any given time, just so I can keep leaving them places! The little ones are so easy to throw in a purse or tuck in a pocket that I can take my bunny minions anywhere to spread a little bit of random joy.

If you’d like to share your bunny’s adventures, you can upload your photos to the Urban Embroidery flickr group with the tag givingbunny or email them into support@urbanthreads.com and maybe leave a note about where he started his adventure, or,  if you found a bunny, feel free to add a photo of him in his new home! That way we can share in the delight of our growing bunny army. See? I told you I was into world domination. Through random acts of tiny bunnies.

It might work…

The best part? Unlike the regular freebies, this little bunny is going to stay free FOREVER! So the bunny project can keep going and going, and new people can always come and discover the fun of embroidery. All we do ask is that if you make this bunny, please keep him in the spirit of giving. Give him to friends, leave him for strangers, or maybe even use them for fundraising for a cause, but try and keep the giving side of the giving bunny a part of how you use him.

A note: please do not put a bunny anywhere he might cause alarm, like airports or government buildings. Not that many folks would find a tiny bunny very threatening, but you never know. Also, it’s best not to put him somewhere he might be confused with actual merchandise.

So, what are you waiting for? Spread a little joy this season, and give the gift of a charming little handmade bunny, direct from you to someone you may never even meet. With your help, these little bunnies can multiply far and wide, across cities and states, countries and continents, and you can join in a giant group craft project with stitchers all over the world. No matter where you are, it might just make someone’s day a little bit more magical.

Want to see the spread of bunnies? We created a custom Google map where you can mark the location of where you put your bunnies! If you have a Google account, you can sign in, edit the map (you can use this bunny icon if you want), and leave a mark and maybe a note about how many bunnies you left (for example, one marker might say “Two bunnies in a bookstore!”). That way we can have at least one way of watching the bunnies take over the world…


Click here to open the larger map and then click edit to add your bunny

So, start your bunny adventure here, leave a note on the map, and join in this worldwide collaborative project!

 
This project is part of The Lab, a UT initiative to experiment, collaborate and innovate to see just what can be done with the art of embroidery.
 
Check out our other projects by searching for the UT Lab tag.