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?

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25 Responses to “Featured Project – The Indelible Mr. Gear”

  1. 1
    Cecily says:

    Ok…just gotta win that lottery (so I can either buy a new embroidery machine and/or afford the fabric I want) lol

  2. 2
    Sarah says:

    How gloriously bonkers! The world definitely is short of a few Martys, he makes me wish I still volunteered at a derelict mansion here after seeing his costumes

  3. 3
    Elfie B. says:

    Oh, thanks. My teen daughter reads this blog. She loves your stuff, loves vampires, and will likely dream of her ideal summer job working at Castle Blood as Mr. Gear’s apprentice/acolyte. Two years ago she designed a gown for her costume, picked stretch velvet for the material, and said I had to make the tentacly applique reaching up from the hems and down from necklines work. THAT STUFF CROSSED SEAMS! And now you are RAISING, THE, BAR???

    Ok.

  4. 4
    Kim C says:

    Fabulous! I’m inspired to start planning my 2011 Halloween costume NOW.

  5. 5
    Missy K. says:

    Wow. Marty your stuff is truly amazing and inspiring. I hope to embroider more on my costumes.

  6. 6

    Wow–those costumes are awesome!! And Marty looks great in all of them.

  7. 7
    Jan B says:

    Marty, you are the man.

  8. 8
    Nikki says:

    Way to go Marty,
    You’re fantastic and so is your gear.

  9. 9
    Heather says:

    Absolutely incredible projects! Mr. Gear’s passion for the craft is contagious. Thank you, Urban Threads, for tickling my creative funny bone once again.

  10. 10
    Pennie says:

    So much creativity, and such incredible execution. Wonderful work. Count me in as part of Marty’s fan club!

  11. 11
    Eileen says:

    Whoa – going to have to start planning & working on my Halloween costume now – for, like, 2013…..man, that’s a lot of hard work he put into all these costumes! What an awesome inspiration! (Wonder if he does all his own makeup, too?)

  12. 12
    Jeanine says:

    This is really terrific! You are awesome Marty! Great use of some wonderful designs.

  13. 13
    Cynthia Douglass says:

    Can I claim you as my Uncle Marty?

    • Marty Gear says:

      Cynthia -
      I have a number of honorary nieces so you would be most welcome. I would be happy to have you claim me.

  14. 14
    Carol says:

    loves the dragon raises is that available from urban threads?
    Great Costumes….

  15. 15
    Pam says:

    How in the world have I missed checking these out! Beautiful garments. I,also, thought Dumbledor was alive!

  16. 16
    whtsands says:

    I want the white dragon design, is that by UT? Fab Wizzard too!

  17. 17
    Sierra says:

    Mr. Gear- you are cool!

  18. 18
    Cleary Kipe says:

    This is so wonderful to see all the amazing things you have made. Makes me want to go embroider something. :-) Thanks Mr. Gear.

  19. 19
    Anne says:

    What an inspiration. i agree with Mr Gear : we need more bats om UT! How about a ITH bat project for Halloween, something like the bunny project. We could all make our own, like glow in the dark, Etc… I’m alreasy thibking of ways to customize a bat plushy. UT team : can we pleeeease have an in.the.hoop bat for Halloween, in honor of Mr Gear!

  20. 20
    Melissa says:

    Thank you for sharing Mr. Gear with us! Steampunk on Mr. Gear, with bats of course!

  21. 21

    I met Marty, at Balticon, many years ago. He was very interested in using his embroidery softwear to do his own digitizing. This was not long after Urban Threads opened there web site. We were both very pleased with a source of unique and out of the norm designs. Marty loved using the designs on his costumes. The last time I saw him, he had gotten an E-reader and made a cover for it. He chose the banned book design. Marty Gear will be greatly missed.

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