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.
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?