I’ve said this before, but I love the creative jobs I get. The not so normal alterations and projects. This came from one of my Roller Derby League mates. She asked me to take this cute purse she had and use it to create a panel on her denim vest. She’s kind of punk so it figures the purse fabric is Disney princesses in Tattoo pin-up style.
Here is the purse fabric:
The cuteness of the fabric alone made this project so much fun to work with.
The trickiest part was making a pattern for the back shoulders of the jacket. At first, I had it laying flat on my table and I was just going to pin some paper to it and trace it out as best I could. Then I noticed my Hoop Master shirt board and had a great idea. Putting it on the shirt board made it so much easier to work with the jacket.
No shirt board
On Shirt board
Then I got started drafting a quick pattern. In retrospect, I should have taken a little more time to make the pattern symmetrical because it came out a little off but I already cut the fabric so I couldn’t go back.
Pinned some paper to the jacket and started tracing.
The trick to this was trying to position the pattern so that I could get the most princesses in the frame. Also, I made sure that her favorite princess, Belle, was very visible.
Positioning the pattern
Finally sewing it onto the jacket was probably the easiest part. I didn’t give myself a seam allowance but did a serged edges instead. Then used a zig-zag stitch to secure it to the jacket because the fabric was kind of stretchy.
As an extra thing, I decided it would be fun to make a patch from one of the other Belle’s on the fabric since that was her favorite. I thought about using my embroidery machine but I had already cut out the Belle, so lining up stitching would have been a nightmare. Instead, I opted to create it manually with a zig-zag on my home machine. I did it just like I would have on the embroidery machine, I used spray adhesive to secure the fabric to some no-show mesh stabilizer and some thick cut-away stabilizer. Then sewed a basting stitch an eight of an inch from the edge all the way around the patch. Then I cut off the stabilizer and used spray adhesive to attach the patch to some Badge Master stabilizer. Then zig-zagged all the way around the edge, making sure that the right most needle position was just over the edge of the fabric. Looking back I really should have used embroidery thread but I didn’t even thick of it until afterward. It still came out awesome. There were a few spots where the fabric was showing through so I used a black sharpie to color it in.
Attacked fabric to main stabilizer
Stitched and cut out
Atatched to Badge Master
Stitched zig-zagged edge
Some of the fabric showing
After I colored it with sharpie
She still has fabric left so I told her if she wanted I could make more patches from the other princesses. This was a super fun project! It gives me ideas for some clothes of my own I can spruce up!
Sometimes clients don’t have the original image file for a design. In this case, he had the original embroidery to work from. I just took a picture of the design and measured the dimensions and digitized it from there. It was a little tricky because the stitching was distorted from wear and tear and faded. I think it came out pretty good for being a copy of stitches. I think the size could use some tweaking though. I think it came out too wide.
Most of what I love about my business are the interesting challenges that my clients provide me. Some of my favorites include sewing things out of the ordinary, like the AstroTurf dog bed that I make last year. Some others have been requests for embroidery on things that weren’t necessarily made to be embroidered on. Such as this car dash cover. Not only was the piece itself daunting but the embroidery they wanted on it was rather complex. This was for one of my regular clients. He does boat and auto upholstery and now offers his clients custom embroidery because he knows me. We’ve been working together intermittently for a few years now. I always welcome his projects because they challenge my sewing and embroidery skills. These one-time creative projects are the best part of my business. If I had to sew the same thing all day I would probably loose my mind.
So here is the embroidery project I had this week. This is the finished piece all ready to go. It is the dash or some cover for part of a vehicle.
This is the set up I had to create just to be able to embroider this giant car cover thing. I raised my ironing board to it’s highest high then place my table top ironing board and my sleeve board on top of that to add extra height. Off on the right side, on top of the filing cabinet, I placed my sewing tote with my hoop master shirt board on top of that. This thing was not just large, but extremely heavy as well. If I had let it hang it would have surely broken my machine.
This is the amazingly complex design I had to digitize for this project. I love getting to stretch my digitizing muscle. I’ve mentioned before in past post about the digitizing process. There are not many resources for learning how to digitize embroidery and the software is extremely expensive. I’ve spent the last 6 years teaching myself through trial and error. So when I get projects like this force me to think outside the box, it helps keep my skills sharp. This design was over 30,000 stitches and had 12 color changes and 7 different colors.
While it was stitching I had to watch it constantly for the almost two hours it took to stitch the design. This was due to both the complexity of the design and the rig I had to keep the giant piece of material in place on the machine.
There were a few things that went wrong with this design that I will change but it looks good enough that a non-embroidery person will probably not notice. The darker gray (pewter) color I chose for the outer wreath is too dark for one. If I stitch this design again I would probably use to pewter where the black is in the wreath and a medium gray for the pewter color. The wreath just feels too dark. I also accidently put the pewter over the yellow part of the center emblem instead of the black that was supposed to be there. That happened because for some reason I thought I could save myself a thread change by replacing two of my standard threads that were already on my machine. But I forgot the design required black as well as the pewter. Both the silver accent lines inside the central design and the thin black line the wraps the bottom of the central design are way too thin. These were all 0.02mm thick and they should have been at least 0.05mm. As a result, the different patches of color are showing through in some places. The most annoying thing I messed up was the stabilizing of this design. Half way through the centerpiece the whole thing started to bow really bad. I had to add two additional layers of heavy stabilizer to compensate. I forgot about the density of the design needed a very firm platform. That did the trick and the rest laid flat. However, I had to press the center with my iron. I placed it on a block of wood and used my wooden clapper to sandwich it in between too hard surfaces once heated. That allowed the fabric under the bulging piece to lay flat.
Overall, this project came out alright. It’s not my best work. Some projects are like that, they just don’t want to get made and will fight you the whole time. This project was definitely a fussy project. Everything from the embroidery file not wanting to load in the machine to the wrong thread color to the thread breaking more times than I could count and for seemingly no reason. But I made it work and I think the customer will be pleased.
I just love getting this kind of creative custom orders! I make a Naruto themed coin purse with the Red and White Akatsuki Cloud emblem on it. A customer asked me if I could make a rectangular shaped toiletries bag with the same emblems all over it. I have never made this type of bag before. However, there are many tutorials and patterns online for the basic design. I was able to adapt one to meet the measurements my client requested. It is a lot larger than the original design and shaped a little different but the idea is the same. It came out really awesome! I was even thinking of adding it to my regular offerings. Final bag measures 12″long x 7″ tall x 6″ deep.
This is a reference picture of the anime Naruto, this is the villain group known as the Akatsuki, they all wear the same jacket.
Here is my Akatsuki inspired toiletries bag. I’m really happy with it. However, it was a rush job so there are a few things I probably would have done differently, had I had more time to plan it out. For example, I’m not a hundred percent pleased with the way the lining came out. Instead of doing it as a separate lining, like with a purse. I probably would have done it as a part of the main pieces and finished the inside with bias tape, that way the lining would not be loose.
Most people come to me with shirts or jackets or the occasional blanket to embroider. Yesterday I got this rush job from a repeat client I did 40 shirts for sometime ago. These are some industrial work aprons for some of his worker. They need to go out first thing tomorrow so I’m here at my shop getting these done. It took a bit of creative finagling to get this particular apron into my embroidery machine. I really didn’t want to have to make a patch for them. I settled on using the ever amazing Fast Frames System! This awesome hooping system has saved my life multiple times! I was lucky enough to get them with my machine. They are great for tricky, hard to hoop items. Basically it tricks your embroidery machine into think that the largest hoop is in the machine. Then it has smaller centered attachments of varying size to hoop the items.
However, even with the fast frames system I still ended up having to open one side of the pocket I was trying to embroider on. I couldn’t find the middle size hoop attachment so I had to use the larger one, which was just a little too bit for the pocket to move freely while embroidering.
It is always really interesting to see my customers ideas. This custom apron job came to me via a reference from my mail man. I had done some alterations for him and when he heard someone was looking for a seamstress he recommended me. I love hear how people found me. I get a lot of word of mouth business. This apron was a custom request for the owner of a local barber shop. He’s young and the barber shop is modern and trendy. At first when he said he wan’t leather and rabbit fur I was a little put off by it. But it’s what he wanted and I can work in leather. When he brought me the fabric I wasn’t sure how good it would come out because of the combination of fabrics. But when you do custom work, you do what the customer wants and curb your own style. The only time I ever nah-say a customers ideas is when it’s more difficult to construct or there might be construction issues. However, it’s more of an advisory regarding extra cost for a longer sewing time or some construction issue like two fabrics not being able to be sewn together because it might be too bulky or unappealing to the eye. This was one of those situations. I was concerned about the thickness of the leather suede material and the rabbit fur pockets. It was tricky and I advise him that lining the rabbit fur pockets with another layer of rabbit fur would be thick. Which is was, but it wasn’t impossible to sew. I was able to make it work. He wanted it to be black and red. I had some thin pig suede lying around so I added the red stripe to the top, the pockets, and the bottom. Just to break up the black a little. It came out a lot better than I thought it would. I still have mixed feelings about the rabbit fur pockets. For one, I had a moment while sewing them, when I thought about what it was I was really working with. It made me very sad when I thought about all the bunnies that died for these pockets. I don’t think I want to work in real fur anymore. But other than that this outrageous idea came out better than I thought it would and I actually like it. #arizona #contractsewing #mesa #seamstressproblems #seamtress #sewing #wolfchilddesigns
Most people think that they can just upload a graphic picture into some embroidery software and viola it’ll stitch out on an embroidery machine. NO. That’s actually very far from the truth what digitizing embroidery is. Essential digitizing embroidery is like tracing over an image with stitches. The software does a lot o the work. Back in the day when machine embroidery first started people had to manually punch every single needle hole to create the stitches. Modern day software figures out a lot for you. In this short video you see how I’m working on digitizing a very large logo. Basically tracing over the image with stitching. There is a lot more that I have to do to it than just lay down stitching. There is a lot of trial and error that I’ve gone though figuring out what kinds of settings do what and how what you see on the screen really looks on fabric. It’s a very complex process. Over the last four years I’ve taught myself embroidery digitizing because there are not a lot of options for learning how the pros do it. I’ve watched countless tutorials online with all kinds of software. I’ve read my embroidery software’s manual multiple times. I’ve learned a lot about digitizing but there is still so much out there I could learn and am looking to learn. Here’s is a tiny glimpse into what digitizing looks like. For those wondering I am using Bernina Embroidery Software v6.