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.
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.
So my business partner John has been pushing me to do Christmas stockings. I didn’t care to do them at first, but I think there is a real market there. I started making them with MY flare. I made a few out of vinyl and some with funky designs. Well, he decided to have me make one out of leather and take it down to this local leather shop. We just had a meeting with the owner of Joeta’s Leather, she was super nice. I had spent the last week trying to get some leather stuff made to show her. Got some purses, stockings, bracelets and other stuff made and she loved all of it. I was hoping she would put my stuff in her store, however she had others ideas. When she saw that I could do embroidery on the leather she got super excited because she gets tons of requests for custom embroidery all the time. She’s going to refer me embroidery work now. I’m pretty excited. She’s a big name in the biker scene and has lots of connections. She said she could keep me in business with the amount of embroidery stuff she can throw my way. She also invited me to vend for free at one of the biggest biker events in Arizona. I’m super stoked, but a little stressed out cause I’ve still got lots of other stuff to do. Well I guess I better get back to work.