Paper-straw himmeli

Advent 2019 – Day 5

While cleaning up the workroom, I came across a pack of paper straws 📦 I bought for the kid some time back after a brief obsession with a brass icosahedron knick-knack. The obsession was brief enough that nothing got done with the straws… until now.

I chose an icosahedron because it only required one length of straw, and because I’ve had them on my mind. I used gold glitter embroidery floss to string it, but since the floss doesn’t show much you can really use any unobtrusive color. You can also string it in almost any pattern; here’s how I did it.

First, tape the end of your floss to a bamboo skewer or a piece of wire to use as a “needle.” String three straws on your floss. Leaving a tail about 8-10x the straw length, bring the other end around and tie it to form a snug triangle. Now thread two more straws on the long end, and tie it to the first triangle. You now have two connected triangles. Keep doing that until you have a strip of nine triangles (make sure you keep tying new ones on in the right direction). Thread just one straw on, and connect it to the other and of the strip where you left the tail — it should form a pentagon.

Use the needle to thread the floss through a straw down to one of the loose points, and tie the two loose points together to form another pentagon. You now have a (rather floppy) “belt” around the middle of the icosahedron.

Thread two more straws, and tie onto the next point of the pentagon. Thread through one of the pentagon straws to an open point, thread two more straws, and come back down on the next point. Through a pentagon straw, thread one more straw, and tie on to the point. Your icosahedron should have more structure now.

Go back to the long tail you left, and repeat the previous steps to finish the icosahedron. You’ll have a tail on two opposite ends, which you can use to hang it and then hang another shape from, or just trim the ends and rest it on a table. You’re done!

Interchangeable Flap – Sewn

Advent 2019 – Day 4

In addition to the embroidered flaps I made for my nieces, I made a couple of sewn ones from Disney fabric. Theirs were hot pink Minnie Mouse Halloween prints, while mine fulfilled the mandatory “any greater-Philadelphian who travels must display at least one item of hometown team gear.” I am not even a football fan but just by living adjacent to sports-crazed Philly I can tell you that none of those diagrams are the Philly Special.

At any rate, like the bag itself, the sewn flap doesn’t use an embroidery machine, just conventional. It’s pretty basic: cut two pieces of fabric according to the pattern (even more generally, just a 5×8″ rectangle with the lower corners rounded), stitch around it leaving a turning opening, turn it, press it, topstitch it, and add snaps to match those on the bag.

I used some of JoAnn’s pre-quilted diamond solids to back them. Alternately, use fusible fleece or pre-quilt the facing fabric. Cut your fleece along the seam lines of the pattern rather than the full flap size to keep the edges of the flaps crisp and easy to top-stitch.

Snap placement: three inner-ring snaps 2″ apart at the top, and two outer-ring snaps 3.5″ apart at the bottom. You may choose to put the snaps on the inside piece only so the caps are hidden, and use a zipper foot to carefully topstitch around it.

The little dragon photobombing the picture is a new design in my Etsy shop; the shop announcement blog or my Mastodon account is the place to find news about what I’m doing so I don’t interrupt the Advent tutorial series.

Free SVG Alphabet – Handwritten Monoline Script

Advent 2019 Day 2

One of the things I’ve been most disappointed in is the availability of lettering for embroidery. Or rather, the reliability. So here’s an alphabet that’s in SVG form, so you can edit it yourself. It’s (somewhat roughly) based on Amalina, a font by Subectype, and is only the lowercase 26-letter English alphabet.

AmalinaLowercase.zip

It’s just a plain SVG file. Each letter is an object that you’ll have to manually copy and paste. It’s a continuous script, so if you have snapping set you can align them easily. You can then use Ink/Stitch to produce a stitch file, or feed the SVG to your Cricut or Silhouette to draw the font. I don’t have a laser or other engraver (yet!) but I’m sure you folks know what to do with an SVG to use it with your device. Read on regardless of what type of machine you plan to use; I’ve made some notes on putting polish on a word in script.

Here’s the demo as it came off my embroidery machine. The top is just a straight copy-paste of each letter at the original size.

  • I changed the stroke style to a dashed line (because otherwise Ink/Stitch will treat it as a very tiny satin stitch).
  • I ungrouped the first “a” and removed the positioning segment. Optional, but just a little cleaner. For a letter without a positioning segment, like an “l,” I might have added a stroke coming into the letter to reflect where your pen would naturally start.
  • I ungrouped the “i” to make the dot stitch last. Also optional, but it meant I had a nice long jump stitch to trim (and a machine that automatically cuts jump thread would do so).

The middle is slightly changed.

  • I sized the letters up.
  • I used a single-repeat “bean” stitch (i.e. a forward-back-forward for each stitch) for all the non-positioning segments.
  • I moved the second part of the word down, reordered the segments (including the positioning segment in the “a”) and reversed all the paths, so that it stitched left to right.

The alphabet also works in satin at larger sizes

  • I converted all the non-positioning segments back to a solid line, 2mm thick (about the minimum for an adequate satin on this vinyl)

That’s about as small as a 2mm satin works on this font; as you can see the counter on the “a” basically disappears. That piece of vinyl is 7″ wide so it works well at a larger scale. You’ll have to consider this if you’re using it with a marker in a cutting machine – smaller sizes will definitely need fine points.

Right-to-left works all right for straight stitch; it’s almost impossible to see that there is a straight stitch over the bean stitch on that “a.” But remember that the positioning stitch will happen after the main stitching so you’ll want to leave it out if you’re right-to-lefting your satin stitch.

Have fun! I’d love to see links to anything you use this for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Etsy pushed the Cyber Week sale so I jumped on the bandwagon. I relisted Silver Sparkle and Silver Shield, so hopefully some of the art dragons will finally sell.

And of course the logical thing to do, when things aren’t selling, is make more of them.

This is Draco Splendens, the Purple Crowntail (its scallops really aren’t deep enough but Purple Combtail sounded silly, so I’m just ruling that dragon standards are different than betta standards).

It has a lot going on.

Its wings are the most significant departure from the usual dragons: more bird than bat. From some angles it looks very bird-like, and I’ll probably do a phoenix at some point here (I have the red velvet for it).

I also have a darker red velvet for more betta dragons. I decided to try a different head on the red one, and since it was a fish-based dragon, what if it had a fish-based head?

… yeah, that’s not happening. But it will still end up with a separately-sewn head, and stumpwork feet like the poor neglected Celestial.

Compact cutting-machine Advent calendar

Curious about the contents of the Etsy listing? Scroll down past the spoiler for inside pictures of the green set.

It’s been a little while since I’ve done any cutting-machine designs, but I needed an Advent calendar that fit nicely in a USPS flat-rate shipping box.

As with the embroidery machine, I use Inkscape to design these. Your Cricut or Silhouette software probably takes SVGs directly, but because I use Linux I just have a plugin in Inkscape directly. It runs Silhouette machines; there’s probably an equivalent for Cricut.

There are files with and without scoring; if you’re doing it manually,

Assembly is pretty easy. Each box takes six 8.5 x 11 sheets. Cut a lid and base, and fold the short ends inward on the score lines and glue the “hem” down over the flaps from the long ends. Then fold the long ends in and glue their “hems” down. Cut four sheets of pluses, and fold their arms in.

The number sheet is a single-line font if you want to use a pen in your machine to draw them rather than running the sheets through your printer and trying to align them.

I bought a bunch of dice in different styles of six different colors, and some of the calendars have ended up in the Etsy shop.

Spoiler alert: if you want to buy one of my dice advent calendars without ruining the surprise, stop reading now!

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It’s still autumn

I know I made a couple snowflake dragons this week, and we did have some snow happening at the time, but it’s still autumn daggonit.

A recurring theme for me has been “what happens if I put THIS in the embroidery machine?” and silk flowers/leaves has been on my list of things to try for quite awhile. This is just the usual embroidery for my tiny plush dragons, minus the subsequent “add another piece of minky rst, sew, and turn” bit.

The real question here was whether the wings would support their own weight (answer: barely, I should have extended the “wing bones” to meet up with the spine), and whether the leaves would hold up to embroidery (answer: pick sturdy ones and, if necessary, space the stitches out so they don’t cut the leaves apart). I used colored bobbin thread, and I should have busted out the black tearaway stabilizer 📦 but the undersides don’t really show anyway.

I’m still trying to decide if I should trim the leading edges of the wings.

I am not a photographer

I have found something that’s harder to take pictures of than black velvet dragons in a house with white cats: chrome vinyl.

I ran across this awhile back and picked up a yard of it, and decided to see how it stitched up. Verdict: pretty well. It’s a soft backing with a stuff surface – much heavier than, say, Duro-Last’s reflective vinyl, or the adhesive-backed stuff that you’re much more likely to find mirror finishes in. Stitching tends to cause it to bubble but that actually works well for “burnout”/debossing effects. Getting a good photograph of that is hard, though: either you get a nice reflection of the backdrop and can’t tell that there’s dimension there:

Or you get dark reflections that blend right into the stitching:

The work light doesn’t fit inside the light tent, so if I use that I end up with lovely diffuse lighting that makes the chrome look matte. Also, the light tent is just too small.

I have a handful of 1/2″ styrofoam insulation sheets because the gas fireplace in the family-room-turned-workroom blows a cold draft all winter long so it’s wrapped in plastic and has a shelf full of nice insulating fabric in front of it. So I built a comical foam-sheet fort around my photography area, and that’s how I got the top picture. It needs some tweaking, but I think I’ll get passable product shots out of it.

I’ll probably be adding the vinyl itself to the Etsy shop soon, because it’s fun stuff.

Back to notebooks

I’ve been putting together some sample mini composition book covers with professional “crests” on them, with the notion that they’d make good gift card holders for holiday tipping and whatnot. These will go into the shop tomorrow, with options for made-to-order ones.

I’ve been kind of tempted to mix them up: engine block with Framing hammers. Running shoe with shovels. Hair dryer with wrenches. Probably the most adventurous I’ll get is replacing the hair dryer with a barber pole.