Another fairy dragon

The embroidery machine has surpassed the four million stitch mark. That is a pretty good milestone considering most of what I do is computer-assisted conventional sewing with a much lower stitch count. But once in awhile I mix my metaphors, and the butterfly wings on the fairy dragons are probably my favorite.

This one’s in pansy colors, or Mardi Gras if you prefer.

Unfortunately, I think it’s past time for a tuneup. This is vinyl I’ve used regularly, threads I’ve used regularly, and I tried changing out the bobbin and the needle and the machine speed and tension and everything else I could think of. I’ve checked the hoop screws, tried a top stabilizer, everything. It still runs fine on minky and other things, but white vinyl is the canary in the coal mine for coverage issues.

I have a fair queue of things in “finished on the machine but awaiting final assembly,” including a gold version of the fairy dragon, and this is the kick in the pants I needed to get the Viking out and give it a test run, but I’ll still miss the larger-format machine while it’s in the shop.

Dragon taggin' day

I’m now up to, I think, three wrong-color shipments. After the next-to-last one, I made myself a reference sheet. And then I shipped a teal dragon instead of a peacock because my brain just went “yep everyone is ordering the latest color” and didn’t even look at the reference sheet. So the time has come to label things.

I have a sheaf of little string tags, but if you’ve seen my thank-you notes on packing slips you know my handwriting is less-than-great. So I pre-printed some.

The background is a copyright-free image from, (thanks, NASA/STScI!). I could have cut them on the Silhouette but it was easier to pull out the 2″ circle and hole punch. That tiny Swingline thingy is a hole punch and not a stapler as I thought when I picked it up for less than a dollar in a clearance bin.

For strings I used my rotary cutter to halve one of the generic-brand floss skeins I keep around for just such an occasion. That’s just the right length to slip through the tag hole, overhand knot, and then lark’s-head around the dragon tails.

Hopefully that will help. Now I just have to fix everywhere I call emerald “Mallard”…

Last-minute Valentine dragon

I’ve been a little quiet lately because I was bound and determined to actually finish one of the art dragons. And I did it, albeit a little later than good marketing would prescribe – Valentine items should be listed in mid-January.

I picked up a couple colors of Ben Textiles Royal Velvet that looked like they might be leaving fabric-dot-com’s stock, and then when they arrived I questioned all my life choices. The teal is nice (though dark, which is why I hadn’t ordered it before) but the fuchsia? It’s a great color but it is definitely not a dragon color.

… unless it was a ridiculous Valentine’s Day dragon, anyway. So I started noodling around with hearts in the wings, hearts in the frills, and somehow ended up stitching the thing out and thinking “well now I have to get it in the shop by V-day to have *any* hope of selling such a crazy thing” which gave me a deadline to work toward and, well, here we are.

I’m kind of embarrassed that my first finished “real” art dragon — one made without the peculiar constraints of all-in-one-piece sewing — is a novelty dragon. Whatever it takes, I guess. It’s a funny little hybrid critter, with the Celestial’s “noodle” body and the crimson Draco Splendens’ fish face (with hearts replacing the betta-fin frill).

It doesn’t absolutely have to be a Valentine dragon – it can hold a ring, so there’s a little bit of engagement-gift possibility.

More interchangeable purses

I made another hipster bag for my MIL’s birthday. This one isn’t my Basic Hipster, but the Lots of Pockets↪ from SewCanShe. Same approximate size, and I just left out the integral flap and installed snaps right before closing up the turning opening in the lining. I used a pre-made strap📦 because I didn’t have swivel hooks narrow enough for a half-inch strap.

The flap that’s on the purse is a freebie vinyl I got in an order from Designs by Little Bee, and the other two designs are Embroidery Library ones. I really like how the butterfly turned out. There are five different shades of threads in the wings:

It’s designed to go on a neutral background, so I should have used a middle gray for the fern scrollwork. I used a charcoal for the wing outlines, and I think in person they have enough contrast.

I loaded the pockets up with goodies from my local AC Moore; sadly the chain is closing so I’m losing my source for crafty things my Midwestern family can’t find locally. And I was so excited that it all still fit in a flat-rate box that I sealed it up before taking pictures of the interior (a burlap-print cotton) and back (a tan zipper because I lacked any black ones of the right length).

I have a mini backpack cut and awaiting sewing, which should also accept the interchangeable flaps. I haven’t been carrying the purse I made for myself just because my favorite wallet doesn’t fit in it, so hopefully the backpack will work out.

In case you wondered how the cat hair arrived

The upholstery velvet throws off tiny, tiny fiber particles when it’s cut, and for extremely coastline-paradox critters like the Purple Veil, there’s a lot of cutting. I’ve tried a dust mask, but even with that I will find myself trying to get rid of a tickle in my throat that I assume is fine purple fuzz.

So for the Crimson Veil version, I’m trying something different: a sort of sandblast cabinet approach. I grabbed one of the used Priority boxes, cut a couple of access flaps, and dropped a piece of acrylic out of an IKEA picture frame on top. It’s not airtight, but just having the clear barrier between my face and the velvet seems to do the trick.

But I left the assembly on my armchair while I was working on something else and, well, I should have seen that coming.

Olivia does love her cardboard boxes.

Scissors from my worktable

You might think I have too many scissors, but in fact I have not enough: all these and I’m missing the ones I really want.

Top to bottom:

  • A deadly little pair of Kai needlecraft scissors 📦. I got these to clip jump threads but they’re so pointy I end up only using them to clip loose threads.
  • A bent-tipped, misaligned pair of embroidery scissors only identified with a “KOREA” stamp that I use to hook and clip the first end of a jump thread.
  • Mom’s Gingher applique duckbills. I could link to them on Amazon but, um, I don’t like them.
  • An older pair of Fiskars 5″ micro-tips 📦. They’re not great but I have a little keychain sharpener 📦 so they’re always reliably sharpish.
  • A pair of thread scissors I got for Christmas, that are probably these 📦 since there’s also a stork pair that I haven’t unbagged yet. They’re decently sharp, and I should probably try them in place of the Kai/Korea pair.
  • The smaller of a set of Scotch scissors that I use for cutting paper.
  • My trusty, decades-old Ginger dressmaker’s shears📦, which have cut denim, faux fur, mohair, upholstery vinyl, you name it, and somehow I have never gotten them sharpened. Not that they don’t need it, just that I have never managed to get around to it, and they have a nick two-thirds of the way down the blade that I’ve worked around for years. I have a second, even older pair that were Mom’s, and that she and I used to cut lots and lots of polyester double-knit back in our Stretch-n-Sew days.
  • My backup shears, which I don’t think Fiskars makes anymore — they also get sharpened (honed, really) on the keychain sharpener but probably need professional attention too.
  • The other half of the trusty Scotch set. This one gets used to cut adhesive papers and other things.
  • A pretty little rainbow set of thread snips that are great for Instagram pictures but not much else. The fact that they’re barely showing any color in this picture shows that I am a bad Instagrammer.
  • A pair of Fiskars Softouch that Amazon only sells as “pruning shears” (and doesn’t allow direct linking to) and that I have a love-hate relationship with because the latch doesn’t hold them closed when it’s on the table, and keeps catching when the scissors are in use and why have I not just taken it off completely?

I went to sit down and cut out minky but of all these, the ones I want aren’t here: my other pair of duckbills. They’re finer than the Ginghers but still built like dressmaker shears — the tips won’t twist when snipping several layers of minky or felt. The two small Fiskars are a close second, and update: it’s possible to take the annoying latch off the Softouch in such a way that it could be put back on. A few passes with the keychain and new teal dragons should show up in the shop tomorrow.

Like/Follow Silver Seams on Facebook

I’ve somewhat reluctantly joined Facebook, since FB restricts what non-users can see and I’ve seen some referrals from there. If you’re also there, please like-and-follow me there at least temporarily so I can get rid of that crazy numeric URL. FB temptingly puts the “Create Page @username” link, but informs me I’m not eligible to actually create one after letting me select one. If it’s still like the olden days, that means I’m required to have a minimum number of likes and/or followers. Unlike the olden days, they don’t tell me what the requirements are, just that I’m ineligible. 🤷

A lot of my time this month will be taken up by housekeeping things like this – the WordPress account expires soon, and I’ll be shifting that to self-hosting. But I’m still getting some sewing in – check out the FB account for a preview of my current project.

My New Years' resolution…

… is not to start large December post series until I already have all the posts in the queue. Whew.

Things heated up in the shop in December, a lot. I had some great plans to not knock myself out restocking, but Etsy now allows non-premium accounts to set “allow restock requests” and, well, if people are asking for things I felt obligated to fulfill them. Even though it’s not the same as “pre-order” and only about half of restocks actually got bought by the person who requested them.

Post-Christmas didn’t slow down much, so obviously there’s a lot of “I got a Christmas bonus/an Etsy gift card” or just “I didn’t get what I wanted so I’ll just buy it myself” going on. The last Silver Apricot dragon went, with a camera dangle (that did not stay around its neck for shipping, no matter how much that amused me). Those are from a Designs By Little Bee design I’ve been meaning to use, but I used lightweight vinyl and some captured confetti in lieu of the applique.

The Greater Sea Dragon went on the last day of the year, which definitely improved the annual total and also made me feel a little better about the art-doll dragons, which hadn’t been moving for quite awhile. That order came in via advertisement, on what would have been the last day of my advertising experiment. I guess it was a success.

For 2020, my plan was to taper off the plushie-making (channeling that into selling the designs for other folks to make) and just stick with the bigger-ticket dragons – I’ve been a little concerned about whether those were really viable, but I think the real problem is just getting them in front of an audience. We’ll see.

Blog-wise, I still plan to get out the promised supplements to the interchangeable-flap bags even if not in the form of an Advent calendar. A mini-backpack is next, because I want one for myself.

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!