South Jersey represent!

I made a Lots of Pockets crossbody purse awhile back, with some KAMsnaps to let me put on different flaps. I decided I needed to make one for my upcoming Disney trip. I have plenty of ways to rep Philly, but I’m actually over on the South Jersey side and, it turns out, Philadelphians are particular about whether you’re really from Philly. New Jersey is emphatically not Philly. New Jersey is, I have been informed, “what you drive through to get to NYC.” Well alrighty then.

Nobody agrees enough on what the Jersey Devil looks like to use that, so pork roll it is.

5×7 Snap Tray

This week has been a bit disjointed – the above is the only shop stuff I’ve gotten finished – but here’s a little bitty freebie. I realized I made a large conventionally-sewn snap tray and a square 5×5 one, but no fill-the-hoop 5×7 one. I also realized that size will hold all the designs I’ve been putting on notebook covers.

It’s a pretty simple process: first color is a placement mark, second is the inner outline, third is the outer topstitching. There is a fourth layer in the SVG, called “Design,” which is where you’d import your design file (an Urban Threads Shadow Dragon in the above case). Sometime before the last thread color (before or after the inner outline; I prefer before), put a second piece of vinyl on the back of the hoop. That last color also marks your snap placement points. If you don’t ever want to unfold the tray, you can rivet them instead, or simply fold the corner across and sew it – remove the placement circles in the latter case. I rounded the corners with the smaller side of a Crop-A-Dile corner rounder 📦.

Pre-Halloween is the best time for novelty fabric remnants

It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the purple is a dancewear related to the blue-and-green that I use for beanie dragon eyes. It’ll make fun shiny purple beanie dragons, probably fleece-interlined as I talked about last week. The other one is a black velvet with purple sparkles which, you will note, has already accumulated cat hair. Le sigh.

Never visit a fabric store without hitting the remnant bin.

Deathly Hallows dangle

I needed a Potter-themed freebie item, so I whipped up a little Deathly Hallows logo and ran it on a bit of sparkly vinyl. I ordered a whole truckload of little bead chains📦 because these little tinies were too small to justify snap tabs. They fit ten to a 4×4 hoop, so they’re fairly efficient.

I’ll put a few in the shop in the next Saturday-morning shop drop, or here’s the file if you want to make your own. As usual, multiple embroidery formats plus the SVG source in the ZIP file. You can scale it up from that as large as you think the satin stitch will let you — certainly big enough to put a snap tab on if you wanted.

Deathly Hallows Dangle (ZIP)

More work on the Celestial

A little light on the updates because I haven’t had much to show. I did wrap up the four little beanies that match this, but I’m holding off on the final photoshoot until I have the Celestial Dragon (a/k/a Space Noodle) done. At that point I’ll lock the cats in the bathroom for the several hours it’ll take to de-hair everything.

In any event, the alignment was off on this wing but it was enough to play around with armature wire and determine that yes, this will do nicely.

I found a remnant of charmeuse that I decided to use for the backs of the wings. Yes, that was entirely inspired by the minky dragons, but I like how it came out. And unlike the minkies, the underside of the Celestial’s wings will show quite a bit.

I will definitely have to clean my worktable, nay, my entire house to have space to photograph this critter when he’s assembled and standing up.

Sewing plushies with cosplay, costume, and special occasion fabrics

I am a sucker for novelty fabrics, so right now – coming up on Halloween in a year that’s seen fabric stores (well, JoAnn anyway) lean hard into the cosplay trend – is catnip for me. I was just picking up some thread when a check of the remnant secion turned up some of the green holo scale fabric.

I already have this fabric in black, white, and purple, which might surprise people because you’re right, you haven’t seen a dragon made from it here yet. I started one of the standing plushie dragons, and got as far as sewing and stuffing its body before setting it aside because the thin dancewear-type fabric just showed lumps and wrinkles way too much.

I happened to pick up a chunk of clearance fleece at the same time, thinking I might make some beanie dragons out of it. It happened to match the mint-y teal-y color, so I thought maybe this time I could compromise and use the scale fabric as an accent and let the fleece carry the structure and, well, of COURSE.

I’ve solved the lumpiness problem in costuming before, when I had the perfect fabric for a dinosaur tail in quilting cotton. I interlined that tail in half-inch foam, so fleece was just scaling down the idea.

“Interlining” is just a matter of cutting a piece of lining fabric the same shape as your main fabric piece, and sewing it as one. Sometimes you baste the two together in the seam allowance, but since I was running this on the embroidery machine I was dealing with rectangles and not pre-shaped pieces.

Now, not all fancy fabrics work to make plushies, even with interlining. They’re not made with the expectation they’ll be sewn into tiny pieces that will rub past each other while simultaneously being stretched into sharp curves and so on. A lot of foiled fabrics will rub the shiny right off doing this. Both the scale and dot fabrics here have gaps, and they’re a rubbery material, so there was less cracking and splitting than usual. The price to pay was that they’re a little grippy, and that tail was only barely possible to turn. Test your fabric before you commit to it: stretch it, rub it against itself, see if you can damage it. (If you’re doing this on the bolt in the store, please confine yourself to the selvedge!)

Others are woven fabrics, which definitely change the dynamics of sewing plushies. Monday’s post was all about dragons I made with quilting cotton but there are three factors at play there. One, the patterns are made to be flat-sewn (matching two same-shape pieces together, no fitting curves). Two, in all cases the woven fabric is on only one side, leaving the minky on the other side to make up for the lack of stretch. And three, they’re all very small pieces, so there isn’t a lot of wrinkling and easing to happen. For a larger plushie, you’ll have to add more darts and easing to use a fabric without stretch.

Even some knits lack sufficient return – if you poke it with a turning tool, sometimes you’re left with a bloop that doesn’t flatten out. Interlining will shield it from that somewhat, but be careful about your turning tools.

Dancewear/swimwear fabric tends to be tougher than costume/special occasion fabrics. For fray-prone wovens, you’ll definitely need to leave a generous seam allowance to keep from blowing out toes and noses and whatnot. Again, a tough interlining will help take the strain off the outer fabric, but a stretchy interlining will help less with a woven outer fabric so think about using a muslin interlining for a woven fabric. You can even interline your interlining if you need the loft of the fleece but the stabilization of a woven interlining.

The interlining was key, though. The beanies have, well, beans (tiny plastic pellets), and with a thin dancewear fabric alone that belly would have been a weird pocked landscape.

A non-interlined plushie made with dancewear fabric has to be stuffed to within an inch of its life, bloating it and, in the case of foiled fabrics, distorting or tearing the surface decoration. Otherwise it’s prone to developing lumps and pleats and bloops and tucks that would be hidden by a pile fabric but which are right out there for everyone to see on a sleek foiled swimsuit fabric.

Interlining does add bulk to the seams, though. Trim the seam allowances, especially on flat things like the wings. If I did it again I’d have used something lighter, probably a flannel, in the wings. They’re flat even after turning so a woven interlining would be fine, and it really only needed the reinforcement on the upper side for the satin-stitch applique.

And ohhh, that applique… Dancewears are soft and stretchy and grippy and they love to grab onto the flat part of scissors and raise up a little wrinkle that will get snipped without you even feeling it. Sharp scissors can easily slice into it, and even applique scissors don’t entirely fix it. I like the effect on the dragon wings, but be warned: any time you need to cut away something from the surface of a fabric like this it adds a lot of labor and time and possibility for screw-ups.

Long story short, you can get some really neat results with specialty fabric, but be prepared to coddle it a little… or a lot.

Busy weekend!

I thought I might take the weekend off; I spend most of my “free” time playing with the embroidery machine either for the business or for fun, and I don’t want to burn out. But Friday night I had an idea, and I knew the way my brain works there was nothing to do but get it done.

I was playing around with a little bat pattern and was trying to decide how to most easily make quilting-cotton inner wings for it when suddenly my brain yelled “DO THAT ON THE PLUSH DRAGON” and here we are.

And then Mastodon yelled (well, politely suggested) “do that on the beanie dragons” and here *those* are.

And then my computer locked up and while I was fixing it I realized I had some stuff already cued up on USB.

I bought the Hogwarts-letter pouch from String Theory awhile back and converted it into a notebook cover. Showed it to my teenager who immediately pointed out that Kids These Days preferred a different envelope.

That’s the Super Smash Brothers Ultimate invitation (and a Smash Ball dangle), in case you don’t recognize it.

And then I finally got the last couple of plush dragons in the Pern colors done today.

And then, since I had cut a bunch of white, black, and ivory vinyls for notebook covers, decided to make a companion to the Dragonquest notebook. You can make them too, via the dragon snap tabs (just drop the final, outline thread) and the notebook cover files. If you list them on Etsy, let me know and I’ll link to them since I really should stop making notebooks and get back to that Celestial.

Delivery Truck Snap Tabs

As promised, here is the delivery-truck snap tab freebie. It fits in a 4×4 hoop.

All four trucks are included in one file, so you’ll need to run only the thread colors for the version you want. In the SVG source file, they’re in separate layers so if you prefer you can hide the layers you don’t need and use Ink/Stitch to produce the embroidery file.

Construction is the same as other snap tabs: float a piece of vinyl on top of your stabilizer and embroider on it. Just before the last color, take the hoop off the machine and secure a second piece of vinyl on the back of the stabilizer to cover the threads.

  • Placement Box – Optional; this will show you the size and placement of the top vinyl. I usually just advance to the first stitch and use the needle position to align the lower left corner of the vinyl.
  • Truck – This is the outline of the truck itself. I used gray for the two white trucks, and the logo color for the blue and brown trucks.
  • UPS – This is the shield logo, which should be run in gold.
  • Amazon – This is the arrow, which should be run in light blue.
  • USPS – These are three thread colors in one layer: blue for the logo, red for the top stripe, blue for the bottom stripe. It makes for an extra thread swap (I just jumped ahead to the second blue and then back to the red) but gives you the chance to skip the stripes altogether if you prefer.
  • FedEx – These are two thread colors in one layer: purple and orange, or purple and green.
  • Outline – Place the second piece of vinyl on the back side of the hoop before running this, which will stitch the whole thing together. Run this in the vinyl color – the bobbin thread will show so you may want to use a matching thread there too. It will put in a couple of stitches to indicate snap placement. Pull those threads out completely if you can.

Delivery Fob download (ZIP with DST, EXP, JEF, PEC, PES, U01, VP3, and SVG source file)