Measure twice, cut once

Today was a “learning from my mistakes” sort of day.

I have been dialing back on things a little to give my wrist a rest (since I worked all through Memorial Day weekend), but after a trip to Aldi I thought I’d do a little something for myself.

Aldi requires a quarter deposit to free up its shopping carts. There are no cart returns in the parking lot, and no employees running around collecting abandoned carts. It’s a small store and a small lot, and you just take your cart back yourself or, if it’s busy, someone will come up to you as you’re unloading, brandishing a quarter and offering to “buy” your cart from you.

Occasionally they sell little official quarter keepers, and I bought one which I hate. The quarter goes all the way in and a little past the slot, and requires prying back out with fingernails. Plus, I always want *two* quarters, because you’ll often run into someone fumbling for a quarter or just staring at the chains in newbie confusion. So I made a little bi-fold quarter keeper.

My first draft (the white one) was a little large. Clearly I’ve been traumatized by my too-small official keeper, but I wanted to make sure the quarter didn’t get stuck. Instead, the quarter falls out too easily and unpredictably when you’re opening it. I also decided trimming the curves was too finicky, so I opted for a more angular design. Lastly, since I got hold of some Gritty fabric, I decided to make an applique window.

Here’s where I started making mistakes. Quick and dirty little thing, right? Good time to try out wax paper on top of the vinyl to see if it keeps things from sticking. It does, but it is kind of a pain to get out of the stitching so it’s fine for fill embroidery, not so much for topstitching.

Then I was in too much of a hurry and forgot to put in the ribbon until it was almost up to that point in the stitching. I didn’t have any black or orange or even white ribbon narrow enough, so I cut a piece of vinyl and stuck it in without taking the hoop off, and of course it didn’t end up straight.

Then I was too lazy to walk across the room and get the good applique scissors (the Mundials 📦) and so I used Mom’s Ginghers, which are much coarser, so the (reverse) applique window isn’t as neat as it could be.

I also lined the quarter pocket with more of the Gritty fabric which was probably a mistake; it’s going to fray around the edges in the 1/16″ between the topstitching and the edge. I could have gotten around that with some fray-check (and still can, but the stuff is nasty) or by ironing some Heat-n-Bond onto the back of it. The fabric only had the words in one size and they were a little too big for the space, but it still amuses me.

I also realized, come snap insertion time. that the vinyl “ribbon” was almost down to the snap insertion point. Since I only have regular orange snaps instead of longs (and only round, when 🧡 would have been ideal), the snap came together at an angle and broke off instead of inserting. After trying (and failing) with three of them, I finally gave up and put in a black one.

All of which is to say: the design is fine, but I’m going to make a nicer version before I write up the instructions. It’ll go on the free embroidery design page when I do.

So many dragons

If you’ve seen the sidebar on the site you’ll have already seen the Etsy listing for the gold/floral dragon get replaced by the Etsy listing for the gold/sparkle dragon. This one is similar, but has the next iteration of the “longhorn” dragon head, glass-bead eyes, and a fabric specifically picked to go with the velvet instead of something pulled somewhat randomly from my stash.

I’ve also been restocking the beanie dragons on occasion, as I fine-tune the pattern and streamline the process.

I had said I wasn’t going to do any more of the 3-inch dragons, but then someone wanted one for an art swap and, well, you can fit six heads on a 4×4 hoop. I had complained that turning them was too much of a battle but I broke down and bought another set of turning tubes 📦 and they’re actually not bad, and I can gang six bodies in the 5×7 hoop and three wing sets, which almost makes them worth my time. I might run the other colors that way because they’re just ridiculously tiny.

Today I plan to wrap up and list the next art-doll dragon: a sea dragon. I think this is one I can finally pull off the 8mm cabochon eyes in (the smallest GlassEyesOnline makes).

I’m not sure how I feel about replacing just the hind legs with flippers, but it’s still Mermay right?

The longhorned dragon

The gold/floral dragon from Wednesday is upholstery velvet, but I made the test dragons in minky. Not ideal, since one is woven and the other stretch, but not bad at this scale and the minky is much easier to turn for quick-and-dirty tests of the rough shape.

I’ve been trying to hit the sweet spot between “not a blob,” and “not too hard to sew at this scale.”

I’m fairly happy with this one in minky; we’ll see how it comes out in velvet.

Gold/floral standing dragon

I tried something new yesterday: I made something and put it on Etsy right away. This probably doesn’t seem like much of an accomplishment, but “the perfect is the enemy of the good” a lot around here. I need to find a more appropriate fabric for the wing membranes, but I liked the way the floral fabric (which has a metallic gold accent) came out anyway, so I finished the dragon and put her up on Etsy.

Tomorrow I have an errand that will take me to the big JoAnn’s again. I’ll take snippets of all my relevant velvets and find some fabrics that coordinate with a little less contrast (and less literal patterns).

Continuing my attempts to do Stupid Things With Embroidery Machines, I’ve been trying to get some of the fancy dancewear/cosplay fabrics involved, with limited success. I keep poking through them with my scissors.

Gonna keep trying, though.

More dragonrider snap tabs

I sold the last of the Pernese dragons in the Etsy shop this weekend; there are still a couple of non-Pernese ones left. I’ll restock a little when I make the instructional photos for the design, but that’ll probably be it (though the kid has expressed a little interest in piecework, and presumably they’ll be available from other sellers using the design).

In any event, it was to a repeat buyer so since she already had a Renegades of Pern key fob, I needed a second. This one’s the primary dragon of the cover of Dragonquest so he’s a little more detailed (more than the stitching can capture at this size). I’ve put up all four variations on the Dragonrider Snap Tab page.

Pugs in the shop!

A small batch of made-to-order pugs is going up in the shop this morning, probably around 10am EDT. If you use the code SSOSSPUGS, you’ll get 20% off (so, $28 plus shipping) through the end of the month.

If you follow me on the silo that is Instagram, you’ll see a slightly-poorer discount because I love my blog followers more. 😉

Little felt ferret, circa 2002

I got an email request to revive an old pattern, and by “old” I mean several generations back in the blog. Somewhere I have the text that goes with it, but I’m not sure where, so here are the pictures. And no, that link doesn’t work.

Aside: Hotmail is bad. I tried to answer the request by email, but in my experience Hotmail just silently discards mail from small operators like me. No spam folder for me, no rejection notice to you, it just accepts it and then doesn’t deliver it. Maybe the person got it and just didn’t have anything further to say, but I can’t tell.

It’s my take on the type of pattern in Sewing Tiny Toys by Carolyn Vosburg Hall (https://amzn.to/2YhtKuX 📦) so you’d need to buy or track down a copy of that for more detailed instructions. (It’s also a pretty great book worth owning.)

But to sum up: it’s made to be cut out of felt, sewn together on the cut edges with an overcast or blanket stitch (no seam allowance). The dotted lines are generally folds, except the curved one on the body is a center belly seam: make two underbody pieces, feet and all, sew them together and then to the outer body. The eyes and nose are seed beads (the nose is two pink beads sewn side-by-side).

I don’t remember the exact scale but if you print it at about 8″ long that will be about right.

I think people have sewn it larger, adding seam allowances (including between colors) and using faux fur, but it’s really not designed for that. The larger a stuffed animal is, the more it needs darts inside the legs to keep them from sprawling out to the sides. I would start with something like this:

You’d cut a single belly piece on the fold, then sew the legs on (the belly piece will only go halfway down the hind leg, and then the two hind legs will be sewn together after that point), and otherwise it would work like the felt version (don’t forget to add seam allowances all around). That’s completely untested though, so sew up a muslin before you commit to any expensive fabric.

If you sew one, especially the leg-dart version, send me pictures!

SO MANY PUGS

I’m gonna need a bigger box.

In addition to sewing more test pugs and color variations (I figure I’ll put a few on Etsy myself), I ordered some test pugs on Spoonflower fleece.

I… think I remember how this thing works? I am really unimpressed with my own (lack of) precision after watching the embroidery machine work, let me tell you.

I’m also a little disappointed in the, uh, creasiness of this piece of fleece. I’ll have to see if it irons out, but it’s polyester so we’ll see.

I was happy enough with the colors that I ordered another fat quarter, this one in minky and in different colors: a brown-point fawn, and an experimental brindle. I’ve been looking for a good brindle-substitute minky print, and haven’t even found a nice tiger stripe. Not even in fleeces at JoAnn or Fabric.com; apparently they’ve fallen out of fashion. We’ll see if my Inkscape/GIMP texture looks plausible; if it does, I’ll make it available as yardage on Spoonflower because come on, there are a lot of brindle dogs out there.

And now for something completely different

A deck of Felt Wee Folk playing cards next to a Blossom Fairy Doll

I have had Salley Mavor’s Felt Wee Folk📦 how-to book for quite awhile, so when she made a deck of playing cards with said felt wee folk on them I snagged a couple for gifts, with the plan to make a doll to go with. And then panicked because I canNOT make faces on round beads, and all my past wee folk have had just two dot eyes (channeling my Amish ancestors). But not only did I have to make a face, I had to make one THAT WILL BE NEXT TO SALLEY’S FACES.

The result is… acceptable. And let’s be honest, moms are very forgiving when it comes to handmade gifts, right?

If you’re unfamiliar with Salley’s work, let me having the pleasure of introducing you to Wee Folk Studio. It is not just cute little flower fairy dolls; there is some seriously amazing art.

It’s gonna be MerMay!

Closeup of a plush pug in silver with black mask.

One of the viral art challenges on Instagram and the fediverse (at least on mastodon.art and other art-oriented instances) is #mermay. I noodled around with a conventional mermaid embroidery but wasn’t happy with the result and didn’t really pursue it.

Side view of a plush pug/orca mermaid.

And then recently I got to thinking, well, I should just put a tail on some of my plushies, what would be the best one… oh.

Underside of a plush pug/orca mermaid.

I considered a manatee tail first, since that seemed kind of obvious, but wasn’t really sure if the blobby round tail of a manatee would be recognizable by itself (even if a pug face does sorta resemble a manatee’s). And then I remembered I needed to do a silver pug anyway, and here we are.

Another view of a plush silver pug face

In related news: just to prove I haven’t entirely gone over to the embroidery-machine side I ordered a fat quarter of pre-printed pugs (just fawn and black) on fleece which will hopefully arrive on Monday.

And yes, this should have been my Friday post, but my husband took the day off and we visited the Rittenhouse Fine Craft Fair, and then yesterday I fought with the griffin pattern and didn’t end up with anything worthy of a photograph.