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!

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.