Heraldic dragon snap tabs (and design scaling)

Aldi has $5 letter boards this week so I finally joined the trend and got one. I will not use it for every blog title, I promise.

These dragons aren’t going in the Embroidery Patterns for a change. The dragon is from an Urban Threads design – I imported it into Inkscape, borrowed just the top outline path, rescaled it and let Ink/Stitch choose its own stitch points on the path. You can’t rescale everything that way but it worked fine for this. It didn’t stitch the same points coming and going (it’s a continuous-line design) like it did in the original design, but it’s a slightly sketch-style design anyway.

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A sea dragon down the Shore

I had heard that the greenhead flies were bad this year, but I didn’t really grasp just how bad until I drove out to the birdwatching point on Brigantine Island and thought I must have disturbed a honeybee hive. The car was swarmed when I pulled into the parking area… and then I realized they weren’t bees, they were greenheads. And that was with a brisk onshore breeze that should have blown the bulk of them further inland (Brig is a barrier island, so the marshes were downwind of us).

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Little Blue Marble and Silver Sparkle dragons coming soon

I’ve finally got another couple of art-doll dragons ready for the shop. Tomorrow is forecast to be nice and sunny so I’ll wait until then to do a proper photo shoot.

The blue dragon is one I’d completely forgotten about. I sewed it right after the Gold Sparkle Dragon but its little headknobs just would not turn, so I tossed it in the rework bin thinking I’d have to come up with separately-sewn horns to put on it. It fell out when I tossed another failure in there, and I tried a Dritz Quick-Turn rod on it and they popped right out. It’s the last of the smaller size dragons.

The Silver Sparkle is the first with (partially) wired wings, and the last sewn-and-turned dragon. The tall skinny legs are just way too hard on my wrists, but that’s as large as I can get on the 5×7 hoop without multiple hoopings. Which, of course, I’ll do soon.

Watch the sidebar for these to be listed, along with some new colors of beanie dragons.

Sea dragons and snap tabs

My off-machine time has been taken up working on the not-ready-to-photograph sea dragon, but I kept the machine busy the last couple days making teacher gifts for the Head Start site I volunteer at. We’ve hit the end of a session (though it resumes for the summer after a week break), so I made a couple of hand sanitizer holders for the teachers in my classroom, and let the other classroom’s teachers and the lunch lady pick from a random assortment of snap tabs.

The Hispanic lunch lady jumped right on the taco one.

The rainbow ones were larger than I’d expected (all these have been Designs By Little Bee patterns), but one of those went too.

The dragon emojis (a design of mine) had already gone out in Etsy orders.

I also converted the pug plushie design into a snap tab; it’s a *lot* of color changes, and I lost the underfill for the pupils. So this batch will go as freebies in any pug plushy orders I get, and I’m not sure I’ll make any more.

Battling dragons

The art-doll style dragons are proving to be pretty hard on my wrists. I have both tendinitis and carpal tunnel going on, neither of them very serious (yet!) and turning tiny dragons, jamming stuffing in until they’re rock-solid, and then hand-sewing openings and wings and such through multiple thicknesses of upholstery fabric requires a lot of effort.

Of course, that’s not all: I have managed to forget to cut out the topstitching window in two or three wing sets. I finally gave up on the silver one and picked all the stabilizer out of the topstitching instead of redoing it).

At any rate, I am almost ready to start listing them again. As I’ve mentioned, I have two Etsy slots for them, so my plan is to get four finished (or nearly-finished) dragons, list two, and be ready to fill a slot as soon as it sells out.

The silver sparkle dragon just needs its wings sewn on (they’re just resting in place there) and its horns attached and it’s done. It’s probably the last dragon I’ll make that I have to turn.

The blue dragon started out as a sea dragon – the wings are based on a guillemot/murre, which uses its wings to swim underwater like a penguin as well as fly above it. But I didn’t care for the contrast of the first wings so now it has blue star-and-nebula wings, and its name varies between “lesser sea dragon” and “sea-of-stars dragon.” It’s done except for finding a glue that will work on the eyes, and for picking the white stabilizer out of its seams.

I reverse-sewed it like I did the silver dragon (remember the silver dragon? I’ll get back to it, I promise). I didn’t have to turn it, but I did sandwich the stabilizer in to act as interfacing in the crest, and it doesn’t tear away easily without shredding the raw fabric edges. It wasn’t as visible on the silver dragon, but it really shows up in the blue.

I have another silver dragon in the works, reverse sewn but with gray cotton as stabilizer. True D&D nerds will recognize it from its wing, in the foreground waiting to be cut out: a Dungeons and Dragons silver dragon has two “thumb” claws on each wing. This one won’t be quite as ornate as the earlier one; more on the order of the lesser sea dragon.

The fourth is the teaser on the right: an over-the-top six-hooping Greater Sea Dragon. The previous ones are all four hoopings: body, legs, head, and wings. I’m pretty proud of that one. The mockup went fine, but the real thing has required a couple of restarts. I’ve current gotten through three of the five hoopings, and only tackle them when I’m feeling particularly focused.

Stargazer dragon

I’m still working on the project I hinted at last post, another art-doll dragon, but I decided to make and list a less-ambitious one in the meantime. I have some regrets about my choices on it – not because it’s unattractive, but because it was soooooper-hard to photograph with my limited setup.

I had to make sure the black velvet didn’t just end up as a silhouette. I had to make sure the wings sparkled. I had to make sure the eyes flashed some color (they’re clear AB glass beads).

And most difficult of all: I had to get every bit of cat hair and minky fluff off the darn thing. (I was only mostly successful.)

Sometimes I just let it blow out the exposure for the sake of seeing detail.

Anyway, the work-in-progress one is another gold so at least that part won’t be a problem, and I ordered an adjustable stand so hopefully posing it won’t be a problem either (it’s not a free-standing one). But since it’s a sea dragon I’m super-tempted to visit a beach and get some outdoor pictures with it.

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 ๐Ÿ“ฆ) 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 ๐Ÿงก 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 ๐Ÿ“ฆ 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.