Scaling up dragons

When I first posted the test dragon to Mastodon, I got some requests for the pattern. Now that I have some minky fat quarters in the shop, I need an excuse for people to buy them and so I remembered the pattern requests. This sounds kinda mercenary, but now that I have gone over the numbers I have a clearer picture of where I need to focus on things.

The current plan is for the printable dragon pattern to be open source, and for the in-the-hoop files to be sold in the shop. So I haven’t completely sold out to The Man. At least, not until I find out how big (or perhaps how small) the market for in-the-hoop plushie designs is.

Cataloging the dragons

I added a page cataloging the one-of-a-kinds so you can see the evolution of them, and also see what’s getting listed next in the shop. The silver sparkle and silver shield dragon are currently listed; sparkle’s been there long enough that I put her on sale. The prices have been inching up, and I suspect I might have found (and slightly exceeded) their proper level.

Next in line, but not yet on its own page because it’s still in-progress, is this extremely purple dragon. I’ve been working on it in between other projects so as not to overdo. I realized partway through trimming All. Those. Spines that the duckbills really needed sharpening, and that actually the Fiskars snips 📦 were a much better choice other than having to be more careful about the points snagging. (Amazon calls those garden snips, and will only let me link to the non-stick version, but mine are an older non-non-stick version and I’m pretty sure fabric stores carry them too.)

I used to hate those, and in fact gave my pair away to someone in the Wichita bear-making guild who had more serious RSI than I have. I inherited the current ones from Mom, gave them a try, and I like them fine – possibly because I’m not trying to use them on mohair. I still hate the little slider clip, which doesn’t keep the tips closed and randomly lets them pop completely open, but this is an older model and maybe the newer ones are better.

The other projects have included a trial run of hybrid dragon mass-production, which is going well.

Hybrid dragons

As promised, I tried out a hybrid between the beanie dragons and the art dolls. It’s pretty hard to optimize these for mass production; the beanies I can at least group heads to minimize thread change overhead. I can fit two wing pieces at the same time for this one but that’s it. I’ll try assembly-lining them and see how efficient I can get.

After battling with a longhorn version (like the Stargazer) and getting the minky bound up in one horn such that I can neither turn nor un-turn it (the perils of stretchy fabric), I decided to do a Pernese “headknobs” version.

“Y’know,” N’ton began, frowning slightly as he folded his arms across his damp-spattered tunic, “Ruth isn’t really white.” Jaxom stared incredulously at his dragon. “He’s not?” “No. See how his hide has shadows of brown and gold, and ripples of blue or green on the near flank.”

Anne McCaffrey, The White Dragon

I tried out a couple of variegated metallic threads for the wing stitching. I should do that on some beanies too.

New colors of beanie dragons are going into the shop

I’m not adding any new listings, but I’m adding a half-dozen new colors for a total of fifteen. Or seventeen, if you count the original “bronze” and blues, which I could always make again (though that bronze is pretty close to the new brown, and is in less-fluffy and now discontinued JoAnn minky).

Now that Etsy allows specific pictures to be matched with variations, I’m going to put the four new hatchling colors in with the mint-green ones (the white dragon gets to keep his own listing), and there’s a new “mocha” brown and new “mallard” green in the 6″ listings.

Aside from finishing up the rest of these batches, that pretty much catches me up for awhile on beanie dragons, and the art dragons sell more slowly so those *should* be caught up for a little while. I’m going to make a few hybrid dragons and see if I can’t streamline the process of making minky standing dragons enough to make them profitable. I’m thinking something like this test dragon I made, but with wings like the beanies.

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.