Extremely Festive Dragons

That’s the phrase I keep using to describe these guys because, I mean, just look at them. Their “proper” name is crowntails, because they’re inspired by the betta fish of that type. The purple one is a little ironic because that’s the color a lot of breeders aspire to but, to my knowledge, truly purple bettas don’t exist yet.

The blue-with-red is modeled after an extant betta color, and the black-with-rainbow was sort of a “well, why not go all-in?” I probably should have gone with two blue-and-reds, so that if I screw up some parts I might still end up with one complete dragon. But hey, YOLO, right?

Tiny dragons

I honestly didn’t expect quite as many repeat buyers as I’ve gotten (I have people who want to collect every color of beanie dragon!). It’s been a bit of a race to come up with a variety of “favors” to include in orders. For smaller orders, I’ve started making tinier snap tabs.

The design went through some iterations to achieve “legibility.” This is the last pair of variations: I settled on the design, ran five bronzes, and then after struggling to neatly cut out the circle, revised it to an octagon. Ten fit in a 5×7 hoop, so I can stock up.

Of course, once I’ve gone through all five colors, I’ll need a different design, so I’ve already started on that. This is what the first draft looks like: if you squint, you can kind of tell what’s going on. What looks perfectly clear on the screen and even in the stitch preview can look a lot different when it hits the vinyl. It’ll take a few more revisions before I’m happy with this.

More composition books…

… but no more freebie designs yet, sorry. I’ve gotten kind of hung up on stitching out other people’s designs instead. There are some Urban Threads/Embroidery Library ones there, some String Theory Fabric Art ones, and that’s about it. The white sticky-outy one there is a Wichita city flag, so I guess if anybody really wants it I could put that one out there.

Not pictured is the stack of five or six goofs. I promised a Traveler’s notebook style option, but after experimenting with it I’ve decided it doesn’t quite work with the mini composition books. It would, but not in a 5×7 hoop – putting the composition book on an elastic instead of tucking it into the pockets means it wants to hang out past the edges of the cover.

If you’re sewing on a conventional machine that’s an easy fix: just make the cover about an inch wider. But that would push it about an inch outside the maximum size for my machine (at least, until I got around to figuring out how to align things in the 5×12 hoop).

In any event: I’ve sewn a bunch of them, and am putting them up in the Etsy shop as I get pictures taken. I’ve also put up the standing dragon plushie listing, though right now there’s only one brown dragon in it.

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.