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.
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.
There are still some tweaks to make (the neck join, the muzzle, the tail) and of course this is the less-horned Pernese variant, but I have successfully made a non-beanie dragon on a 4×4 hoop. Well, almost: I mirrored the wing and did them simultaneously in the 5×7, just to speed up testing.
It’s a fair bit smaller than the green 5×7-hoop one that made a guest appearance in the call for pattern testers, though I couldn’t really get an angle that showed it.
I may tweak the legs/feet a little more; they’re not much changed from the venerable Basic Standing Dog design.
The forelegs are a little shortened but once the wings are on the curve of the back is not that noticeable. (Yes, I’m seeing both a bat and an otter/ferret pattern happening there.)
I have experimented with a standing-on-hind-legs version but so far I only have a mutant kangaroo. 😂
Pattern testers, of course, will get versions of the pattern only after I’ve settled on a design, well past the mutant-kangaroo stage. The outside testing point is “I have a working pattern, now I have to see if other people can duplicate it with my instructions.”
This week, I’m finalizing patterns and processes and taking instructional pictures with the intention of putting a group of in-the-hoop plushie patterns on Etsy in a week or two. The orcas, I think, will go here on the blog so people can try out the technique and decide if it’s too fiddly for them.
I’m doing my best to minimalize fiddliness, with plenty of positioning stitches and tackdowns and so forth, and I think most of the patterns will be fairly easy to do, or at least will have easy options.
For instance, the chihuahua’s body is very much like the Basic Standing Dog pattern, except there’s just no way to get a five-piece underbody going on in an embroidery hoop. I tried simplifying it to a two-piece, but really at that size a couple of French tacks will stand in for leg darts perfectly well and I don’t think that adds too much hand-sewing.
My plan right now is to shoot for a nice even ten patterns for the shop.
elephant (with variations for African, Asian, or mastodon) with flopsie body
pug (with variations for solid color or mask/ears) with flopsie body
French bulldog (with variations for solid, masked, or bicolor) with flopsie body
chihuahua (with variations for solid or bicolor) with standing body
fox with sitting body
raccoon with sitting body
cat (with variations for solid, points, or tuxedo) with standing body
horse/unicorn/pegasus with standing body
I haven’t made a decision on any more patterns. I’ve thought about releasing the dragon but it’s not quite as dimensional as these patterns, so I don’t think I want to include it in this set. I might do a different dragon, though. I ran a test head last night that came out with a not-very-dragonish profile, but we’ll see what I can tweak it into.
Using the embroidery machine to sew plushies has had an unexpected side effect. My pattern drafting has always tended to be very geometric and mathematical, but the ease with which I can go “eh, let’s see what happens” and float some squares of fabric in a hoop means I don’t spend as much time carefully plotting out how each piece is going to go and pre-planning each dimension of the thing.
Instead, I sorta freeform in it Inkscape. Result? Oh, I didn’t think about how long the schnoz was going to be on that raccoon. In fact, if I change the ears up, it’s more like a fox. I mean, some of it is because I’m making less realistic critters, which is also fairly new to me. Normally if I was drafting a raccoon pattern I would have reference pics of raccoons, raccoon skulls, and so forth, and I would already know just how long that schnoz was going to *need* to be.
I’m not sure it’s a good thing or a bad thing. But it’s a different thing, for me.
Not things that might break the machine (probably!) but rather, “things that might be easier to do on a conventional machine,” or “things the manufacturer really didn’t consider you doing and so the user interface kind of works against you.” Those kinds of things.
Okay, some of them are things that just shouldn’t have been done, period. That seal pattern… whoof. The first draft is rough.
The next in the collection of plushie patterns is a “flopsie” elephant — or in this incarnation, a mastodon. The embroidered face on this one comes from the cartoon mascot for the Mastodon social-network software, and its ears are smaller than the elephant version. At least, one ear is smaller… somehow the one on the other side is the large one.
The mastodon was supposed to have a yarn topknot that matched its braided tail, but I forgot to sew it into the seam. If and when I fix the oversized ear I’ll sew it on top.
I’ve also been experimenting with “puffy” embroidery. I don’t think the tusk is big enough to justify it, and the height of it gets lost in the minky pile. I’ll probably run another version with the black satin outline just to see how it looks.
It also makes alignment more difficult (I goofed this one up, which is why I didn’t finish it) so it’s time to work on a more foolproof system to line things up.
Okay, I have a nearly-finished batch of tiny plush dragons (if I can just stop tweaking the pattern), the nearly-finished owlbear dice bags, a couple of embroidery patterns (look at those cleaned-up jump stitches — yes, I’m turning it into a whole alphabet), and quite a few samples (stash panda, jumping spiders) that, if the sunshine holds, I will take nice pictures of and get into the shop for a Monday morning drop. I’m shooting for 10am EST, wish me luck. Update: Make that 2pm, I forgot I won’t be home at 10 and Etsy doesn’t allow scheduling items as far as I know.
Once I get some of those smaller unfinished projects out of my queendom, I’m going to wrap up that crazy Mew project and put it in the shop, and then get back down to the more sculptural dragons. For real.
Yesterday, I had the brilliant idea of finally getting around to installing the SSD drive in my machine, replacing the spinner. Turns out copying over a quarter-terabyte of data takes awhile, who knew? The Pi’s don’t run Inkstitch so the only stitch files I had were the ones already generated, and I was tired of owlbears (more on that later), wanted to tweak Queen of Unfinished Projects… and I had the tiny beanie dragons, the Pernese flavor (headknobs and applique eyes).
Just because sometimes I struggle with my attention issues doesn’t mean I can’t have a sense of humor about it. I used to have this on a T-shirt (bought at a quilting show – the rare hobby I somehow have not gotten into… yet) and was reminded of it recently. And another impulse project was born.