Book bands

Although I keep telling myself I didn’t get the embroidery machine to do conventional embroidery, I keep finding myself doing conventional embroidery. In large part it’s learning how the thing behaves with different materials, and also yielding to the temptation to make cute stuff for my nieces.

It started when I sent my sister a link to a possible teacher gift and she sent back a link to a unicorn book band on that site, for one daughter’s school agenda.

I asked her what she wanted for her planner, and she said a heart, so I went all-in on hearts.

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The Jumping Spider pattern

In-the-hoop jumping spider plush

I wrote about the origin of these spiders on Monday, so I’m happy to say I have a finished pattern and not just another unfinished item to add to my to-do list. It’s designed as an in-the-hoop pattern for an embroidery machine but you can also sew it with a conventional machine and use safety eyes.

After the upgrade to WordPress, I moved the pattern to a permanent home in the Free Patterns section: The Jumping Spider. Look for it there now.

If you make a spider, let me know! Send me an email or tag me on Instagram (don’t forget the underscore in the middle there) or on Flickr

The distractability spider

Yesterday’s pattern development kind of encapsulates how I work.

I decided to release the in-the-hoop dragon as a pattern on Etsy, which meant I needed some pictures for the instructions. I cut some kelly-green minky squares and went through the process. I gave it orange eyes because St. Patrick’s Day is coming up and I was thinking Irish flag. And the more I worked with it the less I liked that green, until I realized it was the unnatural green of a plush Cthulhu. It only took encouragement from one person to get me haring off on an in-the-hoop Cthulhu, even though there are already way too many chibi Elder Gods out there already.

I rushed things a little too much and, in the process of changing the pattern entirely between colors, managed to mis-align the eye-shines:

Dragon and failed embroider

As I went to throw away the goof, I went “ha ha looks like a cute little jumping spider instead” and, well, my heart really wasn’t in Cthulhu anyway.

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Silver dragon work in progress

My experiments with the ice dragon had come close to using up the yard of white upholstery velvet from Fabric.com, so I ordered some more. While I was at it, I picked up a yard of silver on a whim (and also two yards red, which I’m not sure what Past Karen was thinking). Despite the projects already on my plate, “I wonder what surface sewing belly scales on upholstery velvet would look like” turned into… this.

Proper nerds may recognize this dragon as the current style of silver dragon in D&D: frilled head with a “goatee” type chin section. I’ve put my own stamp on it a bit; the official art shows kind of a bloated round nose profile but I toned it down quite a bit. It came out a little more dinosaur-ish than I was shooting for, especially in the above pictures where I forgot to pin the ear on.

I also haven’t decided whether I’m going with the carved-bone horn (black, below) or the smaller icicle-trim horn (chrome, above). The problem with both of them is that they only come in one direction of spiral, so I may come up with something else entirely so they can be properly mirrored.

I can’t say how excited I am that the embroidery-machine plans I’ve had in my head for the last year-plus actually work. At least, they work after a yard of experimentation and fine-tuning on that yard of white. Now the real challenge begins: finishing a project.


Uploading embroidery files over wifi with a Raspberry Pi

A Raspberry Pi Zero attached to a computerized embroidery machine.

Transferring embroidery files to the Brother requires writing them to a USB stick, carrying it over to the embroidery machine, and plugging it in. Doesn’t seem hard, right? Except there’s an annoying bug in my Linux desktop that means ejecting the USB drive sometimes disables the entire USB port. A normal person would just use the command line, but no, I have to make things complicated.

A Raspberry Pi Zero is a single-board computer. Add a case, a microSD card (its “hard drive”), and a USB cable or connector and it’s around $20-30. It has a mode called Mass Storage Gadget in which it pretends to be a USB stick to anything plugged into its USB port. It also has onboard wifi, meaning I can log into it from my desktop machine. Put those two together, and I can just transfer files to my embroidery machine via wifi.

Right now it’s still super-nerdy (it involves a lot of command-line, uh, commands) but when I put together a drag-and-drop interface for it I’ll post the how-to and a downloadable image.

Inkscape and Ink/Stitch

D. Va embroidered patch

I got an early Christmas present (or maybe a very late one, since I have been pricing them out for a year): a Brother PE800 embroidery machine. If you follow me on Mastodon you will have seen me flitting around like a butterfly with ADHD from trial project to trial project, none of which I’ve finished:

Aside from the plushie — a soapybacon pattern — all of the embroidery files are ones I made myself. I think I’ve sung the praises of Inkscape before, but I’ll do it again. It’s a vector drawing program. Think Adobe Illustrator, but… free.

(Well, donor-supported. I threw in $60 this year which is a quarter what Illustrator would cost. But there’s no nag of any kind.)

I use it as a sort of CAD program to draw patterns. I can measure seam lengths to make sure pieces will fit together, even if the seam lines are completely different paths. I can re-color designs by changing a single value, to get variations on pegasus wings or whatever else I’m having Spoonflower print these days. And now, with the Ink/Stitch plugin, I can generate embroidery files to sew those patterns for me.

My husband has suggested I also use it to produce files to have the Cameo cut the fabric, but I’m not ready for a complete robot takeover yet. But yes, I used Inkscape to create the cutting files for the papercraft Lego.

At any rate, it’s a Friday, so here’s a free “sewing” pattern: the D.Va badge. It’s a single color, so it was a good learning process. I didn’t have stabilizer yet so my sample stitch drifted slightly (the ear on the right is properly centered in its border in the file), but otherwise it came out nicely. Here is the original SVG file so you can look at the process. Ink/Stitch does a pretty fair job automatically but I fixed the sharp corners on the border, which otherwise don’t make a clean turn, and added the underlay which for some reason Ink/Stitch doesn’t default to. If you look at the comparison of the badge with someone else’s embroidery you can see the difference when an underlay is used in satin stitching.

D.Va badge, in SVG

Here it is in Brother PES format for a 4×4” hoop.

D.Va badge, in PES

Ink/Stitch can export in a lot of different embroidery formats so if you need something different or if you want to re-size it go ahead and install Inkscape/Stitch and give it a try.

(Or okay, send me an email and I’ll do it.)

We’re back in business!

Work-in-progress pegasus wings

Many years ago, Silver Seams was a little business, which didn’t make much money but kept me busy during my toddler’s naps.

dragonpreview

I’ve decided it’s time to revive it, after hauling tubs of faux furs and other fabrics halfway across a continent. Naturally, the most logical thing to do is start with… miniatures, in low-pile non-bulky fabrics.

cutandsewfabric

Tune in Monday, when I’ll kick things off for real… with a giveaway.

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