Water Bottle Carriers

It was an unseasonably warm Halloween here, so among other treats I gave out chilled mini water bottles and juice packs. It was recycling day so there were plenty of carts at the curb to drop empties into, but I also made it easy to hang onto the water bottles by making little snap-tab carriers for them.

I kept things super-simple: each file of eight carriers (the 4×4 version only has two) was just a little over 3,000 stitches. The designs are from The Noun Project, specifically Saeful Muslim’s Line Animals. I copied them into the blank fob design and just used Path->Dynamic Offset to bring the two sides of the line closer together. I broke the paths apart and trimmed out any superfluous pieces to minimize jump threads. I made three different sheets, and did each one on four different colors so there are no two exactly alike and siblings (or classmates) won’t get their bottles mixed up.

There is a Lite version of each size with simple outline stitching, both to cut down on stitch count and to keep the outline from overwhelming the design since except for the two sheets of black designs I stitched everything in white to keep it streamlined. If you want the outline thread to show up more, the non-Lite version uses a bean stitch.

Cutting them out is labor-intensive, but the supplies are fairly cheap in bulk. They’d make good booth filler (especially at a hot outdoor fair), classroom gifts, or freebie items to throw in with your Etsy orders. If you’re not giving them with a water bottle, loop a label around the O-ring that says “let me hold your water bottle!” or the like so people can figure it out.

I got most of my colored vinyl from Designs By Little Bee, and the snaps from KAMsnaps.com. The hardware came from Amazon: a 100-pack of O-rings 📦 and a 100-pack of tiny carabiners 📦. You could also use swivel hooks 📦 which are nicer but considerably more expensive, or split rings instead of O-rings to make keychains.

Note that those carabiners have very narrow ends. It’s a bit hard to tell in the picture above, but the design file includes notches to accommodate them. If you’re using swivel hooks, you may want to edit the design to remove the notches (pretty easy) or use smaller swivel hooks.


5×7 Snap Tray

This week has been a bit disjointed – the above is the only shop stuff I’ve gotten finished – but here’s a little bitty freebie. I realized I made a large conventionally-sewn snap tray and a square 5×5 one, but no fill-the-hoop 5×7 one. I also realized that size will hold all the designs I’ve been putting on notebook covers.

It’s a pretty simple process: first color is a placement mark, second is the inner outline, third is the outer topstitching. There is a fourth layer in the SVG, called “Design,” which is where you’d import your design file (an Urban Threads Shadow Dragon in the above case). Sometime before the last thread color (before or after the inner outline; I prefer before), put a second piece of vinyl on the back of the hoop. That last color also marks your snap placement points. If you don’t ever want to unfold the tray, you can rivet them instead, or simply fold the corner across and sew it – remove the placement circles in the latter case. I rounded the corners with the smaller side of a Crop-A-Dile corner rounder 📦.

Deathly Hallows dangle

I needed a Potter-themed freebie item, so I whipped up a little Deathly Hallows logo and ran it on a bit of sparkly vinyl. I ordered a whole truckload of little bead chains📦 because these little tinies were too small to justify snap tabs. They fit ten to a 4×4 hoop, so they’re fairly efficient.

I’ll put a few in the shop in the next Saturday-morning shop drop, or here’s the file if you want to make your own. As usual, multiple embroidery formats plus the SVG source in the ZIP file. You can scale it up from that as large as you think the satin stitch will let you — certainly big enough to put a snap tab on if you wanted.

Deathly Hallows Dangle (ZIP)

Delivery Truck Snap Tabs

As promised, here is the delivery-truck snap tab freebie. It fits in a 4×4 hoop.

All four trucks are included in one file, so you’ll need to run only the thread colors for the version you want. In the SVG source file, they’re in separate layers so if you prefer you can hide the layers you don’t need and use Ink/Stitch to produce the embroidery file.

Construction is the same as other snap tabs: float a piece of vinyl on top of your stabilizer and embroider on it. Just before the last color, take the hoop off the machine and secure a second piece of vinyl on the back of the stabilizer to cover the threads.

  • Placement Box – Optional; this will show you the size and placement of the top vinyl. I usually just advance to the first stitch and use the needle position to align the lower left corner of the vinyl.
  • Truck – This is the outline of the truck itself. I used gray for the two white trucks, and the logo color for the blue and brown trucks.
  • UPS – This is the shield logo, which should be run in gold.
  • Amazon – This is the arrow, which should be run in light blue.
  • USPS – These are three thread colors in one layer: blue for the logo, red for the top stripe, blue for the bottom stripe. It makes for an extra thread swap (I just jumped ahead to the second blue and then back to the red) but gives you the chance to skip the stripes altogether if you prefer.
  • FedEx – These are two thread colors in one layer: purple and orange, or purple and green.
  • Outline – Place the second piece of vinyl on the back side of the hoop before running this, which will stitch the whole thing together. Run this in the vinyl color – the bobbin thread will show so you may want to use a matching thread there too. It will put in a couple of stitches to indicate snap placement. Pull those threads out completely if you can.

Delivery Fob download (ZIP with DST, EXP, JEF, PEC, PES, U01, VP3, and SVG source file)

Mini composition book covers

I spent the weekend making little vinyl covers for dollar-store mini composition books, mostly for my nieces’ back-to-school care packages. It’s one of my favorite designs: the pen loops also hold the notebook closed.

You can make them on a conventional machine if you don’t have an embroidery machine (or yours is too small), but you can make them entirely in the hoop of a 5×7″ machine.

They also don’t have to be vinyl, just something non-fraying and sewable. Felt, leather, tree leather, plastic bags ironed together to make a fabric; there are a lot of options. You may want to use a different fabric for the cover than for the interior, especially if your main cover is a heavy vinyl or leather.

Some fraying fabrics can be stabilized with Heat N Bond 📦 or the like. If you’re using something lightweight like quilting cotton, the outside piece should probably be bonded to some heavyweight interfacing 📦.

You also don’t have to use an interior piece of fabric other than for the pockets, especially if you don’t have embroidery showing on the back of it.

Prepare your pieces

Download the template.

Cut a piece of your main cover material 5 1/4″ by 7 1/4″, and a piece of the lining material the same size (optional). Cut two pocket pieces 5 1/4″ x 2 1/2″ or, if you’re using quilting cotton, cut two pocket pieces 5 1/4″ x 5 and fold around 5 1/4″ x 2 1/2″ pieces of interfacing so that the folded edge will be the edge of the pocket.

If you have a 4×4″ embroidery machine, embroider your design now, centered about 1 7/8″ right of the center line. The same goes if you’re appliqueing a design, or using any other decoration method that will show through the back of the cover.

Cut three pieces of elastic about 2 1/4″ long. This will fit G2 or Zebra pens; if you’re using a different size of pen you’ll have to experiment to see what works for you. Cut a piece of ribbon (optional) six or so inches long.

On an embroidery machine with a 5×7″ hoop

In the download archive, you’ll find ready-to-use embroidery files as well as the source SVG. You can insert your embroidery design in the Design layer in the Inkscape SVG, centered on the guide line, and use Ink/Stitch to produce a complete embroidery file to use on your machine. If you use different embroidery design software, insert your design before the final stitch color.

Hoop a piece of any type of stabilizer and stitch the outer placement line (optional) and elastic placement marks. Fold your elastic pieces in half and tape them down over the tackdown lines. Tape the ribbon in place at the top. The raw edges should extend about 1/8″ in from the tackdown lines. If your ribbon has a right and wrong side, the right side should face the same way as the main cover (so that it faces up when folded over into the notebook). Try to keep the tape either all the way inside the topstitching line, or more than 1/8″ outside it.

Stitch the tackdown lines (they will go right over the placement stitching), watching closely to make sure nothing gets bumped out of place.

Float your main cover piece face up, making sure it extends at least 1/8″ past the outer placement mark, or 1/4″ past the tackdown stitching. Stitch your cover design if you haven’t already.

Take the hoop off the machine but don’t unhoop the piece. Turn it over and tape the lining piece onto the back with the two pocket pieces at each end. If you’re using bonded quilting fabric, make sure the sides with the fold face each other on the inside.

Put colored bobbin thread on if you’d like — it will show on the inside of the cover. Replace the hoop on the machine and stitch the topstitching. Pay particular attention when the machine is stitching the left side (the bottom edge of the cover, closest to the hoop attachment on most machines), and make sure that edge of the pocket piece hasn’t gotten scraped loose/folded under.

Don’t let this happen to you.

That’s it! Now skip to the end for trimming notes.

On a conventional machine

Build a sandwich of the pieces. The main cover and lining go right-sides-together, with the two pocket pieces at each end. If you’re using bonded quilting fabric, make sure the sides with the fold face each other on the inside.

Using the SVG from the download as a template (you should be able to print it from a browser even if you don’t have Inkscape), fold your elastic pieces in half and pin or clip them in place along the sides, between the main cover and lining. Pin or clip the ribbon in place at the top. The raw edges should extend about 1/8″ in from the tackdown lines. If your ribbon has a right and wrong side, the right side should face the same way as the main cover (so that it faces up when folded over into the notebook).

Make sure everything is properly aligned, take a deep breath, and carefully topstitch all the way around the outside. You can follow the SVG as a template and round the corners, or you can just sew a 6 7/8″ x 4 7/8″ rectangle.

Trimming the cover

You can use a straightedge and rotary cutter to trim the entire bottom edge, about 1/8″ or a little less from the stitching. For the other three, be careful and skip over the elastics and ribbon. Then take conventional scissors (applique duckbills work well), carefully fold the elastic/ribbon down, and trim the cover piece. Then fold the elastic/ribbon up, and trim the stabilizer (for embroidered covers) and lining/pocket pieces.

You can cut the corners off at a 45-degree angle, or carefully round them with scissors or a heavy-duty corner rounder.

Now you’re done! Tuck the covers of your composition book into the pockets, slip a pen in the loops, and that’s it.

Pokeball Snap Tab

Mostly resting my wrists after completing the dragons, but I whipped up another little freebie snap tab design. Apparently my lavender dragon was close enough to an Aerodactyl for someone, so one of these will get tucked in with that.

Happy Independence Day

This isn’t much of an embroidery design; it’s just Ink/Stitch’s built-in font. But if I wore ball caps* and had a hat hoop, this is what I’d wear. Not in red** but maybe teal or purple. The file includes a 4×4 size for hats, and a 5×7 size for totes or whatever, in case you still haven’t tried Ink/Stitch out yourself.

*I wear sun hats; I was born a redhead and while my hair has darkened, my skin has not.
**For the obvious reason, but also because again, redhead coloring.

The dragon emoji downloadable is up

I’ve added the Emoji One Dragon snap tab to the free embroidery designs page. Have fun with it.

I’ve been resting my wrists a bit before working more on the art doll dragons; I’m a week or two late in getting them posted, but this batch is kind of a step up in complexity and I want to make sure they’re done right.

I’ve been restocking beanies and experimenting with different colors for the bronze and/or greens; those will likely show up in the limited-edition slot after the lavenders sell out.

Ampersand snap tabs

When we realized the kid’s birthday fell on D&D night, clearly it was time to make some party favors (or if you prefer: hobbit-style birthday presents). I made use of the ampersand from the dice tray which, I just realized when I tried to link there, I never blogged about! Let me fix that briefly:

It’s pretty much the same as the Jayhawk version, scaled up. It’s a 4×4 inset, but the tray snaps to a little under 8×10 as I recall. I did the rest of the stitching on a conventional machine because, as you can see from the String Theory one above, you can barely squeak out a 3×3 tray doing it entirely in a 5×7 hoop.

Aaaaanyway, I should probably update that one and publish it too. I think I may have been planning to redo it as an applique first, because it is an absurd stitch count.

I remembered this when I scaled it down for the snap tab: making ten or fifteen of those would take forever and at the smaller size was just a little too muddy. I switched it to a bean outline and I’m much happier with it, other than picking out the stabilizer. (As you can see, the black one isn’t done but I decided to rinse it out instead.)

I also went to town with some other String Theory designs. The dice are larger than I really like (maxing out a 4×4 hoop) but it wasn’t worth making my own design just for the sake of this.

Appropriately, the critical-failure die gave me fits. Nothing wrong with the stitch file, it was either the vinyl or I might need to clean out the machine. It kept breaking thread. I rethreaded the bobbin a couple of times, then changed out the bobbin. It wrapped the top thread around its spindle a couple times. Then it broke the needle. Eventually I got it done, and then realized I hadn’t backed the stitching up enough and there was some missing satin stitching right in the middle of the 1. No problem, I thought, I haven’t unhooped so I’ll just run all the way back and pick it up.

Yeah, that doesn’t actually work when you’ve already put the backing on. :facepalm:

(Luckily I wasn’t doing this for the shop because that is NOT up to my quality-control standards.)

In any case, the ampersand is now on the free Embroidery Patterns page.