During these weeks in lab we worked with textiles, sewing, and embroidery. I happened to also be in a fashion class this semester, so I was excited to get the opportunity to learn some new things that could add to my clothing construction repertoire. I’ve also never been around embroidery machines before, so that was an exciting prospect.
During the first week of this lab we had to make small drawstring bags. Since I missed the actual lab section, I ended up constructing this on my own at a separate time. I was definitely still getting a hang of dealing with the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ sides of fabric during this time and as you can see in the pictures, some of the parts of my bag ended up in the wrong spot. I decided to make the most of this and have a bag that has outer pockets instead of the lining that it was supposed to have. I decided to hand sew some parts of the bag for practice as well (although now that I know a little more I always try and avoid hand sewing). Making this bag actually ended up kind of helping me in my fashion class as well, later down the line. When making two whole(!) outfits for my final project I needed some way to secure the waist of some shorts I planned on creating. I thought back to this assignment and realized I could make a similar drawstring (coming out of the sides of the shorts) that would both be functional, as well as stylistically unique.
The following week in lab, we learned to use the embroidery machines to sew vector images into fabric. This is something I’ve wanted to learn about and play with for a really long time since I draw and have created vector images in the past that I think would be really interesting to sew into clothes. In lab I got the opportunity to make myself the majority of a squirrel patch (side note: embroidery can be really time consuming). I was really impressed by how accurate and clean everything looked with my squirrel. I realized there were probably a ton of really cool things I could do for my final embroidery. I didn’t really experience any serious issues with this patch in lab, but when it came to making my final piece I ran into a totally different set of problems in making a patch work out, which I will discuss a little later.
For my final textile product I decided I wanted something that could be useful to me and serve a function instead of something that just looked cool (especially since I was still working on upping my fabric craftsmanship). When I looked through all of my options I eventually came across a pencil bag that I thought would be super helpful because I’m always searching for all of my different art pens, pencils, and other tools which can be spread across my apartment, throughout my backpack, etc. With this bag I would be able to keep everything contained and in one place.
I immediately thought of a drawing I had done a while back that would make the perfect embroidery to put on it and I thought about all the extra clothes I had at my apartment that could possibly used for fabric. I ended up deciding on a tie-dye shirt as the fabric I would use for the outer lining. Once I started working on the actual bag, however, I realized all the mistakes I had unwittingly made. My original drawing, vectorized, turned out to be too much for the embroidery machines to handle. The file size was too large, even when trying to reduce the density of stitches, turn outlines into running stitches, or trying to simplify the vector image. This was a major bummer for me as I really wanted to see that image in fabric form. After I gave up and decided to create a new vector image I began starting into my patch for the outside lining. This is when I ran into even more problems!
I soon found that the embroidery machines don’t quite work with t-shirt material by itself, not matter how taut you get it on the hoop. The fabric I had cut from my t-shirt ended up getting sucked down into the bobbin pit and getting all caught up in everything. I decided to suck it up, cut a new piece (the last I could get out of the t-shirt), and try it again with some stabilizer. The stabilizer did help some, but with my specific design having the heavy filled areas, it still ripped and ended up letting the fabric get caught up in the machine again. I tried one more time to no avail and just decided to get my patch made so I could move on.
I grabbed a piece of canvas and started into it. One of the types of fabric I tried to use to embroidery immediately broke and I couldn’t get it to work no matter what I tried (it was pearlescent and I think it just wasn’t strong enough for the tension the embroidery machine needs). What happened then is still somewhat of a mystery to me. When I started into my canvas piece it was late into the night and I was unable to finish before the fab lab closed up. I left my machine until the next day and started back into the patch. Somewhere along the way it got unaligned which ended up being the final patch you see on my bag. I decided that I was fine with just using that patch to try and get this whole ordeal over with. As per usual, I decided to try and work with what I was given and decided to try and use the patch as a little pouch on the front of the bag, to help give it some utility. After attaching that to the outer lining I ironed some interfacing onto the outer lining to help give it some rigidity. I then attached my inner lining and a zipper to enclose the whole thing. My bag ended up being a little different than what the guide was looking for, but I like the way it looks personally and think it is much more unique than the standard pencil bag.
I had a lot of trials and tribulations in the process of making these objects, but I think that’s a lot of what getting good with textiles takes — experimenting and trying things out until the process makes sense in your head. I definitely think I need to spend some more time around embroidery machines to try and really get my skills up to par there and test out how you can make different fabrics work out with them. I also think that designing projects to be cut into pieces and aligned later takes a certain level of organization skill and planning that I still might not be at yet. Either way, I was still really happy with the items I produced and plan on getting as much use out of them as possible. That’s one thing I really love about textiles — the opportunities are so limitless and it’s instantly gratifying to make an object that can serve some kind of real purpose for people.
I learned a lot about handling machines through these weeks and in conjunction with my fashion class, this time period was a time where I really upped my skills in textiles a visible (at least in my opinion) amount. Being able to figure out ways to turn mistakes into benefits was definitely a skill I pulled out of textile work quickly. I actually bought my own sewing machine recently due to how much fun I have had with all the textile prospect I’ve taken on now and hope to make lots more stuff soon! Since I’m a little late in turning in this write-up, I’ve decided to include some other projects I took on in my fashion class in hopes for a little credit or at the very least to show that I do kind of know my way around textiles. There are more, but here are the highlights:
I feel I’ve reached a stage close enough to completion to make this post. I decided to challenge myself and make a plushie for this project. Initially, what was most difficult was making clean and tight cuts in the fabric.
My efforts there were met with mixed success, and some parts of the plushie suffer (all the appliques were really hard). Straight line sewing stuff together was difficult since I had to be very mindful of the curvature to sew within the allowed margins. Whipstitching was fun but took a very long time since there were a lot of small pieces. Basically, everything took a long time.
When I finally wrapped things up with the face, I used the machine to make straight line stitches to construct the form of the body. I had to be very patient here since I had to constantly compensate for bad edges and shape by pulling fabric and shifting it. Finally, I stuffed it thoroughly and did a ladder stitch to close the back.
I formatted this post as what nearly amounts to stepping through my entire process because everything I did presented some kind of challenge that I wasn’t familiar with, and all of it was worth mentioning. Pretty fun stuff!
Subtitle: I Did Not Realize I Could Mess Up So Many Things In So Many Ways, Incredible.
Other possible subtitles: Embroidery Machines Why Don’t You Love Me, How Did I Lose The Pupils??, I Should Really Figure Out The Ladder Stitch, and Why Don’t I Own Fabric Scissors.
I’m not proud of this project as much as I would like to be (which is even suckier considering its late, oops), but I still learned a lot.
First, the in-class stuff:
I seriously love this bag. I’d love to have another. I might make another, honestly.
This is the embroidery: It’s a head of a white wolf, from japanese folklore called Amaterasu, the sun god, It’s specifically a video game adaptation. It’s called chibiterasu. its adorable.
He’s a kitty bean, and a lovely mint color (although it doesn’t come out super great in photos). Also, yes, his pupils are not there. I have no idea where the eye shines went. More elaboration later.
This is the embroidery part; I was worried about embroidering on the softer mink fabric, so I decided to make him a lil cape. I was gonna put a hood on it too, but due to me not having fabric scissors, I don’t want to risk cutting the black fabric more than I have.
The embroidery did /not/ come out good. I would like to redo it entirely, but the embroidery machines gave me a surprising amount of trouble and I didn’t have time to iterate on it. 🙁 Per Duncan’s opinion, that white etchy-look was due to the bobbin thread being loose. It’s supposed to look a lot cleaner (a picture of the PES file is also below). I debated turning it over and using the white side instead, but opted against it in the end.
I might redo the embroidery at some point, just for me, once I have time. I like embroidering, but I have a weird amount of difficulty with the machines. After not having enough time + breaking a needle on a machine + the weird threading issue + starting over a few times on embroidering, I think any time set aside for embroidery needs to have at least an extra hour or too to account for my inability to use the machines properly,
I spent a good amount of time putting together the design myself. Once I knew what fabric I wanted to use, and that I wanted a cape, I wanted some kind of sprawling plant design with maybe some scattered stars but couldn’t find anything I wanted online so I, (admittedly panicking at this time because i was already running on limited time), threw something together. The mess at the top is supposed to be a cluster of mint leaves, while the ferns encircle a line of stars going down.
Sewing wise: The entire plush was hand sewn. In a small part because the fab lab was closing and also I wasn’t entirely sure I trusted the machine for plushie work, and I had….. some… experience with hand sewing.
My stitches are… not great. Admittedly. I also don’t have the best instinct for facing things the right way. or putting the “good” sides together, so…. things took way longer than they had to, honestly. Pictures from the process below.
THESE EARS. These are included because I redid the stitching, I kid you not, 7 times, because I kept on sewing it so that they weren’t mirrors of each other, or so that the good fabric was facing the wrong way, or both. I /kept doing it/. 7 Times. It was a mess.
Last known sighting of the pupils (a little white fluff in the top left corner). I swear I stuck them with th rest of the fabric when I stuffed it into my backpack to take home for sewing. but they’re gone.
Ladder stitch! Mentioned because I “learned” it and went “oh wow! thats really neat!” and had a moment of “i can do ANYTHING now that I know this!”. It was nice. I’m still very bad at it, but its nice knowledge to have.
“It was at this point, she squinted at her handiwork at like 5 in the morning and went: ” why…….. are the legs……. off center………………….”
Additional fun things: I don’t own fabric scissors, and realized at one point I forgot to cut out a second of one of the pieces, and that I needed to cut the cape so it could be fastened properly. Things that can cut but do not work as well as fabric scissors: Multitool knife, art knife, my spare knife.
Anyway, funtime goodtimes.
Lastly, I set up the cape (having brought the fabric home). I cut some of it off so that I could make a little button fasten.
Me, abruptly, at this point: …………. wait, do I know how to sew on buttons? (thankfully, the answer was yes).
It comes unbuttoned!
Overall, not my best work, definitely. I learned a lot, have a lot of respect for anyone who works with fabric regularly. I’d like to do more fabric work, but I definitely need more time than I gave myself for it.
This assignment was a very good experience for me. I never did sewing or embroidery before this assignment. It consisted of three parts:
- Simple Drawstring Pouch
- Multicolor Patch
- Custom Sewn & Embroidered Piece
Because it was my first time doing something on the sewing machine, the first part of the assignment was very interesting and fun. It was also not very difficult. I started by choosing two different fabrics, and then just following the steps, mentioned in the presentation. Since, there was a description for all the steps the process became very less challenging. I wanted to use different fabrics for inside and outside of the pouch.
Inside the Pouch
The entire process was straightforward. I just encountered one challenge in finishing this pouch. I made a mistake in sewing the part, where it transitions from one fabric to another fabric, because of which my pouch had a very small hole to insert a string. In an effort to insert the string, I broke a wooden stick inside one of the holes. It was a bit of struggle to remove the broken stick from a small hole. The pouch turned out to be okay, and of great use; since, I am using to store my earphones, phone charger, etc.
For the second part of the assignment, we had to create an embroidery patch, which has at least three colors. I chose the logo of google for this part. It had at least three colors, and was also not very complicated. First, we had to modify the picture in Inkscape, and then to embroider via PE-design app.
Patch in making
I faced one challenge in making this patch. When I modified the image in Inkscape, it looked fine. However, when I imported that image in PE-Design software, it was around fifteen steps to finish the embroidery. I had some problem in my modified image, because of which I had to modify it again. After the modifications, the number of steps got reduced to five, and it worked perfectly.
For the third part of the assignment, we had to create a sewn and embroidered piece. For this part, I decided to make a astrobunny plushy.
Plushy from the tutorial
Since, this part was longer than the other two, the entire process took me many hours. There was a step by step guide available, which was very helpful in the completion of this project. The first step was to collect different fabrics. I collected many fabrics of different colorS. After getting all the fabrics, with the help of paper layouts, I cut the different fabrics in shape of the main body, face, jetpack, jetpack flames, eyes, mouth, bands, front buttons, and front panels. After having the cutout of fabrics, I decided to work on the embroidery part. For that part, I decided to embroider a rocket on the back of the plushy. In order to embroider the rocket, I faced the similar problem that faced while embroidering google logo. However, it worked fine at the end.
The rocket turned out to be okay, but I was happy with the outcome. After embroidering the rocket patch, I decided to arrange different parts on the main fabric.
I started by sewing the face patch on the body, and then eyes and mouth on the face. I wanted to get done with one side of the plushy, and then continue to the next side of it. After sewing all the components of face, I sewed all the bands, buttons, and panel on the front side of the plushy. Later, I sewed all the bands on the back side of the plushy. With the step-wise guide, it was easy follow the steps and keep track of the process.
After that, I sewed the front side of the plushy to the back side of the plushy. After getting done with sewing the body, I made a cut in back side of the body, and turned the right side out. Then, I stuffed the plushy from that cut.
Stuffed the Plushy
After stuffing the plushy, I worked on creating the jetpack. After finishing the jetpack, I hand-sewed the cut at back of the body and attached the jetpack at the back of the plushy. I never hand-sewed before, but it turned out to be fine.
Final Product- Front Side
Final Product- Back Side
The plushy turned out to be good, and I was satisfied with the final product. I learned a lot though this assignment, and I did the stuff, like sewing and embroidery, that I would never have done without this assignment. It ended up taking a lot of more hours than expected, but I learned a lot of new skills. There were many challenges that faced, but every time I overcame them. I never did sewing and embroidery, and because of this assignment, I learned those skills. It was a great experience, and I enjoyed the process.
In lab we made pouches and made a small embroidered design. From these projects I was introduced to how to set up the sewing machine for both embroidery and sewing purposes and how to change stitch pattern and order.
I really liked the colors from this and decided I would use similar ones for the final project
I didn’t realize what fabric would be on the outside when I first started sewing so in the end I had to flip the bag inside out to show the fabric I wanted
When I went to start the final project I new I wanted to make something I would use for sure so I decided to make a jeans skirt from material I had. When I first started, my idea was to do a vine design along the from of the skirt by the corner but soon I realized I would have to know the dimensions of the skirt before I started embroidery to accomplish that. This lead me to change my embroidery design to something that could be scattered all along the front side of the skirt. I planned to embroider the 4″x 4″ design multiple times on to the skirt. I ran into spacing issues when the embroidering hoop wasn’t exactly like the design space on the computer so I couldn’t envision when the flower placement would be. I also had issues with my bobbin tension, and the fabric moving in the sewing hoop during the embroidery so the centers of the flowers weren’t in the right positions.
Off center flowers, not completely covering the top flap of the skirt
Once I finished embroidering, I started to sew. The plan was to sew a waistband-less skirt with a zipper in the back, which was accomplished, but the fit wasn’t all too great. First I sewed on the zipper (not realizing that the back flap of the skirt had to be a bit longer, so I had a too small zipper). I used a skirt that I already had for measurements but I wasn’t too precise about marking them onto the fabric I was using so at first I had a very loose skirt that had no shape. This was easier to fix then an already tight skirt so I wasn’t too worried. I added darts (pinched triangle on to the back flap of the skirt) to bring in the waist and that gave the skirt some shape. On the first try the darts were too big and there wasn’t any room for my butt. On the second try, I made the triangles smaller and my waist “fit” but there were weird protrusions from them in the back.
The circle shows the darts and the “weird protrusion”, the square shows the too short zipper
If I were to do the project again, I would draw out my clothing pieces on paper with proper measurements so I wouldn’t have to do so much adjusting by the end of the project. I learned how to change needles, move back and forth on my stitches during embroidery, change the feet of the machines and so much more. I feel much more confident going into any other sewing projects I will attempt in the future, thank you to all the course staff that helped me with all my questions!
This is the final product.
front, slightly loose on the waist
back, darts stick out a bit, and zipper is a bit short, I’ll try and add a clasp to it
This biweekly project was about sewing machines. For me, it is an interesting area with very limited knowledge/experience before.
Four stages were designed for us to learn the sewing-101. The first one was a very barebone practice: stitch the lines and curves drawn on a piece of cloth.
This stage gave me a hot start on sewing. Stitching feels smooth with the machine. Some reflection out of this experience was that although there are teeth helping to move the cloth while stitching, there is still a great level of freedom for the hands to guide the stitch line. This was a lesson of both bless and curse. It means for getting a beautiful straight line, we need to pay significant attention to the process throughout the operation.
The second stage was a pouch with both an outer cloth and a lining layer. With an extra piece of material, more techniques were then introduced. The old wisdom of hiding the stitch lines was of particular interest to me–stitch two pieces together and then reverse the sewed-together piece inside out. After guided-in the drawstrings with a skewer, I ended up with a useful and not bad looking bag. With very clear step-by-step instructions, I encountered few challenges for getting this pouch.
Front of the pouch
Back of the pouch
The third stage was the second lab session, which was about embroidery. This stage brought back some of our learned skills before in the process of fine-tuning the graphic. This mountaineer logo contains 5 colors. In the practice in class, the finished logo looks rather good on the white cloth. But later after I did it again on the yellow cloth for the fourth stage, the gap between the blue sky and the orange ring became more noticeable. It is still fine for classwork, but imagine if this happens for a commercial product. It would look cheap for the brand. This was not reflected in the software planning stage, I’m still not quite sure how to prevent such crack on the finish. Simply extend both colors’ shape has the danger of stacking. Or maybe, I should have zoomed in more in the software.
Front of the logo
Backside of the logo
The last one was quite a challenge. I picked one of the highest difficulty among those pre-approved patterns–a bag with many elements. I’ve made a mistake in choosing the materials. The exterior material was very stiff and the lining was super stretchy. This made the stitching process a total hell. It was almost impossible to lineup two pieces for an acceptable finish. Also, because of the thickness of the yellow material, the button parts can barely hang on. One of them just fell off after one use. This stage taught me alot. Sewing pieces together and create a useful and aesthetically acceptable and durable textile product is not as easy as it looks. Lots of planning and techniques are needed for a good finish.
Cutting materials for the outer layer
Cutting pieces for the lining material
Exterior of the bag
Interior of the bag with pen and zippered pocket
For the textile assignment, I started out by trying the automated embroidery machine for the first time. To get used to the machine, we made a small string bag during class time. I chose my fabric and followed the steps given by Duncan. The steps were easy but the machine was more difficult than expected. The lines weren’t straight and I even sew the wrong parts so, I had to go back and re-do the steps. The bag came out better than I expected and I actually used it to put my perfumes in during spring break.
This is my pouch I made during class, I only put on handle since it was much more comfortable using it.
One week later, we made a patch during class with the embroidery machine. I once again used the Murakami flower as my model. The separating process was easy since it was already color blocked. I just got rid of the grey and black layer that was unnecessary and everything was good. I used the chain stitch method for the outer border to make it more firm and used green and white to color the panels. I am really satisfied with what I got.
This was my initial design that I created with PES
This is what it looked like when I moved it to the sewing machine to do the embroidery.This is my final patch made in class, I really like how the colors turned out. Also I used chain stitching for the black part so it would give a more stable finish.
For my final project, I decided to make a rolling pencil case. I have modified the measurements so I can put bigger things than a pencil such as perfumes when I travel. I got the idea and learned the basic steps from youtube. I started by choosing fabrics for my piece. I first chose a very thin piece so I can sew on my embroidery. However, since the fabric was too thin, even with the stabilizer, the sewing machine kept on getting clogged up and it was impossible to progress. So, I changed my fabric to a fleece-like fabric that had some thickness to it. Everything went well after I changed the fabric and embroidery was done without any problem. After that, I followed the steps shown in the youtube video, cut out the fabrics, sew on the pockets, sew on the handle and finally sew the whole thing inside out to finish it. The final sewing part before I turned it inside out was troublesome since I didn’t really know how much of a space I needed in order for me to turn it inside out. As a result, I actually left much more than I needed and had to sew that part again. Through the troubles and some difficulties, I finished my project. The end product is what I expected and it fits my perfumes perfectly! I’m very excited to use this in the future especially when I travel.
This is after I cut out all the fabric that I will use for my final product.
This is what it looked like before I turned it inside out.
These are pictures of my end product with the perfume put into place, the general look of the outside and how it looks when I roll up the case.
I had only done a little bit of sewing before this project cycle, so it was fun learning how to use a sewing machine again and learning some new ways to hand sew in this lab.
The first thing I did, besides the practice piece during lab, was the small bag.
This really helped me get used to using the sewing machine again and helped me get into the sewing mindset. It was difficult during this to picture how to piece it all together and be able to pull it inside out in the end to form the actual bag, but doing this helped prepare my way of thinking for the actual project later on. I made a couple smaller mistakes on the bag where I needed to rip the thread out with a seam ripper, but overall it went fairly well.
Next up was the embroidery. I needed to embroider an image of at least three colors, including the background. I looked online for some logos to embroider and came across the Shell logo. One of my friends is going to be working there as an intern this summer, so I decided to embroider a patch with the logo on it for her.
If you look closely near the bottom of the yellow section, there is a gap between the yellow and the red. I learned during this that if reinforcement parchment or other material is not used behind the fabric, this stretching of the fabric can occur and result in gaps like the one above. I also learned that embroidering the white background as I did above takes a long time. This was useful to know for the final part of this lab.
Lastly, I decided to create a Chain Chomp. I like Nintendo games and Chain Chomps have always been cool, so this sounded like fun to me.
Due to the design of the Chain Chomp, I had the choice of either creating the chain or the chomp (what I call the head) first. I chose to do the chain first, mostly because I thought it would be easier. It was not.
The end of the chain (in the first picture above) was easiest. It was just two circles and a ring connected together, stuffed with batting. I did have to ask Emilie for help in how to put them together because I still was not sure how to put it together in a way where it would be turned inside out and form the cylinder shape. After this part though, I was able to picture this process in my head much better for the remainder of the project.
The next part of the above images was the actual chain. The first chain was relatively easy. After that though, it all became quite difficult. Having to sew each ring together, while inside of another ring was a pain. I could only end up sewing about half of it or a little more with the sewing machine and had to hand sew the rest after turning it inside out. This resulted in most of the chains not looking great, but a couple of them still turned out good.
Next was the chomp.
I started out by cutting out the materials and brought them home. I then hand sewed the majority of the facial features onto the red and black football shaped cutouts.
This turned out pretty well. I did have to teach myself some new ways to sew, as nearly everything I had sewn in the past had been on edges of material to fix things and I had little experience with sewing in the middle of an object.
Also in the above picture (last one), I have the chain completed. The instructions recommended to sew it with a ladder stitch, so I learned how to do this as well and it came together nicely.
Next was the embroidery. I decided to go with a Nintendo theme and embroidered a colorful logo onto the bottom of the Chain Chomp. Even though Chain Chomp first appeared on the NES, I decided to embroider the Nintendo 64 logo instead, due to the colors and that I liked it better.
Even with the reinforcement for backing, it still stretched out a bit, but overall it looks pretty good. I did get some help from Duncan for this, and he said I would absolutely need reinforcement for the fleece that I was using. Also I decided to use fleece for this whole project partially because the instructions recommended it, but also because I thought it would feel nice for a plushie.
One problems that I encountered was when I accidentally sewed the two black pieces of the face almost completely together. I thought the instructions said to do this, but after turning it inside out through the whole I left, I found this was very wrong. I ended up with a small football with a N64 logo on it. I needed to rip out a lot of stitches here, so that I could connect these pieces to the rest of the face. Since the ripped parts are deep on the inside of the final chomp, it didn’t really matter too much.
Once I connected the rest of the chomp with the sewing machine, I had the chomp and chain to connect to finish the project (plus the small hole on the chomp to hand sew). I did this at home later with my sewing kit, including ladder stitching the chain on, and it was complete.
For this assignment, we were told to make three things through sewing and embroidery: drawstring bag, a simple patch, and one slightly modified creation from an approved pattern.
I was really nervous about this assignment, due to the fact that have no experience with sewing or embroidery in the past. However, once I started using a sewing machine, I felt much more confident.
For the drawstring bag, we simply followed the instructions and created a bag with an interior lining using the sewing machines. I didn’t really have any problems.
The second deliverable was a simple embroidery onto canvas. I decided to embroider the Pokémon Company logo. We used Inkscape to convert the image into a vector image. We had to make sure that every part of a different color was ungrouped as an individual step of the embroidery. We then ran the vector image through PE Design in order to determine how the embroidery would be made. Finally, we used the embroidery function of the sewing machines to make the embroidery. One of the eyes was slightly distorted, but it, overall, came out well.
For the final deliverable of this assignment, we were to sew a piece from an approved pattern, while incorporating an embroidery using at least four colors of thread. I decided to make a Shiba Inu Cube Plush. For a personal touch, I decided that I would embroider wings on its back. Unfortunately, that would mean that my embroidery would only have two colors. Due to that, I made the decision to not only embroider wings on its back, but also embroider its entire face.
Face Embroidery Design
I was worried that it wouldn’t be possible to embroider the face due to size limitations, but there was a sewing machine capable of an embroidery of this size. I used pink thread for the tongue, black thread for the eyes, nose, mouth and outline of the wings, white thread for the wings, and a cream thread for the muzzle, eyebrows and (due to a lack of forethought) part of the eyes. Naturally, there had to be some malfunctions, such as a needle breaking, running out of bobbin thread, etc. Luckily, the staff was able to help me fix these problems. After the embroideries were completed, I traced the pattern to determine where I need to cut and began cutting and sewing. I would say the worst step was the first part that I needed to sew, which was the inner legs to the bottom. Sewing those four inner legs alone took an hour for me to complete. From that point on, I followed the pattern to sew the rest of the pieces. Unfortunately, I got so absorbed into sewing the pieces together that I forgot to take any pictures until I had practically finished the body, leaving a small hole to turn the plush inside out and stuff it.
Plush After Stuffing
Once the plush was stuffed, I hand-sewed the hole closed using a ladder stitch. I then proceeded to make the tail and hand-sew the end closed with a gathering stitch, as well as hand-sewing it to the body using another ladder stitch. For my second time ever sewing, I would say it came out quite nicely.
I, surprisingly, enjoyed this assignment. When it was decided that we would do a sewing project, I felt that I was going to do a lot of frustrating work for a product that would look absolutely terrible. While there were times in which I was quite annoyed making the final deliverable, I did enjoy the process overall, and am happy with how it turned out. There definitely could be improvements made. For example, on close inspection, it is easy to tell where I hand-sewed on the plush. The main way to fix that would be to simply get better at hand-sewing. This assignment has definitely shown me that sewing isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Thanks to this assignment, I now have a new life skill.
For this 2-week project, I became familiar with making embroidery and using a sewing machine – skills I only remember learning in a home economics class I took in middle school but never applying again until now.
As an introduction to the sewing machines, our first assignment was a simply drawstring bag. I used a patterned fabric to make up the outside of the bag while the inside was a solid color.
The second assignment was an introduction to the embroidery component and creating embroidery patterns on our fabrics. We chose simple, multi-colored images from the web and used Inkscape to prep the image to be embroidery-ready. Then we used a software called PEDesign to view the image as an embroidered object, and send it off to our sewing machine.
For my image I chose the Captain America shield. However, due to time running out during lab, I did not quite get a chance to finish the embroidery.
Captain America shield embroidery
Our final assignment was one where we got to choose a pre-approved pattern to sew and embroider our own pattern on ourselves. I decided to go with the adorable Kitty Bean plushie, as I wanted to pick a fun pattern like a plushie but also choose something that seemed simple enough for even a beginner to accomplish.
While the original pattern called to sew the face of the cat on yourself, I chose to embroider it instead. I used Inkscape to design simple blue eyes, a pink nose, and black whiskers for the cat.
Embroidering was definitely the most challenging and, admittedly, frustrating part. In my first attempt, I did not include a stabilizer with the fleece fabric I bought from Joann Fabrics for the cat’s body, thinking it would be thick enough to handle the machine itself. It certainly could not, and I ended up only jamming my machine early on. In my second attempt, I used stabilizer but for some reason the fleece still got caught under the quick movement on the machine, and it jammed again. My third attempt was finally successful.
Once the embroidery part was finished, sewing the parts and body together felt more simple. However, I’m still no sewing expert, so it was slow-moving and ultimately the design did not turn out as perfect as the example pictures the instructions provide.
Overall though, I’m still pretty happy with the result. She’s definitely not perfect, but being the novice I was (and still am), I’m proud of my creation despite its flaws. Despite some mild frustrations, this was still one of my favorite projects we’ve done so far, and definitely peaked my interest in sewing.
Textiles Write Up
I decided to do the fabric box (https://cholyknight.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/collapsible-fabric-boxes-sewing-pattern.pdf) for my project. Since it was a lot of fabric to use, I went to Joann over spring break and got various patterns to make the patchwork. Since my family doesn’t have a sewing machine, all I could do over break was the cut up the fabric and iron it down. The pattern called for 75 squares of fabric, but I ended up just making as much as I could with what I had. All in all, I think I cut about 100 squares and ironed all of them. I ironed the sides down to make it easier once I would be able to sew all the patches together and allow me to have a guideline for where to sew.
The fabric swatches I picked.
The size each patch had to be, the dotted line showing where I needed to iron the flaps down.
Fabric piece after I had ironed down the sides.
After ironing, I couldn’t do anything until I got back to campus. On Sunday I sewed all the patches into rows, then sewed the rows together. I had to once again iron both sides of the rows once they were sewn together, otherwise it would have been very uneven. The rows alternate between eight full patches and seven and two half patches. Once it was all sewn together, I printed out the project pattern and lined it up so I could have templates to cut the sides. I hated cutting the entire patchwork because it felt like I was working backward.
Rows after I had sewn the patches together.
I had to cut lining of the same size from the templates to sew to the patchwork. Before I did this, I did the embroidery on the front side of the box. I edited a photo of yarn I found online since I’m going to use this box to store yarn.
This is mid-embroidery. The sides all looked similar to this – with many rows of patches sewn together to form a square.
Once the embroidery was done, I could sew all the linings on, then turn it inside out. I didn’t have enough lining of my own so I had to mix some colors. I had some plain white parts and some flowered patterns. With all the sides turned out, I could insert the interfacing (which is something called Peltex). This material was sturdy enough to allow the box to stand up and I only had to iron it for it to stick to the patchwork – Peltex was new to me for this project and the pattern called for a specific kind, but I was pleasantly surprised with how easy it was. To construct the box, I had to sew the wrong side of the fabrics to the bottom. It sticks together with sewing at the bottom, and with velcro on the sides. The velcro I got was iron on, which after trying one with the recommended time of 90 seconds made it melt so much it didn’t stick properly, so I did the rest with around 60 seconds of heat.
Box laying flat after I had sewn the sides to the bottom.
It turned out a little sloppier than I would have liked, but I think for my first major sewing project, it came out well. My one huge noticeable mistake was one of the linings inside – I didn’t sew it right, since I wanted the pattern to be facing the other way like it is on the other sides. It doesn’t bother me too much, but I think it would have looked better the way I intended.
Even though it was a fairly rushed project, I still had a lot of fun doing this assignment and think that sewing is something I would pursue in the future. With more time, I think it would have been neater, but it will serve its purpose and I might eventually make a lid for it as a side project.