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Archive for January, 2012

Can you believe January is already done? The winter is flying by, and guess what? Valentine’s Day is coming up fast!

If you’re looking for a fun, unusual, and affordable gift for your sweetie this year, why not take a trip over to my Etsy shop and check out my ever-expanding line of embroidered patches? Order yours by Friday, February 3 for guaranteed delivery by Valentine’s Day, and please add VALENTINE in the note section of your order to let me know this is a gift purchase.

Ah, but now you’re wondering exactly what you should buy for that special someone. There are so many options!

For an appropriately themed gift, we offer the Victorian Love Potion label patch, which mimics a period sepia tone and is great for anyone into the steampunk scene. For romantically inclined gamers, we have the Legend of Zelda heart container patch (we’ll leave it to you to fill that last container with your love for your significant other).

 

 

 

For fantasy fans, particularly loyal followers of George R.R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” series, why not buy a bouquet of House patches? You can buy a set of three, six, or all nine at discounted prices! Also choose from individual House patches and the “Dark Wings, Dark Words” patch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whovians, you have as many choices as the Doctor has had regenerations! Of course there is Storied Threads’ original Doctor Who Awareness Ribbon patch, our best-selling design in 2011, which tells the world that both your hearts belong to everyone’s favorite time-traveler.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since it’s also an election year, you could voice your choice with the new Vote Saxon patch; or broadcast your Doctor Who appreciation with the more subtle Seal of Rassilon or Time Lord Seal patches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A lot of people think that the “Twilight” saga embodies modern romance. I’m not one of them, and if you’re not either, the Sparkly Vampire Hunter geek merit badge design is for you! This is a variant on our classic Vampire Hunter geek merit badge featuring sparkly silver blood – great for Team Jacob boosters or people who just hate “Twlight.”

 

 

 

Celebrate one of the great love affairs in sci-fi, between Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, with the I Want To Believe patch, which claimed the top spot for sales in January!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, don’t forget your four-legged friends need love too, and you can show it with one of our embroidered pet bandanas. Choose from the dog or cat skull-and-crossbones designs or the Rescue design, for those special shelter animals.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Space improvements

Because my husband is awesome, what he gave me for Christmas this year was a studio. I mean, yes, I already HAD a studio — but he helped me make it better, in so many ways.

I wish I had a series of before pictures for you, so you could see the fabric shoved willy-nilly in shelving units all over the space, or how the window was blocked by the rack where my stock was hanging. Or the poor use of floor space, with a large desk for the TV and DVD player to sit on, and a papasan chair that was doing nothing but serving as a place for me to chuck stuff rather than put it away. But I don’t, so you’ll just have to admire these lovely after pictures with me instead.

Organized fabric!

For starters, we took all the bookcases and shelves, and moved them into one area, henceforth to be devoted to nothing but fabric storage. We hauled all the fabric out of its former home, and I went through it piece by piece. Some of it got tossed, when it was something I knew I’d never use — too synthetic, or too small, or too ugly and it went into one of the many, many garbage bags we filled up in this process.

And the fabric that got kept, got sorted and organized. Cottons on one shelf (or, rather, three shelves), linen on another, flannel on another, etc.  All neatly folded so I can see exactly what I have to work with at any given time.

And faux fur on a bottom shelf all of its own, so as to minimize its ability to shed on all the other fabric. That stuff gets everywhere!

 

Look! There's a WINDOW there!

Once the fabric was sorted, we needed a new home for the stock as it gets built for shows.  With a wall now clear, Mike picked up some hardware and some tools and built me a FABULOUS garment rack right on the wall.  There’s space to hang long bits that used to get hung on closet doors all over the studio, and two shorter spaces for jackets and skirts and the like.  And underneath the window we excavated is a bookcase that was previously going to waste, in which I’ve stored hats, pirate sashes, and other things that don’t go on hangers.

I don’t have pictures of all the space improvements, but the papasan chair is gone, the embroidery stuff is all centralized, and my thread selection is now mounted on the wall right by my right hand, so I can see all my colors and choose one without even getting up. The space feels bigger and brighter and more efficient in so many ways.

There is one more improvement that has been made to Storied Threads in the last week, and that is my new, sexy embroidery machine! Ta da!

Look at it! It has four needles, and a GIANT hoop (giant hoop not pictured here), and a little computer monitor! I can change the bobbin thread without having to remove the embroidery hoop! It’s super-fast, and super-awesome, and the quality of stitching is AMAZING.  I mean, just look at this side-by-side comparison:

Dunwich, on the left, was done on my original embroidery machine. And Caprica (coming soon to our Etsy store) was done on the new MB-4 yesterday. You can see that the stitching is tighter and denser, and the small letters at the top and bottom are simply clearer and more legible. It’s a pretty safe bet that anything with small typeface will be getting done on the new MB-4 from this point on!

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Growing Pains

Storied Threads is growing and thriving, that’s a fact. It’s not yet a business that will pay all my bills, but it’s making steady progress in that direction, and that makes me a really happy girl.

However, their are down sides to all this awesome growth, too.

A growing business, for instance, demands more of my time. I currently spend four out of five weeknights after work, and all weekend in the studio, fulfilling commissions and making stock. And it never feels like enough time — I always worry that commissions are taking too long, and that my racks will be too empty at the next show. Trying to find a balance between day job / Storied Threads / family time is definitely taxing, and yet it’s something I need to do.

A growing business also has greater technology requirements.  I discovered this past holiday season that my embroidery machine felt insufficient. I was madly creating patches to fill orders, and yet it seemed as though every day I ended with more empty envelopes than I began, prompting me to start researching the possibilities of a second embroidery machine.  That sort of thing is not an inexpensive investment — and I had to really force myself to think of it as an investment, rather than simply, “Oh my gods, that’s a ton of money!”  In the end, after talking over all the pros (increased production, having a back-up machine when one goes in the shop) and cons (Oh my gods, that’s a ton of money!) with my husband and my Awesome Assistant Kate, I’ve decided that I will be making that purchase this year. It’s the right decision for Storied Threads. But it wasn’t an easy decision to make.

It becomes more and more clear to me every day that owning my own business isn’t an easy thing. And it’s certainly not for everybody — it’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of sacrifice, and it’s a lot of tough decisions and then hoping you made the right call. In fact, I saw this image on Facebook this morning, and it pretty much summed up what me and my company are going through right now.

But for all that — I’m loving what I’m doing. And I’m excited to share some of the improved Storied Threads with you all in the next week or two.

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Euro Patches

A year ago (give or take) I had an idea for a new style of patches.  I had been seeing these Euro Stickers on cars all over the place, and thought it would be fun to do patches in that style — but for towns in H.P. Lovecraft‘s fictional Massachusetts.  I did up a design for Arkham, and ran some tests, and just wasn’t quite happy with it.  I didn’t have any actual fonts at that point, and was trying to digitize all these letters by hand — including the small ones at the top and bottom, and it just wasn’t coming out cleanly.  So, I set it aside.

Since then, I’ve picked up a few fonts for other patches, and while I was up in the studio this weekend, I came across one of the old test patches. I realized that now, with more tools at my disposal, I could give these another try, with probably better results.

Arkham Euro Patch

As before, I tried Arkham first.  It is, after all, probably the most well-known of Lovecraft’s locations.

And — success! I was quite happy with the result, and promptly scanned it in, posted it on Etsy, and linked it to my Facebook page to show off, along with the announcement that Innsmouth and Dunwich would follow shortly.

Raxacoricofallapatorius Euro Patch

In the thread of comments that followed, it was suggested that I should do a Euro Patch for Raxacoricofallapatorius, the home of the Slitheen in the Doctor Who universe.  I was so tickled by this idea, that I immediately set about creating one.

Now, of course, I’m thinking about the plethora of imaginary places that could be done into patches like this. WNTRFL for Winterfell? MRDR for Mordor? GLFRY for Gallifrey?

What other places or fandoms would you like to see made into Euro Patches?

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Top 10 Countdown!

On behalf of my wife, who is busy with that “day job” thing, Happy New Year!

As part of our annual year-end wrap-up, we at the Storied Threads household are gathering together all our financial records to take to our awesome accountant. As part of this process, and to help her plan for 2012, I sifted through Veronica’s Etsy sales records for 2011 to see what her hottest-selling patches were.

As she’s mentioned in this blog before, the patch division of Storied Threads took off last year and is providing her with a nice, steady revenue stream, but it was a little shocking to see the growth of that particular item line.

A grand total of 40 patches sold through Etsy between January and August, then in September, Veronica moved 32 patches online, and in October, 23 (and that is just the online sales; I’m betting she’d about double that number if she factored in all the patches she sold at the fall Connecticut Renaissance Faire).

And then the holiday shopping season hit, and over the course of November and December, Veronica sold a total of 233 patches. Yes, she sold nearly three times as many patches in the last two months of 2011 as she in the preceding 10 months combined – again, not counting whatever walked out of the tent at CTRF.

The turning point, I think was the introduction of the Doctor Who Awareness Ribbon patch in April. That was Veronica’s first real foray into catering to the sci-fi/fantasy geek crowd, and it inspired her to whip up many, many more fun designs.

So, since it’s tradition to do top 10 countdowns for New Year’s, here are the 10 best-selling Storied Threads patches on Etsy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10: (Tie) The dirigible and the Seal of Rassilon. The dirigible is an Urban Threads creation, but the Doctor Who-inspired Seal of Rassilon, the official seal of the founder of the Time Lord society on Gallifrey, is one Veronica digitized herself (an often time-consuming project in and of itself). What’s impressive about the Seal is that it was introduced in the last quarter of 2011, yet sold as many patches as the dirigible, which has been around all year.

9: The Mad Scientist Geek Merit Badge. Another late addition to the line that did brisk business. Customers like that they can easily customize the colors (at no added expense), and it seemed to be a popular holiday gift option for people shopping for the actual (and presumably not mad) scientists in their lives.

 

 

 
8: The Plague Survivor Geek Merit Badge. This was Veronica’s second design for this patch (the first one reminded people too much of the Spy Vs. Spy cartoon in Mad Magazine). I’m a little surprised this one got such a positive response, but apparently people dig the scary bird-faced plague doctor.

 

 

 

 

7: Are You My Mummy? Another Doctor Who-inspired design, this one featuring the eerie “gas mask people” from Series One (the Christopher Eccelston season). The design alone is cool, but the addition of the slogan attracted the Whovians.

 

 

 

 

 

6: The Zombie Survival Geek Merit Badge. I wish I could say Veronica came up with this one, but this is another Urban Threads special – although it did lead her to create the other Geek Merit Badges. That line of products will definitely expand in 2012.

 

 

 

 

5: A Song of Ice and Fire – House Stark. Sadly, it took a TV adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series to bring it to the attention of the general public, but the HBO series is bringing in new fans. Like all of Veronica’s Song of Ice and Fire house patches, the House Stark features the house’s totem and words.

 

 

 

 

 

4: The Time Lord Seal. The third Doctor Who-inspired patch on the list, the “logo,” if you will, of the Time Lords. Like the Seal of Rassilon, the Time Lord seal is neat because even if you aren’t aware of its source, it’s a very interesting image.

 

 

 

 

 

3: Fezzes Are Cool. Doctor Who design number four, this one in honor of the current Doctor, Matt Smith. Although bow ties are also cool, they also proved tricky to render as embroidery (although it could still make an appearance in 2012…who knows?).

 

 

 

 

2: The X-Files – I Want To Believe. Veronica did this one on kind of a whim, never expecting the X-Philes of the world to snap this design up in the numbers they did. This patch is a more bold, graphic interpretation of the poster that hung in Agent Fox Mulder’s office.

 

And the top-selling patch for Storied Threads in 2011 is…

 

 

 

1: The Original Doctor Who Awareness Ribbon. I’m pleased with this because I was the one who came up with this design…sort of. I first suggested this concept as a joke, but Veronica ran with it, and the Doctor Who Awareness Ribbon was born. It debuted in April 2011, at the spring Connecticut Renaissance Faire, and immediately sold out. It continues to move well both domestically and abroad, and was even featured on the official Doctor Who Tumblr page!

Remember, all of these patches, as well as more than three dozen other designs, are on sale now at the Storied Threads Etsy shop!

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