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Archive for April, 2013

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Cartoon by Twitter user @hashtag_genius

Last Tuesday, the trailer for Thor the Dark World was released. And by around noon, the internet was flooded with fan art, cartoons, and memes. Most of which ignored the first 90 seconds or so of the trailer, instead focusing entirely on the last fifteen second exchange between Thor and Loki. Which shouldn’t really come as a great surprise, considering the large fanbase that not only the characters, but also Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston have.

I’ll admit, it took me a little bit longer to get my own homage to this trailer done. It bounced around in my head for a day or so, and by Wednesday afternoon, I had an idea of what I wanted to do.  All of my Loki patches from The Avengers use either his helm or his staff as a graphic element, which seemed completely wrong for this. Besides the fact that we don’t know whether those elements will even make an appearance in this movie, they are also both symbols of power. And at this point, at least, Loki is (apparently) powerless.

LokiInstead, I decided to use Loki himself. To create a sort of minimalist representation of him sitting in his prison cell. I envisioned it as simple blocks of color — dark brown pants, olive green shirt, black wild hair. I pulled up the trailer for the dozenth time, found a screen cap I liked to use as my point of reference and got to work.

 

First draft of the new Loki patch.

First draft of the new Loki patch.

The end result was — not bad.  When I first pulled it off the embroidery machine, I was even quite happy with it and scanned it in, ready to post to Etsy the next day. But the more I looked at it, the more I realized it wasn’t quite right.  Specifically, I found myself unhappy with Loki’s shirt, which, the longer it stared at me, the more it just seemed like a big blob of undefined green.  Which, sure, was minimalist. But it just didn’t look good, and within an hour, I was unsatisfied enough to pull the file back up, and make a very minor adjustment.

The final patch, now listed on Etsy.

The final patch, now listed on Etsy.

I decided that all the patch really needed was a detail called a carving in the shirt.  No extra colors, no extra shapes — just a tiny detail in texture to define the lines between Loki’s arms and his body. Which not only created a distinction between the parts of his body, but also give the illusion of posture, showing more clearly his slump against the wall of the patch.  Suddenly, with just that minor change, the patch went from mediocre in quality to something I was uncontrollably excited to get up on Etsy and share with the rest of the world.

It is amazing to me sometimes, how much of a difference such a small tweak can make in a design. A carving stitch. A change in font.  A color variation.  All the little things that can really put the finishing touch on a piece of art. And the willingness to listen to yourself, and not settle for a first draft.

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When I bought my first embroidery machine, I wasn’t entirely sure what I’d use it for. I started out embroidering some pirate sashes, and not a lot else.

And then I started making patches, especially geeky and pop culture based patches, and suddenly the embroidery aspect of Storied Threads had a direction.  I thought, what if I start putting geeky embroidery on these messenger bags I make? So I did, and they instantly became one of my top sellers.  So I began to wonder — what else could I put geeky embroidery on?

To that end, starting at the Connecticut Renaissance Faire in four weeks, we will be offering embroidery on quite a lot of things that, to this point, have not had it.  Like what, you ask? Well, let’s see.

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Thor-inspired surcoat with embroidered medallions.

For starters, we’ve just finished our prototype of this Thor inspired knight’s surcoat!  It has the thunder god’s signature silver medallions, done as Celtic knotwork appliques, positioned down the front, and is made from a gorgeous, rich blue fabric. Unlike most of our surcoats, this one is even fully lined, for extra durability.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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House Stark surcoat.

If you prefer a more subtle nod to your geekery in your knight’s surcoat, we’re also planning a line of Game of Thrones inspired surcoats.  I’ve taken the sigils from my Game of Thrones patches, and re-worked them to sit on the front a surcoat so that, to the casual observer, it’s simply a piece of heraldry. To those in the know, however, you’ll clearly be a member of House Stark, Lannister, Targaryen, etcetera.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Iron Man-inspired Jasmine Jacket. Shown here over a black Althea Shirt.

And ladies, don’t worry — I certainly haven’t forgotten you!  I will have a VERY limited run of Jasmine Jackets inspired by Iron Man. They’re made of a deep red brocade and lined in gold cotton, with Tony Stark’s arc reactor embroidered on the front in glow-in-the-dark thread.  We’ll have exactly one available in each size — small, medium, and large — and when they’ve sold, they’re gone. I may be able to make similar ones later, but I bought the store out of that red brocade, and this was all they had.

 

 

 

 

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Time Lord Seal belt pouch

Naturally, we’ll be offering some more accessories along this line, too.  We’ve been embroidering our regular belt pouches, and so far have some ready to go for Iron Man and Doctor Who fans.

I have so many more things in my head that I want to get made for our upcoming show. The question is one of time — how many will I get done before CTRF opens on May 18?

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Althea Shirt, with leggings and sword belt.

When I first started Storied Threads, I had a very firm idea that I didn’t want to do the same kinds of things every other garb vendor was selling. I didn’t want to do chemises and bodices, because I felt like a person could get those anywhere. So instead, I focused on a lot of completer pieces — coats and vests and the like. I felt like they were more unique, and that was what I wanted for Storied Threads.

It took me quite a while to realize that while those really are great pieces, there is also value in a customer’s ability to walk into my shop, and put together a complete outfit. They may fall in love with a coat, but need to have the shirt to wear under it still — and they don’t always want to go from shop to shop to accomplish that. If I didn’t have the foundation pieces, it sometimes meant losing a sale entirely.

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Althea Shirt, worn with underbust corset.

But I still wanted to have my own style to things. So when I added skirts, I made the Pick-Up Skirts, and the Clementine. And when I added a women’s shirt, I made the Bell Sleeved Blouse. I really like this blouse — I like the flare to the sleeves, the lightweight materials, and how well they work with the cut-away sleeves on a lot of my women’s jackets.  But, for whatever reason, they just didn’t sell that well.  So — it was back to the drawing board.

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Althea Shirt with Jasmine Jacket, for a soft, flowing look.

So then the question was, what style of shirt would I make? I approached the design with two things in mind — uniqueness, and what did I, personally, want to wear? I aimed for something a little more traditional than the original Bell Sleeved, but there were elements of that shirt I wanted to maintain, such as the V-neck, which I prefer over a scoop neck.  I added a standing collar, which both complements that style of neck and also adds a little dramatic flair. Added a more traditional sleeve, although with rather less poof than I have in my men’s shirt, under the theory that a) it would fit better under a jacket and b) what woman wants to make herself look bigger than she really is? I also decided on a longer and more feminine hemline, giving it the option of being worn under skirts, or as an outer layer with leggings.

 

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Althea Shirt with underbust corset and Jasmine Jacket, creating a complete ensemble.

The end result — the Althea Shirt!  I am delighted with how it came out, and I love its versatility.  It works by itself, with a corset, with a Jasmine Jacket, and (I suspect) in a hundred other ways that I haven’t actually tried out yet.

I hope you all like this new shirt as much as I do.  I’m hoping to have a bunch of them in stock for the Connecticut Renaissance Faire and for Mutton and Mead, and will get them up in the Etsy shop when I see what’s left after July.

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Seriously, look at all this fabric! How could I possibly need more?

My plan, going into stock building for the Connecticut Renaissance Faire, was simple. I have shelves and shelves full of fabric — so I’d make sure to use that up on new stock rather than going fabric shopping and spending more money.

Good plan, right?

About two weeks ago, I had grand plans to make a whole bunch of basic staple pieces — shirts and pants and such. And I went over to those shelves and shelves of fabric and dug through them and found that, in fact, I had nothing appropriate. Fabric of the right type was only a yard or two long. And fabric of the right amount was completely the wrong type. And first, I had a little bit of a freak out over this — declaring to my husband over IM that, “All of my fabric is worthless!”

After that, I gave up on shirts and pants, and made head scarves and hats and belt pouches. I determined that if I couldn’t make what I wanted, I could at least make something of use and get rid of all those small pieces of fabric that were otherwise not of use.

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Yeah, that’s right. I even made Iron Man belt pouches.

And then, finally, I bit the bullet. I went fabric shopping.  I went to Lorraine’s Fabric in Pawtucket, RI which has a glorious second floor full of clearance and remnant fabrics for $2 a yard. And I spent nearly $400.  That is a LOT of fabric, folks. 180 yards, all told. Which I am now in the process of pre-shrinking, ironing, and — most importantly — making stuff out of!

Finally, I feel back on track. I made 5 pairs of pants yesterday, and started work on a new women’s shirt idea that’s in my head, and which I hope you will all like. (I promise, I’ll write about that — with picture! — when it’s done!)  Today I’m back to embroidery, filling patch orders, but tomorrow — who knows what I’ll make out of the heaps of useful fabric I now own!

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