11 August 2013

Creativity Journal - Day 17 (Eyes)

Make something inspired by and/or that goes over an eye (yours or someone else's).
Day 17 was another day of 'trials and errors'. This challenge inspired me to consider making sleep masks for sale. I wanted something a little different to that available online. Ebay had a couple of version that people make. I didn't simply want to be a copy cat. I thought what I could do is put the expensive embroidery machine to some use. I do use it, just not as much as its price tag warrants. Here is a record of my trials:
The lovely curly-cued and decorated 'S' I wanted to use was too big for a sleep mask. I shrunk it about half in my embroidery program. In theory, the density of stitches should adapt accordingly. In practice, they just get shorter.

I wanted to use a satin-like fabric. A, because I have some, and B, because it has a nice texture on the face. As you can see, I didn't even get part way through the first trial stitch-out. The thread breakages got to me and I realised it was going to pucker and pull the fabric dreadfully.
I tested it on calico (one of my tea stains from Day 13) to see whether it was just the fabric or not. Not. And then the fun began. I've done some really basic editing of embroidery files: merged letters to make monograms, deleted some sections I didn't want on an image. I ended up spending three days working on this one file. Embroidery files are a little like clipart. There's a 'dot' at every point where you want a stitch. It's not simply a matter of drawing a shape and colouring it in. Every single thread is drawn, aligned, and 'dotted'.
In this attempt, the three densest sections - the top curl, end curl, and lower curve - have been 'thinned out'. Each of these sections is a series of lines in one direction then back. I took out every second line, which meant I had a series of lines all running in the same direction. In a drawing this obviously is a non-issue, when you're stitching the end of one line has be the start of the next OR you have to be prepared to deal with 'jump stitches'. A jump stitch is a loose stitch, which you cut off when the stitching is finished. The less jump stitches the better. When I grasp the issue of the jump stitches, the answer was fairly straight forward. You simply reverse the stitch direction on every second line; reverting the entire section to 'one direction and back'.

Although this stitch-out is flatter, it's still got a fair bit of pull and pucker. The issue, of course, is all the curly-cues. They are all double-stitched - out to the end and back again. At full size the double stitching isn't a problem; at the half size they were too weighty. I thought it would be easy enough to set them all to single stitch and deal with some jump stitches.
Alas, as you can see if you compare the curly-cues on the above photo with the one before it, it didn't work. I think (although I'm not 100% sure) what happens is, if jump stitches are too short, they just become regular stitches. Hence, the loss of pretty, defined curly-cues and the addition of ... well ... mess.

After playing for hours and hours and hours with these darn curly-cues, I decided - smeg it. I don't need them. I deleted them. Eeek, aaak, disaster. The tails of the curly-cues link the three other sections; the two narrowest sections of the 'S' are curly-cue tails. More hours, and hours, and hours of grabbing and dragging little dots on my screen. Lots of false starts, lots of "smeg it, forget it, no I can't", finally:
Ah, yes. Certainly not as a pretty as the original, but it worked on calico at the reduced scale. Would it work on my satin-like fabric? I did some research into stitching onto slippery fabrics. One website, Crafty Stitcher, recommended two layers of Solvy (a dissolvable, plastic sort of stuff). I wasn't sure if that was two layers underneath, so I went with sandwiching the fabric between the two layers. I got as far as top-stitching my completed sleep mask when I noticed disaster:
The embroidery had 'cut' the fabric, and not just in one place. Sigh. Still, I hadn't spent three days editing the pattern and trialling a half dozen samples to quit now! Oh, no. I decided to try iron on interfacing on the back of my satin-like fabric. And it seems to have worked.
My first mask I sewed right-sides together and then turned in the right way. This one (I was pretty over the whole thing by this point), I sewed wrong-sides together, satin-stitched around the edge and trimmed away the excess. I didn't like it at first, but the satin-stitching is growing on me. The back is soft black polar fleece. The elastic should be black. I wasn't really thinking beyond the embroidery by this point.

I have learnt a lot about machine embroidery designing and that I probably don't want to make enough of these to sell them, but if you'd really like one just leave a comment with your preferred colours (fabric and thread) and I'll get back to you.


Naomi said...

So cute. I love it. How much would one cost?

SueBK said...

$13.00 including postage.

I forgot to mention in the post above, the final prototype has a 'split back'. This allows a separate pouch of lavender to be inserted in the mask. The pouch can be removed for washing. The lavender pouch is calico, and extra $4.