Tag Archives: Hugs are fun

92: Laser Cut Appliqués

If you are ever wondering where my ideas in fabric and needle crafts come from, I can pretty much guarantee Rebecca at Hugs are Fun had a good hand in it, or at least started me down the path.  This week is no different, and she even took it a step farther by handing me fabric with adhesive iron on backing already attached.  Sometimes, though, my wheels turns slow.  I had her fabric in hand for 10 weeks (thanks, Instagram, for keeping track of that for me) before inspiration struck.

Peeling the protective backing off the HeatnBond
Peeling the protective backing off the HeatnBond

Technical aspects first: We used Heatn’Bond as our iron on applique backing, the Ultrahold kind.  It’s available for about $3 a yard in fabric or craft stores, or on their website.  To prepare the fabric for bonding, you iron on the HeatnBond to the fabric in the size you need.  There are a ton of tutorials out there (like this video from Heatn’Bond’s website) but the gist is to iron the rough side of the Heatn’Bond to the backside or wrong side of your fabric.  Cut out the shape you need, peel away the shiny side of the adhesive, then iron your applique on the larger project.

Getting ready to set it with the iron! Probably the 5th time the thing has been used... (Sorry Mom!)
Getting ready to set it with the iron! Probably the 5th time the thing has been used… (Sorry Mom!)

On the laser, the Heatn’Bond was great!  It stiffened the fabric and made it heavier, which made it much less prone to flying away when the exhaust was on (like in Week 77: Fabric).  We used the same settings that we used for paper – fast with a light touch.  Singe was minimal to non existent, the edges were perfectly cut and the marriage of lasers with iron on adhesive meant the design could be complicated without hand cutting and hand stitching every little bit!

Rebecca requested a unicorn, and I finally settled on drawing up a whale.  This is a family friendly blog, but I have to admit while laying out the designs out for the laser, a little bit of magic happened…

Magic = Narwhals!
Magic = Narwhals!
Unicorns and rainbows are a perfect combo.
Unicorns and rainbows are a perfect combo.

Appliques are traditionally used in sewing projects, which puts me right out – I have no sewing machine.  Rebecca does, though, and whipped up this amazing narwhal purse, and the unicorn pouch!  She is working up her own post about them, so I’ll make sure to link it here when it’s up.

Rebecca sacrificed her favorite mermaid fabric for this project. and it turned out amazingly cute!
Rebecca sacrificed her favorite mermaid fabric for this project, and it turned out amazingly cute!
Hooped up, ready to stitch. Given this was my first real embroidery project, I was reluctant to start and screw it up!
Hooped up, ready to stitch. Given this was my first real embroidery project, I was reluctant to start and screw it up!
Whale body stitching has been done.
Whale body stitching has been done.  The Needleminder is from Week 17 (and is available in my Beadeux Shop!)

I chose to use the whale as a base for an embroidery sampler.  I knew I wanted to do a baleen-type whale with a bit of decorative finery.  After way too much research, I can now tell you the white lines coming down from the mouth are “throat pleats” and that baleen type whales have not one blow hole but TWO. (Check out this baleen two blow hole google image search if you dare.  Gross and fascinating at the same time).  Other interesting factoids I learned – whales can’t breathe through their mouths, only their blow holes and the stuff that comes out of blowholes is called “blow.”  So, uncutely, the spout of blow is not water, but very much the the same as what comes out of your nose – exhaled warm air (which condenses to moisture) and mucus.  This make complete and utter sense, but I never had thought about it before…ew.

As you can imagine, I started my rainbow colored spout of blow with trepidation. I had to put aside those pesky things called "facts" and "accuracy" to get to "cute!"
As you can imagine, I started my rainbow colored blow spout with trepidation. I had to put aside those pesky things called “facts” and “accuracy”  and “gross” to get to “cute!”
Finished piece...now to frame it. Good thing I know a good local frame shop!
Finished piece…now to frame it. Good thing I know a good local frame shop!

For those unfamiliar with the “sampler” concept, I used a variety of different stitches to create this piece.  For those who are familiar and want to know what is represented, here goes:

Body: Stem stitch (mouth), Back stitch (eyes and outer lines on fin), Split Stitch (throat pleats and swirls), Chain Stitch (center of the fin) and French knots (tail)

Blow: Feather Stitch (red), Laced running stitch (yellow and orange), Chain Stitch (green),  Fern stitch (dark blue), Lazy daisy (purple) and French Knot (light blue – I had to put vapor in there somewhere!)

I highly recommend this picture directory of stitches at Sarah’s Hand Embroidery website if you are interested in more stitches.  It’s great for people like me who comprehend better seeing it with thread instead of drawings and have zero idea what these stitches are called!

I'm wrapping this up with a nice close up or the happy whale and his rainbow colored blow :)
I’m wrapping this up with a nice close up of the happy whale and his rainbow colored blow 🙂

36: Kid Sketches

all-4Saving your child’s doodle forever is amazingly easy on the laser engraver.  I’m lucky enough to have friends with adorable children to be my guinea pigs!

Robot Octopus by Evie, or Hugs are Fun!
Robot Octopus by Evie, of Hugs are Fun!
Super Fox by Olli
Super Fox by Olli

Engraving black and white sketches is incredibly easy on the laser. All I really had to do was dial up the contrast on these sketches to make sure I was only left with black on white.  The laser software reads the black as a raster and simply engraves it, so the line is true to the child’s hand.

Peeling the paper will be a little tedious...
Peeling the paper will be a little tedious…

I knew I wanted to do small pendants for necklaces or keychains, but honestly, the possibilities are endless.  How great would these be as Christmas ornaments?  Or as a gifts!  You could tie a small doodle charm to a baby book, or have a special token made for a special day (kind of like Angelia Jolie did on her wedding dress, but with a lot less embroidery!)

My two favorite materials - silver topped black acrylic (left) and bamboo (right)
My two favorite materials – silver topped black acrylic (left) and bamboo (right).  And yes, I did put Rebecca’s daughter’s drawing on a heptagon – 7 sides.  She loves hexagons, so I thought I’d try and up it one!

33: Google Cardboard

Google recently unveiled their own humorous take on the recent virtual reality push by folks like Oculus Rift and Sony with their Morpheus project: Cardboard. It’s a simple housing, built from cardboard or similar cheap material, which uses a pair of small lenses coupled with an Android smartphone to display a rudimentary virtual reality view. While they offered a compact and easy to build version at the I/O event, the Cardboard team also offered free vector format data for cutting your own Cardboard device. While most of their instructions involve hand-cutting the cardboard using templates printed on paper (which sounds completely insane to me) they did mention that it works great in laser cutters. Ding!

The chipboard template. It was too thin!
The chipboard template. It was too thin!

Jennifer and I worked together with Rebecca and Josh of hugsarefun.com to put together our own version of Google Cardboard. They sourced the extra bits, like the lenses and super magnets, and we were to make the actual unit body using the template provided by Google.

Before I bothered doing much research, I cut one out of chipboard. The material was way too thin, and while all of the tabs fit nicely the material was too flexible to remain solid. That’s when I saw that Google recommended a minimum thickness of 1.5mm—that chipboard was less than one millimeter, so that wouldn’t do!

The cardboard version was cut from 4mm cardboard. Too thick!
The cardboard version was cut from 4mm cardboard. Too thick!

I tried out some cardboard proper, but while Google recommends E-flute, I only had a much thicker flute available and the resulting piece was so thick that I could barely fit tabs into slots. That wouldn’t work!

A quick trip to a local craft store landed me with some nice black presentation paper that was exactly the right thickness, so that’s what I cut the final body out of. One thing I realized fairly quickly after cutting the presentation board body was that the material much preferred to fold toward the laser-cut score lines. This is the opposite of how Google recommends building it, but I thought that would be fine because it gave me the opportunity to etch some art on the outside of the body.

A nickname for the cardboard, "Virtual Boy Advance."
A nickname for the cardboard, “Virtual Boy Advance.”

Unfortunately, what I didn’t know at the time was that the Cardboard application only allows one horizontal orientation when running, so the phone camera gap in the body was incorrectly positioned thanks to my folding it backwards. We couldn’t find any application use for it, so the problem was moot. A worse problem is that the small magnet on the side, which uses a phone’s magnetometer to recognize “clicks” in the interface, didn’t operate at all when on the wrong side. Because of this, I had to fold the second presentation board body the opposite way, which would definitely have benefited from a few moments taken to score the back surface. Oh well, it worked, and we all tried it out.

We didn't tell her that it needed a phone. She didn't seem to mind!
We didn’t tell her that it needed a phone. She didn’t seem to mind!
We didn't tell him that it needed a phone. He didn't seem to mind!
We didn’t tell him that it needed a phone. He didn’t seem to mind!
I'm fairly sure Jen was smart enough to use it with a cell phone.
I’m fairly sure Jen was smart enough to use it with a cell phone.

There’s no real way for me to convey just how fascinating our first visit to Google’s take on virtual reality was, but once the piece was complete, there were many “oh wow” moments between the five of us who were old enough to try them on.

The entire time, though, my head was filled with ideas. Ideas about 1/16″ bamboo, box joints, and living hinges. I think I’ll have to revisit Google Cardboard some time soon!

Both are cut from presentation board.
Both are cut from presentation board.
One built and one still flat.
One built and one still flat.
The chalkboard is more interesting, evidently!
The chalkboard is more interesting, evidently!