@ridewithblurryface asked for a little tutorial, so I’m going to give this a shot and make one (with a bit of silliness) —
The most expensive any hobby will ever be is at the start, and the great thing about embroidery and other needlecraft arts is that they are a pretty cheap hobby.
Here are the tools I use on a regular basis:
embroidery floss: your paint, usually less than 50¢ each
aida cloth: this is what I use, but any fabric, within limits, will do
bamboo hoop: this one is 5″ diameter, but you can get them from 3″ to 10″, plastic hoops work too
compass: like all the perfect circles I make for my sunsets? that’s thanks to this guy right here. make sure the large joint (connecting the opposite end of the pointy bits) is relatively tight, so the compass won’t slip larger as you’re drawing
the threader things: ??the things you use to pull the thread through the eye of the needle. threaders. (gah, fine i’ll google it …. post-google: wow they are really called needle threaders.)
lol i don’t know any of the names and google did not help but this thing is so useful for when i just mess up a lil bit. *linda belcher voice* lil bit. EDIT: @missjoat let me know that this is called a stitch ripper! what a name.
embroidery needles: no really, that is their name. next to the tapestry and quilting needles.
pencil: for sketching your image, preferably mechanical so that you don’t have to sharpen it
white eraser: for when you royally mess up sketching your image, and you need it to be white if you’ll be using white fabric all the time
scissors: ONLY FOR THREAD, don’t use them for anything else unless you want rough floss ends (nobody wants rough floss ends)
All that? 20-30 bucks, and the only things you’ll need to restock regularly are the hoops ($1-2 each), the floss (39¢ each at my local craft shop), and the cloth ($3.50 per roll, ~3-5 projects). And needle threaders, ugh. I think I go through about a pack of 3 per month, but they only cost $2 for a pack. Don’t get a fancy one because you WILL be replacing it.
If you have a local craft shop, just go to the needlework section and you will find all* of this stuff, probably next to all the yarn.
*except maybe the compass; for that, go to the drawing section
So about your embroidery floss, your paint. You know how paint is stored in those handy, sealable tubes? Ok, imagine if when you bought your paint, it was in a plastic sandwich baggie. Pretty inconvenient, right? Yeah, that’s how embroidery floss is packaged. Two little pieces of paper, wrapped in a tube around the gently bundled floss. Totally impractical for storage. That same section where you bought your tools will have storage options. I use these guys:
(guest starring my very fluffy cat, Basil Mae)
When I started, I didn’t label the color ID numbers on the holder, and man do I regret it. I have good eyes for color, so if I just take the color I need with me to the store, I can find it again, but WOW it would have been so much easier to have just labeled their number right from the get-go.
I have never regretted owning so many colors of embroidery floss. Never. If I could, I would buy three of each color available.
Don’t start with something difficult. Please don’t. Your first few projects will be for you to just figure out the craft - and that is good! But if you try to challenge yourself too much with that first one, you might end up frustrated and unwilling to try again.
This is my very first embroidery project:
(Don’t get me wrong, I love it! But it is simple and basic.)
Also, don’t be afraid to trace. In fact, I encourage it. Unless you can find a nice pattern to use, you’ll be making your own patterns (like I do!). I have to remind myself all the time that my skills aren’t in drawing, they are in stitching. It’s okay to use ‘unsavory’ methods to help my end product look as good as it does. (I say this because I really struggled with tracing for a long time. I thought it made me a bad artist and crafter. But the exactness of my projects are what make me especially happy, so I just said screw the haters and start off with tracing now.)
It is unlikely you’ll be able to trace the whole thing anyway. I use the bamboo hoop and pencil to size the edges of the total area, then gently tape the cloth to my computer. I get the image in place behind the cloth, turn up the brightness as high as it goes, and outline the parts that are definite. Because the fabric will shift a little bit, try not to copy everything; the positions of details will be close to impossible to mark during the trace stage, especially if you’re using thick cloth. Here’s a current project I’m working on (oh god it’s such a beast), and how it looked after the initial trace:
As you can see, I have major shapes outlined, but very little detail. After I’ve traced enough, I put the cloth back on the hoop, and fill in the details to the best of my ability. Here’s what it looks like when I’ve finished penciling:
Honestly? This still isn’t good enough with details - lines aren’t as straight as they need to be, some little parts are out of place or sized wrong, but at some point, you have to stop with your pencil. If you don’t, you’ll end up with a greyish fabric from all the erasing, and it will be difficult to see what you need to stitch versus the errors.
(This project isn’t finished yet - I’ve only just started stitching, but you’ll see the end result soon enough.)
Take your time stitching. It’s the best part. It’s the reason embroidery makes me so happy, because the action of stitching is so repetitive and simple, but over time you have this amazing work of patience and detail. It’s nice to be able to stitch while you listen to some tunes or TV. I have watched so many seasons of procedural crime dramas while I stitch. It’s what I do with my evenings and I love it. I struggle to just watch TV these days - I always want to be stitching!!
If you mess up, that’s okay! Either gently pull the thread back out, or get out one of your “i fucked up” tools. Sometimes, you are going to really fuck up, and you’ll need to start over. This Steve face was actually the 2.0 version. THAT was upsetting and I was pretty grumpy for a solid hour, but I’m so happy I restarted. It looks so much better, and I learned from my mistakes in the 1.0 version.
Alright, I am sure I didn’t cover everything, so as always, you can feel free to send me an ask and I am so happy to help. If you make anything, please feel free to tag me or send me a message about it.
Have you always wanted to customize your own ponies but been completely stumped on how to rehair? Then look no further! My method involves no glue and puts the hair very firmly into the pony’s head. You can style, comb, and tug at it with no fear of pulling it all out. Go grab your bait pony, your hair, and let’s get started.
First up, the supplies. You will need:
Dental Floss or thread
Bowl of water
Now, thread the dental floss through the needle, making sure to leave a loop. You can use a needle threader to help with this if needed.
Next, stick the push pin in the plug the needle will go through. This will temporarily expand the size of the hole, allowing the needle, floss, and eventual hair to pass through more easily. If the plastic is cold and stiff, hit it with a blow dryer to warm it up. Another option is to boil the head before starting. While the plastic is more prone to tearing when warm, it is softer and much easier to work with.
Push the needle down through the top of the head and through the neck hole at the bottom.
Pull the needle and most of the floss through. Be sure to leave the two loose ends sticking out so you have something to grab onto. The looped end should be sticking out the neck.
Repeat the process with the hair plug directly across from the first. You will end up with two loops sticking out the neck.
Separate a small bit of hair from your hank for the plug. You don’t want it to be too thick; it will either tear the plastic or stick up funny when completed. If it’s too thin, your pony will look like it’s balding. Usually, you can lightly tap the hank of hair and a plug the right size will separate. You can always keep a fully haired pony nearby for reference on how thick to make the plug if needed.
Cut it off to a little more than twice the length you want the mane to be. Remember, you can always trim the mane down later, but you can’t make it longer without having to rehair yet again.
This step is totally optional, but I find it extremely helpful. Lightly wet the hair in your bowl of water. This helps keep the strands together tightly and slide through the plug easier.
Tie a knot in the middle of the hair. Tie another knot in the same place to make sure it’s sizable enough not to pull through the plug.
Thread the knotted hair through your looped dental floss. Make sure to keep the knot in the middle and the loops to either side of it.
Gently tug on the dental floss, pulling the hair through the plug. Again, be sure to keep the knot in the middle of the loops.
You can either pull both sides through at once or do one side at a time. Doing one side at a time is probably easier; it keeps the floss from slipping over the knot and pulling the plug through on the wrong side.
Pull the hair all the way through and repeat for the other side.
Congratulations, you have just started re-hairing your pony. Now that the first plug is done, you only have 26 more to go. Take your time. The process can be frustrating, but very rewarding. After the first few plugs, you’ll fall into a rhythm and finish that hair in a snap.
But wait, you can’t just stick a new mane in there and call it done. Your pony needs a tail too!
Being an eco-friendly pony, I like to reuse as much as possible. You can use a zip tie to help create the tail, but I like to use the dental floss that I used with rehairing the mane.
First off, separate out half the thickness you want the tail to be. It will be folded in half, creating the full thickness.
Using your dental floss (or zip tie), tie a knot in the middle of how long you want the tail to be. I will often tie a knot, loop the floss around and tie one on the opposite side a couple of times, just to make sure it’s firmly secured.
Fold your hair in half and cut the appropriate length from the hank.
Using the tail of the floss, loop it around the top of the tail and tie it in a knot. The best way to explain this is that you wrap the floss down, around the tail, and through itself at the top. Do this a few times. Or, you can always use a second zip tie.
Do this a few times to make sure everything is nice and tight.
Using your other remaining piece of dental floss, create another loop and feed it through the tail hole.
Stick the newly created tail through that loop.
Pull through, just like the mane.
Voila! Pony tail! Glue everything back together and you’ve got your pony done.
If you have any questions or need clarification, feel free to drop me a message! Eskara@newgraymare.com. I will do my absolute best to help.