You know, we've been doing custom graphics bags for over ten years now. That's a good many years more than most of our competition. And it shows. Personally I don't like to toot my horn too much, but since these bags were made by Gerik and Carrie, respectively, I can technically give them props while keeping my own ego in check.
Here we have a pretty nice bag with a sabertooth tiger on it. Nice enough, you can tell, by this pic....but the true test of an applique stitcher is if their work still looks good as you get closer and closer to the bag. A lot of stitchers can make a what appears to be a nice image, but as you look closely, you can see how chunky and uneven the line work is, and - with enough experience - how flawed their original layout plan is. Layout and determining which layers go in which order is actually as important in applique work as stitching skill itself is. It's not even necessarily something that comes with experience per se; it's just innate in the stitcher's thought process. Yes, as a stitcher encounters more and more different types of images, they get a better feel for the proper technique in a given situation, but its not something that can really be "taught" or will definitely come with time.
Ok, we're a little closer now and still looking lovely.
Some more of the intricacies of the color layering are becoming apparent here.
Ok, so now you can fully see that the teeth and their shaded areas are in fact areas of tapered stitching rather than fabric cutouts. This painterly approach - which is mirrored throughout the body and feet of the lion - is a trademark style for Gerik's work, and allows him to pull off interpretations of detailed artwork far, far closer to the original idea than would be possible if he had to rely strictly on the classic technique of stitching over fabric using a static stitch width. It takes an amazing amount of control and knowledge of the machine to pull off work like this.
Carrie from Fabric Horse worked on this guy a little earlier this week. Basically, the same fundamentals that I spoke about with Gerik's bag apply here. This is, quite simply, work that a lot of other companies could not pull off this well.
Carrie made this bag right before the messenger world championships (which took place in Toronto earlier this fall). While the detail work is not as intense, the amount of color layering and preparation required is substantial. Doing this graphic without the artwork becoming a thick, chunky mess is very difficult.
Sometimes we just gotta let people know: our methods for putting graphics on your bags are NOT capable of being learned overnight. We are constantly working on new and better techniques so we can remain a few steps of the competition. Hopefully you'll agree!