One such project is the tie at the left, the Nessie tie.
I wanted to customize a cryptid tie for a friend who happens to be an expert on such things (monsters, not ties). I knew it would have to be a simple and immediately-recognizable design to fit the space available, which would be less than 2" wide at max. I first considered the Big Three: Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and el Chupacabra. (I could certainly have gone more obscure – I also had a look at Champ and Ogopogo.)
I decided the most appropriate – and iconic – image would be the 1934 "Surgeon's Photograph."
Starting there, I did a quick trace of the basic shape in Adobe Illustrator. My first thought was to do a wet-brush style in two colors. With a little bit of fidgeting around, I arrived at a design I quite liked.
As lovely as this effect is, it simply wouldn't translate well to machine stitching, not at that small size. I tried. It was a mess. So I reconsidered the style to something lighter. Some of the most successful designs I've stitched out on ties are sketchy/scribbly. That style works well at small sizes, and doesn't torture a tie's surface (which tend to be a bit puffy).
And so, I reconfigured the shape to three basic lines, as though it had been traced out on a slip of paper. The tie I had selected is a nice navy houndstooth, so it seemed keeping in blues was appropriate for a whole host of reasons. With the addition of a little wake to contextualize her, Nessie was ready for stitch-out.
This is the nerve-wracking part. Often, when doing a custom piece of embroidery, I'm starting with a flat piece of fabric, which will later be integrated into the finished project. But when I have to start with the item and stitch directly on to it, it always makes me nervous. Ties are a PITA, because of the amount of engineering that goes into them, but the stiffness/smoothness of their surfaces tends to take stitching beautifully. After a couple of tests of the converted pattern, I hooped up the tie and let Rudy do his thing.
In addition to the positions being altered, the weight and spacing of the lines are varied. This gives the design an even more organic, sketchy impression.
The stitching took very nicely, and the tie was well-received. Hopefully I'll soon get a follow-up photo of the Nessie tie in her natural habitat.