fly inspected, fly approved and a tip for sewing with difficult fabrics

a tiny handmade fly inspecting fortuny velvet

Most people don’t realize that all of Fortuny’s fabrics are inspected by a tiny Venetian fly.  A diligent and thorough fly.  It is careful and slow work requiring long hours and true dedication.

a tiny handmade fly inspecting fortuny velvet

It’s a big job for a little and old bug but he has been content in his duties, happy even, for many, many decades (no one knows exactly how long, it seems he has always been there).

a dragonfly and fortuny printed velvet

Lately someone new has started showing up, a dragonfly, all huge and full of himself and suggestions, the sort that has come and gone before….

fortuny printed velvets

I’m making owls from the new Fortuny printed velvets. They are exquisite, the colors, the feel, the patterns, everything. Velvet is difficult to sew sculptural forms with and I very rarely use it for shapes.  Even with lots of pins things tend to slide around and the weight and pile make it unforgiving, mistakes show and are hard or impossible to adjust by stitching from the outside.

a handmade velvet owl in progress

I discovered that stapling the fabric together (don’t tell that tiny fly) works magnificently well and does not harm the fabric. I stapled right at the edge, outside the seam line, and everything stayed in place as I sewed.

staples in a hard to sew velvet instead of pins

I’m very happy with the shape, he is round in all the right places, the pattern pieces snapped together perfectly and he already has a bad attitude.

a velvet owl on my work tablea sewing pattern for a dastardly owlget the owl sewing pattern

A note on the beautiful pins – they are entomology pins.  They come in lots of sizes and colors, the quality is excellent and I love the way they look. You can find them here.

I’ll share finished velvet owls and some other new creatures with you next week.




  1. “and he already has a bad attitude” . . . . must be the staples 😉 Can’t wait to see him finished!

    Thanks for the staple tip! I’ve wanted to work on several velvet projects but a number of false starts – this may be the key!

    The fly and dragonfly are wonderful but a story way too familiar to many of us in the corporate world! :-}

  2. Cheryl Novy

    Stapling the velvet is a brilliant idea! It is vey hard to keep lined up. Did you take the staples out when you were done sewing it then?

  3. I’m going to be sewing with some velvet soon, so thanks for the great tip! I also would love to see a dragonfly in your insect collection – they’re my favorites!

  4. Wonderful velvet but tricky to obtain when following the links and there are no plans for my visiting NYC or Venice anytime soon. ;-(
    Maybe later you could sell your scraps…thanks for all the great tips!
    Staples OMG!

  5. Ann I gave no idea what I would do without your tales and tails! The staple idea is brilliant!

  6. Loved the fly and the dragonfly. Will you have instruction at some point? I love their story! Stapling the velvet is such a clever idea.

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