Okay, at the risk of becoming "the OT Michigan-related arts and crafts guy" (see http://mgoblog.com/content/ot-michigan-stadium-graduation-cake for the previous iteration), I just have to show this off.
We've been producing fabric growth charts for close family and friends for several years now. It was originally inspired by all the stories you hear from people talking about the saddest thing in moving out of a house being leaving behind the pencilled marks in a doorway chronicling the heights of the kids at particular ages. We figured we could put together a fabric family-style growth chart with a writeable area so our loved ones would never have to experience such anguish. Each family member gets their own "emblem" with their name and birth date (and in the cases of the kids, the birth weight and length) to put at their current height, and the "ruler" area is writeable canvas.
Several years ago, we made one for one of my wife's family. Unfortunately, it was in green velvet, embossed with the block S and Sparty heads. Truly, it was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life... but it looked BEAUTIFUL. The embossed velvet effect is fairly simple to execute, but really damned difficult to execute WELL. Basically, you take (or in our case, MAKE) a rubber stamp, lay the velvet on it pile-side down and put a hot iron to it for a few seconds. When you take the iron off, the velvet is more or less permanently compressed in that area.
When we started discussing what we were going to do for our own growth chart, I realized that we could make a matched set of them -- one for us and one for a friend -- in a U of M theme. The friend's chart got emblems in the shape of a football, ours will eventually be a fleur de lis pattern.
MGoUser tpilews graciously responded to my request for the winged helmet design, and we obviously chose the simple block-M for our second stamp. MrsSquared carved the rubber stamps herself, since we couldn't find officially licensed ones. After a half-hour or so of layout marking on the rear of the fabric and an hour of stamp-ironing, we had two panels of deep blue velvet that looked like this:
Oh. My. God.
I mean, I knew that it was going to look good, but this... this was simply beyond my imagination. I literally got goosebumps. The next step was to embroider the family names down the sides, stitch the front and back together, then the actual ruler part and the velcro strip to hang the emblems on. What we ended up with looked like this:
I really couldn't be happier with how they came out. Owing to the whole embossing process and the (apparently) typical troubles caused by sewing with velvet, they took quite a bit longer than our standard cotton fabric designs, but MAN do they look awesome hanging on the wall.