Industry expert Pete Tarrant of Digitek explains how he created this striking dragon design at the New Designers exhibition in London

Pete Tarrant has worked for a range of prestigious clients and also teaches fashion and textile students at a number of universities across the UK. He created this design at the New Designers exhibition at The Business Design Centre, Islington in July 2019. “I asked the students what they wanted and someone suggested a Chinese dragon,” explains Pete. “So I found this design and recreated it in sequins and stitching.”

(1) I created this design as a way to show the students what Wilcom digitising software can do. We used a polycotton fabric and made five different versions, all using different colours.
(2) It took four or five hours to produce the finished design. I probably spent two or three hours getting the design done, running bits off and tweaking it to get everything looking just right. We added the flames halfway through when one of the students said it should be a fire-breathing dragon.
(3) Anyone can create an embroidery design, but whether it runs on the fabric and looks good is a different matter – it’s an art in itself. Underlays are very important because they stabilise the fabric before you start putting embroidery on top. I use Madeira Weblon cutaway backing, which is really lightweight but very strong.

(4) I used silver grey Madeira PolyNeon in shade 1512 to stitch the dragon’s body, and added a black outline in Madeira Classic 1000. The red eye is done in Madeira Classic 1037, and I also used this to create the flames, along with Madeira Classic shades 1171 and 1278. The Classic thread has a nice sheen, so you can use it to create extra definition on your design.

(5) I work closely with Stocks, who supply the ZSK Sprint 6 embroidery machine, which I used to stitch this design. I love it; it’s a great machine.
(6) I added the sequins to create the effect of scales on the dragon’s body. These sequins come from The Sustainable Sequin Company. The shade is called ‘disco dancer’ – it doesn’t matter which way you turn them, they give a great shimmer. When you look at the dragon, sometimes the sequins are in the foreground and sometimes in the background – one of the front legs is on top of the sequins and the others have the sequins underneath. To get this effect, I stitched the sequins then went back to the embroidery, then back to the sequins.
(7) The sequin device is an attachment, which goes on to the ZSK Sprint 6. The sequins thread via a reel and I find it works best to use them with a Madeira Classic thread because this helps them to sit nicely.
(8) The finished design measures 250mm and contains 35,359 stitches and 524 sequins.