amethyst73: (tazz)
I did some messing around with the fabric I'll be using for the Artemis pillow yesterday.  It's fuzzy on both sides; the longer fuzz is presumably the front.


Front side

Technical natterings and a question for onyoukai )


The pieces are coming together!  I've cut out almost all my applique pieces (the nose is so small I figure that if I try to cut it out beforehand it'll probably get lost, so I'll cut it when I'm ready), and here they are, almost in context.  Everything is going to come closer together at the center, but you get the idea.  It's going to be totes adorbs.  :)

(Also, who'd have thunk of me making fan art??!?)
amethyst73: (tazz)
So I posted a couple of things on G+ recently that I thought I would put here.


Huz took a look at this setup and wasn't sure whether it was a sewing project, or a piece of ritual magic in progress.  :)

One person thought I was making a Catbus, to which the answer is "no".  The yellow is misleading; this was just a mockup to see if I'd gotten the shape right when I filled it.

Then today I did this:



Another piece of the latest work-in-progress.  (Hint: It's not in the right orientation, and I only really need one for the moment.)

This is interesting primarily because it was my first experiment with my (ancient) (obscure) (unintuitive) (but free) embroidery software, thred32 (based on an even older program called thred).

The bottom form differs from the top form only in that the top curvy part was a little wider to try to reduce the satin-stitch effect I was getting.  (The top form ran out of bobbin thread partway through stitching, that's why there's that weird pulled area in the middle.)  It was somewhat successful; clearly I need to fiddle with the software more and see what else can be done.

The other thing I noticed was that the stitch distances, both for the understitching and the top fill, were smaller than what I've seen in the commercial patterns I've downloaded.  I used the default lengths/distances in thred for everything, and I think I'll probably try expanding the distances between stitches -  but possibly shortening the stitch length to try to get rid of that satin nonsense - next iteration.

The bottom one is probably good enough to use as an applique in my project, so I won't be doing any more messing with this particular form... at least not for a while.  At some point in the future, I will want a second one of these, and will probably get a more lemon-yellow color of embroidery thread to do it with.  (That's your other hint as to exactly what this project is.)
amethyst73: (tazz)
So, I was putting together the bird bag earlier today.  I use a light cotton duck for the body and a (undoubtedly unnecessarily heavy) nylon thread for sewing, with an (also undoubtedly unnecessarily heavy) 110/18 jeans needle.  I start with a very long piece of fabric, fold it in half (with the fold being the bottom), sew up the edges with a triple seam stitch, finish the seams with an overlocking stitch, and then use standard straight stitching for the top and attaching the handles.  The stitch length is generally 3-3.5 mm to account somewhat for the heaviness of the fabric; I may be Doing It Wrong and having the stitches be kind of too big, but the standard 2.5 mm made things behave badly.

Sewing problems with photos )
amethyst73: (tazz)
So, I've been doing stuff.

I've done another embroidery-on-a-bag, this one for one of my aunts.



And I put a panda on the back of the jacket of a good friend's daughter.



And, well, there's other stuff.

I went to a cardiologist the other week to discuss what appeared to be a high resting heart rate, combined with slightly high blood pressure.  The haven't-written-the-whole-thing-up-yet short version: I have a heart!  And it does in fact go pretty darn fast: when I sleep, it's around 90 bpm.  Your average person, by comparison, is down around 50-60 bpm when they sleep.  I'll be going in again the day after tomorrow for some imaging.. and to find out what my heart does when I actually try to exercise hard, as opposed to walking at a good pace.  (I know how I feel when I exercise too hard: head pounds, get nauseous.. generally unpleasant.  Wonder what my heart's doing?)  Stay tuned!

The other thing?  We found out last week that it's not going to be feasible to have my dad in his house much longer.  The only bathroom - and hence the only shower - is upstairs.  He can get upstairs with a great deal of help, but it's going to get to the point where he just can't.  So our care managers are talking to real estate agents about single-floor apartments that can at least be accessed by wheelchair, and we'll move him sometime in the next couple of months, maybe even when we're out in May for Huz's college reunion.  Stay tuned on this point too.
amethyst73: (tazz)
Here's some of the stuff I've embroidered recently.

Picspam! )
I haven't been as happy with the patterns that came with the machine as I have with the patterns I've bought off the web.  Part of the problem is likely that the booklet that came with the machine only has REALLY TINY pictures of the big patterns, so it's really hard to see what they look like in any detail.  Also, this particular set of patterns got printed out a shade or three too dark. Further, there's just color swatches next to each picture, without a written description of what each color is _for_.

What I would love, is to have embroidery software that can (1) read the .pcf files that are on the machine (and which are made whenever I put a combination of stuff together, like the Cthulhu text) and (2) has thread color choices that at least are pretty close to the colorset I've got.  I've now had two patterns (the ducks and the palm tree thing) where I've been distinctly disappointed by the thread colors I've used, and I'd really like to have a way to simulate results without having to spending an hour or so using materials to stitch out a pattern.
amethyst73: (tazz)
Hi everyone!  I know I’ve been a little quiet with regards to what I’ve been sewing recently.  It’s not that I haven’t been doing anything - quite the opposite - but I wanted to keep things private, so that Certain People wouldn’t see their designs in advance.
Pictures ahoy! )
So that’s what I’ve been up to recently!  It’s still a blast.  I love love love my machine.  :)
amethyst73: (tazz)
So I have a piece of canvas which is now thoroughly decorated and is ready to turn into a bag.  I spent last night with some super-strong nylon thread, a couple of different kinds of 90/14 needles, and some canvas scraps to see what was going to work with regards to construction.  What I learned:

- I always like to at least give universal ballpoints a try.  Yup, even on wovens.  I know I'm prone enough to errors that I don't want to break any more cloth fibers than I have to.  However, the denim needle gave much better results: no puckering, didn't have to mess with the stitch length or anything to keep it happy.

- I have a couple of options for construction.  These bags are meant to be used, darnit, but I don't know how much I need to over-engineer them, esp. given that I'm using something pretty close to upholstery thread for them.  I could:

  - do a regular straight stitch for the seam,and then
      - do a serge-type overlock, which will work as reinforcement as much as it works as a seam finish
      - do a fake French seam: fold both edges of the seam inward, then sew along the outside, catching all 4 layers.  Disadvantage of this finish: not specificially a reinforced stitch.


 - do a reinforcing triple stitch for the seam, and then
     - either do a simple zigzag to overlock, which is not super-reinforcing
     - do the fake French seam as above.

I can't really do the fake French seam on both the top and the side without leaving a bit of edge that's going to be susceptible to fraying.  So probably I'm going to go with the simple single seam and do the serge-like overlock, even though that will use a lot of thread.

Note to self: The nylon thread, if left idle in the top of the machine, likes to kind of stick at first and can be a little hard to pull through.  As far as the stitches themselves go, the tension looks fine though.

Another note:  Knots: As I'd noticed in the embroidery session last weekend after the serious thread clog, there's something up with the knotting process.  It kind of feels like the bobbin end isn't long enough to get caught up properly for the knot making (though that may be due more to the stiffness of the nylon thread than anything else).  If I want a knot with this thread, I need to pull the bobbin thread up out of the hole first and hold some of the top thread.  This will be important for serging, which only has the knot option.  Regular seams can just use backstitching, which seems to lock the threads fine.  It will be interesting to try knots with just regular weight cotton and see what happens.  I'll be down in Sunnyvale sometime next week and had been planning to stop by Eddies to pick up some stuff anyway; I will ask about it then and perhaps schedule a service while I'm away on vacation in November.
amethyst73: (tazz)
So I spent today doing a test run of a combo design that I'd put together: a monogram letter I'd got off the Interwebs and some text using one of the machine fonts.  For the first time EVAR with this machine, I had a real screw-up: the spool thread got irretrievably caught under the fabric, in the bobbin race and under the face plate.  I cut it out, removed the face plate, cleaned out the mess, and learned what a pain it is to snip out a color (and how much damage the fabric undergoes when you embroider over the same spot twice; I'm just lucky the area affected wasn't all that big).

The weird thing now?

Before this incident, I used to just let the top thread get sucked under during the initial knot production, and it was all fine.  Now I've learned (through a little trial and error) that I have to do what the manual says: stick the spool thread through the embroidery foot, give myself a few inches, and hang on while it ties the knot.  Otherwise, the knot doesn't get tied and I run the risk of getting another bird's nest.

I'm guessing the tension in the bobbin case has somehow gotten screwed up, and that maybe I need to take it apart and (very carefully!!!!) clean out the grooves.  Any other suggestions?

..Oh.  And the final embroidery on the actual project, which I did later, turned out fine.  I'm thinking of adding a tiny bit of superglue or fray-check to the back in the parts that I know didn't knot correctly. Or maybe I'll just stick some fusible backing onto the back to tack everything down properly.  Again, suggestions welcome.
amethyst73: (tazz)
I'm probably being too ambitious, as usual.

It turns out my real first embroidery project is going to be a bunch of tote bags, some of which are going to turn into hostess presents for folks we're staying with in November.  Hence, so as not to spoil the surprise for Some People, I'm going be rather vague about what I'm actually doing.

I found a design online that I really like.  Thing is, it's big and it's solid; it's something like 48,000 stitches, and close to 6"x7".  Which is fantastic for the front of a tote bag.  But it's also about a zillion times bigger than anything else I've embroidered thus far.  It's a simple design: 6 colors, with switchings back and forth for a total of 9 spools used, with huge swaths of one color or another.  It looks rather like a large patch in terms of its makeup, actually.

I've got the fabric for My Very First Bag (tm) cut out, and done the various measurements to get the design centered.  (Much more work than I expected, but I took notes so that hopefully it'll go faster next time!)  I've got some medium-weight cutaway stabilizer for it, which is what the design company recommends, and which they say is excellent for the light canvas/duck that I'm putting it on.  I'm not actually trying to stitch the design today/tonight, because I need to pack for our trip tomorrow, and because the machine says it'll take 77 minutes (!) to do.  If that's just stitch time, it'll probably be more like 1.5-1.75 hours, and I want to have plenty of time when I do it.

Anyway.  Exciting!
amethyst73: (tazz)
Today was the last day of JoAnn's Coupon Madness week, which meant I had something like ten different 40% and 50% off coupons to use, with a 15% off anything that's already on sale or anything I couldn't apply a coupon toward.  What did I get?  Let's see...

- 4 yards (!) of undyed cotton duck, now hang-drying in the bathroom.  (I want to make tote bags for people for Christmas.  4 yards should work out to 8+ bags, which ought to be plenty.)  (Okay, it's probably plenty for MUCH more than 8.  Keep me busy, huh?)

- Some yards (lost track) of strapping for handles; I just bought what was left on the rack, since handles on the bags I like at home tend to be 24-30 inches _each_.  That turns into a lot of yards, really fast, if you're making bags for everyone.

- Heavy-duty thread and some denim needles for sewing this stuff.  Wonder if my machine's auto-threading lever can handle the heavy thread?

- A few different kinds of stabilizer: water-soluble (for doing towels), medium-stiff tearaway, fairly stiff cutaway.  I may have overbought.  Oh well, I'll likely use it all eventually.

- Some dual-adhesive stabilizer for doing a super-sekrit applique project I've got in mind

- A few more colors of embroidery thread that I know I'm going to need for various patterns (and which will let me test my pack of Mettler versus Sulky versus I forget what the other brand was that I bought a spool of)

- Fabric for super-sekrit applique project (well, the main color, anyway; I can get the rest out of my existing collection and it'll mostly work)

... basically ALL of which I was able to apply one coupon or another towards.  I ended up with my final coupon-ful price being something like 50-60% of the original price, which was a Good Thing.  That's why we go to JoAnn's with coupons in hand!

------------

The applique will be just the animal, on a bag, for Huz.  He's working on recording a book inspired by the tapestry where this animal is found.
amethyst73: (tazz)
I finally got around to playing with the embroidery function of my new sewing machine today! The machine communicates beautifully with my Macbook Pro - the green and blue lace design came off the computer. And it seems to embroider pretty well too.  :)  The Mettler embroidery thread worked fine - no breaks or tangles (not that that's saying much with a design this simple, but there ya go).

(The brownish lump, however, did not work so well. It's the start of a cat, but the system got confused when I was shifting the design around in the embroidery field, and thought that the center was shifted rightwards. So it ended up banging into to right edge, at which point I put a halt to it. Oh well - something to ask about in the intro embroidery class in a few weeks!)


I couldn't wait to get it out to take the first photo.
(You should be able to click on any of these photos to embiggen.)





My very first embroidery, in decent light (front side)




Back side of my very first embroidery, in decent light




Brother demo lace and abandoned cat-lump thing
amethyst73: (tazz)
From my good buddy [livejournal.com profile] digitalemur, I bring you: The parts of a sewing machine, as labeled by a sci-fi fan, I think.  Go and laugh, it is funny!
amethyst73: (tazz)
Dear embroidery-knowledgeable folks,

I think my first embroidery project is going to be a set of nameplates (with designs) for the outsides of our brand-new cubicles.  (This is not an insane project; I have two workmates, myself, and my supervisor, for whom I'm still trying to figure out what to do.)

I think just a white background for them will be best.  I'm getting a smallish (I think it's 2"x4") cat design that came in the machine, one person is getting some flowers (haven't decided on exactly what), and the other person is getting a 4"x4" quite solid, patch-like design.  Plus names, of course.

My question: what sort of fabric should I use?  Can I just use a good muslin, or should I get something more satin/silk-like?

I get to play with my machine this weekend... :)  :)   :)
amethyst73: (tazz)
The new toy.  I think it's female, but I'm not quite certain.  If it's a girl, it's a pretty buff girl.

The first bit of fabric to have thread put through it with the new machine.  Much of it is me figuring out that the running stitch needed to be smaller so as not to make the fabric crinkle (it's a silk-like 100% polyester, which may not have been optimal for a pair of shorts that I'm working on, but there ya go), and messing about with the overcast stitch and seeing how it works (but I think I'll stick with the French seams I've used on the rest of the garment - it looks sooooo much more professional).
amethyst73: (tazz)
I got it.  :)  I think either the market price for the Esante went up recently, or Eddie's gave it a temporary markup, because the sale price was definitely not 25% lower than the price I was quoted a month or so ago.  However, it was still a decent chunk below that quoted price (quote: $2850; I paid $2499), and given that I was willing to pay the previously-quoted price, I was happy to take the sale.

I haven't done much with it yet. I've unpacked it from its box, and plugged it in and messed a little with the menus to make sure it worked that far, but I knew yesterday that I'd want to spend some real time with it when I first started actually messing around with it, and I didn't really have that kind of time yesterday.  I should later today, however!

One thing I noticed: it's HEAVY compared with the Featherweight. (I think it's in the vicinity of 30 lbs.)  I know Eddie's sells wheeled bags for sewing machines, and I'll see what their prices are compared with Amazon's.  I'm going to be hauling the machine around some: it's already lined up for 2 trips back to Eddie's for the sewing function intro classes, then there'll be a third for the embroidery function intro class, and then depending on how often I end up going to the embroidery club (meets once a month to do a project) I may end up hauling it around a *lot*.  Given how heavy it is, and given that I can't just leave it set up and out 100% of the time (worried about cat-induced damage) if the wheeled bag is a convenient way to store it, I may use the bag to get it from the bedroom to the dining room and back!

Pictures with me and my new girl later.  :)
amethyst73: (tazz)
Ooo!  If this sale (see the first slideshow ad) applies to the Baby Lock E-line (and I don't see anything saying it doesn't, but I will call ahead and make sure), then today is the day!!!

And if it doesn't apply, I shan't go down to Sunnyvale today.  I'll go tomorrow instead, when the store is likely to be less of a madhouse than it will today.  There's a really convenient E-line I class that meets the Tuesday evenings of the 3rd and the 10th that I want to get into.  (My church choir rehearsals start Wednesday the 11th, and I'd like to not have to have a lot of weeks where I'm out late doing stuff Tuesday and Wednesday both.  There's also an all-day-Saturday version of the same class, but I'm fairly sure I'd burn out if I did it all in one day.)  And, well, I want to have an opportunity to play with my machine a bit before class starts.  (Next week is looking really busy, so I'd probably not be able to purchase it until Friday/Saturday.)

The other thing about the sale, if it applies?  It will make me feel MUCH better about ordering one of the super-packs of embroidery threads from JoAnn's while the 40% thread sale is going on.  (I was going to anyway, but I was being sad even at the sale prices.)

Speaking of machine embroidery thread:  Recommendations for brand?  Type (rayon or polyester)?  I've seen complaints about thread breakage/fraying with just about everything, though Sulky seems to be something of an exception, so I'm leaning that way.

(I also have a bunch of stoopid n00b questions about embroidery, which I'll post later.)

-----------

ETA: Sale includes the E-line!!!!!!  I'll be heading over after lunch.  :D
amethyst73: (tazz)
Dear Simplicity Patterns,

I have a couple of questions regarding pattern 1807.

1. Why did you not mention on the back of the envelope that one needs elastic to do (I think) any of the variations in here?

2. Given that they all have elastic, why on earth do you then also put in a drawstring?  Just for the look of the thing (because, I suppose, elastic waistbands alone are not 'cool' or 'hip' or whatever style these are supposed to be, but drawstrings are)?

Sincerely,
Me
----------------------------------------------

I think I'm going to say, to heck with the drawstring.  I don't think they add much.  Also I don't have a way to make buttonholes (for the ends of the drawstring to go through).  Yet.

And I need to go out and get more elastic in the foreseeable future.  Maybe I should just get a big roll of the stuff, since that's probably where it'll be at for pants/skirts (and I already know I wanna make another skirt after this).


ETA: My bad... elastic *is* listed, just not in the Notions section (which is where I expected it to be).
amethyst73: (tazz)
I went looking at real machines again today.  I went to the Janome dealer in San Mateo and the Brother dealer in San Mateo.

tl;dr: Janome experience poor, Brother experience good - but Disney?? )
The Ellure+ may end up being a good, if slightly inconvenient, point to jump in with.  Advantages: Quite affordable price point, what should be a sufficiency of stitches; may try looking up the manual online and see if I can see exactly what the stitches are.  Disads: no stitch editing, can only plan/place 1 embroidery design at a time (both of which come on board when you go up to the Esante).  But am I willing to pay that much more for those functions (plus hellalotta more stitches)?  It's a good thing I'm making myself wait till the end of August to purchase anything!
amethyst73: (tazz)
I've spent the last couple of weeks perusing websites of the various sewing/embroidery machine makers, and I got to visit a Babylock store earlier this week.  I found out some things, and came to a few conclusions.

In which there is nattering. )

Wow.

Jul. 20th, 2013 06:26 pm
amethyst73: (tazz)
I thought that my little Featherweight could just kind of go.. and go.. and go.  (Certainly it's fine with regular cotton broadcloth, which is, admittedly, the only thing I've ever thrown at it.)

Turns out elastic banding completely bolloxes the bobbin and makes it clog.  ^_^  I messed with the stitch length, the tension.. nothing seems to work.

Guess I'll be hand-sewing the ends of my elastic waistband together.  But not just now.

(Yet another reason to get a sewing-embroidery combo - automatic tension adjustment!  My local sewing friend never mentioned problems sewing elastic ends together on her machine.)

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