Thursday, April 24, 2014

Not Retreating, Not Progressing

Each week, I pack up stuff to haul with me out to Central Florida for the work week. I take projects to work on in the evenings. I try to limit the projects so I don't haul lots of stuff back and forth. This week, I brought fabric and my pattern. I forgot the box full of scissors, thread, and needles for my sewing machine. I couldn't sew as I'd planned. I have been watching videos instead. This is a poor substitute. As much as I love Avatar and Frozen, I'd much rather be watching these movies while completing my sewing projects at the same time.

I couldn't even prepare to sew because our washing machine broke. I couldn't pre-wash my fabric. I could have pre-washed it using the laundromat at the trailer park where I'm staying, but I didn't have enough quarters to both wash fabric and my work clothing. Now that I've collected enough quarters, I'll be heading home to a repaired washing machine tomorrow. Tonight, I'll pack up untouched fabric to take back home with me.

I feel a bit like the Red Queen. I'm running as fast as I can, just to stay in the same place.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Settling In

The job is OK. I am earning what I get paid. People are getting better and some are even going home. I drive about 4 hours, one way.

The travel trailer doesn't support the 830. The table isn't sturdy enough and I don't wish to leave the 830 for the weekends.  Do I think anyone would mess with my stuff on the weekends? Not really. The idea of hauling my new sewing machine back and forth every weekend is not appealing. It's enough that I haul my dirty laundry home. I am working with the 165E during the week and the 830 on the weekends.

I have discovered that Best Press is worth the effort and the price. I used it on fabric, and then folded the fabric and set it aside for a few days.  I barely had to touch the fabric with my iron before I had perfectly pressed fabric to use. The effort I'd put in to prepare the fabric for use was worth it. I looked around. Best Press might be cheaper on Amazon, but only if I don't have to pay for shipping.

 I was able to test King Tut thread for machine quilting. The thread is very fat and full. A small needle gave me skipped stitches. I put in a size 100 needle. Once I did that, I was successful. However, the change made me aware that I could not use the King Tut thread to quilt the same quilt I was using Aurifil thread on. The change in the threads would look odd. I'd get one type of look for the geese and a very different one for the sashing. I did not want that.  How did I make the King Tut thread work? I used it to make a fabric bowl. It came out well.

I am waiting for the Add a Quarter ruler that I ordered to come in. Once it arrives, I'll be able to get started on the Mariner's Compass quilt. Until then, I'm kind of just cutting fabric and trying not to panic.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Traveling Crafter

I took a traveling OT job and have booked a hotel room for the first week of my 13 week contract. I left my new 830 sewing machine at home. I brought my old machine and a small amount of stuff to work on. Now, think of a budget vacation hotel room. Where does the sewing machine go? There's no ironing board. No desk. The coffee table is small, round, and knee high.

I drive a full sized truck. I could have brought half my sewing room. I was unwilling to turn myself into a beast of burden, loading and unloading equipment. Bud and I discussed this and decided on a solution. We bought a 25' travel trailer. Because it was the end of the quarter, we got a significant discount on the price. We take delivery April 5. We'll spend the weekend pulling my SCAdian camping gear out of the attic and stocking our trailer. For the next three months, I'll live in the trailer during the week and at home on the weekends.

Instead of paying $350/week for a room that doesn't meet my needs, we will rent a campsite for $250/month. I can cook my own food, sleep on my own pillows, and have space to work on my projects. In the long run, I expect to save anywhere from 50 to 75% of what I would have spent on hotels and eating out. I could have found a campsite for less than $250, but I don't wish to live in a trailer park right next door to a major highway.

FWIW, I am almost within sight of Legoland Florida. I'll probably have to drive past it on my way to work.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Everything Close at Hand

So, I'm up, it's the middle of the night, and I am trying to solve a problem that was floating in my head before I fell asleep. I got up and went to my studio. I thought I'd located a possible solution on Pinterest, some weeks earlier. I have at hand an already prepared sample for testing so I sketch it out. I do a test. Not quite right. I reach for a paper punch to create a template. Punch! Nope, I need a 1/2 inch smaller punch. I've got it. Punch! I use it for sketching and I like the sketch. Test. Win! Then I get out the materials to create a more durable template. Punch! The edges are rough. I've reach for the right file to smooth the edges. 20 minutes after walking into my studio, the problem is solved. Because I yam what I yam, the tools I used are already put away and the finished template is stored with the project. I'm still awake. Now what?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

I Like It!

I had been using a standard sewing machine to do the Free Motion Quilting on Bud's Flying Geese quilt. I struggled to complete 7 to 10 units in a day of working. My hands hurt, I got tired, I felt I was fighting with the project. Then I bought the 830 and found myself with double the space to work in to the right of the needle. A good portion of my difficulty with FMQ was difficulty with the space limitation. The overall quality has improved. I don't have nearly the fatigue and discomfort. There is still some, but I can complete a lot more before I need to take a rest break. Comparing my early efforts to my recent results shows significantly improved technique. Curves are smoother, stitch length is more consistent. FMQ is a skill that requires practice. It also requires the right machine. I might be better able to produce a good result using a standard machine after using my 830, but I'd be annoyed at the constraint.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Adjustments and the Learning Curve

I was trying to switch from embroidery to decorative stitching. I forgot to swap out a piece of hardware and broke a needle. Not just broke, shattered into many pieces. Sigh. I wasn't able to get all of the bits of needle out of the bobbin area right away. I ended up pulling out the vacuum cleaner attachments after many attempts with the lint brush. I'd clean, try sewing, discover the tension was incorrect, then go back to cleaning. In all the testing, a metal fragment knocked the tension for the bobbin thread out of whack. It was too tight. Gaahh. Normally, having the bobbin tension out of whack is a significant problem. It is not at all easy to adjust the tension on the bobbin. Well, on all of my other machines, it was difficult. However, on the 830, I was provided with a special tool and the bobbin case has a ratchet style tension adjustment. I moved the tension one notch/click and tested, moved it a second notch/click and tested and poof! The tension was again correct. While many might say that the 830 tension is twitchy and difficult, I think that adjusting the bobbin tension on this machine is much easier than on any other machine I've owned. On the other hand, I also have learned that I need to use the software on the 830 that will prevent the error that caused the broken needle in the first place. I neglected to tell the machine that I had changed hardware. If I had done that, the machine would have prevented me from stitching with hardware that didn't work with the decorative stitch I had chosen.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

New Sewing Machine

OMG. I just bought an 830  sewing computer from our local shop. The machine is used. The lady who owned the shop was the first owner. I will be the second. It needs a cleaning before I take it home, but I won't have to pay for the cleaning. I will take it home tomorrow, I hope. In the meantime, I have the manual to read.

This makes machine number five. I am very excited about it and am looking forward to getting familiar with it. Instead of the 6" space between the needle and the body of the machine, there is 12" of space. I will have room to do my freehand quilting. There are USB ports on this machine. Bernina has entered the 21st century. There isn't FireWire. Oh well.