Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Long Line of Makers

I was thinking of my father and this father's day. I remembered that he did a lot of making things when he was young. I have on my dresser, one of the lead soldiers that he made when he was a child. He had molds, he melted the lead and poured his own toys. As a child, I played with them, setting them up and shooting them down with a popgun that my grandfather found corks for. The corks were too big and he had to trim them down.

The concept of dealing with melting and cooking things to create toys was a part of my own childhood. I had a Mattel "Thingmaker" when I was young. I put liquid plastic into a mold, put the mold onto a heating element and cooked the plastic into either monsters, or flowers, or Peanuts characters. There was a risk of getting burned, and I probably did, though I don't remember it. I never owned an Easy-Bake oven, but my best friend, Becky, did.

So, not only did I grow up making things, so did my father before me.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Stabilizer Basics

New machine embroiderers are always asking, "What stabilizer should I use?" Usually, they are overwhelmed by the variety of responses they get. One person loves a stabilizer that another person hates.

My advice is that a newbie should get three stabilizers. One cutaway, one tearaway, and one wash away. All should be light weight. That's it! No iron on. No heavyweight. No medium weight. No heat away. When a heavier weight stabilizer is needed, use multiple layers. When floating, use 505 adhesive, pins, or a tack-down stitch.

Why do I suggest this? Because it makes it a lot simpler for a newbie. I teach newbies that a tearaway should be used for wovens and a cut away for knits. Wash away is for topping. There's so much to learn and remember about machine embroidery. Sixty-eleven different types of stabilizers are sixty-eight too many.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

It Ain't Broke, So I Don't Have to Fix It!

I had a slight problem with the new embroidery machine. It gave me an error message. I knew there was an easy fix for it, but couldn't recall exactly what it was. No panic. I looked for an instructional video on line and had to push a few buttons on the screen and slowly turn a knob.


The Avance was right back to work.

While I was looking for the video, there was a subtext running through my head. A similar error on Mama Bernina, and she'd be in the shop for a week or two and it would cost a minimum of $100. My worst case fear was that I'd have to load the Avance into my truck and drive it to Tampa.

I'd heard really good things about these machines. I'm inclined to believe them now. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

New Career!

I have started a business. Studio PALS, LLC. I bought an Avance commercial, 15 needle embroidery machine. I've gone through many hours of training on it. I got digitizing software to create designs to use. I've had many hours of training on that, too. While I don't feel cocky, I am confident that I can produce a quality product. Go me!

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Sigh of Annoyance

Mama B is back in the shop. She just wasn't behaving as well as I thought she should. There were too many problems with the thread getting caught in the bobbin case. She didn't do that when I first got her. So, back she went. I'm tired of her going back into the shop. I am very frustrated at having to deal with issues when she isn't completely fixed. Mama ain't happy, I'm not happy.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Today's New Thing

Each day, I learn another thing about Mama Bernina. Today, I learned that using up whatever I have left in my studio is not a good idea. I was using several different brands of bobbin thread. One of them acted badly when I tried to use it and I had no idea what was wrong. Fortunately, it was not a large spool and I was able to toss out what I had left of it. I ran around in circles and pulled out my hair before I figured out it was the bobbin thread.

Today what I learned is to use standard materials and always use the same stuff when you are learning. Do not try six different things when you don't know what you are doing. You have no idea what the results are going to be and even worse, you don't know why you got those results, either! If it turns out great or turns out crappy, you don't know why. You haven't learned anything useful because you can't do it again, or do it differently on purpose the next time.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Trimming for Applique

I have one favorite tip that I use for creating cleaner edges when doing machine applique in the hoop. I use a lint brush. Not one of the ones with adhesive, one that has velvet with a nap on it.

After I attach and trim, I brush in all directions.

Here's what a piece looks like after trimming and before the lint brush.

And here's what it looks like after I go over it with the lint brush. 

I can easily trim those threads now that I can see them.

I keep brushing and trimming until there are no more threads that stick out to be trimmed off. Even then, I'll still have the occasional thread that pokes out where I don't want it. For those, I suggest a permanent marker.