Sunday, August 30, 2015

quilting machine is still working

SO last week my son had mentioned that since he got a single room he would like to have a fridge and microwave for his room at college.  For whatever crazy reason, I figured I should order it right away and so on Monday, the microwave showed up and Tuesday, the fridge showed up.  Of course UPS put them right in front of the door and the microwave wasn't too bad, but the fridge was pretty big and heavy.  It was hard to get around.  When my son brought it in, he put it in the room with the quilting machine and blocked my way so I couldn't get to the machine!  What was I thinking?  He doesn't go off to college for another 3 weeks.  This just wouldn't do.

So, this morning, I asked him to move the thing to another room (he chose the kitchen--anyone hungry?) so I could get back to the quilting machine to make sure it still works.

Yep, it is still working.  I'm so happy to have my toy back and be able to get at this stack of quilt tops and backings I matched up over the past 10 months when I couldn't get to anything else.

Then, he mentions that his girlfriend asked when her quilt would be finished.  You see, she started college last week.  Her quilt is in the blocks stage on the design wall.

I have a list about 400 items long of things I could have been working on while my machine was broken, but just didn't quite get to.  Good thing I'm going to live to be 200 so I can get them all done.

To think at one time I was afraid of zippers

 Now I love putting zippers in things.  And I'm not even using a zipper foot.  Once I figured out how to put a zipper in something in, and it wasn't so scary, putting zippers in things is actually very fun.  I've been making some pencil cases and bags out of jeans.  I made one for myself for school because I have to share two rooms this year and can't just leave my 'stuff' laying around.  I have to carry my pens and highlighters I use for grading from room to room.
It would have been just as easy to go to WalMart and buy a pencil case for a couple of dollars, but where's the satisfaction in that?

So I played around with some fabric from the pant leg of a jean and came up with a couple different ideas.  I will be sending these off to my friend at Layers of Hope for her etsy shop.  I have the box almost full so watch for new things to show up in her shop soon.

The two pitbull bags have long straps so you could wear them over your shoulder or across your chest and they are big enough to carry a small wallet, phone and your keys.

I made the giraffe embroidery design myself.  My son's 6th grade teacher loves giraffes and I didn't have a design.  I'm playing around with a digitizing program called Sew Art.  It is really fun to take a free clip art picture from the internet and change it into an embroidery design.  I'm going to make a pencil case for her with a bigger giraffe on it and probably her name too.  I just wanted to try one out and it came out cute.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

I'm back and Rebecca is FIXED!

I can't believe it has been since November that I've had a reliable, working robotic quilting machine!  Fingers crossed and knocking on wood, but I think Rebecca the Robotic machine is actually fixed this time.  After replacing the x and y encoders and wires, the handlebar controllers, the wire inside the handlebars, the motor sensor, the black box that controls the robot and finally the black wire from the handlebars to the back of the machine.  Pretty much the only thing that isn't new on the machine is the motherboard, which would cost another $1,000.  
 I think I spent around $1,000 on all the different parts and I'm not sure how much pain and suffering can be factored into the cost.  But after quilting these two red/white quilts today, all is forgotten.  It's like the birth of a child.  Labor is so painful, but once you hold that baby in your hands, you forget about it and want another one.
 I have so many quilts to get finished up and thankfully spent some of the last 10 months matching quilt tops to backings so was able to quickly pull out several that are ready to go.  I have quite a few that need the backings sewn to be the right size, but at least they are already matched.

Hopefully I will find time after work to get some quilts made and sent off to my friend in Washington to help out the families who lost homes to the fires.

If you want to help out, check out all of the information you will need on the Layers of Hope blog.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The west coast is on fire, can you help with quilts or donations?

My friend at Layers of Hope is collecting quilts to deliver to the people in Washington State who have lost their homes to the firs.  Would you like to send a quilt or help with postage costs?

I picked up the cord that connects the handlebar to the back of the machine and 'fingers crossed' think I have finally fixed my quilting machine.  I'm going to load a quilt tomorrow and give it a shot, but I pushed the buttons and moved things around and it works like I remember.  Who knows, I may be able to help make quilts again!  It sure has been a long time waiting.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

more zipper pouches

 How about some minions?  My son says they look like monkeys.  I need to find some darker yellow fabric.  Both of these gave me troubles.  Mostly it was my fault because the bigger one I didn't lay the fabric over the stitching line far enough and ended up leaving a hole at the top of his head.  Then, I made the little guy and forgot to move the zipper before finishing it.  Of course that meant when I cut it, I cut off the zipper pull and then couldn't open his mouth.  Oops!
 How about a red/gold/black monkey?
 My sewing room is back to its messy state again with fabric everywhere.  I just wish I could figure out how to be creative and organized at the same time.
I'm trying not to stress out about going back to work on Monday, but time is going by at a rapid pace.  I have a whole list of things I want to do before Monday and not much is getting checked off the list.  Good thing we have a day of in a couple weeks :)  I do love being a teacher

Friday, August 14, 2015

practicing taking pictures

 I'm trying to find places around my house that would be good backgrounds for taking pictures of the things I make.  I want to make my pictures look better.
 I often don't see things in the background until after I've taken the picture.  Like the yellow hose and the dirt and bird poop.
 I don't want you to focus on that.  I want you to focus on these cute monkey zipper pouches.  The one on the left was made with recycled jeans.  I have an obsession with recycling jeans lately (the last couple of weeks) and this monkey pattern just screamed for me to try it with the jeans.  The ears were hard to turn because they were so thick.
 This guy was made from some velour.  I have a whole huge box of it and I almost gave it away.  It is perfect for these monkeys.
 Now to find things to put in them.  They could hold change in the car, because that always gets everywhere in my car.  You know, the drive through at McDonald's when they just throw the money at you and expect you to drive NOW so they can help the next person?  well, how about hanging one of these guys and tossing those coins in his mouth to deal with later?
 I was thinking of making one for me to take to school to keep my USB's in.  I'm forever laying them down and then I can't find them.  I have about 5 of them because I can never find them when I need them.  These monkeys are big enough and cute enough that I surely won't lose them.  Well, maybe if I make them in bright colors, they will stick out in the mess on my desk!

Got a kid going to a birthday party, but don't have time to shop for a gift?  This guy would hold some money or a gift card and there's no need to wrap it!

Yep, you guessed it, once I get a dozen or so, they will be going to the Layers of Hope Etsy shop for sale.  Gotta get some postage money to send out more quilts for our unsung heroes.

I really need school to start

 So I got the call that my quilting machine was fixed and I went to pick it up yesterday.  I brought it home and it worked for 3 seconds.  Yep, that's right.  One stitch and then I pushed a button and it went back to stitching however it wanted.
 I called and took the machine back.  They plugged it in and saw that it wasn't working and worked on it for a couple of hours and called me back saying they had fixed it and I could come get it.
 When I picked it up, they promised me it was working again.  Said they had changed out the left handlebar controller and that's what made it start to work again.  Made no sense, but hey, whatever works, I will take it.  I figured I'd have to spend the $1,000 to get the computer replaced in it.
 I brought it home and this time it worked for a whole 7 seconds.  Then, I pushed a button and it started stitching however it wanted!  Yep, I cried a little.  I called and the guy said he had no idea what was wrong with it.  He had called the Viking company and talked to them for a long time and they had no idea what could be wrong with it.  He said I could bring it back in but he was out of ideas.  I decided not to go back there yesterday and to just sleep on it.  Maybe a great idea would come to me in the middle of the night.
Well, sure enough, I had a dream that the black cord from the handlebar controls was plugged in backwards.  Not that it should make a difference, but this morning I got up and tried switching it around.  Sure enough, it started working again correctly.  Really?  There is a direction to the cord?  So, I started hooking other things up like the robot part of the machine.  Well, I started moving that black cord around and the machine stopped working.

I think that there is a kink in that black cord somewhere and when you move it there is a gap in the wire.  I'm sure it is one of those compound wires that is made up of lots of little wires and one of those little wires is broken, so when it gets move just the wrong way, one of those little wires isn't connecting and the information isn't getting transmitted all the way so the handlebars aren't working.  When you move it again, it works.  When you move it the wrong way, it stops working.

So, I called the shop and asked them to order me a new cable.  The guy thought that might be the trouble, but then again he had no idea yesterday.  It shouldn't be too expensive of an idea to try out at least.  And who knows, I might have a new career troubleshooting people's quilting machine issues.

In the meantime, I'm spending my last few days crocheting baby hats and making embroidery things.  And trying not to cry.  Two days of vacation left. I'm so spoiled!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Recycling Denim Jeans

 So I have a new obsession now.  I've been buying jeans at the GoodWill Outlets and using the fabric for making key fobs, but what do you do with the top part of the jeans?
 Well, you make cute purses of course!  I've been checking out all of these great ideas on Pinterest and came across this great idea for a little girl's purse from the bottom of the pant leg.
 When I finished the purse, I thought it would also make a great wine bottle holder as a gift for giving and sure enough it is just the right size to hold a wine bottle.  Funny story.  Last year when I was having so many really bad migraines I read that wine helped make them go away, so I bought this bottle.  Nope, it didn't take away my migraines.  Oh, you mean you are supposed to drink the wine?  Maybe that was my problem.
 Without the wine, the little purse folds over and would hold your cell phone and a small wallet or credit cards for a night out on the town.
 Here's a bigger purse with lots of pockets.  Since it is made from jeans, it has the front and back pockets for storing things and I added a pocket inside for extra room.
 I left the top of the pocket open, so there is an extra pocket within the pocket.
I even added a strap from some overalls to close the top so all of the treasures inside don't fall out when you drop the purse on the floor like I always do when I come in the door.  The overall strap attaches to the front button on the jeans.

Both of these will be going off to my friend who runs Layers of Hope to help raise money for postage.  Keep an eye out in her Etsy shop for them to appear.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

a little bit crazy

 So I have been a little bit crazy making these key fobs lately.  I gave  75 to a friend of mine who rung Layers of Hope and another 96 to a friend who is raising money for a diabetic therapy dog and can't seem to stop.
 I'm learning to digitize my own designs and came up with several different train ones because there were none out there to purchase.  I forgot to take pictures of them this morning before giving a couple dozen to my son to take to the train museum today.  He only has a few more weeks of work before he goes off to school.
 My oldest daughter is driving from St. Louis to Miami yesterday and today with two cats.  She is having quite the adventure with the male cat having a hissy fit and throwing up and pooping all in the first 30 minutes of the trip.  I told her it was good practice for motherhood.
 My younger daughter flew back to LA last night.  But, before she did, she went through everything in her room and made bags of things to give away.  Seems like she doesn't plan to come home to live anymore.  Sad day for me :(
 I guess I always knew they would have to grow up and move out on their own, but didn't realize it would come so soon.
 I should celebrate by turning her room into another sewing room.  I know I could use the space, but for now, it sits, just in case she changes her mind.  Hey, it could happen!
How about a baby fish hat to cheer you up?  This one is going to Layers of Hope etsy shop

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Happy heart

 My younger daughter is home for the weekend and brought her boyfriend.  My heart is happy.
 The kids are all playing video games.  This morning they went hiking at a local hiking area.
 My youngest guy is probably the happiest of all, with his sister home.  She is his most favorite person in the world.
 Even the dogs are enjoying the extra attention.
Tonight they are going ice skating.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Fish Hat

I ordered the pattern here for this crochet fish hat and it took me about 3 hours to make.  Not bad considering I was watching TV.  It's a pretty easy pattern to do if you know how to crochet and I didn't have to pay too much attention while making it.
 It came out bigger than I had thought it would from the picture on the etsy site.  I thought it was going to be for a baby or small child, but as you can see, it fits my big head!
 It never gets cold enough here in Northern California to wear hats, but if it did, I would totally wear a hat like this.  I'm weird enough to go out in public wearing shirts that say, "It's ok to be ugly, but you're overdoing it."
So, I'm sending this one to my friend who has an etsy shop with the hope she can sell it to raise money for Layers of Hope, Quilting 911.  It's an organization whose mission is to support 911 operators in times of crisis through the warmth of a quilt.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Learning to digitize embroidery designs

I'm learning to digitize some embroidery designs.  I've spent enough money having some designs digitized by others and figured it can't be that hard.  Well, guess what?  It isn't hard at all when you have the right program!

Today I downloaded SewArt for free (30 day trial) and began playing around with it after watching a few youtube videos.  It's amazing what you can learn from watching a few videos.

I will be putting my designs here to share and hope you will try them out.  I'd like to one day start an etsy shop and maybe sell them to make some money for the charities I support.

The first one I did is a train key fob (or luggage tag) because I've been looking for one everywhere and couldn't find one I liked.  I finally found one, but it was pretty detailed and took forever to stitch out.  I'm hoping this one is simple enough that you get the idea it is a train, but stitches quicker.  I'm going to give it a try today!

Update:  I stitched it out and am fairly happy with the design.  It actually looks like a train :)  There are a few white spots in the middle of the train, so I guess I need to practice a bit to get the design perfect and it did take FOREVER to stitch out (about an hour for these four) so I'm working on a line drawing now.  These are for my son's work to give away to the kids.  He works at the Western Railway Museum and I'd like to be able to make a dozen a day.  I don't have 3 hours a day to make these for him, but they are cute!  And there aren't any train designs out there as key fobs, so if you are looking for a free train key fob, follow the link and enjoy :)