Sunday, May 31, 2015

Third verse, almost the same as the first !

I was thinking (probably where all those earthquakes originated) that, while I’ve been reveling in rediscovering machine embroidery – and probably boring you to tears doing so – there’s one aspect I’ve avoided. Same one I shied away from with extreme prejudice for a year before I went on hiatus with the whole thing two years ago. And since I’ve come to refine my preferences and want to make stuff more than I want to decorate stuff, it’s inevitable. I have to face my failures, and like the others (applique, in-the-hoop, just plain embroidery in general) get better at them through relearning, redoing, and relaxing. 

So. To that end, I bought (stop laughing at me) three Free Standing Lace designs while they were on half-price sale at Urban Threads. I’ve wanted two of them for, yes, years, so if $4.50 inspires me to face a failure in hopes of making it a success, well, that’s pretty cheap. It then occurred to me that, with all the other projects I got in various stages of ‘get me done’, I could put this off for another year, minimum, without even trying. Not cool. Found a pretty little notebook and started Three Projects. Here’s the hope – every Sunday, I write down three projects I want to get done this week. I can do them whenever inspiration hits, and can even belay them ‘til the next week if necessary. But I can’t buy anything new until those projects are done. No excuses. If they’re on Three Projects, all the necessary elements for them are already assembled, so I can’t weasel out on a technicality. You know by now I can’t go to a fabric store for a 99¢ pattern without coming back $10. poorer, so them’s the rules. I kind of sat around all last week and only did a couple small things, I don’t want to waste more time sand-sifting. 

Although that does seem like what I did today. I was actually studying and looking up ways to improve my free-standing lace works, and I think I know where I kept going wrong. It’s a lot like where I was mucking up my regular ole embroidery – I hooped things my way, and wouldn’t let anyone tell me that’s where the problem was, I knew better. Um, no, I didn’t. So I didn’t know that tugging at the fabric once it’s hooped  leads to puckering when it’s removed. Made perfect sense when I stopped to think about it. And, yeah, using worn out dryer sheets as stabilizer really isn’t that great an idea, either. The message board was right on that one. But I was so angry and hurt by other things said that I wouldn’t listen to anything. Well, they’re gone, I like to think I’ve grown up a bit in the last three years, and wouldn’t you know it, my outlook and output has improved. Go figure. 

Seems like I just can’t resist a class struggle, even when it’s over sheer luxury crap like machine embroidery ! So, in memory of what was and hope for what can be, I tackled one of my Three Projects – stitched out another ‘Elsa and Olaf’ design on the blue broadcloth I bought Thursday. One of next week’s Three Projects will be to tear apart the light blue tote bag I bought at Dollar Tree, and re-sew it stronger, with the design replacing the front pocket. I’ll also take measurements, so I can make more tote bags out of better fabric, whenever I need one. 

It was great. Both my guys were napping, but I was restless, so I cued up an old MST3K, planted some Cheddar Chex Mix in a bowl, popped open a root beer, swapped a few colors of thread, and sewed. Actually, I stitched ‘Elsa and Olaf’ twice, because I used too-thin a stabilizer the first time. I just barely have the broadcloth to do what I want, but that first attempt was too poor to keep. Olaf’s arm was off about an eighth of an inch from where it was supposed to be, and I really should have quit earlier than I did. Luckily for me and my remaining broadcloth, the second attempt, with doubled interfacing, went much better. Perhaps even a little better than the very first one, now on Merri’s shirt. I keep thinking broadcloth is heavier than it is, and even feels. It’s actually a pretty light fabric, looser even than quilting cottons. Now I can take that design out of Brody-machine’s memory, clear space for another project, coming soon ! 

After all, I still have four hanging kitchen towels for MIL and an attempt at free-standing lace to do this week !

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Get to it, shake it off already. . .

Shook off my annoyance over The Briefcase by stitching out one of the dozens of new designs I’ve downloaded for free or paid 50% or less for this month. Yesterday’s choice was an unintentional freebie – it’s the one KM Embroidery resized for me when I complained a bit about the Beauty and the Beast one I bought not being available in the advertised 4x4 format. Since they fixed the error (although the B&B design is still labelled as 4x4, they told me the design might not stitch out well) and resized this second one I liked not listed as 4x4 for me, I figured I owed it to them to test stitch it and post the results, especially if they were good. They were. True, I don’t get the detail the larger sizes have, but that’s to be expected. Design itself is solid, and I’m happy with it. So it’s already on their Facebook site, which is only fair. 

Of course, I probably shouldn’t have mentioned using an old needle, scrap fabric, and pieces of previously used stabilizer pieced together, that’s what got me thrown off an embroidery message board, and honestly, who cares ? I just wanted to show that, even a resized design stitched on sub-perfect materials with a budget machine can still look awesome. And it’s not immodest of me to say that at least part of the reason it looks so good is because I have the skill to make using less than optimum materials look like I went for top of the line and stayed there. But I didn’t say that, because caring about it was limited only to me anyway. Proud of m’self, though. 

It’s funny to say, but I’m glad I took two years off from Brody and machine embroidery. If I’d have pushed m’self through out of guilt and already-spent expenses, I would have gotten frustrated and quit sooner. As things are now, I get to relearn and relax, let others teach me, at my own pace. And my output is vastly improved. Was always tense and afraid I’d ruin an expensive machine, plus pricey thread, fabric, and stabilizers before, even when I did odd experiments like balsa wood and dryer sheets. I had been feeling bad for neglecting this for so long, but not anymore. I’m just gonna enjoy ! 

Of course, I have no idea what I’m gonna use this stitch-out on. . .

Friday, May 29, 2015

Why I don't watch 'prime time' anymore. . .

OK. So. My ridiculous voyeuristic streak led me to tape The Briefcase, and I didn’t watch it until today. I’m having that streak burned out as soon as we can afford it. What. A. Joke. If you haven’t watched this cluster-bomb, here’s the premise – two ‘needy’ families are presented briefcases with $101,000. They can spend $1k, no strings attached, but as for the rest, they can choose to keep all, some, or none, whatever they don’t claim goes to another needy family. They don’t know at first that each family gets the same briefcase, has the same decision – to each family, they’re deciding someone else’s future, they don’t know the others are just as enmeshed in theirs. The true hook comes in later – they come to know the family who’ll get their unclaimed funds. Even prowling around each other’s empty as-is homes before meeting them face-to-face. Ugh. Then, after they’ve made their decision, they get to tell the other family what they decided, again, face to face. Words fail me. . . just like when one family mamma licked and stuck a $100. bill to her face, laughing.  (yes, all I could remember was Ben Franklin, had to look up what denomination he’s on)

Thing is, at least in the premiere episode, both families weren’t that bad off. One was living in a huge home, the other was having a new home custom-built. You could feel the desperation in their dyed hair, designer purses, big trucks, and snowmobiles, clearly these people were on the edge. Seems like both families could have used a big ole dose of counting their blessings instead of crying ‘poor me, poor my family’ over and over. 

And it kind of ranks, because the show presents these people as being in need. Um, what ? These are the lucky ones ! Where’s the single parent trying to figure out which utility gets paid, and what gets shut off ? Where’s the family standing in line at the food pantry, praying they still qualify for rent assistance after Mom got a 25¢ /hr raise last month ? Is anyone on this creepy show not living in a nice house with a new car ? The families here gave each other the full amount, but what happens if one family decides to keep the wad and the other decides to give it up ? Does Greedy G. get $200K and Noble L. get nada ? It just seems like this is something the higher brackets can point to and think this is ‘poor’ when actually, each family was considerably quite past poverty before some ill-considered ‘reality’ show dumped $101K in their laps. 

Maybe I missed the point, maybe the later episodes won’t be so ridiculous. But I already know they’re going the Wife Swap route, pairing gun-nut conservatives with a same-gender couple in a future episode (if it isn’t cancelled by public ridicule by then), so I kinda doubt it. I just hope this show wasn’t trying to put a face on American Poverty, ‘cause they missed by about two parsecs.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Yeah, another pattern. Here's hoping I actually sew this one !

Not available in Barbie size yet.  Give 'em time. 

What a fantastic day ! Rain in the morning, so Beloved Hubby didn’t have to be out early – and he almost finished my cubby ! Since he’ll probably have to get material to craft and install the bottom drawers, and I haven’t decided on paint yet, we decided to go ahead and move it into the Arena, until he has time to work on it. Because today was a semi-bust far as work goes, he’s probably working all weekend. Meanwhile, I can go ahead and play with my new cubby !

So I liberated a box that came inside the packaging for Beloved’s latest tool order and filled it with doll props from the rolling shelf cart. Since those things will go in one of the cubby drawers eventually, might as well clear space. Needed the empty drawer for that grab-package of sheet felt I bought at Jo-ann’s last time. And the felt I bought today !

Got to go to Hancock Fabrics, provided I picked up sodas on the way home. Done ! As usual, I went for the $1.99 pattern, ended up leaving $7. there. But I got my pattern, quarter yards of vinyl, felt, and broadcloth, an off-white fleece remnant for 17¢, and four bags of $2.29 gummy bears for 33¢ each. Saved $23.11 ! And I’m not going anywhere this weekend. I didn’t even get me a soda, I felt so guilty. Found a gorgeous fat quarter I want, but at $2.49, it got to stay there. Scored a free handout from Pellon – now I have a guide to their interfacing and stabilizers. Did you know the by-the-yard kinds they make for machine embroidery have blue bolt labels ? Pink is for clothes, green is quilting, yellow is crafts. They didn’t have what I was looking for – they either sold out or it’s a website only thing – but that’s nice to know. 

The felt’s put away, and both drawers are maybe one sheet away from not being able to close. So I gotta make some things this weekend ! Also found some pretty buttons for MIL’s hanging towels, but they had to wait. I haven’t gone through my half-gallon pickle jar button stash yet, I may already have something good. Can always go back later. Can try to save money first !

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Better late than never, right, Anna ?

Quiet day. Ran the dishwasher, enjoyed the sun. Decided to hand-stitch the back closures in the Dollar Tree doll dress I bought last weekend while watching what passes for afternoon television. My stitches still look like a six-year-old did them, but they’re secure and stable, and the dress looks good on Anna from the front. I think she’s more attached to the Barbie-style shoes than the dress – that lace collar looks itchy. May snip that off later. 

Weather forecasters were having a great day. We’re in for another massive storm tonight, but next week promises four days in a row of no rain at all ! I think it makes them happiest when there’s bad weather, but they can still promise some good coming soon.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Sweater socks ! Or sock sweaters !

Just enjoying everything. It feels so good to have bills paid and a full pantry ! I’m a notary now – or at least, I will be, once I get my seal and surety bond, file copies of them with the state. Found out from a company selling a package of just those things ! So it won’t be long now. 

Dearest Son’s new camera came in, and he was so happy. I went ahead and gave him my mostly unused tripod, to his delight. He has so many videos planned ! He and Beloved Hubby installed Open Office and Gimp on his ‘new’ computer yesterday, and he’s happily writing scripts and typing up lists. I’m looking forward to seeing what he does with his photos with imaging software ! 

Had to return something, and it was next to a GoodWill. . . Beloved found four shirts and two pair of pants, I got a set of iPod socks. Outdated ? Sure. Useless ? Probably, I’ve never owned an iPod. I’m more of an MP3 kinda girl. But if you’re a doll person at all, you saw the same potential I did – doll sweaters ! Depending on the doll, sweater dresses ! Six for two bucks, whatta deal. Be sure to show ‘em off when I’ve opened ‘em up.

Monday, May 25, 2015

We all remember on this day. . .

Beloved Hubby started for work, got a call – due to rain and holiday, today’s schedule was cancelled. So he called me from Aldi’s, he’d loaded all this into the cart, what else did we need ? An hour and about twelve bags later, our pantry is stuffed, our fridge is full, and the freezer is a ‘watch your toes’ zone. The few things Aldi’s didn’t have, I picked up at the local grocery, and did some minor cherry-picking, too. We didn’t have room for anything else ! Those strawberries are heavenly. . . 

From there, I had some paperwork to finish, get in the mail tomorrow. That took three hours, and I probably was off on a couple dates. I could only estimate those times last year when I was admitted to the hospital from the ER, I don’t know how people who don’t blog or journal do it ! At least it’s done, hopefully I got most of it right. My prescriptions over the past year – most still current – took over a page to list out.

Decided to dress Anna in the Dollar Tree doll outfit, but that didn’t happen. There’s no opening in the back or on the collar ! It’s supposed to stretch, but I heard threads popping, so I took it off, employed the seam ripper, and opened it up enough to try on. Kind of cute, actually. No way the collar would stretch over her head, though, so I don’t know what Greenbriar International ™ was thinking. Can always sew on some Velcro ™, which will improve the fit, but my attention was already straying. Free pattern ! Aww, won’t fit any of my dolls, but a nice try.