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Amparo Bertram

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06:50 am: Trial and error
I finished reading my sewing machine manual Sunday morning (though I still hadn't unpacked it). It said that it came with a medium-sized (4" X 4") hoop, and that there were large- and small-sized hoops that could be ordered separately. I decided to head out to one of the company's shops to try to buy them. I looked up the stores, and there's one in Otsu and one in Kyoto.

I tried the one in Otsu first. I managed to find the right block by carefully examining a map and scrutinizing the addresses on light posts, but I circled the entire block without finding the shop. However, since every other store on the block was closed, I imagine it was closed also (and had activated its cloaking device). What's up with everything in Otsu being closed on Sunday?

I tried the one in Kyoto next, figuring, hey, it's KYOTO, things must be open there. After wandering a couple blocks in the wrong direction and stopping to ask at a department store (they couldn't pinpoint the address either, even though it was only two blocks away), I did find the shop. Closed. What the heck? This is Japan, land of Closed on Tuesday, why is everything suddenly closed on Sunday?

Oh, well. I got TONS of pictures of flowers during my wandering.

I went back home, somewhat discouraged. As a last resort, I took my machine manual and went to the sewing machine shop at Lala Port. They didn't have any of what I wanted in stock, but they could order it. They were incredibly confused, though, when I said I wanted the large-sized hoop, protesting that my model of machine couldn't use it. I pointed to the page in the manual where it said it could. The lady at the shop was quite confused and spent a while using a ruler to measure the hoop on an equivalent model they had. Apparently, it comes standard not with a 4" x 4" hoop (as my manual said mine did) but with a 7" X 4" hoop. Thus she thought "large" should be larger than standard. Huh. That was strange, but I went ahead and placed the order anyway.

Then I got home and decided to try sewing the bunny pattern as a trial run. I opened the box and set up the machine, only to find that the hoop included with it looked curiously like the 7" X 4" standard size the lady had pulled out to check at the shop--except that the layout grid included with it was only marked 4" X 4". Very odd. I really, really don't get it.

From the time I started, it took me about two hours to get the bunny completely sewn. This included trying to load the bobbin and apparently not having the thread tension tight enough, resulting in a bobbin that resembled a bird's nest, and thus having to unwind the whole thing and start over. This also included forgetting to put the "cap" over one of the spools of thread after changing colors and having the thread form a huge tangled mess behind the bobbin case.

I did learn a few things about
  • keeping the colors in the pattern in the most efficient sewing order possible
  • making sure to check the stitch density after resizing the pattern
  • minimizing the number of trailing threads as much as possible.

    I stopped at the bakery in my local supermarket for the first time and bought what was essentially a bread bowl the size of a cantaloupe baked with chunks of cheese flavored with basil and olive oil inside. That was quite tasty, though nearly more than I could finish.

  • Comments

    [User Picture]
    From:firesign10
    Date:May 15th, 2005 05:48 pm (UTC)
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    Wow, that bread sounds awesome!

    The whole embroidery thing sounds like quite a "learning experience"! Did sara_tanaquil's suggestion work re: the menus, and if so, did that help? I know when I haven't sewn in a while I always end up wrestling with bobbins and tension for a little bit until I get back in the groove. Looking forward to seeing the actual stitching results!
    [User Picture]
    From:spacealien_vamp
    Date:May 15th, 2005 09:06 pm (UTC)
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    The whole embroidery thing sounds like quite a "learning experience"!

    Definitely. I also looked up a mini-tutorial online, and found that turning off anti-aliasing in Photoshop makes the conversion to outline format much smoother. I'll try that with my next picture.

    Did sara_tanaquil's suggestion work re: the menus, and if so, did that help?

    Yes! I can see everything now! I'm really happy about that. I'm also happy because now it will accept the kanji that I input, and I really love their calligraphy-like font.

    I know when I haven't sewn in a while I always end up wrestling with bobbins and tension for a little bit until I get back in the groove.

    The nice thing is, I can keep the same bobbin for all the colors. It would suck to have to change that each time as well.

    My next goal: Using the spare thread cassette to load the next color while the previous one is stitching. That should save quite a bit of time.
    [User Picture]
    From:wednesday_10_00
    Date:May 15th, 2005 06:08 pm (UTC)
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    No pictures? ;_;

    (That bread sounds so good. Damn, it's only 10:00 and I'm already hungry. ._.)
    [User Picture]
    From:spacealien_vamp
    Date:May 15th, 2005 09:07 pm (UTC)
    (Link)
    No pictures? ;_;

    I was going to load a picture, but I was a little embarrassed that there were some slight flaws in it and decided not to. However, if you like, I will post a picture (with the caveat that it was my first try).
    [User Picture]
    From:wednesday_10_00
    Date:May 15th, 2005 10:54 pm (UTC)
    (Link)
    Yes, I want to see it. Do not care about so-called "flaws."
    [User Picture]
    From:mvrdrk
    Date:May 15th, 2005 11:59 pm (UTC)
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    Sounds so cool! I don't gave a machine that can do embroidery, so you may already know this, but don't forget that you should pul the colored threads to the back before snipping them. It'll give you a neater work.
    [User Picture]
    From:spacealien_vamp
    Date:May 16th, 2005 01:10 am (UTC)
    (Link)
    don't forget that you should pul the colored threads to the back before snipping them. It'll give you a neater work.

    No, I didn't know that. Thanks for the tip! (I ran an internet search on the subject yesterday, but I didn't come up with anything useful. Of course...I only searched Japanese sites because I didn't know the specific English term for the threads.)
    [User Picture]
    From:mvrdrk
    Date:May 16th, 2005 09:44 am (UTC)
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    I don't actually know if this will work with embroidery, since I don't know if you sew over loose threads or stop to clean things up between colors.

    If you leave yourself a bit longer tail on the threads as you go (rather than clipping the threads on the surface of the work as you move from spot to spot), you can later pull on the bobbin thread on the back and that will pop the upper thread to the back where it can be grabbed. You can then pull the entire thing to the back and clip it without creating fuzzies on the surface. If you clip really close, that top thread end is likely to work it's way to the surface over time, so it's actually better to leave a bit of a tail on the back of the work (especially if the tail can then be caught and pinned down by later sewing, as I imagine happens in embroidery).

    In general, I leave the 'popping threads to the back' activity for when I have the work free from the machine and can flip it over to work on it and do a bunch at a time.

    If you're doing work where you don't want to have the appearance of securing down the end of the seam with tiny stitches, you can use this trick and even longer thread tails to pull all the threads to the back and then thread onto a needle to tie things off securely. I do this for fancy machine work and the results always come out great. It's too much trouble for utility things like hemming jeans though, so on those I just live with the ugly starts and stops on the seams and hope no one notices.
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