Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Birthday Gift Gone Wrong

Been a Hella Week, what with the slew of medical testing and another new specialist (cardiologist) for my son.  In the middle of that somewhere, he had a drumline competition that he managed to get through - right before he got slammed with another migraine.  It's been three days now and he's still fighting it, but he went to rehearsal today.  I figured I'd take advantage of the free time to help my older son prepare birthday gifts for his girlfriend (she turns sweet 16 tomorrow).  I asked him what he thought she would want or could use, and he mentioned that she could use a new hoodie type jacket.  Having just gotten a birthday email from one of my favorite online embroidery design companies (Embroidery Library) that offered me a coupon for either $10 off or 50% off embroideries of my choice, the proverbial lightbulb went on - here was a chance to order some designs I'd been looking at, get them at a pretty substantial discount, and make a custom jacket for her birthday gift!  See, turning 50 does have its advantages.  My son chose which design to use, then we went out to get a hoodie jacket from the local 5 For $10 T-Shirt store ($13 for a pretty nice one - not bad).

After he took off for his college class, I went to Joanns Fabrics to get the embroidery thread color he requested - they just happen to have all Guttermann thread at 40% off right now - BONUS!  When I came home I ordered the design packs (and a couple of designs for me, like a SOCK MONKEY!), downloaded them, then unzipped the files & saved them in the right format for my embroidery machine.  It would be cool if all embroidery machines used similar platforms, but no - each company is so proprietary that they make the PC vs Mac war look like a backyard squirt-gun fight.  I'm not even going to tell you how much the software costs to be able to convert these files to use in my machine - you're just going to have to trust me when I tell you it's embarrassingly obscene.  It is pretty nifty software, though, and it also allows me to take any kind of design, from a gif to a jpeg to a hand-drawn picture, and digitize it so my machine can sew it out.  I've had it for a couple of years and still haven't learned everything about it.  It's the gift that keeps on giving, LOL!

You all know about Murphy's Law, right?  I figured I'd test sew one of the designs using my own jacket, just in case....

Onwards and Dragon-wards!

and sure enough, right in the middle of the embroidery (you know, the one with 34,795 stitches) the hoop popped apart, the embroidery arm had nothing to move around, the design started sewing a HUGE rats' nest where it was stuck in the fabric, which then resulted in such a buildup of thread that it literally blew out the bobbin case cover & the throat plate before I could stop the machine.  Sigh.  I was lucky I didn't permanently damage everything.  About an hour's worth of clipping stitches and hand-picking out all the thread later....I had a devil of a time getting the jacket hooped up in exactly the same spot so I was sweating bullets when I started up the machine again.  Only it wouldn't start.  It kept giving me an error message about not having the right size hoop installed.  I tried everything, but it kept giving me the same message.  Bummer.  When all else fails, reboot.  And cross your fingers.  After rebooting the machine, I reloaded the design, forwarded the stitching to where I thought it first started screwing up, and pressed START - and realized that when the hoop had popped open, the design had started stitching out of the path it was supposed to have taken, and there was no way on God's green earth I was going to get it to line up right.  Oh, well.  You win some, you lose some.  At around the 32,000 stitch mark, I realized I was running out of the embroidery thread.  Sigh.  I paused the machine again, looked everywhere for a matching thread, found one that was matte instead of shiny (but about the same color), loaded that up (SIGH), pressed START and let it run until it was done.

The finished Damask Dragon in all its awesomeness! Wonky colors and misplaced stitching notwithstanding. 

Amazingly enough, it looks okay.  Not perfect, but okay.  And I learned a lot.  Only problem is, I know for sure now that I won't have enough thread to do the birthday design, it's 11:30 pm, and I can't get to the store to get more thread until tomorrow morning.  Which turns out to be okay anyway, as older son came in about an hour ago and changed his mind about what color he thought she would like for her design anyway.  (SIGH.)

And where was the sewing assistant all this time, you are wondering?  Dude bailed on me.  No wonder I couldn't keep it all under control - he decided to moonlight as a plumbing assistant.

It may look like he's getting his head sawn off, but I can assure you that wasn't the case. Not intentionally, anyway. 

He is SO fired.

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