Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bonus Points for Not Skipping to the Next Blog!

It's incredible how much time has elapsed since my last post.  Apologies to any of you who have been lurking around the edges, hoping to see something new and exciting coming out of this quarter.  So much has happened between then and now, and for awhile it seemed like all my reasons for wanting to do a crafting/sewing blog in the first place went out the window.  I decided I needed to stop posting work from my production clients online, in order to preserve their right to get their items out to the public first, before anyone else sees the idea on my site and jumps the gun.  That left work from what I call my independent clients, but I figured people get bored with too many of the same type of posts (altering, tailoring, hemming, repairing, and repeat), so I sort of lost steam for a long time. My client base has steadily grown as well, so when I did have time to post, I was usually too tired to photograph and upload.  I've really been wanting to get back to writing and having a reason to practice my photography again, so - ready or not, here I am!

There's no way to get you caught up on so much - your eyes would be rolling back into your head around the 15th paragraph or so anyway - so what say we start fresh?

One of the things I love to do for clients is embroidery.  For years, I've been using a Viking Husqvarna Designer SE.  There are plenty of things that this machine can do that makes it worth keeping, but unfortunately, embroidery wasn't one of them.  Oh, I had high hopes in the beginning.  It seems, though, that I appear to have purchased a bit of a lemon.  Either that, or my repair gurus aren't being very truthful about other SE's coming in for the same repairs, over and over.  I have read several other blogs and reviews that mention some of the same issues I have, so I'm not going to sit here and dis Viking.  I do know that I'll never buy another one, though.  The biggest issue with the SE is that between the constant (and unpredictable) tension problem and the absolutely USELESS thread cutter (imagine a little gnome yanking your fabric through the throatplate, whacking repeatedly with a machete in the approximate area of where the thread should have been and shredding it nine ways to Sunday, all the while making horrid mechanical retching sounds), embroidering on this machine is just a nightmare.  I have ruined several onesies for my biggest production client, and it was getting embarassing to have to keep calling to ask for yet another shirt to replace the one the machine just ate.  The shirts ended up so holey, the pope was considering them for canonization.

My husband got really tired of hearing me cussing and fuming about the SE, but we both knew there was no way I was going to trade up to a Diamond because we could think of several other things we could do with that kind of money.  Like invest in another car, let's say.  I started haunting Craigslist, hoping that I could find a better quality machine - and lo and behold, my patience (or lack thereof) finally paid off - I found a gently used Brother PR620 being sold by a couple of college students.  They were majoring in marketing & branding, and had bought the machine to use for projects and embroidery orders for the marketing company one of them worked part time for.  It was in great condition and came with a boatload of extras, so my husband was good with helping with the financing.  Not keen on it, mind you - he's semi-retired now so big expenses like this one are kind of nerve-wracking at this point.  Since he is semi-retired, though, and because we have another son in college now, I really needed to pick up more work - and this machine promised results that were both higher quality and speedier than anything I'd been able to embroider before.

Also, this is the first machine I've purchased that was bigger than me.

The proof.  

So far, I haven't had a single issue with it, other than a bit of a learning curve.  It's a six-needle machine, which means that I don't have to sit and change threads for every color.  It's a SMART machine, which means that I don't usually have to babysit it, finger poised over the STOP button, waiting for that gnome to start cranking out those horrible sounds.  When it detects an issue, whether it's an incorrectly cut thread (are you listening, Viking?), a knot, missing bobbin thread, tension differences, or misalignment, it STOPS and notifies you there is a problem.  So I can actually sit at another machine, or go to my cutting table, and get other work done while it's merrily embroidering away.  My PC links up to it beautifully.  I never, ever could get my software - my VIKING software, mind you - to do the same with the SE.  I don't mind walking from one desk to the other with a flash drive, but...really?

First time I was actually able to introduce the Brother to my laptop was just this past week, when I had a rush job (not quite an overnight job, but only just) for a local high school's sports banquet.  (Friends from FVHS, if you're reading this, I make my apologies now.  It was for Edison.  Don't hate me - they were desperate, and willing to pay cash.)  With dozens of blankets needing every athlete's initials, and only a day and a half to get this done from digitizing to final finishing, I didn't have time to keep popping back and forth between the laptop and the machine with the flash drive.  Too many files loaded onto the flash drive, and it takes too long to sort through them on the onboard  touch screen.  Link the PC to the Brother, though, and BAM - all the files were transferred over to the Brother in mere seconds, and they were all there to use one after the other.  Sorted, alphabetized, and ready to rumble.


Heavy fleece blankets.

The Brother is a champ.  I've never been so excited to turn a machine on before.  It has a narrow center arm (the "bed"), which keeps me from having to sit and hold a onesie inside-out, stretched beyond capacity, hoping that I'm not going to get my fingers caught in the needle of the flatbed unit on the SE while trying to maneuver the fabric so IT doesn't get caught and sewn over.  Now I can just hoop the onesie and slip it over the center arm.  No more jockeying for position.  It stitches fleece, heavy beach towels, thin cotton knits, heavy canvas aprons, hats, tote bags, jackets, you name it, all with the greatest of ease.  (That's a seamstress joke.)  I've nicknamed it The Beast.  Actually, it could be Beauty (or Belle) as well, it does such lovely things.  

Felt patches for the scooter repair/custom build shop where my son works.
Aprons, both heavy duty...
(Note: I did NOT do the Steelers logo.  It was already on the apron.)

...and a lighter weight.
And yes, I know. Those photography skills.  I'm working on 'em.
A onesie and a matching Minky blanket.  Like Buttah!
Heavy duty beach blanket, a keepsake for a client taking her daughter, her daughter's best friend, and her god-daughter to the Bahamas.  Unfortunately, they were not able to fit me into a carry-on, even though I asked pretty-please.  (Rats.)

CAPS!  I CAN DO CAPS NOW!  (And hats, too.)

Suffice to say, this is hands-down one of the BEST investments I've ever made in terms of becoming more professional with my sewing services.  

Unless you count the coverstitch machine I just bought a couple of months ago...but that's a story for another day.  

And for those of you who follow the Sewing Assistant's progress, he's still here, fat and sassy. 

Not very good at Selfies, though.

 I've been taking in so much more work now, though, he's had to hire an Assistant's Assistant.  He's still in training.
Didn't need much, really.  As soon as he was able to jump, he was up and on all of my clients' garments...
...and in every open bag he can find.
Meet Perry.  Affectionately known as Pee-Wee.
The Sewing Assistant's Assistant.

No comments:

Post a Comment