Monday, February 22, 2010

I love customer pictures!

I recently made these custom bookends for a wonderful Etsian in Hawaii. She contacted me about the possibility of turning the chi-square plushies into bookends. I tried out some things, we discussed as I experimented, and she decided to go for it. The results are pictured here!

Don't they look so cute next to all her smart books: genetics, immunology, epidemiology, statistics, awesome! (And I spot the ever popular Agresti Introduction to Categorical Data Analysis book.)

Thank you so much for sharing the pictures! I love to see things in their new homes. It's gives a sense of completion and they always look cute!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My New Embroidery Machine

For Christmas, my mom and my husband got together on a surprise gift for me. The last gift I opened was a box of about 6 spools of thread with a note that had a picture stapled to it. As I moved aside the thread and started to read the note, I knew what it was. They had decided to buy me an embroidery machine! I cried (partly because I'm pregnant, partly because I was so touched!). My husband and I had said how cool it would be if I could get one to use and make more products and my products faster/neater. But they are expensive, especially since I'd need software to create my own embroidery files. I figured it would cost around 1500$. That is a lot of money to spend on something that has most of its use in a hobby of mine.

But the two of them got together and decided to get me one! We looked around after Christmas at shops. I knew very little of embroidery machines and so did my mom and my husband. After one day of looking, we were much more informed, but still spent a few more weeks researching and thinking about it. Then, the day before the Superbowl, we visited one of the shops we origianlly went to for help, and purchased me a Brother PE-750D. It's an embroidery only machine that can connect to my computer via USB cable. Which is a feature I felt I needed.

That Monday I played around with it. Basically I just set it up and embroidered my Etsy shop name on some scrap fabric.

Now the hard part became finding a software that could take the images I currently have as vector images and automatically digitize them. Without spending 1000$. I tried free programs like SofieSew and Mad Punch, but they were not very easy to use and didn't look like they would do what I want. I don't actually know if they can because I got too frustrated trying to use the programs to find out. So I downloaded the trial of Embird. But you can't trail the vector import/autodigitizing with the demo of Studio and you can't save. Plus the program would still cost me almost 500$. Still a lot of money.

Then my husband found Stitch Era Universal. It's "free" and pretty easy to use. We installed it on my computer last night and successfully imported a .emf file, had it auto-digitize and then cleaned it up a little. After an export, plugging it into my machine and clicking a few buttons, we ended up with one of my first embroidered pieces!

I placed the fabric in the hoop the wrong way, so I can't turn this into a coffee cozy as I'd planned, but I will still do something with it. But isn't that neat! It's a completely original design from start to almost-finish in less than one evening (thanks to my husband)!

Also, the ugly green "cozy" to the right of the embroidered piece is a trial product. The way I currently make cozies, they have an elastic loop with a button to hold them shut. Yes this works, but it seems bulky. So I've been trying to create a less bulky design. This green one is it, just in really ugly fashion. The final product would use nicer fabric, and be stitched much neater.

But its wonderful fun! I wish I had more time in a day to sit and create patterns then watch the machine do it's magic!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Quilt for my new niece

Here are some pictures of the quilt I made for my new niece. She is due May 11th. The colors for her room are light blue with brown and light pink. Actually, the fabric on the inside square in the middle on the top row is being used to create a border for her nursery.

The gorilla on a bike (Jeeves) is an old "buddy" of theirs. It's more of an inside/family joke than an actual I-like-this-image design. But I did hand applique it on (it's fleece).

So yeah, that is why I haven't had time to work on other things recently. I wanted to finish that! Oh, I also whipped together some burp cloths with left over fabric using homemade by jill's pattern. I did change some things. No batting and no fringe. I should have made it a little thicker though, one layer of cotton and one layer of flannel isn't very thi

The Reason for Product Lag

I know I said I'd post about this on last Monday, but I can't find my pictures! (That just probably means they're on my laptop.)

But I can tell you what took up most of my time the last two weeks or so... I made a quilt for my niece! The baby shower was last Saturday and I wanted it done by then. And I succeeded. Not only was it done, but my sister-in-law and her husband liked it. Win-win-win.

When I get to my laptop (and remember) I will post some pictures of the finished quilt.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Chi-Square Bookend

You may recall that last week I started working on turning a plushie into a bookend. You can see it here. This past weekend I was out of town (for a baby shower and the Superbowl) and didn't get a chance to work on the bookend. But last night I did and I finished the first one.

It's basically the same thing as my normal plushies save a few things.
  • The bottom has a rubbery feel to help keep the bookend in place.
  • She's got an aquarium rock filled pouch in side to provide weight.
  • The bottom is slightly larger than normal to allow for easier sitting.
  • I stuffed it in a different stop, to so the blind-stitching isn't where it normally is.
But that is it! This one came out a little dirty. The rocks I used were black and they kind of made things look dusty. Next time I'll get non-black rocks and sew them into a pouch with thicker fabric. That should contain the black.

Here's some pictures of the lone bookend in action.

Since she has no siblings at the moment, she buddies up with a good old geode bookend for this demonstration.

Here she is on a good ol' bookshelf. After I took the picture, I moved the bookend to put it back in my room (instead of my husband's office) and the books fell over! :) That means it works!

Overall, I'd mark this as a success!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

More New Products!

Yesterday I received a query from an Etsy user about making my plushies into bookends. (Sweet idea.)

Now, think about that. How awesome would it be to have a chi-square holding up your books! I had to agree with her, this would be wonderful. So, last night my husband and I brainstormed and went shopping (he's so good about that!). We bought some aquarium gravel and shelf liner.

Why? Starting with the gravel...I made a small pouch of about 1 lb. of gravel. I plan to stick that inside of the plushie so it has some weight. The shelf liner is the stickiest one we found. I plan to use that to line the bottom of the plushie so she doesn't just slide down the shelf with the books following her.

As long as I sew the shelf liner between two layers of fabric, it works great.

I did some testing, and was pleased with the results. Now, the books I used are pretty small, so that might call fro a retest, and the shelf I used is just sanded wood, not even finished, so it has more grip on its own. But, even with a little bit of lean, the 1 lb pouch alone still held up the books. I placed it in a variety of positions and all were successful.

This was reassuring! Sadly, I will not have time to work some more on this until Monday night, but I look forward to it!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Testing A New Product?

My Etsy shop and homework have been in a lull lately. But I have good reason! I can't share it yet, but on Monday I will. You'll just have to trust me for now. :)

But, I did whip up this super-cute zipper pouch on Sunday night. The pattern is from Indie House. I did make some small changes, and I plan to make more. But the pattern was free and super simple to do!

Here is the completed pouch.

One change I made was to not have the raw edges exposed on the inside near the zipper, you can see that below. I also serged the corners (and should have surged the other open seam you can see below too).

The problem is, now what do I do with it? It's an odd size. About as tall as my lip balm.

I could use it for holding an apple? That fits pretty well, but I didn't use any padding, so it would roll around and likely get bruised.

It also fits snacks quite well. Now that I have a baby growing inside of me, I usually have a variety of snacks on hand to feed my hunger.

So, besides it not having a purpose yet, I really like my little pouch! I plan to add a handle to one and an tab to the other and make it a more pencil-y size. Also, I'll embroider some witty statistical/mathematical design on to it. But for now, I just have some cuteness.