In my life, working with technology is such a “love/hate” relationship—thank goodness, mostly it’s “love”!

This summer I replaced a laptop with a new one to run new software that would not run on an old operating system. Long story short, the new laptop had to be replaced because the registry was corrupt. I spent a few hours with customer service and in the end, they decided to send me another new one. That required unloading everything I had loaded, waiting for the new machine to arrive, and then re-loading everything onto this laptop. All has been going well until last night.

Yesterday I spent almost all my work day finalizing the recording and editing of video for the website on how to digitize an “ITH Welt Pocket” for machine embroidery. Everything went well, and I was ready to upload the video to FTP site for our webmaster to put on the website after I get the second video finished. Filezilla gave me an “update” notice which I did and then I uploaded the video, and closed out.

The work I did was in Camtasia software which I’ve been using for several years now. I wanted to do a “zipped” file of all the content (videos, audio, photos) and file it so I have all the original content that was used for the video I had uploaded in one place; that is when my heart sank to my stomach—all the content in the original folder was GONE!!!! GONE!!! Just plain GONE!!!!!! How could this be????? And better yet, where had it gone???? That is when panic set in because I still need all those files in case I have to correct something and I really did not want to have to re-create everything all over again!

I did a search of the hard drive—nothing. I did it again—nothing. And a THIRD TIME—NOTHING! I right clicked on the folder to see if there were any “bytes” in there—nothing. I took to the Internet and did a search to see if anyone else was having these problems. I wasn’t sure whether I was happy or not, but yes, there are many folks having the same problems (I have friends who tell me I should be working on a MAC but I have too much software that operates with Windows only—not to mention, they have their problems, too.)

One suggestion I found was it could be malware, so I downloaded my favorite malware search product and ran a scan—no malware; well, at least that was good news. Another person I found obviously was a “techie” because as I read he started talking about doing things in the registry—ya, no, I know my limits and I am not studied enough to start messing with the registry. One other person said to restart the computer and see if that would correct it. I said a silent prayer and did it. After the re-boot, the folder was still empty but something interesting happened—

I decided to do another search of the hard drive—nothing. I right clicked on the folder again and this time, the properties showed 1.87G of content! Yay! At least it showed content.

But when I opened the folder, it showed empty!

After a little more researching, I read to go into the hard drive, through the user menu, find the folder and open it from there instead of from the desktop. Voila! I saw the file content! I IMMEDIATELY created a new folder and copied the content to the new folder (of course, not knowing whether or not this would work). As I was doing this, the folder kept just closing on its own so I had to keep opening it to keep copying the content to the new folder; I had to do this six times. I have no clue why that happened.

So all is well that ends well on that end but now I have a folder sitting on the desktop that I cannot delete no matter what I try. Today will include a call to customer support for this laptop to see if they can help me figure out what happened. Could it be a glitch from updating Filezilla? I rather doubt it but who knows. An update on that software has never caused problems before. I was beginning to think these files had gone off to play with the socks that always seem to go missing from the clothes dryer.

Luckily I do back up to a cloud and I also back up to an external hard drive. We were on vacation for two weeks and I haven’t done that in over three weeks so you know what I’ll also be doing today. I checked the cloud and because I had just worked on all the files, they weren’t yet backed up to the cloud.

Moral of the story—keep your security software updated, do scans as required and recommended, back up ALWAYS and often, and always create a restore point before updating or installing software. I had not done that before updating the Filezilla program (though I still don’t think that was the cause). Hopefully the call to customer service today will give me further insight into what happened. Stay tuned!

Sew ‘til next time….enjoy the journey of sewing (and computing)!

~Ramona

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Create a Smooth Binding Join

by Ramona on October 3, 2017

I consider myself a very novice quilter. Others have said I’m more intermediate to beginner-advanced. I think they say that because I’ve been sewing for years and years, I can read a pattern, sew an accurate seam allowance, and love using software and a long-arm to do my quilting. I KNOW I’m not a good free-motion quilter. I have never taken the time I’d need to become what I would even begin to consider proficient.

Over the years my goal in quilting has been to “perfect” (at least perfect for my little quilting world) a quilt binding “join”. I have tried many different techniques, a few which are featured in videos in the members only area of ASG’s website. To that end, over the last few years, every time I do a binding on a project whether a lap quilt, a table runner, or a pot holder, I have experimented with a few different methods.

After all that experimenting, I’ve landed on something that pretty much comes out correctly time and again! Years ago I was watching Marianne Fons (of Fons & Porter fame) demonstrate her method of binding. But one thing I didn’t like about her method was the “trial and error”. It is her method I’ve learned to add to– and subtract from– to do the method I use. It is her method up to a certain point, and then with a couple more steps I’ve worked out, this method works for me every single time. That said, I tend to use a low-loft cotton batting in most of my projects; if I were to use a different batting, a little more experimentation would be needed to figure out the measurement of the gap to leave to be sure the join is smooth.

Let me show you what I do.

1. Start by applying the binding as you normally would, mitering the corners.

2. Sew the binding to the quilt sandwich leaving about a 12″ area un-sewn. Find the center of the un-sewn area and place a pin.

3. Turn the piece so the un-sewn binding is now at the top facing you. Bring the right side binding to the center pin and create a fold in the binding at the pin as shown.

4. Bring the left side binding to within 3/16″ of the right side binding and fold in place. After trial and error, I figured out this measurement works for the low-loft cotton batting I use for most of my projects. If I were using a higher loft batting like a wool, I would test and discover what that measurement would be for that particular batting.

5. Now cut off a section from the end of the binding—about a 2”-3” piece will do. This little piece is going to be used as a measuring tool.

6. Lay the folded edge of the piece just cut, on top of the right binding, at the fold line. Make sure the folds align exactly.

7. Cut the loose part of the right binding even with the cut edge of the measuring piece.

8. Remove the excess right binding and the measuring piece; they are no longer needed.

9. Next, take the end of the right binding

10. and flip it to the left over the left binding.

11. Trim the excess left binding loose-piece even with the cut edge that was just flipped from the right.

12. Remove the excess left binding.  Next will be to sew the join.

13. Position the right binding out of the way. We’ll work with the left binding section first.

14. Open up the left binding piece. Flip the left binding piece over so the right side of the fabric is facing up.

15. Open up the right binding piece.

16. Meet the right binding piece over the left, right sides should be together, and cut edges should match as shown; pin the binding sections together.

17.  The seam will be sewn from the upper left corner to the lower right corner.

18. Using a 2mm stitch length, sew from the upper left corner to the lower right corner. Be sure the cut edges remain aligned.

19. This is what the sewn seam looks like. Before trimming the binding,

20.  Fold the binding down as it will be once finished. The join should be smooth and the binding should match the quilt sandwich 1:1 with no extra ease nor should the binding and join be too short to cause the quilt sandwich to bunch up.

21. If everything is satisfactory, then open up the binding again and trim away the excess fabric leaving a ¼” seam allowance. Press the seam allowance open.

22. Fold the binding back into position and stitch the remaining section to the quilt sandwich. Begin a few stitches from where the stitching ended,

23. and continue to sew the seam, sewing a few stitches over the beginning stitches. Complete the the binding by sewing it to the project as you normally would either by hand or by machine.

I hope the few additional steps of actually measuring the gap left and using the binding itself to measure and cut, will result in a smoothly joined binding for you as it does for me.

Sew ‘til next time…enjoy the journey of sewing!

~Ramona

 

P.S. If you’d like to learn more sewing, machine embroidery, and quilting tips and tricks, join an ASG Chapter! There are free classes on the ASG.org website and the chapters have events, classes; neighborhood group have members eager to share and help with your sewing.

 

 

 

 

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The Mystery of the Embroidery Stabilizer

by Ramona on September 28, 2017

 

As most of you know, I do A LOT of machine embroidery on weekends—and I even try and get a little stitching done during the evenings after work.

Last weekend as I was stitching up some Redwork quilt blocks I noticed something……

When I work with cotton fabrics I always starch them well before hooping. The starch makes the fabric crisp and the embroidery clean. After stitching, I then press again—without starch. Well, after pressing a couple of the quilt blocks I noticed some wrinkles along the stitching lines that I hadn’t noticed before. I pressed the second block and the same thing. So, I starched the fabric for the next block even better, stitched it, pressed and the same thing—only not quite as bad. This was perplexing and unacceptable in the finished project so I began to do some investigating.

Long story short—I finally discovered what it was! The poly mesh stabilizer I was using was SHRINKING when it was being pressed! Now mind you, it wasn’t a lot—about ¼” all around but that was enough to distort the embroidery and make me very unhappy about the embroidery.

I decided this little lesson would be a good topic for a blog so you could see what I mean so I took a series of photos.

Here I cut the piece of poly mesh stabilizer, placed it on a cutting board and placed pins at the corners so you can see the original size.

I then took the piece of stabilizer to the ironing board and pressed it well (I used lots of steam, too) leaving the pins in the board so I could check the size after pressing.

The piece was flipped and pressed again. Now I must admit, I press with a hotter iron than most folks to do because I work very quickly and I work with a professional iron—but, I also tested with a household iron and basically got the same results. I pressed well in all directions and all over the stabilizer.

After the pressing, I let the stabilizer cool off and then I placed it back on the cutting surface, aligning the top and right sides to the original lines.

You can see how much this piece of stabilizer shrunk up—it is enough to make a difference in the finished piece of embroidery.

So, if you find your pieces have wrinkles around the outer (and even sometimes inner) edges of your embroidered work, check your stabilizer by pre-shrinking it. I have never had this problem before and I’ve been using this stabilizer for years. So, it makes me think perhaps the method of production of the stabilizer has changed in some way—either the brand changed manufacturers or perhaps changed the fiber content in some manner (maybe less expensive fibers to make more profit to cut production costs?) I’ll never know unless I write to the manufacturer and chances are they will not tell me anything.

So, now every time I get a new bolt of stabilizer—any kind of stabilizer (except water soluble, of course) you can bet I’ll be heat testing it to be sure it can hold up to washing and drying and pressing.

Sew ‘til next time, enjoy the journey of sewing!

~Ramona

 

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The happiness and bane of a new computer

by Ramona on August 18, 2017

This is the first post on this page from my new laptop. Due to some (three to be exact) sales people giving me mis-information about what I needed and what I wanted to do with it, this computer almost went back. However, I found an accessory that will make it work like I want so I’m a happy camper once again. It is so frustrating when sales people don’t know their own product line. I had educated myself the best I could before purchasing, but there were a couple of things that I didn’t know so I counted on the sales person to guide me. Turns out all three didn’t know. It took almost two months of bantering back and forth, returning an accessory, being shipped another, only to find out it, too, was wrong and wouldn’t work! After doing more research myself, I was finally able to figure out what this laptop was actually capable of and what would and would not work with it. I’m not a real “techie” type person (but consider myself an experienced user) and I expected the sales people to be but they were not—after all this I got the feeling all they wanted to do was sell me something.
 
After all is said and done, after all my own research, I’m now mostly very happy with the purchase. I have also discovered through the research that what I really want isn’t in the market–at least not yet. Perhaps I could have had what I wanted built, but I’m pretty sure it would have been out of the range of my budget. Maybe by the time I’m ready for another computer in five or seven years, there will be one on the market.
 
Also, one more thing I discovered, is techie’s maybe shouldn’t write user manuals–maybe seasoned users should. There is something I’ve been searching and searching and searching to do and couldn’t find it in the help menu (I’m a manual reader! LOL) nor on any of the websites for the laptop, user sites, etc. Upon playing around last night, I discovered one simple left click gets me to exactly where I want to be…ugh. It is so frustrating sometimes when these companies make things “user friendly” only to find our favorite things in one operating system are now a function done in a different way or gone all together in the new operating system. One simple left click….goodness me; so easy, yet, not in the manual.
 
Oh well. So, this weekend will be the beginning of reloading programs and transferring files–I’m considering a software program to do all this, but all of them have mixed reviews so I’m not sure about that yet. If it works perfectly then it would be money well spent. If it flubs and I have to undo and redo, then it is time wasted. I’ll do a little more researching before I decide. There are so many ways to transfer them from backup drives, DvDs, USB drives, cloud, software, network, bluetooth, and on and on. There are pros and cons to all of them.
Wish me luck–but I hope I won’t need it.
Until next time…enjoy the journey of sewing (and computing!)….
~Ramona

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Radial Grading

by Ramona on June 14, 2017

This blog is in the Top 100 Sewing Blogs on the web! (#72 this week!)

Radial Grading, also known as Radial Projection, fascinates me. I learned about it years ago in college but I’ve not used this method in years. I began to wonder……could even remember how to do it? Sometimes I wonder why pattern companies don’t do this for commercial patterns—they used to years and years ago. It certainly would save a lot of paper and printing; but, it does require a little more effort on the part of the user. During the first part of the last century and before, magazines were printed with fashion illustrations and included were tiny little pattern templates of the pattern pieces needed for the garment all on a page or two. The fashion illustrated on the page was sewn from the pattern drafted from those tiny templates–clever, isn’t it! Honestly, once learned, the method can be used for any pattern and for any size as long as the pattern template is accurately drafted and printed.

This method is not new. The “Lady’s Godey” magazines used illustrated fashion “plates” and often included the patterns to make the garments. The University of Vermont has an extensive collection of Lady’s Godey books; they have scanned excerpts of patterns and illustrations.

Some full editions may be found online in the Hathi Trust Collection.

Costume makers use this method. It just requires using the template (small scale pattern) of a pattern piece and a ratio method to draft a pattern to full scale, as seen in this video.

 

 

There are many costuming books available with pattern templates, for example, by Dover Publications.

Not only can patterns be graded up, but they can be graded down using this method, as demonstrated by Don McCunn.

 

Using this method is all about “ratios”. I know math can make some of us crazy, because it feels like this Ma and Pa Kettle method of math.

 

But truly, it is not that hard or complicated. Just use the ratio of the pattern to the person as illustrated in the videos, and go to it!

How would this come in handy? Well, if you create a sloper for yourself, you can radial grade it down to a quarter or half scale pattern. Because it is a “personal” sloper, you already know it fits. It is sometimes easier to design in quarter or half scale either by flat pattern or draping on a half or quarter scale form. Once a newly design pattern in quarter or half scale is finalized, then all you’d have to do is radial grade the final pattern up and you’d have an actual full-size pattern in your size–how wonderful is that! Now, it won’t be “perfect”.  There will still be some alterations depending upon the accuracy of your drafting, radial grading, and also the fabric used for the garment—there is always tweaking and editing as we know. You’ll be able to determine alterations while making a mock-up of the garment.

There are companies that have taken this method of pattern making and made companies. For instance: The Sunburst Pattern System,The Dot Pattern System, and Lutterloh—hot here in the U.S. in the 1980’s–they called it the”Golden Rule” system of pattern making.

Can you begin to see how beneficial this type of pattern making would be? Mr. Mc Cunn has a downloadable and printable PDF of  “scale” rulers used in his video at the bottom of the page—print them and try this method.

I think this might be a fun Neighborhood Group project for an ASG chapter, don’t you?

Sew ‘til next time…enjoy the journey of sewing!

~Ramona

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RN Numbers

by Ramona on June 1, 2017

Mom needs a new pair of jeans.

She gave me a pair of her jeans that has a hole worn in the knee and asked that I just put a patch on them because they are good enough to wear around her apartment. As a dutiful daughter, I brought them home to repair them. The fabric is worn in more areas than the knee, though—Mom! You need some new jeans!!!! Like many of us, Mom has had some medical issues and had a hard time finding a pair of jeans that had a looser elastic waist and simple, no fuss fit that she can just wear around her home.

 

I looked for a brand tag, there wasn’t one; however, there was a tag with an RN number! If you don’t know what an RN number is, it is a registration number filed with the government by a manufacturer of clothing and textiles—this is not required by the government, but is certainly nice when done by the manufacturer for a whole host of reasons. The one we’ll explore here is finding mom her jeans. Now, in doing this, one never knows what they’ll find. As we all know, manufacturers do sometimes keep clothing pieces from season to season, but many times things are made only for a season or two and then changed in some manner or are out of a line altogether. No matter, I wanted to see if I could find Mom the jeans she enjoys.

 

 

 

 

I went to the Federal Trade Commission website (https://rn.ftc.gov/Account/BasicSearch), entered the RN number from the tag, and clicked the search button.

 

 

 

 

 

Voila! I now have a manufacturer, and upon clicking the blue link of the name

 

 

 

 

 

this page comes up. Now I at least have the manufacturer/importer and a bit of information about the company and its location.

 

 

 

 

 

Using the Google search engine, I can find out more information about this company. I ask Google where this manufacturer sells jeans. I click the first link which is the corporate page.

 

 

 

 

Here is the website for the manufacturer and at the bottom of the home page I can see the brands made. I click on several links on the website, but cannot find exactly what I’m looking for. Ok, this gets me closer, but still not what I need.

 

 

So, I do another Google search with the company name and include the number at the bottom of the tag—which I surmise is the garment style or inventory or some other number used by the company to identify the style as being an elastic waist, pull on jean…

…and on the right of the search page is a link to the style number by the manufacturer!

 

 

I click on the link and see where this jean my mom likes is sold. Now that I see that, I recall my dad went to Blain’s to buy something and I vaguely recall her telling me at the time she found the jeans there when they lived in IL years ago.

 

I click on that link and am taken to the store’s website and now I can order mom two new pair of jeans!

I could have asked her where she got them, but then I wouldn’t have an educational blog to share with you and most of all, these new jeans wouldn’t be a surprise for Mom! Shhhhhh—please don’t tell her! I know she’ll be thrilled when they arrive in her mailbox next week.

Sew ‘til next time…enjoy the journey of sewing!

~Ramona

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The Story Behind the Notions Story-Winter 2017

February 10, 2017

Guest post by Anne Marie Soto, editor of Notions, the ASG publication available with membership in the American Sewing Guild  ASG Conference is always full of inspiration! Last summer I had the opportunity to take a Sustainable Sewing class with Mary Ray. Her inspiring collection of ideas included the rust dyeing technique. This intriguing concept […]

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What does David Draiman (DISTURBED) have to do with “Sewing”?

February 3, 2017

Last Saturday evening was an interesting night. Totally not what I expected would give me inspiration for writing this sewing blog. Keep reading and you’ll see where I’m going with this. Saturday evening, during his work lunch break, my husband posted David Draiman’s (DISTURBED) version of Simon and Garfunkel’s song, “The Sound of Silence” on […]

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The Journey of Embroidering a Hard-to-Hoop Bag

January 19, 2017

   When people find out you own an embroidery machine you will get all kinds of requests to embroider things. Folks love to give gifts that are personalized—and they know you can do it! Before accepting anything from a customer or friend for personalizing, be sure you are comfortable with the task. If you are […]

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Learn to Trust your “Sewing Instincts”

January 12, 2017

How often do you check your patterns? By that I mean do you check all the pieces, one against the other as if they were being sewn together? Recently I downloaded a PDF digital pattern. Maybe it is experience, maybe it was intuition, but something in my gut told me to “check this pattern!” Downloading […]

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