Saturday, December 5, 2009

I Realize That I Have no iIfe...but We Have Designs!

I have no life. But did I ever? Nothing new there. I have always been at work on one project or another. The difference is, when I'm self-directed I become distracted and often start a new project when I realize that it isn't going to be as perfect as I originally pictured it. Left to myself for motivation, I never ever get any project done.

Now that I'm working on a project in conjunction with Big Al, he pushes me to keep going—to keep going long after the novelty of the new project has worn off. At least we're starting off on "equal ground" with this one. He's new to the software, I'm new to the Big Bad Barudan. We both work along and learn at our own different paces.

I was hoping to get something of a "break" today. We needed to move on to the next design, for variety if nothing else, and we didn't have the thread colors needed to accomplish this. But that's okay. It's just a "stitch-out" to see where the errors are in the file, what can be changed, will the design fit within machine parameters, and overall what the finished piece might look like

So we have a devil-skull, now we have a pig-bulldog:
It's supposed to be a pig, a HOG to be exact. I didn't have any fleshtone thread, I didn't have any pink. I had multiple shades of grey. So this is a grey pig, not a bulldog.
But then, maybe it's a nice pinkish hog with a really bad case of the swine flu, eh? (yeah, a real groaner that one was)
Anyway, it really is an awesome design based upon two appliqué pieces with the rest being embroidery. I will be picking up the colors I need for the "real thing" on Monday.
Do I think I'm going to get a break tomorrow? Nope. There is a NEW file ready to be loaded in the Big Bad Barudan. It's the official Big Ass Dude logo. More on that later.
RIDE A (real) FAT BOY, revised.
I had Big Al move the "real" and insertion carat to the other side for "ride a" rather than the old version where it was implied that "real" was being inserted between the "F" and "A" characters. I also had him fatten up the stitching on the letters to make for a higher quality appliqué. I beleive that there will be something below this text on the shirt as well. Big Al was working on files today with a pig, a bear, and a beaver, E-I-E-I-O…

I just want a little time off and some rest.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Long Day, Darwinism, and a New Design

Hit the ground running today. Woke up late, so much to do! Visited an embroidery shop with a combined total of about 90 sewing heads. They have machines that have 18 heads running at once on the same project. That's about, oh, 18 times faster than I can run a job so we got a bid from them. My job has been outsourced already.

Then off to the local supplier of thread and parts. Got a frame to use with the Big Bad Barudan instead of a hoop. The stitching area is much larger, but a table top is required. With the table top in place, I can't check thread tensions. Frustrating. Luckily, I got most of the adjustments made before I started to run the job.

Inhaled a slice of reheated pizza—DiGorno, not delivery—which was fairly easy until I got to the dry-gaggy crusty part. I think that will be stuck in my throat until Tuesday. And, as usual, burned the roof of my mouth on the molten cheese. Nevertheless, it was deeelissshus!

Ever do something so stupid you are amazed that you have survived Darwinian evolution thus far? I just had one of those moments. I've been doing some routine maintenance on the Big Bad Barudan; oiling, checking tensions, etc. The bobbin tension seemed a little off so I thought I'd clean the bobbin case. I wanted to look for lint and/or thread in the tiny areas and I needed light. What better light than direct natural sunlight? I took my bobbin case and my big ol' magnifying glass and lounged in the soft chair and started to look for stray fibers in the case. Soon I felt a burning sensation on my right leg. The super-X magnifying portion of the lens had focused the sunlight perfectly on my leg and it really started to burn! I now feel so sorry for all those ants…and that spider…

I also think a couple of hours later I realized that I had not taken any medication today. Last time I checked, though, they weren't smart pills.

Last night we created a new design. Well, part of it is new…things just keep evolving. This is stitched on a dark grey shirt.
The text "FAT BOY" has been added. Actually, it was the only part of the whole design that would fit inside the current hoop. It wasn't without its problems. I was not incredibly happy inserting the "FAT BOY" text above the already stitched devil-skull head. It's a pain in the ass!
The absolute placement of something digital is easy…X-axis, Y-axis. The placement of a shirt in a hoop and having it stay that way while securing it down is not so easy. I have a crease, two lines on the hoop and a measuring tape. I rarely get it right the first try, but maybe I'm too much of a perfectionist about it.

And now for the humor side of things…Big Al's design. I guess I didn't look at the file too closely before he stitched it out. I see changes that need to be made. It's a great idea, but I like the "FAT BOY" text from last night. This is only the first part of this shirt. There is more to come. The rest of the design is being digitized right now but I'm afraid we don't have the right colors to complete the job. We'll probably go back to using the devil-skull so it actually looks like we're producing something.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

We Ran Out of Shirts but Not Ideas!

We have used up all of the shirts that we bought doing different tests with different colors of thread, appliqué and placement. We'll just go buy more, right? Sure as long as we wanted any color besides black, white, or charcoal grey! I have a black and red color block shirt but it is just crying out for a stitch with red thread. I have maroon, not red. I need red thread.

We have other shirts, fisherman-style with a back cape flap, but found that I could not do a vertical hoop on the flap without unstitching the shirt itself. Can't rotate the design because it won't fit in the hoop. What to do?

Make up a different design, of course! Big Al is in the middle of that. In the meantime I can trim the loose threads on the shirts I have, prepare appliqué pieces, etc. But I probably won't because I'll forget to do it.

Murphy has been living in my machine today anyway. Constantly stopping for one dumb reason or another. But since I'm the queen of troubleshooting and have no problem with RTFM, I eventually got the problems solved. If we don't get shirts or a new design ready soon, I will have to go in and swap out some worn parts and check the cutter assembly. Ooh, fun!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Experience is What You Get When You Didn't Get What You Wanted

So I have had the Big Bad Barudan running almost constantly since Saturday morning, excepting the challenging "down times" where I learn more about the machines little tiny parts and how just the simplest thing can make the difference between "working" and "not working".

We have another shirt! This time a 2XL. Little did I realize that it wasn't finished yet. These shirts have to be put into giant embroidery hoops and it is far from easy. It involves putting the hoop, the stabilizer, the shirt, and the top hoop on the floor, and using both hands and both knees I have to get the damned thing perfectly aligned AND tightly inside the hoop.

Today I had to put a whole dollar in the swear jar because I had a shirt hooped, had the pins taken out, was making minor adjustments, and the whole thing popped apart on me.
The devil-skull was hooped vertically. To do the "Ride Like the Devil!" I had to rehoop horizontally. That's where the whole dollar and swear jar thing came in.

This design was done with an appliqué placed in the background. Just the grey skull area. Everything else, beard, horns, teeth, eyes, is entirely stitched. This takes a very, very, very long time. How can we cut the time down? More appliqué work!
In the big embroidery shops they have laser cutters that do the appliqué cutting. We have a really cheap substitute: Me and several types of scissors, an X-acto knife, and a little bit of time. Wish I had a laser cutter tho'.

This doesn't look like much. In fact it looks like Hell (pun intended)! The way the file was set up, I had to lay down the appliqué, stitch, cut, lay down another layer, stitch, cut, lay down the final layer…good times! This time I'm working on a 4XL shirt.

However, if things had worked ideally, it would have taken less time to to the appliqué work than it would have taken to fill the same areas with stitching.

It doesn't look too bad now all of the appliqué elements are stitched. It did save some time, but had a whole new set of challenges built right in. And I think Big Al is getting sick of this design…he was working on a new one today.

Monday, November 30, 2009

We Have a Shirt!

Big Al is the digital side of our operation. He manipulates most of the artwork on the Big ol' Mac. I'm in charge of the Big Bad Barudan. He does what he knows best, I do what I know best. He likes to manipulate files, I like to do technical mechanical-troubleshooting work. Here he is working on yet another rendition of our devil-skull image.

This is a "3-D" image, or rather a stitch mockup made by our fancy-schmancy software that turns out to have some serious limitations. There are many digitizing programs out there on the market but no really good ones for the Mac. So, rather than sink money into something as useless as a PC, we went for Mac software that is actually a plugin for Adobe Illustrator. This also prevented learning all new software.

Here is the design actually stitched onto a Dickies size 3XLT shirt and modeled by Big Al. This is the real thing and not a fancy Photoshop trick. For the most part it went really well. We're working on another one at the moment that has the same devil-skull but with different tonal qualities and orange in place of the deep red-maroon. It should turn out to be a bit more Harley-esque.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Failure and Success go Hand-in-Hand

I think I'll begin here with a complete fail. This is our yarmulke-wearing friend completed out. Well, not so much completed as…well…all was pretty lost at the point of the cranium here so I skipped wasting any more thread on the colors in the middle and went straight for the black detail and the flames in the eyes, to make sure that would work alright. It actually didn't. When the black got to the left "ear" area, the machine had reached it's distance limit and could go no further to complete the stitch around the outside. More measuring and more notes. The next file would be a little bit smaller.

The next attempt was to see if the total stitch count could be reduced by using a fabric applique background rather than solid stitching. This seemed to work quite well and the mottled grey fabric really added to the overall design. This test was the black and red colors only and the design was rotated on the computer before loading it into the embroidery machine. That idea failed on the eyes. The skull rotated but the pattern didn't. Best to let me do any pattern rotations within the Big Bad Barudan to avoid any surprises.

The third time is the charm…it better be because this time we took it "live" and put it on an actual Dickies button-down workshirt. No room for error or we lose a shirt!
We kept the applique-type background, and I rotated the pattern so that the eye-flame stitch effect would be going in the right direction. This one was a success!