Monday, October 31, 2016

embroidery patch - part 2 - sewing

So now that the design is completed, time to make them a reality. If you missed how to design them, you can find it here in the Part I write up.

Once I figured out the magic recipe, these are pretty fun to make!

Start with a tear away stabilizer. I have tried both water soluble and regular tear away and I find them to be roughly the same. The regular tear away stuff is a tad bit more robust for this project.

I brought in my brother pes project into my PR-600II. Here's a shot of where I changed the thread color. I needed to select the "hand" to tell the machine to stop after each layer.

Put the hoop in and hit start. The first pass will do the bubble outline and it's really only to see where to put your fabric. What I have here is some craft stabilizer that I use for purses and things I want to be sturdy and the chosen color fabric.

I lay both the stabilizer and fabric together down over my first layer and make sure the fabric covers the design and let the machine stitch the next layer.

Take the hoop out and cut it next to the stitching line, very closely. I have the best scissors for doing that. 

Once I put the hoop back in - I let the machine do the rest. I did 2 on the same hoop. Don't make the same mistake I did once and put it in backwards. (sad trombone) Make sure you put the hoop back the same way.

Next I grab some heat n bond - the ULTRAHOLD stuff. The regular will work too, but in this case, I want to make sure there's a nice strong hold.

Make sure you turn the patch over and draw an outline, otherwise it won't fit properly. Take your scissors and cut out the outline just a smidgen smaller than the drawing. Then iron it onto the patch and it's ready to go!

Pull the stabilizer away and I usually dip my finger in water and run it across the edges to remove the white lint left from the stabilizer. You can even run some fray check around the edges if you like. Since I didn't cut the edges, I'd prefer not to. Fray check leaves the thread very stiff.

I hope Scream will like her new iron on patches!

Friday, October 28, 2016

embroidery patch - part 1 - design

Sometimes I write these blog posts just for me. Case in point .... my daughter Jackie plays on a roller derby team and when some of her team mates asked about embroidery patches - she happily informed them, "my Mom can make those!" So I finalized a process for creating embroidery patches. After a few weeks the orders started coming in, I began making them. I messed it up three times before I fully remembered what I had done before. So ....this is me, documenting my steps for any future embroidery patch sales.

First, I started with Gimp. Gimp is a great open source tool for manipulating images. I create a new image about 400 x 140, which equates to about 2 inches in width and picked a nice modern font. Using the text tool, choose your font and type out your word and scale it so it takes up most of the available image space.

In the Layers toolkit, right click on the layer and choose Alpha to Selection. This causes the words to be selected.

Then choose to add a new layer. We will want the bubble outline to be a separate layer - you'll see why later in the project.

Accept the default and choose OK.

To get the bubble outline, you want to grow the selection.

You can play with various setting, but I usually do about 1/4 inch larger.

Looks like this when it works correctly. If you don't see the growth selection, try a smaller grow.

Then go to Edit, and choose Stroke Selection.

Choose a nice solid width. The width you choose will be out applique width, so choose at least an 8.

This is what it looks like.

Now, we need to export this image into 2 different files. One with the text and one with the bubble outline around the text. You can do this with hiding layers. Hide the bubble and then export. This gives you just the text.  Choose File, Export As - then choose a file name. Choose the *.jpg format because Amazing Designs accepts .jpg's.

Then go back and do it again. Hide the text this time and make the bubble layer visible. Export As, and choose a different name.

At this point, you will have 2 files.

Open Digitize N Stitch. I bought this software several years ago for $200. It's been great so far. It's not super complex and does have it limitations but it gets the work done. I've managed to not spend thousands in something else and since I don't make my millions with embroidery .... I'm good.  You can visit their website here.

So open it up and select the digitize option (shown in the pic above).

Choose the text file first and choose Next.

Adjust it if necessary.

You really should have 2 colors, the background and text colors. If you end up with three like shown above, choose Edit image.

Take your paint bucket and fill the extra color so it's all one color.

Save it, and then you should see only 2 colors. If there's still 3 - go back and look for the extra color.

Choose Next.

Choose Create Applique. This will allow us to have the border act as an applique and will apply necessary layers that your machine needs.

Now, it's time to bring in the bubble. Choose Next.

Choose the picture option and select the bubble filename.

Choose the magic wand and click in the bubble area. This will cause the area to become digitized.

Select a bigger hoop if you need one. 

And there you have it. A cool, ready to go digitized patch. In part 2, we'll put it in our embroidery machine and finish it up.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

alexa, netduino, and the garage door

In the raffle at the Christmas party of 2015, I won a Netduino Plus 2. I was super excited because I was thinking about my next smart home project - (dun dun dun), the garage door opener! A developer and systems engineer by day .... this would be my first experience with micro controllers, electronics, and embedded software.

My goal in this project is to a) talk to the garage door with Alexa and my phone, b) secure the endpoint against intruders with SSL and any other means I can think of, c) monitor whether my door is open or closed, d) actually open and close the garage door.

Isn't it cute?!

I need to think more about using Alexa as this would mean I would have to expose my little web server to the world and get a public ip address and DNS record. Not sure if I want to do that. You can check out Amazon's requirements for hosting your own web service here. I've had public web servers running in my house before, it's not a big deal. It's just a pain .... to keep it up and secure.

I looked around for resources on the outer webs (aka Google) and started with this post. I bought a trusty garage door remote that I wanted to use as my relay and synced it to my garage door system. It was super easy. I climbed up to the garage door opener and pushed the button and then pushed the button on the remote and VIOLA! The garage door opened.

Next, I went to install the development requirements on my MacBook Air and found that while you can do it - from what I read .... it seemed tricky. I mean NETMF is a Microsoft framework, so I brought out my Surface 1 and began setting it up.

First I had to clean my Surface up - lots of old development environment, so I took some time to remove any existing frameworks and IDE's. I started with this post from Greg Zimmer, which by the way I think he's my new hero. He has several articles on his garage door project too. While the article is written in 2011 ....  it was super helpful.

Here's what I did for the Dev Environment:
- Microsoft Visual Studio Community 2015 (I saw posts were people were able to get the professional version of VS working, but since I was using my small Surface - I went with the Community version. You can find it here.

- Next was the most up to date .NET Microsoft Framework (NETMF), which I found to have been moved to CodePlex. You can find SDK v4.3 (QFE2-RTM) which is the most current at this date, here.

- Then the .NET Micro Framework project system which essentially is a plug in for Visual Studio.

- And lastly, the Netduino SDK, which can be found here.

FINALLY, starting my first project.

I followed Greg's blog post found here on completing just a simple program and deploying it to the Netduino. When I deployed, I received the message,

" Cannot deploy the base assembly 'mscorlib' or any of his satellite assemblies to device - USB: Netduino twice. "

Why is the base assembly a he? So, it looks like the the project contains a newer version than what's on the Netduino, so time to look for a firmware upgrade.

I found this YouTube video on upgrading the firmware which looked good enough. Then I went out to to look for the most recent update, which was at the time of this writing. Finished deploying the firmware update - redeployed the app and my deployment was successful. I had a blinking light. Yay! (Boooo ... forgot picture of said blinking light).

Now here's where it got interesting. Next I wanted to put a web service on the Netduino so I can get Alexa to send/receive requests. So I started with Greg's post on putting a webservice on the Netduino. That was easy enough and was working quickly.

Now thinking about getting Alexa to hit the web service. At this point I haven't done anything to the Hello World Web Server example. I started looking at small json libraries that could return a response.

And this is where I stopped. First, the Netduino Plus 2 doesn't have wifi capabilities so I would have to run a cable from the garage to my router or find some sort of wifi adapter (sad face). While I was willing to do that, the next point was a stop and think point.

Reviewing the Amazon documentation, Alexa won't talk to any endpoint that does not have a SSL cert and the Netduino Plus 2 does not have that size capability to house one. This post sums it all up.

While one of my goals was to have Alexa talk to my garage door, maybe it's time to review my hardware architecture. I could continue on and complete my mission without Alexa, but I still want to secure my endpoint with something more than a password.

Time to do some more research ..... hello Google.

Monday, October 10, 2016

kid super hero capes

Aunt Dottie was always making something for the kids in our family. Growing up, I often got gifts of Barbie doll clothes that she made by hand.

While I'm waiting for my upholstery materials to come in, I began work on my list of Christmas presents. Some time ago, I had the idea to make super hero capes and masks for some little ones in the family. I decided to challenge myself and only use materials I already own.

Isn't it adorable? The little girl cape is for a little one not yet born - due in January who has 2 older brothers who are both not quite school age.

Hopefully, they will have many hours playing super hero pretend together.

I turned on the trusty Brother embroidery machine and made appliques of their first initial. I used tear away stabilizer. I even tried out my new supply of water soluble stabilizer. They result was the same, so no real difference between the products.

It worked nicely. I then took some Heat and Bond and ironed it to the back

I took some fabric, ironed on Heat and Bond to the back and attached it to my mat. The Heat and Bond helped stabilize the fabric so it cut a little nicer. Using my Brother Scan N Cut, I found some shapes that were preloaded in the machine and cut 2 sizes of the same pattern. 

I found a free pattern using Pinterest and I printed it out, taped it together, and cut out the cape fabric. Check out Create Kids Couture and her free pattern.

Then I positioned the shapes and applique and ironed them down.

I went ahead and stitched them down because let's face it .... kids play hard.

I added some Velcro for the necks. I sewed in several pieces so they can be adjusted as they grow.

So for the little girl, I took a pattern for a bib I had and modified it to make a cute little cape. I used the neck from the bib, and the bottom curves of the super hero cape and it came out great.

I cut out 2 pieces of the pattern and sew'd them right sides together. I left an opening at the bottom and turn them right side out.

I ironed them down and then stitched around the outside, which closed the opening I used for turning.

I bought some pre-made masks months ago at Joann Fabrics. They are just felt masks. Pretty plain. I cut my design out on paper to fancy up the masks.

I used left over iron on fabric from the symbols, so the Heat and Bond was already on and ironed it onto a nice stiff craft stabilizer. Then I cut out the shapes and sewed them on the masks.

When I turned the masks over, I saw the glaring white stabilizer so I took some fabric paint and gave it a quick once over.

And ... of course, I got a little paint on the front of the blue mask - but I painted the tips of the ears. Sometimes you just gotta improvise.

I think they are super cute. The boys will soon have a little sister and together they can be The Super Three! AND .... mission accomplished. I didn't buy one single item. Gosh I love my art space!