2020 Projects #1 & #2

I’ve written more about these in my journals, but I thought I’d post a picture of my first two projects for the year. I made a new house number for my Mom and I made a calendar for my sister. I actually added a calendar hanger to this, but forgot to take a picture of it before I gave it to my sister.

First Mitered Corner Attempt

Since my corners are not so good, I’ve decided that I need to make around 50 napkins with mitered corners for practice. I found a YouTube Video on Sewing Mitered Corners to try to follow. The pictures below are from my first attempt. It’s lousy. Though I thought I was very careful to iron and measure things. I also took my time and sewed as instructed, but when I tried to lay the seam flat, the mitered corners just didn’t line up properly. So perhaps I need to find a book or something with more detailed instructions. Or I just need to practice and come up with my own system. Anyway, this is why I’m practicing. The other problem I had was that I must have mismeasured something. My intent was to make a 16″ square napkin. I wanted the edge to be 1/2″. And according to the video, I also need an extra 1/2″ folded under first. So I think that means I need an extra 1″ all around. I cut the square at 18″. But when I measured the final napkin, it’s more like 15″ square. So I guess I didn’t measure as perfectly as I thought. Oh well.

Here is napkin #1.

Latest Quilt

I just finished a baby quilt for my brother and brother-in-law. John’s friend Richard picked out the great material. I’m fairly certain I would have gone with more plain, solid colors. So it was great that he picked such great colorful ones.

My skills are getting better, though they’re still not great. All my corners don’t match perfectly, which I’m ok with. To me, that’s a sign of a handmade quilt. My corners are getting better, but they’re still not good. I think I’m just going to have to buckle down and do a bunch as practice to get better.

Quick Baby Quilt

After the success of my Dr. Seuss quilt, I was in the mood to make another quilt. So I used only leftovers from my previous quilts to make a baby quilt for a cousin who is having a baby. My original idea was to make it in 30 days, but I think I took longer than that. I’d have to check my journal to find out exactly when I started it, but I finished it on July 31st. And the baby is due the first week of August, so I’m happy with that. I’m not happy that I haven’t yet mailed it to them, but I’ll try to do that soon.

The other thing I really like about the quilt is that I think I’m finally getting the hang of correctly mitering the corners. Look at how good this corner looks. I actually stopped sewing to take a picture of it because I was so pleased. I’d like to say the other corners all looked like this, but they weren’t as good.

My best corner ever

And here are some pictures of the final quilt. I’m quite pleased with how it turned out.

Ideas

It’s weird. I’ve just spent the past two hours making myself a calendar. I was wondering how to design it and it just popped into my head that I have pictures from the early 2000s to now. Why don’t I use some of my own pictures on my calendar? And then find some quotes I like and put them over the picture. It’s a really simple idea, but I love it. I’m going to get a calendar that has motivational or inspirational quotes and I can look at pictures of things I’ve done which brings back those memories. Totally going to make me happy.

I had wanted to read a book tonight, but I finally got my bluetooth speaker working with my laptop. So I felt that I had to listen to music. I can’t really read when there’s music playing that I can sing along to, so I gave up reading pretty quickly. Then I was thinking that I need to start tracking that I’m eating vegetables, so I need a calendar. And making calendar on the computer is something I can easily do while listening to music. I don’t know why, but now that I don’t have a tv, I feel like I’m getting more and more good ideas for projects. Or maybe it’s just that I have the time to do them, since I’m not sitting in front of a tv. All I know is that I’m loving getting more and more ideas, so I hope they keep coming.

UPDATE: Just printed the calendar. I have a cheap printer and it says it prints on 13×19 paper, which technically it does. But on a few pages, everything was a little skewed. So I think it has a hard time handling paper that big. But it’s printed and hanging on my wall and I love it!

Project Time

I’m getting back into doing DIY projects at home, which makes me very happy. In general for the past few months, I’ve been thinking way too much about work and not doing things that make me happy. I’m shifting things back into proportion that will make me happier. The other day I finally bought myself a new sewing machine. It will get delivered soon, which makes me happy. And I’m going to use it for a big new project, which should be fun. I’ve also made a few stools for my brother’s pub, which was fun. I still wouldn’t call myself a good woodworker, but I’m improving which is all I can ask for. Still haven’t done much welding though and I would like to get into that. But today I spent a good chunk of money on supplies for my new hush-hush project that’s going to be a gift for someone. I’m looking forward to working on that for the next few months.

New Speaker

I bought this speaker yesterday to give to my Mom.

I bought the speaker because my Mom wants to listen to my brother’s podcast, but her ipad doesn’t get loud enough for her to hear. My brother bought the JBL – Xtreme Portable Bluetooth Speaker and recommended that I buy it for my Mom, which was my intention. However, when I got to Best Buy, I found it cost $300, which was a lot more than what I wanted to spend. Instead I found the one above, which I bought for basically $100. I charged it last night and have been listening to it and it should work fine. But I’m not crazy about this speaker.

I understand that this is entirely a portable speaker, so it runs on a battery. The battery is recharged using a usb cable. So periodically, you need to plug it in to your laptop. When I was looking at these in the store, a guy came up to me and started talking about these speakers. He said that the usb cord only charges the battery. So if your battery is dead, you can’t just plug this in to your laptop and use it. You have to wait for the battery to charge. And in a year or two, when the battery no longer takes a charge, the speaker will be garbage because there’s no other way to run it. I’m not sure if he’s right, but he said that he has the jbl one that my brother has and had wished that he knew that before he bought it. If that is true, and I’m leaning to believe that, it’s really poor design. So I was looking for something that I could just plug in to use. I get that it means it wouldn’t be portable at that point, but at least it would be usable if the battery died.

Then I started to think about how I’d use the speaker and I realized that for me, portability isn’t that big of a deal. But I like the idea of connecting via bluetooth. I mainly have Apple products and I have an airport express that is connected to my stereo to use, so I could play sound via that. But, it limits me to Apple products, like iTunes. I listed to lots of podcasts and I’d like to be able to play them on my bluetooth speaker. And I could use iTunes for my podcasts, but I like using Clementine. And I’ll be honest, part of this is that I want to move away from Apple products. This could be an entirely different post, but Apple is moving in a direction that I don’t necessarily want to go. As an example, they’ve taken most built-in connections off of their laptops. You get a single usb-c connection. Then you have to spend even more to buy all these dongles to do things that used to be built-in. I still use my ethernet connection a lot. I’m a system administrator and have to check if jacks are live or not. I also use usb a lot. I really don’t want to have to carry a handful of dongles everytime I go to someone’s office to check things. Right now, I need to be able to support Apple, Windows and linux. My macbook pro has been great in that I can run virtual machines with each of those operating systems, so I check things in all of those. The one improvement that I would like from Apple would be to be able to get more ram to make my virtual machines run better. I’ve upgraded my macbook pro from 2012 to 16gb of ram. Five years later and that’s still the most I can get. In fact, I bought a new (to me) macbook pro from Apple’s clearance section because it still had usb connections. It doesn’t have the network one, but Apple has definitely given up on that port. In my mind, I’m thinking this is probably the last laptop I’ll be buying that I’ll use at work. Once I’m not longer working, I can use whatever OS I want and these days I’m leaning toward linux. And so I’ve been looking at programs that I want to use that run on linux. That’s how I found Clementine and it’s worked fine for me. So getting off this tangent I just took, I like the idea of a bluetooth speaker because it doesn’t care what the OS is.

I haven’t been able to find a bluetooth speaker that I like, so my idea now is to build what I like. I like the YouTube channel Kirby Meets Audio and I actually bought some plans from him. It looks like a fun project and I think it would be exactly what I want. We’ll see how it goes.

Sewing Machines

I took the sewing machine that was given to me in to get tuned up. The repairman called and said it needed a lot of work and that it would cost around $250-$300. For an old sewing machine that I didn’t like all that much, it was too much money. So I let them keep it for whatever parts they could salvage from it. I don’t sew a lot, but it is a tool that I’d like to have. So I’ve been researching sewing machines.

One thing that I did was look at the type of sewing that I do. I have never used any stitch except a straight stitch. When I was looking at a bunch of home machines, they all bragged about having 50 or 100 different stitches. This is not a selling point for me. I’ve also never made an article of clothing in my life. I’m trying to remember if I ever repaired one and I’m not sure that I have. What have I made? Quilts and curtains. What would I like to make? More quilts and curtains. But also, bags and tablecloths. I’d also like to be able to work with leather. It would be nice to be able to make a leather bag or a leather book cover. And in the far future, I could see me trying upholstery. So I want to get a sewing machine that can handle thicker fabric.

After googling around a bit, I think I want an industrial machine. You can get those that run on regular power in your house, which is what I’d like. A lot of them come with a large table, which would be fine. I don’t need a portable machine. I’m leaning toward a Juki machine because they seem to be really good and there are a bunch of very old ones still in use. I was looking on Craigslist and found a couple of used ones. And then I also looked up new ones, which don’t seem to cost that much more. Plus, there’s a distributor in town who will give you a free hour tutorial on any machine that you buy from them. I think that would be a great idea, since I’m pretty much self-taught on sewing machines. I’m sure there are some basics that I just don’t know.

For now, I’ve set up an alert on Craigslist to let me know anytime someone posts a Juki. If I find a really good deal, perhaps I’ll get a used one. Otherwise, I’ll save up my money and look into a new one.

Birthday Project Result

I took my book out of the press this morning. It’s not perfect, but it’s not at all bad for my first attempt.

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The cover looks good.

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This is my first mistake. I glued the cover paper too much to the text block. I think I maybe did 1/4″ of glue. It should have been much less.

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Here you can see a bit better that I glued too high on the cover.

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And I made the same mistake on the back cover.

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The back looks good. But the cover overhangs the pages of the book too much. I think instead of adding and extra inch of leather for the cover, I should have just added and extra 1/2″ to fold over.

But, by and large, I’m happy with the result. And now, I’m going to start using it as my own cookbook.