Modern Winter Placemats and TableRunner

December 7th, 2016

Last December at our local Coastal Quilters Christmas/Holiday meeting, we had a little game where you each bring a giftie, and end up with a different giftie.  I ended up with a lovely set of fat quarters in very “Quilt Modern” colors:  the red, white and gray winter themed ones.  I decided to add some new winter placemats and table runner made from the theme fabric using improvisational piecing. You can find the pattern at Janome America’s blog, here.

Modern Winter placemats and table runner.

Modern Winter placemats and table runner.

I added the solid red and dark gray fabrics.  I will advise you:  MEASURE YOUR TABLE FIRST.  I made the placemats first, rather oversized.  I had two of them bound.  Then I discovered they were too big, had to pick off the binding, cut them down (the instructions on the Janome site are for my final size), and re-do.  Erk.

Depending on the fabric you select as a feature fabric for the centers, you can adjust the size of the inner borders (or omit them entirely).  I had just a half yard of the feature print, so I needed to use smaller cuts and build them out.  If you buy a little more, then you can omit the inner border and strips.

An overhead

An overhead view of the table runner; I used the few remaining bits of the feature print and built them out with strips, then fit them together.  Can you say “liberal use of partial seams?”

Overhead view of placemat

Overhead view of placemat

My favorite way to do bindings is by machine.  My secret:  glue stick!   I only use the glue stick on things that will be washed (probably often), so I wouldn’t do this on a high-end art quilt, but for a baby or bed quilt or table linens?  You betcha!

stitching down the bindings on the Janome 9400

Stitching down the bindings on the Janome 9400.  Love that pull-out light!  I sew the binding to the back, wrap it to the front, then at the ironing board use glue stick on the seam allowance.  I press the binding down and it stays put–no pins!  no bumps!  no wiggling out of place! 

I used a blanket stitch, with the straight part in the “ditch” (just to the left of the dark gray binding), and the “zig” going onto the binding.

I used this stitch to finish the bindings, and used the mirror image button (above in yellow) so that the swing of the stitch goes to the right of the straight line (see the stitch as displayed at the left of the screen).

I used this stitch to finish the bindings, and used the mirror image button (above in yellow) so that the swing of the stitch goes to the right of the straight line (see the stitch as displayed at the left of the screen).

A closer view. The needle just barely misses the binding when going straight, then swings over onto the binding to hold it in place.

A closer view. The needle just barely misses the binding when going straight, then swings over onto the binding to hold it in place.

Back view of my quilting. I used a FMQ ruler (thicker than a cutting ruler) with the QO foot (this is not necessarily recommended, you really should use a proper "Ruler Foot" but I was extra careful)

Back view of my quilting. I used a FMQ ruler (thicker than a cutting ruler) with the QO foot (this is not necessarily recommended, you really should use a proper “Ruler Foot” but I was extra careful) to do the straight line quilting across the strip sets, then used a squared off loop in the background of the feature fabric bits.

It must be good: it has passed the cat-sitting-on-it seal of approval!

It must be good: it has passed the cat-sitting-on-it seal of approval!

 

 

 

 

Janome 9400 review

December 5th, 2016

As many of you know, I’ve been fortunate to be affiliated with Janome America for many years and sew on their great machines.   They’ve come out with a new top-of-the-line NON-embroidery machine, the 9400.  And as I have come to expect, they take something that is already really good and make it even better.  We’re getting close to perfect!   To see the machine on the Janome site, go here.

My newest sewing love, the Janome 9400!

My newest sewing love, the Janome 9400!  Notice the FABULOUS lighting?  I love the pull-out light, too!

Over the past few months I’ve been able to put the machine through its paces, making a knit top, finishing a set of quilted placemats, finishing a small bag with zipper, and (who me?) piecing several quilt tops.   The machine excelled at everything I threw at it!  The 9400 has taken many features from the top of the line embroidery and sewing 15000 machine, including that awesome light on the top left that slides out.  I think the design of it  on the 9400 is even better than on the 15000, as it curves a bit.

One of the first things I did was some class samples for my Easy-Peasy Inside-Out Bag….including installing a zipper.

Zipper insertion for my Easy-Peasy Inside-Out Bag class sample.   Notice how the zipper foot fits PERFECTLY, allowing me to use the zipper coil as a guide and getting the stitching **perfect** ?  I used plum stitching as a decorative accent on the right side of the zipper, and am now stitching the second side of the left half of the zipper.

Zipper insertion for my Easy-Peasy Inside-Out Bag class sample. Notice how the zipper foot fits PERFECTLY, allowing me to use the zipper coil as a guide and getting the stitching **perfect** ? I used plum stitching as a decorative accent on the right side of the zipper, and am now stitching the second side of the zipper.

A bigger challenge, for both me and the machine, was to make a new top.  I fell in love with the plum knit and bought it a year or so ago.   I also love the aqua top, which is showing its age.  I did a “rub off” which is where you make your own pattern using an existing garment.  You can trace (with garment on top of paper) or rub (with garment under paper) to feel the edges and create pattern pieces.  I extended the sleeves from 3/4 to full length, and am delighted at the machine and the results.

Success!  I actually made a KNIT garment.  The original shirt (purchased) is on the left. After making the pattern from that shirt, I made the plum one on the right.  I'll do a separate blogpost later this week with more info on how I did it and which stitches used.

Success! I actually made a KNIT garment. The original shirt (purchased) is on the left. After making the pattern from that shirt, I made the plum one on the right. I’ll do a separate blogpost later this week with more info on how I did it and which stitches used.

I also have done quite a lot of piecing.  I used the P foot which comes with the machine for my quarter inch seams, but decided to use the optional Clearview foot which I prefer.   In a second project (which I can’t share yet because it is a Christmas surprise) I was astounded at how accurate my results were; I am NOT a piecer, and the feed on the machine worked very well (until my attention wandered, at which point I simply cut the threads, went back to my oops and fixed it).

Using the ClearView foot for piecing

Using the ClearView foot for piecing.  I really like the red 1/8 and 1/4″ markings. This foot is available for both Janome’s  7mm and 9mm machines (the 7 and 9 refer to the maximum stitch width–you need to be sure you get the correct one to fit the “ankle” for your machine). Have I said how much I love it?

I also have been able to do both free-motion and walking foot quilting, though not as much yet as I would have liked.   I finished a set of placemats and table runner called Modern Winter, which I prepared for Janome’s blog.  You can find the pattern and information here.

Modern Winter placemats and table runner.

Modern Winter placemats and table runner. Instructions/pattern on the Janome site at the link.  

The one thing I keep trying to convince Janome to do is to create feet for the top of the line machines that is similar to the convertible FMQ (free motion quilting)  feet for the Janome 8900/8200 and similar which I think are the best quilting feet Janome makes.   In addition to the traditional “hopping” or darning foot used for free-motion quilting, the 9400, 15000, 12000 all have the QO and QC skimming FMQ feet which snap on to the ankle (which is really quick and easy).  However, these feet are clear plastic and not round.   They work great for most people’s purposes, but if you look at pretty much ALL quilting machines, the preferred and nearly universally available feet are metal CIRCLES.  The metal is stronger and can, therefore, be thinner, which affords greater visibility.  And by being a circle, you can echo quilt around (for example) an appliqué, then  continue with free motion without having to change feet.  This is a small quibble but one that is important to me.

The foot on the left is the Ruler Foot for the 8900, and the two bits on the right are the optional bottoms for FMQ, the open U (as Janome made it) and the circle (which Janome made closed, but I used my Dremel to open up a tiny bit)

The foot on the left is the Ruler Foot for the 8900, and the two bits on the right are the optional bottoms for FMQ, the open U (as Janome made it) and the circle (which Janome made closed, but I used my Dremel to open up a tiny bit).  I would LOVE these options for the top of the line Janome machines (9400, 12000 and 15000).

One of the

One of the really cool things about the 9400 (which came down to it from the 15000) is the snap on feature for some of the quilting feet.  In this image, you can see the echo quilting foot, the clear disc with red circles/lines, for the 9400 on the lower left.  It just pops on and off the ankle like regular feet–fast, easy and effective.  The other three in this image are from the bottom of the convertible FMQ foot for the 8900; you have to screw them on to the holder which is a small fuss.  

I was MOST impressed at International Quilt Festival, Houston, this year.  I introduced myself to the president of Janome America to say thank you for Janome’s continued support for the past decade-plus, and to ask about developing these feet for the 9400 and 15000 (and 12000).  He whipped out a notebook and took notes!   So as soon as I finish this post, I’m going to follow up with him with details I’ve been mulling over on how best to meet ALL needs for quilting–both hopping and skimming. Love Janome’s responsiveness!  He said he’d send the info to headquarters in Japan–can’t do more than that!

Although you can read it on Janome’s site, I’m adding some info about the features and accessories included on this machine.  Best of all, a lot of stores are offering “Holiday Incentives” on the price!

Janome 9400 Stitch Chart

Janome 9400 Stitch Chart…hooray, my favorite stitches are still here!

Key Features:

  • Top Loading Full Rotary Hook Bobbin System
  • 350 Built-In Stitches and 4 Alphabets
  • Superior Needle Threader
  • Cloth Guide Included
  • One-Step Needle Plate Conversion with 3 Included Plates
  • Detachable AcuFeed Flex Layered Fabric Feeding System
  • USB Port and Direct PC Connection
  • Stitch Composer Stitch Creation Software
  • Variable Zig Zag for Free Motion Quilting
  • Straight Stitch Needle Plate with Left Needle Position for 1/4″ Seam Foot
  • Professional HP Needle Plate and Foot
  • Advanced Plate Markings
  • Full Color LCD Touchscreen (4.4″ x 2.5″)
  • Sewing Applications On-Screen Support
  • Maximum Sewing Speed: 1,060 SPM
  • Full Intensity Lighting System with 9 White LED Lamps in 4 Locations
  • 11″ to the Right of the Needle
  • Retractable High Light

Included Accessories:

  • 1/4 Inch Seam Foot O
  • AcuFeed Flex™ Dual Feed Holder with AD Foot
  • Automatic Buttonhole Foot
  • Blind Hem Foot G
  • Button Sewing Foot
  • Cloth Guide
  • Darning Foot
  • Extra Large Foot Controller
  • Free Motion Quilting Closed Toe Foot
  • HP Plate and Foot Set
  • Open Toe Satin Stitch Foot
  • Overedge Foot M
  • Remote Thread Cutter Switch
  • Rolled Hem Foot
  • Satin Stitch Foot
  • Seam Ripper
  • Straight Stitch Needle Plate
  • Zig-Zag Foot
  • Zipper Foot E

So that’s my recap!  I’ll do a couple follow-up posts on the placemats and shirt projects.  Stay tuned!

Burning the Candle at Both Ends

December 3rd, 2016

Just a quick pop in to say hello, share my latest photo effort, and promise that I WILL blog about Houston and all the good stuff….just as soon as I get a couple more gifts made!

See below for more info.  Right click for larger view.

See below for more info. Right click for larger view.

I was bummed this was a “lot of work” theme as I had no time.  Eyes fell on a flyer.  Lightbulb ON!  Visit to Danica Candleworks in Rockport, Maine.  Lots of beautiful photos (think four tiers of candles at 6, 9, 13 and 16 inches in rainbow handing from their wicks on Shaker style pegs).  Yes, they do mail order!

Took 6 shots to get nearly the full spectrum (omitted the pale cream and the black/grey on the ends).  Tried Panorama merge in Photoshop.  No joy, probably because it couldn’t identify the overlap spots since it is all the same shapes.  Merged the photos manually.  Take pictures of flames against a cream wall to match the wall behind the hanging candles.  Spend way too much time isolating and inserting five different flames on all those wicks!!!! Insanity!  Mirror image the layers.  Add a grey banner to help disguise the merge (got it all lined up, but some of the candles bent as they were hanging at a slight angle, which looked weird).  Add the text.  Share on FB asking Portrait or Landscape?

Next morning, another lightbulb!   Use the landscape but add a “candle” to the text banner that reads upside down and right-ways while burning the candle at both ends.  Yep.  Welcome to my life!  If I had a lick of business savvy, I’d make this a poster and sell it.  My retirement up in flames LOL!  Of course, I’d need to tidy the edges of those flames, my PS is up to meticulous trimming, my attention span wasn’t last night!  Now I’m off to work on Eli’s college quilt (he told me ten days before leaving what he finally wanted, selected colors, etc, so at least he’ll have it for winter!) and some gifts.  Talk to you soon!

Sweet Sixteen for sale–warranty transfers!

November 28th, 2016

Give yourself a gift this year!  Buy a nearly-new Sweet 16 sit-down machine at a bargain price (because I upgraded).  The price is a great discount and (I checked with Handiquilter) the remainder of the warranty (through August 2020) transfers to the new owner.

HQ Sweet Sixteen for Sale (Sept 2016), just under one year old, mint condition

HQ Sweet Sixteen for Sale (Sept 2016), just under one year old, mint condition.  Cat not included. This is the most recent version of the Sweet 16 and has the thread tension information (so it’s not a guessing game).  Does not have a stitch regulator, but it can easily be added (consult with your local Handiquilter dealer). Contact Sarah here, sarahannsmith.com/contact.php

About a year ago I took delivery of a wonderful machine:  the HQ Sweet 16 sit-down quilting machine.  It has both regular and ruler feet, all the regular parts.  In outstanding working order, well maintained, clean.  I’ve got all the original packing materials for transporting it to you.   I’m also including 14 M-class bobbins (empty) and a bunch of appropriate machine needles.  I will say the HQ dealer and tech support is OUTSTANDING.  I’ve decided to upgrade, and need to sell this one to make way for the next beastie.  MSRP is $5,599. For sale for $3750 plus shipping.  If you live within a 4 1/2 to 5  hour drive of Camden, Maine, I’ll deliver to your driveway free of charge!

Contact Sarah at the Contact Me page or comment on this post.  You can also find more information about this beauty on the Handiquilter site here and here.

Straight on view of HQ Sweet Sixteen for sale. Use the contact me page at SarahAnnSmith.com for more info.

Straight on view of HQ Sweet Sixteen for sale. Leave a comment or use the contact me page at SarahAnnSmith.com if you are seriously interested and have questions.  More pictures at end of blogpost.

Here are three quilts I have quilted on this beauty, so you can see the quality of the stitching:

Umbelliferous: Queen Anne's Lace No. 1, quilted on the Sweet Sixteen sit-down machine for sale.

Umbelliferous: Queen Anne’s Lace No. 1, quilted on the Sweet Sixteen sit-down machine for sale.

Detail showing quality of stitching, Umbelliferous: Queen Anne's Lace No. 1, (c) Sarah Ann Smith.com

Detail showing quality of stitching, Umbelliferous: Queen Anne’s Lace No. 1, (c) Sarah Ann Smith.com

My most recent project, Peony, done on the Sweet 16. ©SarahAnnSmith.com

Milkweed No. 1, ©SarahAnnSmith.com. Quilted on the Sweet 16 that is for sale.

Milkweed No. 1, ©SarahAnnSmith.com. Quilted on the Sweet 16 that is for sale.

My most recent

My most recent work, Peony, quilted on the Sweet 16.  ©SarahAnnSmith.com

Working on the lighter petals on the big peony quilt. It will finish about 45x55 I think.....depends on how much I trim off and/or turn to the back.

Working on the lighter petals on the big peony quilt. It will finish about 45×55 I think…..depends on how much I trim off and/or turn to the back.

Side view

Side view.

HQ Sweet Sixteen, less than a year old, for sale! Contact Sarah at the Contact Me page or comment on this post.

Autumn at its finest

October 15th, 2016

Dropping in briefly to share autumn’s glory.  Just got back from teaching in Little Rock, now entering final preparations for teaching at International Quilt Festival Houston.  Some of my classes still have openings, and you can sign up on site.  Hope to see many of you there and will try to post to share with those of you who can’t be there.

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Ironic…I love “what is it” type of close ups, but this week somehow my psyche obstinately decided *this* would be my submission. Perhaps not as mysterious as it should be, but I was so tickled that I shot this hand-held and got the effect I wanted.  I’ll post a link to my other pics in the comments, but don’t go there until you (easily?) guess….

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This is what those odd photos are above...I was tickled that I was able to hold the camera steady for 1/4 of a second to get the blur shots!

This is what those odd photos are above…I was tickled that I was able to hold the camera steady for 1/4 of a second to get the blur shots!

Hmmm…there may be a quilt or few in these……