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Sundress on the Janome M7

August 18th, 2021

Another new make on the Janome M7 using various stitches and features to make a great dress perfect! I found a link to a free blouse pattern on the Australian Peppermint Magazine on Spoonflower. Following the trail of cookie crumbs (or thread bits), I then found the Wide-Strap Maxi dress pattern, which is a free PDF download. They ask if you’d like to make a donation to support the cost of the site, so I did, and I GOT A THANK YOU! Nice! Click on the pattern name or here for the hotlink. Along the way I took pictures and the edited them into this under-3-minutes video:

There’s no audio for the first two minutes, but there are captions. At the end for the video of me out in the yard, you may want to turn up the sound…I increased the volume on the film clip, but it is still sorta quiet when I am turned around.

Here are some of the pictures from in the video!

The cotton lawn fabric is from Leslie Tucker Jenison’s Wildwood line for Robert Kaufman. I purchased mine on Etsy in late spring 2021. The dress has a facing on the front and wide straps (hence the name Wide-Strap Maxi Dress). I shortened the dress by 8 inches to a midi length. The only other change was to add interfacing to the facing since the cotton Lawn is so soft. If made in linen or a heavier weight cotton or tercel, would likely not need the interfacing.

From the back: there is a casing at the top, with wide elastic inside. You set the length so that it holds the dress snug against your back (NO wardrobe malfunctions!) but not tight (no “muffin top”!). The pattern suggest testing the placement of the straps. I agree. The gathers had a tendency to move, with the dress going flat in the center and the straps moving towards my underarms. Which led to the straps falling off my shoulders. So with the dress OFF, I move the straps toward the center and safety pinned them in place. This concentrates most of the gathers in the center, which makes it flattering from the front and solves the straps-falling-off issue. I will stitch a vertical line on the casing/elastic so I can remove the pins, but using pins first to get the straps where YOU want them is a good idea. I also now understand why some sundress patterns have the straps go really narrow and “V” in the center. This way, though, they easily cover bra straps.

Since I live in Maine and my 20s and 30s were long ago, I find that I feel rather bare, but I am getting used to the open back. I had thought even before making it that I would shorten the straps to be less bare, but discovered that would put the darts well above my bust and make the front fit poorly. If/when I make this again, I will cut extra at the top sides, shorten the straps, and then figure out a better-for-my-body placement of the darts.

Like many of the indie patterns now, the instructions are like a class in a bag–they certainly aren’t like the bare-bones info in the Butterick and Vogue patterns from the 70s, 80s and 90s that I grew up using. There are delightful instructions for using French seams which totally enclose the raw edges. Hint: be sure to trim the edges of any fraying threads before you sew the second part of the seam so that no “whiskers” pop out.

Having a selection of presser feet makes it SO MUCH EASIER to do beautiful work! I like my clothes as pretty on the inside as on the outside!

Thanks as always to Janome America for having me as a Janome Artisan since 2003!!!!!!!

Mer-Pugs Summer Shirt for Eli

July 8th, 2021

It’s a delightful feeling when your young adult son asks you to make a shirt for him. Since he lives about 5 hours away, going to a fabric store together wasn’t a good option, so I sent him to Spoonflower. LOVE it when his sense of humor prevails: he selected Mer-Pugs! Here’s the link to the fabric; I chose to print on cotton poplin as I’m not fond of their Signature Petal cotton. Needing to order 3 yards, it was a splurge, but it turned out great and he loves it!

Eli’s shirt fits perfectly!

The pattern is Liesl & Co.’s All Day Shirt Pattern. I used this earlier when I made Joshua’s donuts shirt (yes, they both have the same sense of humor!). Since Eli is a bit bigger, I was able to use what I learned making Joshua’s shirt in 2019 (blogpost here). I still had some issues getting the collar to be the size I wanted on the collar stand–I was careful to follow the instructions, but think the collar should be about 1/8″ longer on each side. Eli did not want any pleats on the back but did want short sleeves. He lent me a shirt that fits just the way he wanted so I kept that in the studio to compare as I made the merpugs shirt …much easier to adjust that way!

Earlier this year I showed on Facebook and Instagram how perfectly I was able to align and topstitch the pocket:

First, prepare the pocket. Turn under seam allowances; pattern instructions have you sew 1/2″ from edge, then iron under concealing the stitching. I did that, but having done perfect edges before without the bother of stitching, I’ll go back to my easier way next time. I love my zipper feet for all sorts of things especially perfect edge stitching. I just get better results than using the edge-stitching foot–try several ways and use what gives YOU your best results. I align the edge of the foot with the fold of the fabric, move the needle in the distance I wish, then keep my left thumbnail on the edge of the fold and foot to keep it straight.
Next tip: GLUE STICK! Be sure to use a WASHASBLE glue stick, not permanent! Run a bit of glue along the sides and bottom.
Glue stick the pocket so you have ABSOLUTELY positively PERFECT alignment. For me, this works better than pins and you get no ripples/distortion from the pins. As with the pocket hem, use the zipper foot, adjust the needle drop to the perfect spot, and sew in place. LOOKIT how those merpugs just swim from the shirt onto the pocket!
Side and back views. Perfectly aligned the pugs from collar to yoke to shirt back! Having a machine with precision feed like the Janome M7 makes it easy!
My voice sounds funny because I am getting over a cold! Anyway, here’s a quick demo of how FAST it is to do an automatic buttonhole! Next photo shows a side view of the automatic buttonhole foot
The tip of my awl is pointing to the small button in the back of the automatic buttonhole foot. This is how the foot knows exactly how large to make the buttonhole. It even worked with the teeny tiny buttons (about 3/8″) on the collar!
What does a 20-something do as soon as one puts on a new shirt? Check the phone!

Hope you’ve enjoyed this! If you haven’t already, I’d like to invite you to sign up for my monthly (or thereabouts) newsletter! Just look in the right-hand sidebar on this page to sign up, or at the bottom of all the other pages on my blog. Thanks for stopping by!

Teaching Online this August! Join me!

June 21st, 2021

Guess what I’m teaching online again! in August at the Mancuso World Quilt Fest!  Enjoy the video below– and then go sign up for my workshops here:  https://www.quiltfest.com/register/world-quilt-show-online/workshops-by-instructor/sarah-ann-smith-bindings-facings/    For more info, you can also visit my workshop page here

Here’s the hotlink to sign up again: https://www.quiltfest.com/register/world-quilt-show-online/workshops-by-instructor/sarah-ann-smith-bindings-facings/

These are three of my favorite workshops, and in consideration of SUMMER and being able to get back out into the world (WOOOOOT!), I chose half-day workshops so you can learn then go play and actually smile at people–all of their faces–in person!

This is the LAST TIME I’ll be teaching online win a public venue (there are two guild jobs I’m doing online) this year, and I don’t know if I will be teaching online next year or not. For sure, I am cutting back on my teaching schedule, so get these while you can! Hope you’ll join me!

PLEASE feel free to comment and ask questions!

Eva Dress

June 12th, 2021

It’s a miracle…sewing for pure fun! Last summer I ordered the PDF download of this Eva Dress pattern by Tessuti Fabrics in Australia (don’t ask me what delightful rabbit hole I fell into that led me to a fabric shop half-way around the world). I had 2 1/2 yards of art quilter Leslie Tucker Jenison’s fantastic Warehouse District design printed on Kaufman’s Essex cotton-linen blend, a perfect weight for this jumper (there’s also a short sleeve version). Be sure to see the short video below!

With Phineas the Phlamingo and his bestie Sven the slightly tipsy gnome

The pattern is a PDF download from a fabric store in Australia. You can print at home and tape the pages together or print at a local or online copy/print shop onto A0 (about 36″ wide) paper, which is way easier! I use medical exam table paper (cheap!) to make pattern tissues, which preserves the multi-size pattern. I am a US ready-to-wear size 12 or between a Medium and Large. In this pattern, I chose the Large. It is fitted in the bodice with wearing ease but not a lot of extra room, with a roomy skirt.

I made three/four modifications:

  • Added a very small dart coming in from the armhole, about 3″ away from the side seam, because the armhole gapped slightly. It is only 1/4″ wide and about 2″ long. As I am small-busted, and there isn’t a ton of room, I suggest making a muslin just for the bodice or cutting the top a bit oversized and fitting it carefully especially if you usually need to make a full bust adjustment. Pick a mid-skirt pattern piece that corresponds in size to the bottom of the bodice, then grade the sides to match your usual desired size.
  • Because I live in Maine where it is often cool (or cold), I wanted to be able to wear a shirt underneath, so I lowered the bottom of the armhole by 1/2″ (a bit more than 1 cm), tapering to 2″ on either side (5 cm).
  • I lengthened the pocket by about 2″ so I could slide my large iPhone in and there would be no risk of it falling out. My fingertips just brush the bottom of the pocket.
  • The fourth change I ended up not making: I was concerned when I measured the circumference of the hem that I wouldn’t be able to take large steps. I widened out the bottom, then basted along the original seam line. It was just fine, so I trimmed away what I had added because it wasn’t needed.

If you want a short dress, perhaps just above knee length, without the cocoon or bubble shape, it would be pretty easy to lengthen the mid-skirt and just make it that way.

The pattern calls for 3 1/4 yards for a size Large. Well, I had 2 1/2 yards! I knew I could make the bias for finishing the armholes, neck and hem out of a quilting cotton, and I JUST barely managed it because the fabric did not have a one-way pattern. One pocket piece isn’t quite on grain, but so what? I had very few scraps left!

Of course using my Janome Continental M7 made it easy! I used these three feet: Quarter inch (for putting on the bias binding/facings), F clear applique foot because of the visibility and the red mark in the center which allowed me to align my topstitching, and the zipper foot which is my favorite foot for under stitching and topstitching.
Back view showing roominess of skirt
This is all that was left of 2 1/2 yards! Considering the pattern called for 3 1/4 yards, I was thrilled not to have to shorten or otherwise mess with the dress design. I used a lightweight quilting cotton to make the bias which is only seen on the inside. It is used in lieu of traditional facings and hem.
https://www.tessuti-shop.com/collections/patterns-dresses-skirts-tunics/products/eva-dress-pattern

I celebrated the finish (yesterday) by wearing it to the first in-person post-COVID meeting of our local quilt group this morning!

Milkweed at the Texas Quilt Museum

May 17th, 2021

Frank Klein has emerged as a major collector of contemporary art quilts, and I’m delighted to say he has several of my quilts. There is an exhibit on now at the Texas Quilt Museum that includes my Milkweed. Even better, I love that one of my friend Deborah Boschert’s quilts is also in the exhibit, and we “bookend” one of the images. Here is a video for those who, like me, won’t have the pleasure of visiting in person.

It was a delight to learn of this exhibit, that I and so many wonderful artists I know are in it, and it is an honor bo be in both the exhibit and his collection. Thank you, Frank!