Vermont Quilt Festival–come play with me!

May 18th, 2015

Wanna come play with me?  It is time to look forward after a very busy winter and spring! I’ll be teaching at Vermont Quilt Festival at the end of June.  I’m so looking forward to it…pretty much my three most popular classes and a new one.   Balinese Garden teaches you decorative machine applique in your choice of pillow top, small quilt or table runner.   Fussy-Fiddly is about how to use those  (not really) challenging threads successfully; we’ve got so many wonderful thread choices available to us now, so let’s USE them!   Birch Pond Seasons teaches you skills and techniques to make not only this “north country” pattern, but go on to work on your  own designs.  Finally, Sunday’s half-day class, Easy Peasy Inside Out Bags, is about making quick and easy, lovely bags:  any size you want, easy zipper installation and addicting like potato chips–bet you can’t make just one!  I sure couldn’t–I keep making (and giving) them!

Here are my classes:
115    Balinese Garden                                                                    Thursday, June 25
218    Tame Fiddly Fussy Threads for Machine Quilting        Friday, June 26
314    Birch Pond Season                                                               Saturday, June 27
410    Easy-Peasy Inside Out Bag                                                Sunday, June 28

To sign up, click on this link:  http://www.vqf.org/all_classes_view.php .  Once there, look just below the purple “Basic Sewing Supply List” for “view by instructor.”  Use the dropdown list to select Sarah Ann Smith, and it will pop up information on all these classes.   Also, I’m happy to answer emails with questions!

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Balinese Garden Table Runner–Class is Thursday June 25.  As always, I encourage students to cut loose, be creative, and make the project their own.

115    Balinese Garden  Thurs June 25

Here are four versions of my tossed leaves.  You learn to make a freezer paper stencil and paint on cloth.  While the paint dries, learn key tips to success with metallic, holographic, heavy and shiny threads, then free-motion quilt your piece.

Here are four versions of my tossed leaves. You learn to make a freezer paper stencil and paint on cloth. While the paint dries, learn key tips to success with metallic, holographic, heavy and shiny threads, then free-motion quilt your piece.

Here’s a closer view:

The original quiltlet which happens to be on the cover of my book!

The original quiltlet which happens to be on the cover of my book!

218    Tame Fiddly Fussy Threads for Machine Quilting        Fri June 26

Learn all sorts of fun tricks for making free-form fabric collage quick and easy

Learn all sorts of fun tricks for making free-form fabric collage quick and easy

And the autumn view.  I encourage students to personalize their quilts.  Bring a photo of your favorite mountain and make it the featured hill.  Make it any season you want!  Be creative!

And the autumn view. I encourage students to personalize their quilts. Bring a photo of your favorite mountain and make it the featured hill. Make it any season you want! Be creative!

314    Birch Pond Season        Sat June 27

These bags are so easy and fun to make.  They are wonderful to use (in all sorts of sizes), to give as gifts, and can even be turned into iPad or notebook covers.

These bags are so easy and fun to make. They are wonderful to use (in all sorts of sizes), to give as gifts, and can even be turned into iPad or notebook covers.

If you watch Quilting Arts TV, these may look familiar, as they are on one of my episodes in season 1400 AND were in the 2014 Quilting Arts gifts magazine.

If you watch Quilting Arts TV, these may look familiar, as they are on one of my episodes in season 1400 AND were in the 2014 Quilting Arts gifts magazine.

410    Easy-Peasy Inside Out Bag  Sun June 28

For all my classes, you can check here on my “Classes” page for more information and PDFs of the supply lists, or look on my “Resources” page for the downloads.  I’d love to have you in class!

Thermofax 101: Lyric Kinard’s new DVD Workshop

May 15th, 2015
Don't know that I've ever seen #1 come up before! Well done!

Don’t know that I’ve ever seen #1 come up before! Well done!

Update:  comments are now closed.  I used a random number generator and astonishingly, No. 1 came up!  So I will be contacting Susan to let her know.  Lyric will send the DVD out directly, as will I.

Well, you aren’t going to want to watch this once–you’ll want to watch it several times, at least!   I can’t believe how much Lyric has managed to pack into about 65 minutes of instruction on her new video workshop Thermofax 101:  screen printing made easy, from Lyric Art Publishing.  You can order it here, http://lyrickinard.com/2015/02/thermofax-101-instructional-dvd/ .  OR you can enter the giveaway–for both this DVD and my own Art Quilt Design: From Photo to Threadwork (here).  Read to the end to find out how.

Thermofax 101, Lyric Kinard's new DVD workshop, is totally worth getting.  I can't believe how much she packed in.  Plus, how can anyone not want to spend time with someone with enthusiam and a cute smile?

Thermofax 101, Lyric Kinard’s new DVD workshop, is totally worth getting. I can’t believe how much she packed in. Plus, how can anyone not want to spend time with someone with enthusiam and a cute smile?

I was thrilled when Lyric asked if I would like to be part of her bloghop.  Not only do I have fun running into her at various fun places like teaching at quilt shows around the country, in Houston, at Quilting Arts TV taping in Ohio, and admire her art (made while being an uber-busy mom) and teaching, I’m also getting more and more into my own surface design.  I tend to use surface design differently than many—-for most who are really “in” to it, the cloth is the end product.  For me, it is something that goes into my artwork as a supporting player, not the star of the show.  So I was curious to see the “hows” and how what she teaches would fit in with my somewhat different approach.   The answer is it’s a fabulous DVD!

I watched the video as soon as I got home from about 3 weeks of being on the road, and learned a lot on the first run-through.  But I was pretty obliterated by all that travel, so I figured I’d better watch it again:  my goodness gracious but there are more and more gems salted in throughout.

There are four segments:

1.  What’s a Thermofax, which tells you just that, explains how the machine works and how you prepare the screen for use, including advantages and disadvantages of both ways.

2.  Creating Imagery:  the key here is to play.  Only YOU can figure out what makes you happy, what makes you itch to get to the studio and create.  The best way to do that is to mess around.   And then Lyric gives you about a bazillion ideas.  For those really itching to get deep into how to create your imagery, this section may be frustratingly brief.  Honestly, that’s because you could have 100 hours of video, from 33 different instructors, and you’d barely scratch the surface (ahem….pun intended).

3.  Printing Techniques.  For the FIRST TIME I’ve seen someone explain WHY you want canvas/cloth on the top of a print surface, not plastic.  Makes total sense—-why has no one in all the books I have on printing EVER explained that simple, logical (once you’ve heard the explanation) fact?  It’s at about 21:20 in the video.  And I recommend chocolate pudding, re-purpose the dishwasher detergent.  You’ll get it if you see the video LOL!  Lyric also shows how to hold your squeegee (as well as explaining what kind of squeegee or stand-in object) to get the best print, including demo-ing to you can see from various angles.  Helpful!

Lyric talks about the kind of paint you want, and mentions her favorites, but wasn’t fond of Speedball or Versatex.  I agree on the Speedball, but quite like the Versatex.  To Lyric, she doesn’t care for the hand of the cloth.  However, I have liked it on the small pieces I have done.  It’s one of those “try it all (before buying a bunch of any one product) and see what you prefer” things!

 

For the nest piece, I took some pale beige batik, my Queen Anne's Lace stencil and paint to create this cloth, which I love so much I can see making yardage of this to use!

For the nest piece, I took some pale beige batik, my Queen Anne’s Lace thermofax screen and paint to create this cloth, which I love so much I can see making yardage of this to use!  You can buy  Sarah’s Thermofax Screens at Fiber on a Whim at Fiber on a Whim.  To read more about my “nest” please see this blogpost.

4.  Designing Cloth.  Throughout the DVD Lyric salts in bits of wisdom about various elements and principles (E&P) of design.  I was SO clueless when I began art quilting.  I then got lucky and took a class at a local community college/extension service while living in Friday Harbor.  Since then I’ve looked hard at things, studied them, to internalize the “E&P” of design.  As you work with them, you get better so you don’t need to look so hard, but Lyric brings them up in an integrated manner that will help you have better results, sooner.  And she shares a tip I discovered the long way around:  if you have a yucky piece of cloth, or don’t like what you did, just add more layers.  After all, is it going to get worse?  No.  And it might well get better.

You also get a PDF on the disc with

  • a list of supplies,
  • where to get screens made in the US, Canada, Australia, England and Germany
  • info on suppliers of machines, screens, frames, textile paints and surface design supplies
  • footnotes for each chapter with internet links
  • plus Lyric has some helpful free tutorials on her website that will supplement the information on the DVD

I wish I had had this video when I started out.  Some videos about printing are Graduate Student level, and overwhelm you.  Some are so basic you could have gleaned all the good stuff from a four-page (with lots of large photos) article.   Lyric’s is correctly titled Thermofax 101 (so Lyric, will you do a 301 or 401 for us too?); it’s aimed at the newbie.  But those of us who have been doing this a bit can still learn plenty.  So I’m going to go play, then in a month or two view my copy again.

To win a copy of this DVD AND a copy of MY DVD,

my video workshop that takes you from your photo to a finished art quilt

my video workshop that takes you from your photo to a finished art quilt

leave a comment by 7 a.m. May 21st East Coast Time.  I’ll use a random number generator and whoever left that comment (please keep it to one comment per person, please) will win both copies.  Lyric will mail hers out directly, as will I.  International entries are OK!

Check out the other reviews on this bloghop:

 

May 14   Deborah Boschert    http://deborahsjournal.blogspot.com
May 13   Jamie Fingal http://JamieFingalDesigns.blogspot.com/  
May 12   Desiree Habicht  http://myclothesline.blogspot.com

May 11   Susan Brubaker Knapp  http://wwwbluemoonriver.blogspot.com
May 9    kathy york  http://aquamoonartquilts.blogspot.com
May 8    Carol Sloan  http://carolbsloan.blogspot.com

May 7    Liz Kettle  http://www.textileevolution.com/index.php/our-journey
May 6    Jane Davila  http://janedavila.blogspot.com
May 4    Linda Stokes  www.lindastokes-textileartist.com

May 2    Judy Coates Perez  http://www.judycoatesperez.com
May 1    Susan Price & Elizabeth Gibson  http://pgfiber2art.blogspot.com/
April 30  Judy Gula http://www.artisticartifacts.com/blog/

April 28   Sue Bleiweiss  http://www.suebleiweiss.com/blog/
April 27   Melanie Testa  http://melanietesta.com/blog/
April 25   Leslie Tucker Jennison  http://leslietuckerjenison.blogspot.com
April 24   Cheryl Rezendez  http://www.cherylrezendes.com

 

 

 

The perfect 1/4″ seam, part two

May 7th, 2015

Thanks to my contact at Janome America, I learned of a couple new things that will help owners of the Janome machines that are capable of the 9mm wide stitches.   The top-of-the-line 15000 has a new throat plate that has THREE holes in it, including one on the right.  And there is a quarter inch “Clear View” foot that will work with that throat plate.  First, the presser foot:Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 12.50.27 PM

janomeknowhow clear view quarter inch

My contact wrote:

” I wanted to pass along this information sheet on a foot that we released for 9mm stitch width models last fall. Maybe this will help her. I’m also going to include this small excerpt from my contact in Tokyo too, as it applies directly to your machine –

*This foot can also be used with the MC15000, but by using the right needle position of the MC15000’s straight stitch needle plate with the 1/4″ Seam Foot O (a standard accessory), or the Clear View Quilting Foot and Guide Set (Optional Accessory No.: 202-089-005),  the same results can be achieved.

The above note is because the MC15000 has that three hole straight stitch plate, based on needle position. Previous models only have one or two holes in the straight stitch plate.

Just passing this along since I saw it!

Here’s a link to information on the Janome website, and another link for the PDF which has more information than on the Janome website  janomeknowhow clear view quarter inch .

The throat Plate is called the Straight Stitch Plate for the 15000, but can be used on Janome machines with a 9mm stitch-width capability (but check with your dealer FIRST to be positive it is compatible with your machine).  This is a not-so-great photo of the one from my machine.  Notice there are THREE holes.  The left and right holes are slightly not-round, which permits one to fine-tune the needle position to get your perfect seam allowance (see previous post).

Straight Stitch Plate for Janome 15000

Straight Stitch Plate for Janome 15000; if I can get my hands on the part number, I’ll update this caption.

My contact added that

“Yes, this foot will work with the 8900 as it is a 9mm model also. If you
wanted, you could ask your dealer to order the Mc15000 straight stitch
needle plate (with the third hole) and that would fit all the 9mm models
also. You just have to watch your drop position. Like you mention in your
post, because of the feed dogs and purpose of different sewing machines,
the needle drop is not always the same from machine to machine. This
happens when you are switching from quilting models, like an 8900 to
embroidery/quilting models like the MC15000. The “standard” positions are
changing based on the model.

This will definitely solve her problem then, allowing her to use a straight
stitch and set needle position with the straight stitch plate included
with her machine, and achieve a 1/4″ seam.”

I have to say, Janome is incredibly responsive to its customers.  I was THRILLED my contact read my previous post and wrote to suggest these new offerings.   Another great thing developed for the 15000 (which I sew on now) is the AMAZING extension table.  I don’t know what they did to the surface, but it is absolutely the “slippy-est” extension table I’ve ever felt.  Even though it doesn’t look as slippery as the clear plexi (perspex in the UK I think) tables, it is vastly superior.  When I saw the US VP for Janome at a show after I got this machine, I told him they needed to make ALL their extension tables out of this stuff.  It totally rocks!

 

Understanding your perfect 1/4″ seam

May 2nd, 2015

Hullo!  I’m home from being on the road most of April, and boy am I glad to be HOME!  I also want some sleep, so it may be a bit until I get to share pics of all the wonderful things I’ve been doing.  BUT, I recently had a question from someone who was having difficulty with her new, wonderful sewing machine which wasn’t giving her the wonderful quarter inch seam that she wanted.   I replied privately and in the comments, but thought I’d share my thoughts here since the “issue” applies to more than her specific machine.

Question:

I have had a little bit of trouble with my machine, but there is also a lot I like about it. My problem…I took a miniature quilt class last weekend, and was told to use the 1/4 inch stitch with the single hole stitch plate. I had already had trouble with the “pre-set” 1/4 inch stitch not coming from the factory with a true quarter inch stitch, and had it accurately reset. When I went to use the single hole plate with the 1/4 inch “button”, the needle does not go through the hole. Why would Janome design a machine that you cannot use the preset 1/4 inch stitch with the single hole plate? Am I missing something? Every quilter uses the 1/4 inch stitch and wishes for a single hole plate. I am so dissatisfied with this design that I’m thinking of changing brands. Can you set me straight?

Answer:

Thanks for writing! I have been on the road for weeks and was having trouble getting an email sent out to you directly, so not sure if you received it.  I understand your frustration, but want to explain why this happens on ALL brands.

To get a perfect 1/4″ seam, you need to account for the thickness of the thread and the thickness of the cloth, since some of the cloth is “used up” in the turn (when pressing).  If you stitch two squares of 2 inch  lightweight cotton lawn, cotton batik, and cotton flannel with the same setting (a default 1/4″ for example), then press the seam to the side as one would for piecing a quilt, the cotton lawn will be the widest, the flannel the narrowest.  That is because the flannel is thick and it takes up more of the flannel to fold back on itself.  To get a seam allowance that would yield a section that measure a perfect 3 1/2 inch across after that seam is pieced, you’d have to use a larger seam allowance with the lightweight cotton lawn and a narrower seam allowance with the flannel.

Then there is the straight stitch plate and quarter inch seams.  With our fancy new machines that stitch wide stitches, on the Janomes up to 9mm apart (that’s nearly a half inch across), the feed dogs must be farther apart to permit the needle to swing that wide on the decorative stitches.  That means when it comes to pieceing you have two choices:

1.  Leave the needle in the center with the straight stitch plate on, but then have the pieces feed ONLY with the left-side feed dog (because the quarter inch seam allowance won’t extend fully onto the right hand feed dogs)
or
2. Use the quarter inch foot, move the needle to your own personal perfect quarter inch (based on the thickness of your fabric and thread), and have the pieces feed over BOTH feed dogs so that it feeds straight and even.

Basically, you can’t have it both ways IF you have a machine, such as the 8900, that also makes wide decorative stitches.  If you want a perfect straight stitch, to be blunt, the old Singer Featherweight 221 has always had the best straight stitch ever.  That is because that is the ONLY thing that machine does–any straight-stitch-only machine will be the same.  Why?  Because the needle bar never moves.   It goes up and down only.

That means you can either get used to the Janome 8900’s (and any other fancy machine’s) requirements for getting a perfect-for-you quarter inch (including fine-tuning–the pre-set is just an “average” setting that frequently needs a little fiddling), OR have a second machine for simple piecing.   Frankly, I adore my 1934 Featherweight.  I don’t actually use it much, since I almost never piece.  And when I DO piece, I use my wonderful Janome because I understand what it is I need to do to make an accurate seam.  You can also create a “favorite” stitch that is set to your perfect quarter inch–you’d need to refer to the manual, though, because I don’t know how off the top of my head.

I hope explaining this helps–there is nothing wrong with your machine!   It just needs for you to learn how to adjust the settings so that they yield the perfect result for you.

Hope this helps!

Hawaiian Applique in Florida, Part 2: Ladies of the Lakes, Lakeland, Florida

April 20th, 2015

What fun we had, even if it was a small class!  More attention for everyone that way.  So the past few times I’ve taught this workshop, I decided I really needed to come up with a couple simpler “test drive” blocks in the 6 inch size that aren’t so fiddly.  I had Taro and Turtle blocks.  Everyone loves the turtle, but it really is pretty challenging.  So I thought I needed more options that were easier than the turtle.  I tried a whole bunch of ideas, but not much fits into a block as small as 6 inches (most students like to try one small before committing to one of the larger class patterns from my Nourish the Body, Nourish the Soul pattern, here) and still makes an interesting design while also being simple.  I thought about what is Hawaiian and would also be Florida?  I ended up with two new blocks:

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This is the cutout version of Flip Flops–I actually managed to keep one of the new blocks fairly simple.

And the stitched version.  I left one  flipflop unstitched to show what a difference the thread makes!

And the stitched version. I left one flipflop unstitched to show what a difference the thread makes!

The second block is adorable, not as fiddly as the turtle, but not exactly easy-peasy:

The cut-out version of cats.  I liked the whimsy of black cats on bird fabric.  But...those busy little birds kinda moosh into the cats.

The cut-out version of cats. I liked the whimsy of black cats on bird fabric. But…those busy little birds kinda moosh into the cats.

Red thread to the rescue!   I learned when making Under the Bali Sea that thread can save a project--before I added the aqua stitching on the nautilus shells the quilt was SAD.  Here, the red totally pops.  And we LOVE the kitty-circle!  Maybe I should name this the Zeus block in honor of our cat who departed this earth a few days after I got home.

Red thread to the rescue! I learned when making Under the Bali Sea that thread can save a project–before I added the aqua stitching on the nautilus shells the quilt was SAD. Here, the red totally pops. And we LOVE the kitty-circle! Maybe I should name this the Zeus block in honor of our cat who departed this earth a few days after I got home.

The students in both workshops (how lucky that I had the same workshop in both venues, which were–I did not realize this for a goodly while–HOURS apart) did such a great job with the blocks.  I’m honestly not sure which of these photos were taken which day:

Swirly turtles in progress--those little feet and tail are pretty fiddly!

Swirly turtles in progress–those little feet and tail are pretty fiddly!

And another set of turtles

And another set of turtles with dusty pink thread on a pale pink background.

Flip flops in progress--she's doing my colors!

Flip flops in progress–she’s doing my colors!

This student got a lot done.  She did the taro block, cutting the leaves in the + position instead of the X orientation, but used them as "X" on the second block.  AND she got her cats cut out, too!

This student got a lot done. She did the taro block, cutting the leaves in the + position instead of the X orientation, but used them as “X” on the second block. AND she got her cats cut out, too!

This student brought a gorgeous Jane Sassaman print fabric for her blocks and a black-on-grey background, but learned that in these blocks what is a great combination for piecing may present some challenges in Hawaiian applique.  The black background merges with the background.  As with the cats, thread to the rescue!  She luckily had the perfect green.

This student brought a gorgeous Jane Sassaman print fabric for her blocks and a black-on-grey background, but learned that in these blocks what is a great combination for piecing may present some challenges in Hawaiian applique. The black background merges with the background. As with the cats, thread to the rescue! She luckily had the perfect green.

Done!

Done! And a great job using the bold straight stitch to accent the outside edge.

Doesn't this flipflop block shout "Florida!"?!!!

Doesn’t this flipflop block shout “Florida!”?!!!

Two more cat blocks...gosh I hope these ladies sent me pictures!  The guild president was in the class and was already thinking up a mini-quilts display with the blocks.  I TOTALLY WANT PHOTOS Debby if you do this!

Two more cat blocks…gosh I hope these ladies sent me pictures! The guild president was in the class and was already thinking up a mini-quilts display with the blocks. I TOTALLY WANT PHOTOS Debby if you do this!

GOOD student--testing thread colors on scraps!

GOOD student–testing thread colors on scraps! Practicing mitering and points!

And this student followed the instructions to bring a wide range of threads--it really helped her pick just the right color!

And this student followed the instructions to bring a wide range of threads–it really helped her pick just the right color!

Despite being fiddly, the cat block was a hit.

Despite being fiddly, the cat block was a hit.

Happy Birthday Marie C.!  Hope you enjoyed the giftie tucked into your bag.  I sure enjoyed driving from Orlando up to Lakeland and having dinner with you, and having you in my class.  Keep in touch!

Happy Birthday Marie C.! Hope you enjoyed the giftie tucked into your bag. I sure enjoyed driving from Orlando up to Lakeland and having dinner with you, and having you in my class. Keep in touch!

So as you might gather, it was a FUN class!  The trip home was relatively uneventful compared to the trip down, although my suitcase got soaked in Boston where it was raining not snowing, and a few things inside were soaked.  Luckily, the quilts in the suitcase were inside a ginormous Ziploc Bag (I swear you could fit the contents of a stuffed laundry basket in one they are so big) and protected!  I’ve already ordered a hard-sided suitcase since the zipper pull also got trashed.  Mo bettah!