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Archive for the ‘Videos by Sarah’ Category

Everyone’s a Kid Floor Cushions and Toss Pillows (part 1 of 2)

Monday, March 9th, 2020

Today’s projects are floor cushions and toss pillows from Michael Miller’s adorable new fabric line, SuperFred and Space Pals. As soon as I saw them I knew I’d love to make some floor cushions for my daughter-in-law’s Kindergarten classroom! You can find part 2 here as of March 12, 2020.

Pigwidgeon was asleep in front of the wood stove but allowed me to move him to another comfy spot to be my model. I am a Michael Miller 2020 Brand Ambassador for 2020, for which this is a monthly project. I’m also a Janome Artisan since 2003.

With the help of my trusty (just try to pry it out of my cold dead hands! I’m taking it with me) Janome M7 Continental, and some experience having done custom home dec work in a previous life, sewing these cushions was easy, and I’d like to share a free pattern for Everyone’s a Kid Floor Cushions and Toss Pillows with you and show you just how easy!

Super Fred! Ask for the collection at your local shop!

Fabric requirements are at the bottom of this post and on the free pattern (link in the previous paragraph). The pattern also has all the other “stuff” you’ll need (zipper, interfacing, and so on) and ridiculously detailed instructions. I will focus on bigger pictures for the “how-to” things in this and my next post even though there are plenty of photos in the pattern.

My Deep-Pocket Placket

So many home dec books and pieces of furniture are made with skimpy zipper plackets that gap open and show the zipper teeth–boo hiss! The designer for whom I worked eons ago had *very* high-end clients, so I developed what I think is a much nicer zipper method. Yes, it uses a couple more inches of fabric, but the zipper is fully concealed, doesn’t gap, and even has a little “garage” at the end to hide the zipper pull. I have leftover (miles of leftover) upholstery zipper tape and pulls from doing custom home dec work, but you can order #5 weight zippers or use heavy duty zippers available at big box stores.

If you’re going to make it at home, make it better than stuff you buy!

The pattern has exact cutting dimensions for the finished zipper gusset (the section of the boxing/sides of a cushion that has the zipper), but honestly I usually cut my strips about an inch wide than I think I’ll need. This gives me some fudging room to get the zipper centered. Once the zipper is sewn in, then I trim it to the desired finished measurements and complete making the gusset.

For this project, I knew the cushions would get a LOT of wear and tear, so I decided to reinforce all of the quilting-weight-cotton fabric with mid-weight fusible interfacing. Then I began assembling the components starting with the zipper. Of course, I was so excited to get started that the interfacing isn’t (yet) on the fabric shown below….I fixed that!

Attach the bottom part of the zipper gusset with the zipper foot. I set the foot so the left edge is next to the zipper teeth; this helps me sew a consistent distance. I set the needle to the center of the foot at first, but decided after checking that was too far away, so see the needle position in the next photo. Be careful not to move the needle to where it will hit the foot. Hand-walk the needle to test position!
Here’s I’ve adjusted the needle position to use the left opening, but moved to the right–again, hand-walk after changing needle position to make sure you aren’t going to hit the zipper foot itself. I use the fingers of my right hand to squish the fabric down so I can see and feel where the teeth are.
This photo shows the second pass along the zipper, this time with the overcast foot. This is similar to using a serger to clean-finish the edges and it reinforces the stitching. On the M7, it is stitch 15, but there are several choices for an overcast edge stitch. Use something similar on your machine.

The video below shows me using the Janome M7’s “M” foot. Most machines have something similar. The three little wires help hold the fabric flat, the blade keeps the stitch perfectly positioned on the edge of the seam so you get a good-looking, functional, and non-puckered stitch.

Once the lower fabric strip is sewn and edge-stitched (orange arrows point to edge stitching…hard to see black on black!), I press it away from the zipper teeth and edge stitch. This prevents the fabric from trying to roll up toward the zipper teeth and further reinforces the seam since there is a fair amount of pressure once the cushions is stuffed and being used. This photo also shows that I have attached the upper strip. See photos below for more on how to create a perfectly even and deep placket.

Next, sew the wider upper side of the zipper gusset to the zipper tape using the edge-stitch foot only–you don’t need to do the straight seam close to the teeth as you did with the lower side of the gusset.

This photo shows TWO zipper gussets. The one on top is as-sewn so you see zipper-interfaced lower edge, upper edge. The lower zipper gusset is the one I’m working on. Pin the lower edge of the zipper to your ironing board, making sure it is perfectly straight–long ruler helps.
Pin the top edge of your zipper gusset to be 5″ away from the lower edge. This will form a placket to cover the zipper teeth. I found the green Clover hem gauge to be the best tool because the dark green bit snugs up against the raw lower edge and the “wings” are wider making it easier to keep it aligned properly (tilted ever so slightly in this photo), but a small quilting ruler also works to measure width. I highlighted the edge of the placket with orange in Photoshop because you can’t really see the fold of the black fabric!
Press the placket. Then, pin the placket along the folded edge (out of the way of sewing in the next step). Turn the whole shebang over and stitch about 1/8″ from the edge of the zipper tape. This secures the upper side of the zipper. Notice the pinheads holding the placket in place–so glad I got that ginormous wool press thing-a-ma-doo-dad which makes this easy-peasy.

Your next step is to attach the rest of the boxing a.k.a. sides a.k.a. gusset–the fabric that goes around the edge of the cushion. First, use the overcast foot to sew the ends together. BE CAREFUL to NOT stitch through the ZIPPER TEETH! Just lift your presser foot and move over the clunky zipper teeth before finishing that seam. Repeat on the other side.

This image shows the seam, edge-stitching, and forming and pinning the “zipper garage”–the little pocket that hides the zipper pull.

Make the first of the little zipper garage / pockets at the zipper ends. You really only need one at the closed end, but I like the cushions to be symmetrical (about the only time I love symmetry in my work!) so I do both ends the same way. In the photo above, you can see that I have made a pocket about 1 1/2″ deep by making a Z-fold (or S- depending on which side you look at). Pin in place (lower part of photo above) and then stitch a straight line about 1/2″ from the raw edges.

At this point, before sewing the second zipper garage, I place the gusset on the dacron-wrapped foam cushion for a test fit. You want it QUITE snug–fabric is flexible and you don’t want it looking stretched out and worn! Center the zipper on the one side, pinning the boxing/gusset onto the cushion from the sewn garage all the way around to the other side. Your excess fabric will create the second zipper-pull garage.
I like to use the triple-straight stitch, a basic stitch that is found on almost all machines other than straight-stitch only.
The photo waaaaay back at the top and this one show the stitched zipper garage. You might notice that I have also basted the sides of the garage within the seam allowance–it makes sewing the boxing /gusset to the top and bottom easier.

PHEW…that’s Zipper Wisdom according to Sarah. We are now blessedly done with the zipper–I swear it takes longer to explain it in writing than actually do it…well except for the fussing to make sure it is absolutely perfectly straight and nice! In my next post I’ll show constructing and stuffing the floor cushions. And, there are TONS of photos in the pattern, too. One more time, here’s the PDF for the Everyone’s a Kid Floor Cushions and Toss Pillows. Check back in 3 days for Part 2!

And one last minute goodie–my fellow Brand Ambassador Charisma Horton has made this adorable quilt out of different color ways of Super Fred–what a great combination for a kiddo: my cushions and pillows and her quilt! Check it out here on her blog, or the Far, Far Away pattern in her Etsy shop, in both download or paper versions.

Both print and digital versions of Far, Far Away are available in Charisma’s Corner Etsy shop, here. Go to page 3 of the Etsy shop and scroll down to find the patterns.

Fabric requirements for two 24” square floor pillows and two 14×20” toss pillows:

Preshrink all fabrics!

NOTE:  Yardage is to make two floor and two toss pillows. Additional materials (zippers, foam and so on) as well as cutting and construction details in the free PDF show measurements and how to make each pillow. 

Available now–ask your local shop to order it

  • Focus Fabric 1:  Space Pals Black                 3/4 yard (will yield two 19” center squares)
  • Focus Fabric 2:  SuperFred Grey                 3/4 yard (will yield two 19” center squares)
  • Solids:  
    • Yellow                                         1/2 yard
    • Apricot                                        1/2 yard        
    • Acid                                            1/2 yard
    • Lilypad                                        1/2 yard
    • OPTION:  you can use the same fabric for all of the sides if you prefer
  • Boxing / sides fabric:  Galactic Black            2 yards

Accuquilt GO!

Sunday, January 12th, 2020

Part of every new year should be learning new things…and I’m starting with the Accuquilt GO!

As part of the Michael Miller 2020 Brand Ambassador program, we received the Ready. Set. GO! Ultimate Fabric Cutting System from Accuquilt. It includes an AccuquiltGO! plus the 8″ Qube (a set of dies to cut shapes often used in piecing 8″ blocks) and a ginormous die to cut my own 2 1/2″ strips. I’ve never seen one of these used in person, let alone done it myself. They are supposed to be lots faster than traditional rotary cutting and more accurate to boot. That makes two things where I need improvement–grin!

Lookit those amazing colors…don’t you want to dive in face first?

A while back, I was deliriously delighted to learn I had WON all 214 colors (above and below) of Michel Miller’s Cotton Couture (this was before I even applied for the Brand Ambassador program). I’ve been wanting to make a quilt I shall call “214.” As I’ve been waiting to upload this post, I realized that I can use the AccuquiltGO! to do the majority of the cutting, even the sashing! If I use the die for 2 1/2″ strips, I can then manually cut those in half vertically to get the 3/4″ finished strips I want to use for sashing. And then (!!!) I can use the die to cut 4 1/2″ squares (4″ finished) — if I am careful — to subcut the strips into 4 1/2″ lengths to match the size of squares I’m going to use in the quilt! Stay tuned…guess what I’m going to do today!

So, with that I am going to sign off and go play with my new fabric and toys!

Christmas arrived early thanks to Michael Miller Fabrics!

Monday, December 30th, 2019

I mentioned earlier that I am DELIGHTED to have been selected as a Michael Miller Brand Ambassador for 2020. As part of that we received, just before Christmas (Squee!), a box of goodies to use. I cannot WAIT to get into the studio to play. As a reward for getting all the gift wrapping and prep actually done before the 24th, I treated myself to opening the box on December 23rd, but waited until today to post and share the joy.

There are so many goodies in this package I hardly know where to start, but since I am prepping for a new 3-day workshop, Exploring Paint on Cloth (details here) August 5-7 at ProChemical and Dye in Massachusetts, I think I’ll start with the Krystal and some of my thermofax screens and paint!

These are the “color cards” for this year, and OH MY what joy awaits inside. It’s going to be a FUN year!
Here’s those color cards opened up. Top to bottom: Fairy Frost, Marbles, Krystal and Cotton Couture–all 214 colors!!!!!!! SWOON!

Thanks to Michael Miller Fabrics @michaelmillerfabrics for selecting me. Can’t wait to get started on my projects!

Unboxing Minerva: the new Janome M7 Continental!

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

What a BEAST! I think this machine may be able to do everything but cook and do the dishes (Janome: hint hint LOL!). While visiting with Janome America staff (Regena, that’d be you) at International Quilt Market in Houston, I was thrilled to learn that Janome wanted me to take this beauty for a test drive, blog and share and sew on it for the next year! THANK YOU JANOME, and yes indeed-y I am shouting! I’ve been beyond lucky to be a Janome Artisan since 2003–don’t ask me how I’ve lasted this long, I’m not sure, but I’m just really proud to be affiliated with them (I’m not an employee but all opinions are honest and unvarnished).


Today I’ll share a quick video of the unboxing. Then I have Christmas gifts to make, so I will share various things and features that I have found. So far I know I’m going to miss the flip-up chart of the stitches, but there are so many other beyond **amazing** features that I can cope–and photocopy the pages in the manual for ready reference! I’ll get to learn about the new AcuSpark phone app that one can use for tutorials and tips using the on-screen QR codes on how to use the machine, and I am in love before even turning it on with the new built in antenna thread stand, the fact that the antenna collapses so I can actually USE the COVER on the machine easily, not to mention the massive harp space. One bit of advice: you may need help hoisting this machine onto your table!

This box is so big that *I* could fit inside it! Widgeon is so impressed (and deaf and nearly blind) that he doesn’t realize he has a cookie on the floor in front of him!

As for the name: the Janome 7700, from some years ago, was the most beautiful ruby red on the front. I’m not much of a red fan but boy do I miss that face plate! So, as a fan of the Harry Potter books, I named that beastie Rubeus Hagrid (the gamekeeper). When I had the 15000 top of the line on loan, of course it had to be Albus Dumbledore, the greatest wizard of all time. Later, the silver-faced 9400 (and its heir the 9450) became Gandalf the Grey, because we love the Lord of the Rings, too.

BUT, I decided it was time for a POWERFUL WOMAN, so I have named her Minerva McGonagall, headmistress of Gryfindor and one of the bravest, stronger, most powerful and wise witches of all time. Here’s to Minerva!

A video tour of my solo exhibit

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

Hi folks…a blogpost that is short in length for once! I took this quick video on Saturday before the Mancuso World Quilt New England Show closed so that those of you who don’t live in the vicinity could enjoy the exhibit. The idea is to show my growth and development as an artist, so the quilts you see at the start are before my style and artistic voice have emerged and refined, all the way up to my most recent big quilt (well, 36″ square) Rose Hip.

Here’s the link to the book I mentioned, The Art of Sarah Ann Smith…so far. I put the book together in 2017 for my Rising Stars exhibit at International Quilt Festival Houston. It has all but the 2018 and 2019 works in it, additional quilts, some tidbits and tips, and a bit about me. It’s available as a softcover book or a pdf.

There is a chance that this exhibit will be traveling in early 2021, so stay tuned. Once I have a signed contract, I’ll share the where and when details!