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Archive for the ‘Crafty’ Category

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!

The BRILLIANT new Janome M7Continental produces A York Pinafore for Christmas

Monday, December 23rd, 2019

Sewing machine companies are always coming out with new models, most of which are incrementally different from before. But every 10-15 years, Janome re-thinks the machine from all angles and comes up with something that is a major leap–and worth considering adding to your studio. The Janome 6600 was such a machine (circa 2004/5), and the new M7 Continental may well go down as one of The Best Sewing Machines Ever (in any brand!), and given the quality of Janome’s machines that is a high standard.

The Janome M7 Continental is a quantum leap in a sewing machine. Even if you aren’t in a market for a new machine, it is worth taking a look at this model. You might have something new on your wish list!

I have been dying to share with you the things I’ve been making, but most of them are Christmas gifts, so I can’t yet. But I made myself the York Pinafore from Helen’s Closet Patterns, so now I can finally tell you about this wonder with the dress as my example.

In my new “Pinafore” (which I would have called a jumper when I was a kid) in front of the Christmas tree. I’m particularly chuffed about how well the M7 and I worked as a team to get those pockets PERFECTLY placed to have the design flow.

When Janome comes out with a new machine, every single time I think “oh, I can’t give up the loaner I have” (I’m beyond fortunate to be a Janome Artisan so I get to try out their brilliant machines year after year), nothing can be better than this one. And then the new one is even better. Every single time they add new features that make me wonder “oh gosh why didn’t I realize that would be so wonderful.” The M7 is even MORE SO….read on!

The first thing I did, after cutting out the pattern, was to make a lining. I knew that using flannel that I intended to wear over leggings meant that the dress would stick like velcro. Fiddlehead Artisan Supply had a fabric I’ve not used before, Bemberg Rayon, for linings. The bolt end says dry clean, but we all know that can be ignored sometimes. I just bought an extra quarter yard to accommodate shrinkage and tossed it in a wash with hot water wash, cold water rinse, and hot dryer so it would do whatever shrinking it planned to do.

Then I cut, pinned, and started sewing. I probably should have used a thinner needle and the walking foot. I didn’t need to! The feed on this machine is so good that I had no issues going from thick flannel to silky thin rayon! Because rayon ravels, I used the quarter inch piecing foot to create a narrow seam that I turned into a French Seam.

A French seam is really a seam inside of another seam that completely encloses the raw edges. It is typically found in high end garments and used on fabrics that ravel.

Once you have sewn the first seam, you press it as stitched to set the seams. It helps the thread sink into the cloth. Then you press the seam *open* which facilitates turning.

Then you fold the seam right along the stitching to create a “knife edge.” The best way to get the line perfectly on the edge is by pressing open (photo above) and then pressing flat. You can see how crisp and clean the edge is.

I used the quarter-inch foot with the edge guide but moved the needle to the left to 3/8″ from the edge to achieve this perfect seam. In this photo you can see the quarter inch encased and perfect stitching. The rayon won’t ravel ever!

Here I’m matching the scraps and the front of the pinafore so I can cut the pocket pieces to exactly match!

Getting the design lined up perfectly to cut a matching piece for the pocket.

Here I’m stitching in the ditch for the opening of the pocket. I decided to outline the entire pocket with binding. I used the M foot and stitch 15 to overcast the edges as I did the gift bag in yesterday’s post. There are many ways to stitch in the ditch, including an edge-stitch foot that is included with most Janome machines, but personally I find I get my best results using the open-toe F-2 which offers the best visibility. I move the needle to the far right, set the right edge of the foot on the bias, and can get absolutely snug up next to the bias trim.

Now THAT is “stitching in the ditch.”

Throughout the process the M7 handled flawlessly–I mean FLAWLESSLY!

I can’t wait to show you more of what it can do.

Janome’s new slogan is Reliability by Design….I stopped to think about it: I have been sewing on Janome machines since 2003 and not once–let me repeat that, NOT ONCE– have I had an issue that was due to the machine. Once or twice due to operator error, but really, the machines have been utterly, totally and completely reliable. And each one gets better.

Lining done and waiting for the dress to be made.

For hemming, I use the same foot and process, just move the stitch to the far left and adjust the needle drop (the Janome’s have so many needle positions you can get it perfect!). Because I have the rayon lining tucked inside the hem of the flannel outside, and because flannel is loosely woven and really quite stretchy, I use a bamboo skewer to press down on the hem. This compresses the hem, keeps it from rolling up, and controls the stretch. I hold the skewer in place and let the fabric feed underneath it–the tip of the skewer never gets up near the needle. The outstanding feed mechanism on the M7 meant I didn’t need to put on the AcuFeed at all… I couldn’t believe how easy it was!
Here’s the inside: all seams contained between the lining and fashion (!) fabric/flannel. I tucked the lining dress inside the flannel dress and basted at the neckline and sleeves. The pattern calls for using bias a narrow facing, but I chose to go quilty and have the grey accent the edges. Then, very carefully because lining is so slippery, I measured the hem and tucked the lining inside (instead of having it hang loose as is more common) and hemmed the dress.
Dress from the back. If you are curious, put York Pinafore in the search box and Pinterest…SO many cute ideas, fabulous on a wide range of body types, and fast to make. I can see using a quilting cotton for a fun summer dress with tank or T underneath, and corduroy for winter.

This new M7 Continental Janome is really something else, and although I am a Janome Artisan and affiliated, I would say all this if I had bought this machine at full retail. I’ll take you through some of the other marvelous things it can do in January and February. In the meantime, another small but marvelous detail: the thread stand has a COLLAPSING antenna.

Here’s the machine again…it’s hard to see in the clutter of my room, but there is a thread antenna on the right rear of the machine.

The thread antenna is telescoping, meaning you can push it down and then cover up your machine with the very good quality included cover! WOOT! PS: It also comes with a great extension table with a drawer in it, but even with its vast size (more on that later), I wanted to set it into my table. I cut rigid foam core to fill in the gaps. The mother of invention!

Christmas Bag tutorial and fine finishing tips

Sunday, December 22nd, 2019
A quick Gift Bag Tutorial–took about half an hour even *with* being fussy! Used leftover flannel, and a trimmed off bit of fabric from a quilt back or edge as the ribbon! Read on….

Sometimes it is possible to whip up a quick something just before Christmas…I’ll have to back-to-back posts (I hope) about sewing for the holidays that include this tutorial on zipping up a quick gift bag and, next, the wonderful York Pinafore pattern from Helen’s Closet patterns.

Last year Shannon Fabrics sent me a number of different fabrics including Cuddle and Luxe, fleece and faux fur type of fabrics. They sent a vast amount of this soft and silky red (available at Fabrics.com). I’m not positive which color way it was, but it was similar to this one. I finally purchased a flannel sheet, queen size, to make a throw that is big enough for two to snuggle or to use as a cover on a twin bed! It is more than a tad wrinkled here because it has been in recent use…it’s winter in Maine! Thank you Shannon Fabrics!

I needed the Queen Sized sheet so it would be long enough for the red Luxe that is so silky soft. That meant I had quite a bit leftover…so I thought I’d make a garment (next post). Once that was made, I still had leftovers so I whipped up two gift bags and thought I’d share it as a tutorial.

Tutorial:

  1. Cut two rectangles of fabric or one very wide rectangle. Place right sides together.
  2. Clean finish edges. You can use an overcast stitch as I did (photo below) or use a french seam (google it, or I’ll do a tutorial eventually of some basic things every sewist should know). Using the Janome’s “M” overcast foot gave results as good as a serger.
Janome America sent me the amazing new M7 Continental sewing machine (several blogposts in the new year…phenomenal machine!). I used the zigzag overcast stitch and the M foot which comes with the machine to clean finish the edges of the bag.

3. Sew a simple straight seam just inside the overcast edges. Sometimes the contents of gift bags can be heavy, and especially with soft and stretchy flannel, I felt a little extra stitching was a Good Thing.

I’d never used the Lock-a-Matic stitch before because I learned to sew when we were lucky to have a simple zigzag on a machine and not all the bells and whistles.
Janome has designed the AcuSpark software. In the previous photo that QR code I pointed out: use your phone to scan and it will pull up a screen with helpful information. Here, I’ve got the one for the Lock-a-Matic Stitch!

Having started sewing when dinosaurs roamed the earth and you were lucky if your machine did anything besides a straight stitch forward and back, I am so used to just doing the lockstitch or backstitch myself that I likely will keep doing that, but this stitch automatically does a securing backstitch at the start of a seam and, when you press the back arrow, at the end. I had been concerned that it might sew a lockstitch when you pause in the middle of a long seam to re-position your hands, but it doesn’t, which is good!

4. Turn your bag right side out.

Once your seams are finished, turn the bag right side out. I like to fold the corners so that both seam allowances are to one side. My hand is inside and I’m pinching the corner together. Then keeping hold of the seam allowances, turn.

Pretty good corner, and I haven’t even eased it out yet!

5. At the ironing board, use a point turner to coax the corners out to perfect.

I have several point turners. This is one I bought just this year. Make by Clover, it is beautifully smooth, and has a Hera Marker (sharp edge for marking lines on cloth) on the other end. It is longer than most point turners, curved to fit the hand nicely, and I like it better than any others I have tried.

Lookit how perfect that corner is! Square as can be! I created this method for corners when doing custom home dec work for an interior designer. Some of the upholstery fabrics were so thick that I was afraid if I clipped the corner, the old school way to deal with bulk, the fabric would unravel and ruin the project, and the fabric was crazy expensive. This is secure and gets even better results.

6. Hem the open end. The interior designer I worked for taught me about using poster board (or tag board or an old manila folder) to make templates for turning hems. When making curtains, the extra weight of a doubled hem helped them hang well. I called it the turn-turn hem, since you turn up two full hem-depths.

This is the first turn. I’m showing the poster board 1″ wide strip I have used –I am not exaggerating same piece of paper– for over 17 years. Place your fabric right side down on the ironing surface. Fold the hem up over the poster board, lightly snugging the board into the fold with your fingers. Press. Steam is fine–use it all the time and the poster board is still in great shape. You can also use the Dritz EzyHem tool, available everywhere. The metal is nice because it gets hot which helps set the crease, but it is short, maybe 6-7 inches. The poster board is fabulous for things like curtains and custom sheets because you can get a really long run done all at once without wobbles.
Then you turn the hem up again. Usually I keep the poster board inside the first turn and just roll it up, but for photo purposes I wanted to show you that it is the same idea.

7. Press your seams to one side. Using a seam roll –in this case a piece of cheap stair handle from the big box DIY store. Dressmaking suppliers sell beautiful hardwood (maple usually) seam rolls for Lotsa Bucks. This pine stair rail handle was a few dollars for 24 inches. Sits flat on the ironing surface and does the trick.

You can see the flat end of the stair-rail-as-pressing-dowel. I’ve got the seam centered on the top and have pressed the first part of it. This set up is perfect when you don’t want the edges of the seam allowance to show through to the front of your fabric.

8. Give your bag a final press, tuck the goodies inside, and tie shut. I think, having found that strip of green, that instead of buying ribbon I might “make” some from leftover bias bindings (unfinished on the edges) or making some straps (turn seam allowances under, sew folded edges together) to use as ties for future years. Here’s that original photo again:

Someone has a special surprise inside!

Lamps, Before and After

Friday, August 30th, 2019
From old to fabulous! Look what a little spray paint, thermofax screens and textile paint, linen and ingenuity can do! Yes, those are the SAME fixtures!

The sconces in our house have made me crazy for years. The shades were made to fit on the old rounded incandescent bulbs…the ones you can’t find any more. The wires didn’t fit well on any of the smaller bulbs that suited the size of the shades and the fixtures–they were always tilting and crooked. And the “old West” look was SO not me! It was Candy Glendenning of Candied Fabrics who got me on the right track. Last year, Candy posted some lamps and shades she made using her wonderful indigo shibori fabric and blogged about them here and here. So I plotted and thought about it. I knew I wanted white, green paint mixed to my favorite shade, my own thermofax screens, and NOT black.

Here are the final shades, then I’ll share the process:

Left to right: Queen Anne’s Lace, Birches, Grasses, and Milkweed

First thing I needed to do was see if I could spray paint the fixtures. Before we moved into the house, one had been damaged and removed (but kept in the basement). I bought some Rustoleum in Satin Nickel and it worked! I didn’t even have to sand!

I was delighted at how good the fixtures looked as Not Black. Once they were on the ground, I also realized I could turn the fixtures upside down and that fluted frill on the bottom looked sort of like a Japanese temple roof line. Sort of. But at least better than as a candle holder!

I had planned on using a cotton-linen blend for the shades, but when I went to Fiddlehead Artisan Supply (quilt and art shop to die for and only a half hour away!) they were temporarily out of the blend, so I bought some coarser weave pure linen to try. Then I started searching out stuff to make new shades, starting with Candy’s source, I Like That Lamp website. I ordered the styrene–the rigid stuff to which you adhere the fabric–and glue from that site, but her rings only go down to 8″, and I wanted a 6″ for my sconces in the hallways. I found some 6″ size here, on Etsy.

Next, I needed to see how the linen would print. Using my existing printing board, the prints were blobby–the surface had too much squish in it for the somewhat more open weave of the linen (as compared to quilting cottons). So I made a new printing board with less padding, and learned that using paper towels under the linen did not affect the quality of the print and prevented less of the ink from soaking in to my new board.

Mess-making in process. I used ProChemical and Dye Opaque and Transparent textile paints. I sell some sets in my store (just scroll down) plus you can buy larger quantities and more colors directly from ProChem.
The screen/design for grasses is new and I can tell I will use it often. I cut my linen into lengths from selvage to selvage, then marked how long I needed with a pin. If I goofed, I could keep printing and avoid an oops spot.
The Milkweed thermofax screens used in the upper left piece I had already made, but the others are new. All are drawn, not a manipulated photo (which is another process I use). So far I am only selling the milkweed screens (here), but if anyone is interested in the others let me know.
At least in my universe, printing always involves an oops and some “letting it go”, but I did end up re-doing the grasses because I had printed them too high on the strip–the bottom of the blades of grass needed to be at the bottom edge of the lamp. I also made some real mistakes on the Queen Anne’s lace, so re-did them, too. But I will use the not-bad parts of those for something else!
I Like That Lamp website has some excellent tutorials. Instead of using binder clips, I used Wonder Clips the same way and they worked beautifully. I did have some fuss and bother getting the glue to hold as I wrapped the edges around the wire rings, probably because the glue oozed out between the weave. However, once set, you’d never know. They look well done if I do say so myself.
Because my fixtures are OLD, and I didn’t want to have them as candles with the ring sliding down around the tube to rest on the metal, I needed to get creative with how I would suspend the shades. Wire!
It’s not the prettiest solution, but it works. And it doesn’t show, best of all. Because the wire fitter is recessed down below the top of the shade, the wires that hold the shade to the fixture are hidden (unless you are really, really tall). Those tails were wrapped around the spider-legs of the ring.
The Queen Anne’s Lace is in our bedroom.
The birch trees are in the back part of the hallway, in the “Rogue’s Gallery” (aka family photo wall)
The milkweed is in the front portion of the hallway, with Eli’s middle school art project underneath and a pour painting by my friend Deidre Murphy on the right.
The simplest is perhaps my favorite and is the sconce we see from the living room, the waving grasses. When we first moved into the house there were shrubs that grew up and blocked the view out the windows at the far end–not great. But in the afternoon light they cast lovely shadows on that wall, which inspired me to make this shade.

Some good news: in August 2020 I will be teaching a 3-day surface design workshop at ProChemical and Dye in Fall River, Mass. (about an hour or 90 minutes south of Boston, minutes from Rhode Island) and we will cover the thermofax and paint technique.

The whole thing worked SO WELL that I am thinking I would like to make a set of seasonal shades for the floor lamp in the living room…one for Christmas/Winter, another for Spring, Summer and Autumn. I need to do some patterning as this lamp looks best with an angled shade, not a drum shade, and they are harder to make. I need to learn if I can do it with standard 44″ wide fabric given the flare on the shade. Stay tuned for more house fix-ups! Hope you’ve enjoyed this detour from the usual art quilts and family life.

Easy-Peasy Inside-Out Bag class at Quilt Festival Houston 2019

Monday, July 22nd, 2019
Like potato chips, you can’t stop at just one! Learn to make these FAST, easy and FUN bags on Thursday afternoon at International Quilt Festival! I’ll show you how to adapt the concept into card cases (fast gifts!), tablet cases, sketchbook covers, you name it!

Come play with me on Thursday at International Quilt Festival…Easy Peasy Inside Out Bags, class 491, is in the afternoon, total play, and you’ll become addicted to making them. So far I’ve had every. single. student. nearly finish or finish a bag in the three hours including the quilting and zipper! Once you grasp the concept in the class, you can go home and make an iPad (or Kindle, nook, etc) case, a notebook cover, you name it. Here’s a link to registration and Thursday classes: http:// http://www.quilts.com/quilt-festival-houston-classes-and-events-thursday.html

Here’s the class listing. The Supply list is on my Classes page, here.
A whole buncha bags and a card case. Make them out of coated fabric for a make up bag (I use mine for cash when teaching…money literally stinks!) Make them any size, proportions, colors, embellish!

AFTER you get home, you can have fun spreading your wings and seeing how to adapt the pattern as I did with my notebook cover:

Opened up. With ribbon trim, zipper, couched perle cotton.
And inside! Love my pen pockets. Love that it zips all the way around and I don’t LOSE my pens!

If you’ve got questions, PLEASE DO WRITE to me…just use the contact button! Full class descriptions for all the classes listed below along with Supply lists are on my Class page. Here’s the list of all the classes I’ll be teaching…hope to see you there: