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Archive for the ‘Tutorials’ Category

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!

Free and quick Shannon Cuddle Fleece Hat pattern!

Saturday, December 1st, 2018

Hi everyone…is anyone else madly trying to figure out what to do for Christmas gifts?  Here’s a FREE pattern by me, with major thanks to Shannon Fabrics for the Cuddle fleece.  Literally you can make a couple of these in an hour or so–give yourself three hours and a yard and you can make half a dozen in production-line mode!

How many selfies do you need to take to eliminate many chins or no chin? LOL! I love my soft hat!

And here is what the hat looks like, flat:

Two hats…I mean I used up EVERY LAST BIT of scraps! One hat for me, one to send to Shannon for them to use as they wish!

Here’s the pattern in PDF form…and typed out below:

Shannon Fabrics Cuddle Hat in an Hour

You’ll need:

¼ yard (about 8 ½ lengthwise grain by 22-23 inches) fleece for main fabric

5” by 22-23 inches for contrast

Scraps or yarn for hat tassels

How to:

  •  Measure your head around the forehead:  ______ + 1 “ =  ________  cutting width

Tip: In my case, my head measures 22 ½”.  I found that I wanted my hat to be snug so it would stay on in the wind, so I used a larger seam allowance.  My hat **finishes** at 21 ½” or one inch smaller than my head circumference. Depending on what you find comfortable, you may find that a cutting width exactly the same as your head circumference is just perfect.   

  • Cut main body fleece 8 ½” high by cutting width.  Make certain that the lengthwise (not-stretchy) grainline runs vertically and that the stretchy cross-grain is what goes around your head!
  • Cut hat band fleece 4 ½” by cutting width (if folding under) or 3 ½” by cutting width (if using raw edge).

Option:  vary the width of your band depending on how warm you want it to be and the pattern (if any) of your fleece.  My main fabric is not fuzzy on the inside and I wanted soft, so I have 1 ¼” of the red checked fleece on the inside and about  1” folded under on the outside edge so that there are two layers of fleece to keep my ears warm on a windy winter’s day.

  • Pin seam and test the fit: now is the time make adjustments to snug it up if needed.
  • Sew seams on hat body and hat band using a narrow zigzag, about 1.0 width and 3.0 length.
  • Pin the seams open.
  • Place the hat band and hat body WRONG sides together, matching the seams and overlapping about ½”. Stitch with a serpentine (wavy multi-stitch), 3-step zigzag or narrow zigzag to secure each raw edge.  You will sew two lines of stitching, one on each side of the overlap.
  • Because the fleece is thick, and because I wanted the soft part next to my forehead, I didn’t use a typical garment seam. Instead, I overlapped the two fabrics, wrong sides together, and sewed them with a serpentine stitch. I did this twice, on either side, so I would catch both edges of the overlap.

Sewing the other side of the band

I then turned the plaid to the outside and brought it up above the seam that joins the top of the hat to the “cuff.”

  • Turn the hat band to the outside of the hat body and turn up.  If you are making a thicker band, turn under about an inch; if you are not making a thicker band, simply fold up.  Pin the edge in place; carefully put on the hat.  If you want a narrower contrasting band, now is the time to trim or fold under more.
  • Sew the top edge of the contrasting band using the serpentine  / 3-step zigzag / narrow zigzag stitch.

Optional:  make some tassels. I used a 1” strip of fleece from the selvedge (leftover from another project) and folded it in half wrong-sides together and sewed with the serpentine stitch.  Cut into 9-11” (or thereabouts) lengths.  I opted for four strips which I then folded in half. 

  • Turn the hat inside out. Centering the seamline in the center back, pin right sides together.
  • If using tassels, tuck them into the seam at the corners so that the folded edge is even with the raw edge of the seam.  I placed two at each corner.
  • Sew the seam using a narrow zigzag.

Tip:  sew from the center to the outside edge, pivot at the end and sew back to the center about ½.”  Repeat from the center to the other end.  This is easier than sewing all the way across beginning at the bulky outside edge.

  • Turn right side out and wear with joy!

 

 

 

 

An Apple for your favorite teacher

Thursday, August 30th, 2018

Recently made up a VERY quick and easy project for Janome America which is free for you to use… a felt apple pin for your favorite teacher.   Of course you could also make it in woven cloth, a lovely wool, anything you like, but a wool felt is fast, Fast, FAST…and fun!

 

A quick and easy project by Sarah Ann Smith for Janome America ©2018

I used leftover bits of felt–you could use black for the backing instead of the oatmeal felt I had, anything you want!  Including drafting the apple and sewing on the pin backing I think this took all of an hour to make.

The blanket/buttonhole appliqué stitch on my Janome 9400 make this quick and easy.

To find full instructions with more pictures, details and tips, visit the Janome blogpost for this project, here.

Thanks as always to Janome America for their support.  I’ve sewn on Janome machines for 15 years now, and they are the best.  Currently I’m using the 9400 and it is my dream machine!

 

An app to practice color with your camera (on your phone!)

Sunday, July 22nd, 2018

My Quilting Arts Article, August-September 2018, on using your camera–in the case of this article, the one on my PHONE…nothing fancy!

Hi everyone!   The answer is yes, people ARE reading my article in Quilting Arts.  The even better news is that a few have contacted me because they had trouble finding the Pantone app (both Apple and Android).  Luckily I have been able to help; UPDATE:  I added some “how to” at the end of this post with step by step instructions on saving/exporting the palette. I use the PANTONE Studio app, which looks like this (purple is the color of the year, it was a different color last year):

PANTONE Studio app as it displays on my phone — I use just the “Images” function. My app was free, but there are in-app purchases that I haven’t tried.

Apparently in the time between writing the article and the publication date of the issue, the color selection app from Pantone has changed/changed how it pops up in the App Store.   Sigh.   So here’s what I know as of July 22nd, 2018:
PANTONE Studio is the app that is on my iPhone, and it definitely still works. There are in-app purchase options, but I only use the Images part of it to play around.  For iPhone users, if using just “Pantone” in the search box doesn’t bring it up, try “PANTONE Studio.”  That worked on my phone and for one inquirer.  She said:

“Thank you for responding, I was getting no appropriate listing on either my iPad or iPhone. Once you sent the correct title, I did a Google search and was able to download the app through their web site. I am anxious to try it. Interestingly, doing a “Pantone” search in the App Store today still doesn’t list Pantone Studio on either device. I don’t know why this is happening here, but you may want to just tuck that info away if any of your students are having a similar problem.  Thank you, Marsha”

Thank you! Marsha–you’re just helped a bunch of people by asking and sharing that info!
Another inquirer yesterday was having issues finding the app for her Android device.  After sharing the above with her, she wrote:
Found it in Google Play (Android). It’s called myPantone but is not published by Pantone itself. It does cost $7.99 and you have to download another app Color True (free) but I am having so much fun. Thanks.
Update September 16:  Found it in the Apple App store under PANTONE Studio:

Screen shot from my phone on 9/16/18 showing the app available.

Picking colors on the app: you get to move the dots around to generate a palette. It is fun to watch the colors change, and how the phone “averages” the pixels under the dot to create a color.  And yes, this was done months ago when I was writing the article.

Once you have selected the colors, you can generate a palette and then export it to your photos album/folder.

The bottom line:  I expect there are various “color picker” apps out there.  Try what you can find–you don’t necessarily need to have exact Pantone colors with color codes for the purpose here.

MOST IMPORTANT:  trust your eye!   You will learn and grasp color more quickly than you realize.  When in doubt, go with what your eye and instinct/gut tell you.  The artwork you produce is YOUR artwork, not that of the app designers.  And HAVE FUN!

UPDATE:  Thanks to an inquiry from Janice N., I’m adding this info:

Question:  Downloaded the app. Am I correct that there is no way to access photos from the phone and no way to save the photo with the color analysis.

Answer: Yes, you can access your own photos and then you can export it to your photo album.  Open the app.  Click on images.  Up at the very top, in the white bar, if you tap that it will give you a drop-down menu.  Mine says “Recently Added,” but I can click that and it allows me to choose from FB, Pinterest, Instagram, etc., All  Photos, Favorites, etc.  Just tap whatever one you want, and then choose a photo from that.

Once you have selected your colors/moved the dots around, there is an export icon at the top…looks like a box with an arrow pointing up.  Tap that.  A new menu appears.  You can save it as a Palette or Share.  A window then appears that says “Select Item to Share.”  Click the circle/dot (in my case in the lower right).  Then click Share on the bottom.  An iOS menu pops up that allows you to save it to iCloud Photo Sharing, Save the images, Save to Files, AirDrop to your computer or whatever.  Tap whichever one you want and presto!   I share my PicStitch collages to Instagram often (more on that app in a few days). 

HTH…if not clear, ask again.  I may add this to the blogpost…is your question and my reply ok to share with you?

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Photoshop–Finding the Stamp Tool, Thermofax screens

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

WAHOOOO!   I’ve discovered something almost as cool as the holy grail!  At least if you want to make thermofax screens…..and yes, you may liberally share the link to this blogpost so that others may learn and play with paint.

If you want to find out how to do this the easy way, keep reading!

So I was on a quest for my next project:  creating thermofax screens using my new (to me) thermofax machine.  I remembered a tool I loved in Photoshop Elements (PSE), but it wasn’t in Photoshop (PS–full thing).  How could that be?  So I opened up my 2010 PSE software and discovered the tools I liked were called Stamp and Photocopy, in Sketches under Filters.   So I googled around to find out how to create actions in full PS to do what those tools did.  Turned out I didn’t need to–Adobe included those tools but then HID THEM.   So here is how to find and use these awesome tools.

Note:  I realize this will sound like gibberish unless you are into PSE or PS….if you aren’t, just skip!  But this is SO AWESOMELY COOL AND USEFUL for those of us who want to make Thermofax screens and use Photoshop! So if you are interested, read on!

First, you need to install all of the Filters in the Filter Gallery.  Yeah right.  Not as hard as it sounds.  Under Photoshop, find and click on Preferences.

First you need to find Plug-Ins and load the Sketching filters.

That will cause a pop-out to appear; look for and click on Plug-Ins:

The flip-out widow reveals Plug-Ins. Click on it.

When you click on Plug Ins this window opens up.  Check the box to show ALL Filter Gallery Groups and names.  Sheesh….why was this not the default?????

This window will pop up. The box at the bottom of the arrow will be blank. WHY Adobe? WHY? Check it and the wonder and joy of more filters will appear in your PS workspace.

Here’s a colorful photo I use in my Quilting the Garden workshops.  NOTICE the COLORS in the Foreground and Background boxes on the bottom left corner.

Let’s pretend I want to convert this image to black and white to create a Thermofax screen.  Take note of the little Foreground/Background boxes at the bottom left.  They are important.

Boxes are important!   The next step is to USE the Stamp tool.  Look across the top of your PS window.  Click on Filter, then Sketch, then Stamp.

To use the Stamp tool, go to Filters (on the menu across the top), select Sketch, Then Stamp (see arrow).

When you click on Stamp, the following window opens.  But I ended up with Grey and Black.  WHY?  It used to be black and WHITE, right?  So what was I messing up?

This was not what I had in mind. Then I had a lightbulb moment (who me? I know, rare, but it does happen sometimes). Remember those BOXES?

YEP…..the Foreground color, due to something I’d done not so long ago, was dark grey, not white.  Aha!  A glimmer of light (pun totally intended).  Groan.  Remember, Boxes are Important!  I switched the foreground color from dark gray (above) to WHITE.  And lookit what I got!

Drum roll……stamp is once again black and white!  Notice the arrows on the right:  use the sliders or the number boxes to adjust the level of black/white and the degree of detail.  Now isn’t it a whole lot easier to get to this point in a hurry, THEN fine tune with the eraser tool to clear out extraneous yuck?

Those arrows on the right point to fun things to play with to adjust the amount of black, white, detail, etc.  But the realization that the foreground/background colors could make a mess make me think….hmmmm……COLOR!  What would happen if….

BUT, one more tidbit about what you see in the window.  The one below looks like a lot of nothin’, right?  That’s because is it at 100 percent, which doesn’t fit.

Then I realized I could play with COLOR. When you open this window, however, it opens at 100 percent. I prefer the “Fit In View” option, so check out the arrow once again.

If you click on the little down arrow to the right of 100%, you can switch it to Fit In View or whatever you like to use.  For my pea-brain, it’s a whole lot easier to figure out what I’m doing when I can see the entire picture, like this:

Then you can create a really bizarre two-tone hot pink and green image. Just what you always wanted, right? Not! But you can see the potential, right?

Let’s just say I am ridiculously happy.   I asked for help on FB today and got it…THANK YOU Lynn Krawczyk, Lyric Kinard and Leslie Tucker Jenison among others.   Then I — having learned this lesson before — googled around for online information, including the forum at Adobe, which is where I found the clue that the Sketch filters WERE in full PS.   But I didn’t know the terminology (like where to find the Line tool to create an arrow to illustrate these screen shots), so YouTube search box to the rescue.

SQUEEEEE!     I don’t need to use my antique PSE, I can use full PS and not have to move between the two, AND (best of all) I have my easy-peasy Stamp tool back!   Time to CELEBRATE!  Lynn, I may just have to fling some paint!  And now that I have written this up to share ASAP in thanks, I am going to celebrate, perhaps with chocolate! Or maybe Talenti.  Or some culinary Venn diagram that involves the intersection of Talenti, banana and chocolate.  SQUEEE!

And a PS, thanks Whiskers for asking the questions:  Hi Whiskers!  Yes, I will do a blogpost eventually on thermofax screens.   Not sure when, so the quick response is the Thermofax machine is the predecessor to today’s photocopier.  They were used in the 50s/60s in the office to copy stuff.  They are no longer made (consequently they cost a fortune, it has taken me a decade to save up and make the purchase, $1350! If you buy one be sure you get one that works with the mesh, not just the purple ditto masters!)…but folks have figured out if you use an image with carbon in the ink (laser printer, some inkjet printers, carbon ink, lead pencil) and you run it through the machine with a plastic-backed mesh, the plastic melts where there is carbon.  When you separate the two sheets (paper and plastic mesh) you end up with a screen.  Tape up the edges, then push the paint through.  I actually just taped a segment for Quilting Arts TV on this!