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Plaid Top Tutorial: Lesson 9-hems, a bonus scarf and wrap-up

Friday, March 17th, 2023

Hard to believe the ninth and final lesson is here already!  Thank you for following along.  Links to all nine of the posts in this series are now listed at the bottom of each lesson and on my Resources page!  If you remember this down the line, the fastest way to find it is put “Plaid” in the search box at right on the blog OR look for a link to the Plaid Top Tutorials on my Resources page, here.

To recap, we have:

Please note:  I am affiliated with Janome as a Janome Artisan and am compensated.  However, my reviews are honest and I would say what I say whether affiliated or not.  I’ve also chosen to be affiliated with Janome since 2003 (!!!) because their machines are so good and they are so responsive to the interests and needs of their customers.

Hems!  We are nearing the finish!  For the side seams, I opted to use a flat felled seam on the body, but on the arms instead I sewed the seam, press toward the back and use the overcast edge from Lesson 4.  That means that when you fold the hem up, turn under the raw edge, you would have 3 thicknesses (outside plus two seams) times THREE all stacked up in a big wad.  Ick!  So you can, carefully, clip the seam allowance where the hem folds up and press the seam allowance on the turned-up hem portion the other way to distribute the bulk.

My thread matches so well it is challenging to see, but on the bottom the seam allowance is to the left of the seam and above the bottom edge/fold, the seam allowance is to the right of the seam. The arrow shows where I clipped the seam.  You will also need to finish the raw edge in some way–overcast, Hong Kong finish, hem tape, of just press under 1/4″ (for the quilters, think “like an appliqué”) as I did here.

If you have a free-arm sewing machine, you can choose to remove the extension table and run the sleeve or pants leg around the free-arm.  With a narrow sleeve or a child’s garment, though, that is tricky if not impossible. The old-school way is just as easy and works on everything:  you sew “inside the circle.”  That means just what it says.  You can turn the sleeve inside out and sew on the outside of the garment (if using a twin needle to get parallel stitching lines you’d do this) or, as I have done here, sew the hem on the inside.  I chose that option so I could keep my stitching on the hem (!) and at a consistent distance from the folded hem edge.

I use my various presser feet in many different ways.  The F2 is designed for appliqué and satin stitch, but with the bazillion needle positions and good visibility I use it for many other things. I like to place the folded edge of the hem just to the right of the left arm of the foot, which then acts as a seam guide.  I’ll position the needle so it drops into the hem about 1/8″ to the right.  Then just sew all the way around, overlapping by about 4 stitches.  You can knot and bury the threads or just trim the tails and live dangerously LOL! 

Maybe I shoulda bought a lottery ticket that day…


As luck would have it, I was able to lay out the pattern in a way that left me with a long strip about 12 inches wide.  Because I like the fringed selvage (the edge with the white line), I left that side as it was.  On the other side I straight-stitched a line 1/4″ from the long cut edge using a short stitch length.  Then I unraveled the lengthwise threads up to the straight stitch (which prevents it from unravelling further). I use a pin to tease the threads out and remove.

Then I overlapped the ends and ran two lines of stitching from edge to edge.  Sometimes an infinity scarf looks lovely if you put one twist in it lengthwise, but with the thickness of the flannel, I just kept mine flat. Then I fringed the edges of the seam, also.

Above you can see the overlapped seam and the side of the scarf with the nearly invisible “stop it from fraying more” line stitching. After washing, this frayed bit is likely to curl bit, but I’m fine with that.

And there you have it!  I hope you’ve enjoyed this series of lessons that can be applied to virtually any garment and many home dec projects.   Let me know what you’d like to learn and see here on the blog.  Cheers and thanks, Sarah

Lesson 1:   Choosing a Pattern and Starting Tips

Lesson 2:   Making a Muslin, Fitting and Sleeves

Lesson 3:   Matching Plaids, Cutting out Your Garment Pieces

Lesson 4:  Overcast Seams, just like Serged Seams

Lesson 5:   French Seams

Lesson 6:  Lapped and Flat-felled Seams

Lesson 7:  Hong Kong Finish for Seams

Lesson 8:  Lined Patch Pocket Tutorial

Lesson 9:  Hems and Scarf


Plaid Top Tutorial: Lesson 7-Hong Kong Finish Seams

Friday, March 10th, 2023

Hong Kong seams are a thing of beauty–a little extra work but a secret delight!  So even though I didn’t use them in this plaid top, I’m including them with all the seam lessons in this series of technique posts.  I did use them on both my Simplicity S8883  top, full blogpost here, and the Brumby Skirt.   I also used this finish on a jacket I made for my daughter-in-law some years ago that I swear I wish she could wear inside out LOL!

That lime green on the shoulder and princess seams is a Hong Kong finish.

And the Brumby Skirt from Megan Nielsen, inside out! Same lime green (I bought several yards of it, a cotton lawn) for Hong Kong finishes. Such a pretty Pop!

Please note:  I am affiliated with Janome as a Janome Artisan and am compensated.  However, my reviews are honest and I would say what I say whether affiliated or not.  I’ve also chosen to be affiliated with Janome since 2003 (!!!) because their machines are so good and they are so responsive to the interests and needs of their customers.




And here is one of my all time favorite in my life insides of a garment, the jacket for Ashley:

Top left:  front.  Bottom left, back.  Right side:  all those beautifully finished seams.  I had gone looking for a lightweight fabric and found the print and thought Oh YES!  This is a heavily modified pattern…changed it from hip length single breasted to double breasted jacket, Peter Pan collar changed to roll collar, added vents at the bottom rear, a box pleat for movement / ease in the center back…you get the picture.

But aren’t these seams pretty?????   So here is how you do it.  This process is VERY similar to putting a binding on a quilt for those of you who know how to do that, except that the back side–the one between the seam allowance and the body of the garment, is a raw edge and is not turned under.  This minimizes bulk. Because it is cut on the bias it doesn’t pose a fraying problem!

    1. We will assume a 5/8″ seam allowance.

    2. To cover 1/4″ on the side of the seam allowance that you see, you will cut a strip on the bias that is about 1″ wide.

    3.  Choose a very lightweight fabric that is not bulky.  Cotton lawn is an excellent choice — it is significantly lighter in weight than quilting cottons, handles well, and is soft against the skin.  You can choose to match colors or, as I did, pick something zingy and pretty! You could also use a super soft jersey knit, and decades ago they used to sell nylon tricot (ick!  felt like plastic) in strips for just this purpose. For garments that won’t be laundered you could also use a fine silk. ***Be sure to pre-shrink / pre-wash any fabric just as you did with your main garment fabric.  You don’t want it to shrink after you’ve completed the garment and have it distort things.

4. Sew the bias to the seam allowance with a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Be careful not to stretch the bias strip.  Trim the ends even with the end of the seam.  If part of the seam will be covered by a hem, and therefore enclosed, you only need to extend the finish to the point where the bottom 1/4 – 1/2 inch will be covered.

5. Press the bias away from the seam.

6. Gently fold the bias around the seam allowance so it snugs up against the raw edge.  Pin or glue-stick in place.

7. Stitch in the ditch with a thread to match the fashion fabric to secure the finish.  If you have cut your strips at 1″, about a scant 1/4″ will extend from the ditch-stitching towards the seam.  You can leave it or trim it down to 1/8″.

8. Press, and stand back and enjoy the beauty.

The first lesson / project for Garment Maker’s Question Time is a shift dress (with or without a waistline seam), something that I would Never, EVER wear.  And I already knew how to do an invisible zipper.  So I bought a pattern for a fitted dress with a waist seam, center back zip and very short sleeves.  I did the muslin / toile (the fitting garment where you figure out your needed alterations) as a dress, then totally hacked the dress into a square (not rounded) neck, longer sleeves, moved the waistline up to empire height, eliminated the center back seam since I could get into the top without a zip because of my modifications, and converted gathers into pleats.  I LOVE this linen (from linens, I used the IL-19 Softened in Beet) and found the perfect Kaffe Fassett shot cotton plaid (heavier than lawn but lighter than quilting cotton) to be the Hong Kong Finishes.  I like it so much I may use the leftover linen and find some more of the plaid and make a tank with the plaid visible!

Here’s a collage of the construction process.  Apparently I posted about this on social media (circa February 2021) but never did blog about it! oooops.  I am sure I also put it in my newsletter–if you’d like to receive the monthly newsletter, sign up at the bottom of every page or in the right sidebar on my blog!

Here’s another collage that shows the Brumby skirt (I SO want to make one in denim like the pattern, but at a length suitable to my age and legs!), the inside and the pattern cover.  AND, just this week I bought the denim–100 percent cotton denim no less.  Now, to finish Eli’s quilt so I can get some garment making done!

Last but not least, here’s the right side of the Simplicity S8883 top.  You can’t see that it has princess seams–this is one of the patterns that actually has cup sizes built into the pattern—wonderful!  It is made from a Rifle Paper Co. print (a quilting cotton) and I just love wearing it!

So that’s a wrap up and samples of Hong Kong finish.  I think I will do my denim Brumby with this finish…stay tuned!

Here are the links to all the posts in this series of lessons, techniques that can be applied to virtually any garment and many home dec projects.   Let me know what you’d like to learn and see here on the blog.  Cheers and thanks, Sarah

Lesson 1:   Choosing a Pattern and Starting Tips

Lesson 2:   Making a Muslin, Fitting and Sleeves

Lesson 3:   Matching Plaids, Cutting out Your Garment Pieces

Lesson 4:  Overcast Seams, just like Serged Seams

Lesson 5:   French Seams

Lesson 6:  Lapped and Flat-felled Seams

Lesson 7:  Hong Kong Finish for Seams

Lesson 8:  Lined Patch Pocket Tutorial

Lesson 9:  Hems and Scarf

Plaid Top Tutorial: Lesson 4- Overcast Seams, just like Serged Seams

Tuesday, February 28th, 2023

Nothing beats a beautifully finished garment, one that is so pretty on the inside that you enjoy it every time you put it on.  Though you might be tempted to wear it inside out it’s so pretty, it remains a secret just for you!  Top technique for a beautiful inside is using a seam finish to hide the raw edges.  Not only does it look nice, it also protects the edges of the fabric, prevents fraying, can improve the way the seam functions, and contributes to a garment that will last longer.  After all, you’ve spent money and, more dearly, time creating so enjoy it longer!

Please note:  I am affiliated with Janome as a Janome Artisan and am compensated.  However, my reviews are honest and I would say what I say whether affiliated or not.  I’ve also chosen to be affiliated with Janome since 2003 (!!!) because their machines are so good and they are so responsive to the interests and needs of their customers.

The next several lessons/posts will be about all these seam finishes. We’ll start today with the fastest and simplest, the overcast seam.

There are many ways to finish seams.  Today I’ll review one of four methods and suggest why you might choose one over the other. I’ll do the other finishes in subsequent posts so this doesn’t get too long!

  1. Serged or overcast edges
  2. French seams
  3. Flat-felled or lapped seams
  4. Hong Kong finish seams


The first seam finish we’ll talk about is perhaps the most well known because it is fast and is used on the majority of commercially made garments:  serged seams.  These are made with a serger machine, which you might not own.  But if you have even a very basic sewing machine (more than straight-stitch-only), you will likely have at least one utility stitch that is called an overcast stitch.  On my machine, here are some of the choices:

My Janome M7 Continental has a wealth of stitch choices, but even the most basic machines have stitches similar to 13, 14 and 15 (and see next photo for more choices).  I particularly like stitch 15 which has an extra narrow zigzag on the raw edge.  You can see that you can (within a range) adjust length and width. At the top right of the white portion of the screen, the machine tells you which presser foot to use, and the bottom right of the yellow portion has a QR code you can scan with Janome’s exclusive AcuSPARK app (free in the app store for your device) which works with select higher end Janomes.

This screen, the next one in the sequence on my Janome M7, has additional overcast and hem stitches.

If you want help understanding when and how to use a given stitch, open the AcuSpark app and scan the QR code.  It then opens up a screen in the app with all sorts of nifty information on how to use the stitch. Below, I’ve opened the app to the Scan tool and took screen shots of these four overcast or overlock stitches.

There is also a tab to look at various options, on left side of photo below and, on the right, the stitch I like.


And let’s look at what a difference using the correct presser foot makes!  Be sure to watch the video at the end of the post to see this foot in action!

The small sample, lower left, shows using the overcast stitch with the regular presser foot. Messy! The larger sample shows overcasting each side of the seam with the “M” foot,  with the seam pressed open at the top AND overcasting both sides together and pressing to one side on the bottom.

Most machines that offer these stitches also come with (or you can buy separately depending on brand and model); buy one made by the company that made your machine for best results) a foot that has a wire on the right.  This allows the stitch to form properly and not pull or curl the edge; those distorted edges aren’t as comfortable! On the Janome, it is the “M” foot.  Look at the difference between the samples above.

Check the feel of the seam on a scrap.  Adding too much thread can make a seam stiff and uncomfortable.  If you have/can find a lighter weight thread, that finer thread will make the seam softer, as will using a longer stitch length IF your machine allows any adjustments to stitch width and length.  If so, and your fabric ravels a lot, you may choose to use a wider stitch setting to better encase the tendency to ravel and wiggle.

USAGE:  pretty much any seam, especially where seams intersect and you’d end up with a lot of bulk.

When I was doing custom home dec sewing for an interior designer, I also used a serger (but you can use the overcast stitches) to secure each cut piece of fabric before constructing the pillows, duvets, curtains, bedskirts, seat cushions and such. Upholstery fabric is VERY ravelly, and expensive, so I secured the edges immediately after cutting and before assembly to prevent an expensive disaster.

Cons:  not the classiest finish, but fast and functional.

Here’s a video!


On the Plaid top I used serged together seam allowances for both the underarm and sleeve-to-body seams.  This choice is especially useful where the sleeve joins the body because it stiffens the seam just a bit.  When you press the seam towards the sleeve it actually helps support the top of the sleeve itself and helps it to hang well on the body.

Inside of the Plaid top: I used the overcast-both-seam-allowances-together method.

Another nice touch is to edgestitch the seam.  Last summer I asked Philippa Naylor in GMQT (see previous post for additional discussion of GMQT) about how best to handle a side seam with a curved bit under the arm to the extended part for the sleeves.  The top is literally two “T” shaped pieces of fabric with a neck facing and turned up hems (see photo from the back, below). Any curved seam will tend to pull at the curve.  She suggested finishing the seam with an overlock (I used my Janome AirThread2000D serger, but the overcast stitch would do exactly the same), then pressing to the back of the garment and edge stitching.  So I did…worked perfectly (and surprisingly well to me) and kept the curve under the arm from wanting to “wonk” on me.

Here’s the finished blouse.

As you can see, this is the simplest of all shapes. The fabric is Nani Iro double gauze, a lightweight cotton that is two layers woven together.

And this is Philippa’s brilliant solution to controlling the tendency of the seam to ripple and buckle at the curve. Worked a charm!  And in case you’re wanting that link to sign up for the Garment Makers Question Time classes with Philippa Naylor, here it is.

And a tiny PS:  back in the days when dinosaurs walked the earth and my age was in single digits, home ec classes suggested using pinking shears to finish a seam.  It would look like this.  Problem is that with use and washing, it frays.  So here’s a pic, but really, don’t! You put too much effort and money into not doing your best work!

     Left, seam as stitched, and pressed open.  Bleah.  It’s gonna ravel!  Just don’t. See you next time!

Here are the links to all the posts in this series of lessons, techniques that can be applied to virtually any garment and many home dec projects.   Let me know what you’d like to learn and see here on the blog.  Cheers and thanks, Sarah

Lesson 1:   Choosing a Pattern and Starting Tips

Lesson 2:   Making a Muslin, Fitting and Sleeves

Lesson 3:   Matching Plaids, Cutting out Your Garment Pieces

Lesson 4:  Overcast Seams, just like Serged Seams

Lesson 5:   French Seams

Lesson 6:  Lapped and Flat-felled Seams

Lesson 7:  Hong Kong Finish for Seams

Lesson 8:  Lined Patch Pocket Tutorial

Lesson 9:  Hems and Scarf

Plaid Top Tutorial: Lesson 3–Matching Plaids, cutting out your garment pieces

Friday, February 24th, 2023

While visiting a favorite local shop in nearby Rockland, Maine, Clementine, I happened to fondle this amazing thick, soft flannel and thought it would made a perfect winter top.  The plaid adds a bit of complexity and opportunity to teach a few more advanced skills along with a fairly simple pattern for this series.

Please note:  I am affiliated with Janome as a Janome Artisan and am compensated.  However, my reviews are honest and I would say what I say whether affiliated or not.  I’ve also chosen to be affiliated with Janome since 2003 (!!!) because their machines are so good and they are so responsive to the interests and needs of their customers.

You use the lengthen shorten line to make sure the pattern piece is places squarely on the plaid–the line on the pattern runs on top of the same horizontal band all the way across. The notches (when you have them on a pattern…still grumpy about that!) give you additional “checkpoints” to make sure the horizontals on the front will align with the horizontals on the back.


The Taylor Seville chalk is much nicer than the tailor’s chalk I remember from the 70s and 80s. It comes in a nice plastic case that prevents the edges from getting chipped, too.  The KAI shears are these.  They are the first fine shears I’ve bought in nearly 30-35 years.  WHY did I wait so long????? To be blunt, these make my Ginger shears look like lead clunkers!  They weigh less and are SO much easier on my arthritic hands.  They cut like a hot knife through butter!

By matching the plaid at the (made by me) “notches” the horizontal lines of the plaid will match up all the way around the garment, continuing from the front to the sleeve to the back to the other sleeve and back to the front. The next photo shows how nicely the line matches up across the garment.

The arrow shows how the black line carries across the garment. Because you need to ease in extra at the sleeve cap, the matching goes off a bit at the top of the sleeve.  That’s why it is so helpful to have notches marked on the pattern–that’s where you match up a plaid or stripe as well as easing the sleeve cap to fit properly!

Now that the top is cut out, it is time to start sewing.  My next post will be the first one on seam finishes.  See you then–but one more side-view to show what a beautiful seam you get when the plaids are properly aligned!

Here are the links to all the posts in this series of lessons, techniques that can be applied to virtually any garment and many home dec projects.   Let me know what you’d like to learn and see here on the blog.  Cheers and thanks, Sarah

Lesson 1:   Choosing a Pattern and Starting Tips

Lesson 2:   Making a Muslin, Fitting and Sleeves

Lesson 3:   Matching Plaids, Cutting out Your Garment Pieces

Lesson 4:  Overcast Seams, just like Serged Seams

Lesson 5:   French Seams

Lesson 6:  Lapped and Flat-felled Seams

Lesson 7:  Hong Kong Finish for Seams

Lesson 8:  Lined Patch Pocket Tutorial

Lesson 9:  Hems and Scarf

Sarah’s Favorite Things, 2021 Edition

Monday, February 15th, 2021

Back in 2013 I did a post on this subject, and decided it was high time to update it! So here you go. There is a downloadable PDF for you to enjoy; it’s also listed on my Resources page.

Sharing is a good thing, so today I want to share some of my favorite things: products that I use and recommend.  If you discover a link is no longer working, please let me know by leaving a comment or using the Contact Me page. Since this list is quite long, here is what you’ll find below, my stuff first (sorry) then alphabetical order:

  • Threadwork Unraveled, my book about all things thread
  • Art Quilt Design from Photo to Threadwork video workshop
  • The Art of Sarah Ann Smith, so far
  • Big Design Wall
  • Clover seam ripper
  • Clover needle threader
  • Famore Cutlery Bent-tip tweezers
  • Heidi Proffetty’s insanely sharp tweezers
  • Janome M7 Continental Sewing Machine
  • Karen Kay Buckley’s Scissors
  • Mistyfuse Adhesive Web
  • Mistyfuse Goddess Sheets
  • Mistyfuse Transdoodle 
  • Panasonic Titanium Non-stick Iron
  • Running with Scissors bag and byAnnie’s patterns
  • Textile Paints
  • Val Webb, art teacher extraordinaire
  • Valerie Hearder—jumbo non-stick press sheeting
  • Wool Felt ironing pad

Threadwork Unraveled by me, Sarah Ann Smith

My book is about all things thread.  You’ll learn everything you need to know about thread, from how it is made to what will make your life easier, and your quilting better!  The book is organized in three sections:  The Basics, Applique, and Quilting, and is designed to be a reference book you’ll come back to again and again.  You’ll learn how needles, tension, your workspace, sewing machine, stabilizers, and other tools all help you in using all those wonderful threads now available.  I’ll help you understand how and why certain tools and notions work best and when another option is a better choice.  Click here to read more and to order.  Now out of print, it is still a valuable reference tool.  I have a number of new copies and you may be able to find it online / used elsewhere.

Art Quilt Design from Photo to Threadwork 

The complete cover of my video workshop, back when it was a dvd, Art Quilt Design from Photo to Threadwork with Fabric Collage and Machine Quilting.  Order the download from Quilting Arts here.  

Big Design Wall

There are a ton of different ways to get your own large design wall.  When we moved into this house, my studio was a grim, mostly unfinished basement space.  I did a series of blogposts in 2011 as I transformed it into my dream studio (well, except for moving it upstairs).  Here is the first of the posts… just pop “state of the studio” into the search box.   I designed my space and had my carpenter make a storage area by installing “closet doors” made of two hollow-core doors framed with 1x lumber.  We nested 1” rigid foam insulation into each of the 48” wide doors.  Due to low ceilings, they are a bit under 7 feet tall.  If you don’t have space for a permanent design wall, just a 48” wide piece of rigid insulation—perhaps trimmed to 72” tall—works.  You can stash it behind a door or under a bed.  Trust me, you’ll LOVE having it.  

By Annie’s Stiletto

I’d never really liked stilettos until I met this one.  The grippy texture on the metal point is what clinched it, but the “ironing” flat end and the comfortable grip help, and the two flat sides to the grip area prevent it from rolling off the table—what a concept! Recently I thought I’d somehow lost mine in the studio and almost ordered another.  For once, I found it before I hit Place Order! 

Clover Seam Ripper and Clover Needle Threader

Seam Ripper:  Sharp.  Narrow tip.  Comfortable handle.  Little rubbery bit to grip.  What more can you ask? 

Needle Threader:  I received this as a gift when I lectured for a local area guild.  I didn’t use it for years.  WHY NOT?  It really works.  Has a place to hold the needle that somehow magically turns the needle so the eye is in the correct direction.  Has a thread cutter.  Drape the thread as indicated, push down on the lever and presto, threaded needle!  

Famore Cutlery Bent-Tip Tweezers

I received these as a gift in a teacher goodie bag at International Quilt Festival Houston.   They are AMAZING!   They GRIP.  The have             this bent tip that allows you to use them to slide under a stitch like a seam ripper and pop a stitch.  When you have little pesky bits of thread, they grab and pull them out…they are so sharp they just pinch down tight and WORK. 

Heidi Proffetty Tweezers—wicked sharp! wicked precise!

For years, I used the tip of my scissors, fingers, a skewer or a pin to coax and nudge itty bitty bits of fabric into place on my collaged art quilts.  Then my friend and colleague Heidi Proffetty came up with a better mousetrap:  some ridiculously fine, SHARP, POINTY tweezers to place those little bitty bits into place (she does mosaic quilts and does a lot of fiddly work).  I don’t know how I managed without them!   

Janome M7 Continental Sewing Machine

Look at that harp space! That quilt is 104″ square!

Astonishingly, I have been affiliated with Janome since 2003.  I am a Janome Artisan, and proud to be associated with them.  Even with that, I’d say all the wonderful things I say about Janome machines if I weren’t.  There is a reason why I have chosen Janomes for my sewing.  Since the 6500 in 2003, with each new machine they send me, I keep thinking they couldn’t get better.  But they do.  The 6600 all those years ago was a giant leap forward, and the M7 is perhaps even more of a qualitative leap into excellence.  The machine is huge, sturdy, easy to use, and performs flawlessly.  And the harp space—that is a 104” x 104” quilt in there!

It started in 2003 when I was frustrated with my then-machine’s balkiness using assorted fun threads.  I wanted to decide what threads to use, not have my machine dictate what I could use because the machine would otherwise crab at me (for example, on that other-brand-machine, it didn’t like it when I used Superior Threads 40-wt poly in the needle and 60-wt  Bottom Line in the Bobbin; ALL the Janomes I have used  handle that with ease).  A huge, Huge, HUGE Thank You to Janome America for their long-term support of me!  I think I’ll go hug my Janome right now!

I have started making a few videos of me using my beloved machine to help you learn and posted them to my YouTube channel, here.  Hope you enjoy!  

Karen Kay Buckley’s scissors

Honestly, I love and use all of them!  They are well worth the not- expensive price, and will likely soon become YOUR favorites, too. You can find these on Karen Kay Buckley’s website as well as at many shops and online.  The two on the left are “regular” scissors.  The four on the right are the micro-serrated scissors with a non-stick coating (the black ones).  The precision in cutting with the micro-serrated scissors allows amazing control and is key to creating my work. The Purple handles are the first ones and still the first scissors I reach for.  The curved tip on the little red ones is nifty, and I also use the plain (pink and orange) fairly often.  

Mistyfuse Adhesive Web 

I am a complete fan of Mistyfuse products.  I LOVE this fusible web!  It leaves such a light, soft hand, never “expires”, doesn’t gunk up the needle EVER, and works really well.   I also like that it does NOT come packaged with release paper (which in other brands either comes loose too easily, or sticks, or whatever); you use baking parchment or a non-stick press sheet (next item) which is less wasteful than all that release paper, and once you see how to use Mistyfuse, it is infinitely easier!   For most projects you would want either the white or the Ultraviolet; the latter is best for light colored fabrics.  The black has lots of fun uses. 

Mistyfuse Goddess Sheets

Goddess Sheets are non-stick press sheets.  You could use Reynolds Baking Parchment, but these sheets won’t wrinkle and wear out or tear like Baking Parchment.  I’ve been using my press sheets for YEARS–the only wear and tear is where I accidentally sliced off a sliver with my rotary cutter!   I prefer the largest sheets; the Fat Goddess is so named because it allows you to fuse up an entire Fat Quarter (18×22 inches) of fabric without having to move the sheet.  The Holy Cow sheet is 36 x 48 inches!

Mistyfuse Transdoodle Transfer sheets and

Saral Transfer Paper in a roll

To transfer designs, I use Transdoodle or trace; but you could use a light box.  If the fabric is light enough , I can trace by placing the fabric over the design, OR I layer things up with the fabric on the bottom, Transdoodle Transfer paper in the middle, and the pattern on top.  These sheets last a LONG time, can be used over and over and over again.   Available in white, it has a heavier chalk load and last longer than Saral.    Saral is a transfer paper available in art supply stores and online and is available in sheets like Transdoodle and in rolls.  Sometimes you just want a long roll of white for a large design or motif.  You can find Saral  here at Dick Blick among other places..  I will note one caution:  if  like me you forget to test for removability, whenever you use ANYTHING yellow, TEST!  It doesn’t like to let go of some fabrics!  I stick to just white or blue.

Panasonic Non-Stick Titanium Coated Iron

I have had several of these over the years—one fell to the cement floor one time too many (I filed off the broken tip and kept using it tho!).  The other I used so much I wore off (after multiple years) the finish on the sole plate!   Oh how I LOVE LOVE LOVE this iron! I think iron manufacturers think non-stick means doesn’t stick to clean fabric.  These you can melt fusible onto them directly and wipe it clean with a paper towel!  No more iron cleaner fumes!  

The key word appears to be Titanium–-other non-stick irons don’t work the same way!  There are several models available at the moment on Amazon, and in various wattages…I’m going to order the 1800 as the one I have now is 1200.  In 2020 I tested various other irons including one that is “titanium” but none worked nearly as well as the Panasonics have over the years.  For the price of four or five tubes of iron cleaner, you get an iron you can wipe clean!   Mo’ bettah!  Put “Panasonic Titanium Non-stick Iron” into the Amazon search box for a current listing.

Running with Scissors bag and byAnnie’s patterns

Initially I made this as a “travel” case for teaching on the road.  In March 2020.  When the world screeched into a parallel universe with the arrival of the COVID pandemic.  As I type, it has never been on the road.  It has also never been put away.  I LOVE this bag:  it stays open on my worktable and is so easy to use!  I enlarged the size about 1” in both directions so I could fit a 9×12” cutting mat inside the outside pockets (or corrugated plastic) so that I can stand it up without having to make and use the companion bag.  This is not a fast project, but the instructions, as I have learned from other byAnnie patterns, are brilliant.  Take it one step at a time, use the top-quality products from byAnnie (not affiliated, just a fan-girl), and you’ll LOVE it.

Superior Threads

There are many brilliant threads out there now, that is one of the things that prompted me to write my book:  so that folks could understand how to use them.  Since I teach, I try to be fair, honest, and give all companies an equal chance.  There are a number of companies that make threads I use, respect and like:  Superior Threads, Aurifil, Madeira, Isacord and others.   But Superior is far and away the best at striving to educate the public.   I highly recommend the Education section of the Superior Threads website.   As well, they make brilliant quality threads, stand behind their products, and have great customer service.   When I switched from quilting with only cottons to using a wide range of threads (thanks to my Janome’s ability to do so without a grump), I decided to build my stash to “one of each please”–the thread equivalent of the BIG box of crayons!  I did so 10 or 12 spools at a time, and having a wide range makes it so much easier for me to do my thread-coloring.

Textile Paint 

You could spend years having fun with surface design, textile paints, drawing materials and dyes.   My DVD just mentions the use of transparent Textile Paints.

There are many, Many, MANY types of textile paints including opaque, transparent, metallic and so on.  You’ll find different ways to use them, too. All of the major brands work but have different properties.  Some are creamier, more like sour cream that is well stirred, but others are more like a dense yogurt, almost spreadable Which to pick depends on your personal preferences and what you intend to do with the paint:  direct paint, stencil, screen print.  Yeah, I know.  Helpful as mud LOL!   

My favorites now and which I sell on my website are ProChemical & Dye’s ProFAB and ProSilk paints.  The ProFAB are sour cream consistency and great for stamping, screen printing (my fave) and direct painting.  The ProSilk can, despite their name, be used well on cotton.  They are an ink-like consistency and you can almost use them in a watercolor-y way.  You can see my custom kits on my website store, here. Or click on the photo which is a hotlink to the item.

Val Webb, art teacher extraordinaire

In late 2012 I took Val’s first online class.  I have no idea how I learned about her, but I am so glad I did.  I have learned SO MUCH from her.  I have taken other online classes, but the most important thing in any representational art form is learning to see, and that I what she has taught me.  My first workshop, I could tell something was maybe a bit amiss, but not what.  Over various workshops over the years (several pictured at right, that’s Val’s art), I’ve grown to where I can study and compare, using tips and tricks and techniques.  For example, I am not a fan of the waxiness of colored pencils, but learning the slow, repetitive nature of shading with them has taught me how to layer dyes and textile paints to create what I want in my artwork.  If you’d like to see some of the blogposts I’ve done over the years about my work in her classes—the vulture is one of my favorites–click here.  The skills of seeing and thinking translate directly for me.  After a couple-year break for busy life, I am now signed up for my 8th class with her.  So I encourage you to check out Val’s site and consider her classes.

Valerie Hearder non-stick pressing sheets, ginormous

Some years back, after a good teaching year, I finally indulged:  not one but TWO VAST non-stick pressing sheets, which I ordered from art quilter Valerie Hearder, who lives in the Canadian Maritimes.  Val says “I sell the wide teflon by the yard and can sell any length.  Check out  I have 18” wide and I also have 37” by any length. Note that my prices are in Canadian $ which is a big saving for Americans.  In the pre-COVID days I had no trouble ordering my two 36/7 x 72” sheets.  One lives on my Big Board (a 22×60” ironing surface) and the other on my design wall.  When I do Really Big quilts, I can pin both up on my design wall (see above!).  Expensive, but if you do a ton of fusing and tend to work big, worth it.

Wool Felt Ironing Pad

When I was a kid, ironing boards came with a real wool felt pad under the cloth.  Things ironed beautifully.  Then things went to polyester and synthetic foam and, well, yuck.  The quilting world recently rediscovered the joy of a nice wool press surface.  As usual, if you stick the word quilt on the product, the price doubles, triples or more.  So I did a little sleuthing.  I knew of a felt manufacturer so I went to see if they had the wool pads.  THEY DO.  And they will sell to the public.  It helps if you get a bunch of friends together and do a group order.  Their ½” wool felt is 72” wide and is sold by the yard.  Some friends from my local guild and I got together and did a group order for 2 yards.  Rather than me try to cut the thick felt with a linoleum knife (and end up hospitalized), I paid the modest fee to have them cut the pads.  One woman and I each wanted a 72” x 22” wide piece each.  The rest we had cut into pieces 14 x 18”.  Each yard cut that way yielded one large and three smaller pieces.  You can have it cut into whatever size works.  We ordered the F-7 Gray ½” thick felt.  Shipping added to the cost, but I think the 14×18” pieces ran about $33 including cutting and shipping.  Current prices for about the same size are a bit lower than two years ago, and are roughly $40, and for the large ones, my 22×72 cost me about $98, while the current prices for 20×60 are around $112 on Amazon.