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Archive for the ‘Machine Quilting’ Category

Boo, J.D. (for Juvenile Delinquent)

Wednesday, August 21st, 2019
Boo, J.D. by Sarah Ann Smith, 2019

Boo’s portrait is the third part of this trio of quilts. I had considered doing a self portrait, Sarah and her muses, with the selfie for my local Coastal Quilters challenge due next May. But then hubby, who has never ever asked me to make an art quilt, said when he saw the ones of Yoda and Widgeon, “you should make one of Boo, too.” Boo, you see, is his Very Special Cat. So I did that instead. Much nicer than a selfie! And it turns out the portrait challenge doesn’t have to be a selfie, and can be a critter–way better!

Just to remind you, here are the three portraits in this series on La Familia Smith (furry edition). Each is a 20″ square and they are debuting at the Janome Institute this week! I made them in thanks for over 15 years as part of their Janome Artisan program. I love their machines and would say all the good things I do even if I weren’t affiliated and paid full MSRP!

I prepared blurbs for Janome to use for each of the quilts, in the “voice” of each of the critters. Here is Boo’s:

Boo, J. D.
 
Emperor Yoda! Hah!  What does he know?  And why do they call me the Juvenile Delinquent?  Can’t they see that I am going to be KING of this realm?  I am young, I am strong, I speak, I jump, I am growing into being the largest and strongest in the realm, not like that tub of lard who is rightfully dubbed His Immensitude.  Stay away from my kibble, tubbo.  The humans love my chirpy voice and sleek, silky fur!  Now I will deign to let my human pet me and feed me my favorite wet food and pet me more.  All others, including the ostensible Chief Minion, be forwarned:  you are subject to attack!”  (Boo is a 10-month old Turkish Van. I am the ostensible Chief Minion.)

When I start a new project, I look usually at photos I have taken as “reference” photos. This time, hubby Paul’s photo was a better shape to fit into a square than what I had, plus Boo loves to sit with his paws hanging over the edge of stuff. I rarely use Photoshop any more to identify areas of light and dark, but I was curious to see what it would do. Meh. I like making the decisions as they are more nuanced than someone else’s software.
Step 1 is working on the collage with my reference images close by. I use Mistyfuse (my preferred fusible by far) and prefuse all my fabric, then cut the shapes I need, usually freehand but sometimes with other techniques that I share in my workshops. At this point the base layers just looks blotchy and blobby. It gets better.
Once the base layer is down, I start adding slivers of fur. Notice two of my favorite tools (and I’m not affiliated, just a fan-girl): Karen Kay Buckley’s purple-handled micro-serrated scissors (here) and Heidi Profetty’s awesomely pointy tweezers (here). The tweezers are new to my process and SO much easier than my old way of fingers, pins, skewer etc. Much easier and more accurate to place than to nudge! I like them so much I sell them in my workshops.
To tie the three quilts together, I took out all the fabric I would use for all three quilts at the start of the first one. The blue ocean-like batik plays a major role in all three: in Widgeon’s face, the background for Yoda, and here as the “bed” in Boo’s cat tree in the living room, and the other fabrics repeat. I liked the dark green in the background to pop Boo’s silhouette, but it was too much and boring as the entire top of the quilt, so I trimmed to have a “halo” of dark (no, that is not a commentary on the cat’s personality LOL!).
I selected assorted greens from my stash of prefused fabrics. I just didn’t like the way these looked–made the whole piece too heavy and dark for a rambunctious kitten.
So the dark greens, other than the “halo,” went away and my much-loved yellow greens (mostly my hand dyes in this set) came in.
The next step, as with Yoda, was adding paint via thermofax screens to refine the fur. Did I mention (another gratuitous self promotion here) that I’ll be teaching a 3-day workshop August 5-7, 2020, at ProChemical and Dye in Fall River, Massachusetts, on using paint on cloth? Sign ups open on October 2nd and I’d love to have you join me. Here’s the link to the Workshops at ProChem–details on the 2020 workshops will post on or about September 3rd. Anyway…. you can see the difference between the right where I have screened to the left where I haven’t, also up on the upper vs. lower parts of his face. I used a temporary mask of painter’s tape to avoid getting paint on parts of the background.
Final phase: quilt it to death! This is the Janome 9450–I began on the 6500 when the Horizon series debuted back in 2003 and every time I think they couldn’t possibly make the machine better, yet they do. This is pretty much my PERFECT MACHINE! I pick more threads than I think I will need for a project. Since I was doing three quilts at once, that was a lot of thread. Luckily, the most labor intensive one was Widgeon because of so many different colors. The quilting on Yoda (a beige cat with some dark) and on Boo (a white cat with just a tiny bit of black on him) was easier in some ways, though finding six shades varying from white to cream was interesting….ended up using a very very pale green for example, which reads as a mostly white/gray for the under layer.
Then the stitching begins! Here I’m putting in the first of three layers of thread used in each area. I teach a workshop on this, too (Thread-Coloring the Garden, but the process is the same for flowers, pets, people, landscapes, etc.). I really love this new open-toe free-motion quilting foot. It was designed for free-motion zigzagging, but it is awesome visibility. I’m not sure but I may possibly like it as well (or even better? is that possible?) than my all-time favorite thin metal open circle foot.
In this photo, I’m up to about the third layer of threads. Compare how it looks to the previous photo. Also, I do minimal stitching on eyes!
An angled shot always shows up the quilting best. I used the same leaf/vine motif on this that I used in the background of Yoda’s quilt to tie things together.

So that’s my process and all three of the quilts. To read the blogpost about Yoda’s quilt: His Immensitude Yoda, Emperor of Minions and all He Surveys, click here for Yoda . To read the blogpost about Widgeon’s quilt: I Love, Therefore I Am, click here for Widgeon. Thanks for coming along on my summer quilting extravaganza!

I Love, Therefore I Am (Widgeon’s quilt)

Tuesday, August 20th, 2019
“I Love, Therefore I Am” is the perfect title for this quilt of our beloved pug, Pigwidgeon.

Earlier this summer I made three quilts for Janome America to share at the upcoming dealer conference in Florida this week. Janome has generously sponsored me with a machine and included me in their Artisan program for over 15 years!!!! THANK YOU (yes I’m shouting)! I was delighted to make these in appreciation. Here is the blurb I wrote to go with Widgeon’s quilt.

I Love, Therefore I Am
 
Yoda, the love of my life, tells me that Mom has done a good job on my portrait.  Mom and I were sitting on the porch in late Spring even though it wasn’t quite yet warm enough, so I snuggled under the blanket and kept her company (and warm) one afternoon.  I don’t see or hear very well any more, but Yoda tells me the picture shows how much I love everyone in the whole universe, especially him, my boy, Mom, the rest of my family, and well, the whole world.”  (Pigwidgeon is a 12 year-old industrial-sized pug.)

My Facebook friends know Widgeon because of my dog walkies posts and other photos. My friend Rachel Parris commented on this photo that it was the best one I had ever taken of him, and the idea for the quilt was born! Often I end up working too much during summer and don’t get my “Porch Time” to relax, read, and enjoy life in Maine. So this year I started early, in our long, late, cold Spring, wrapped up in warm fuzzy clothes with a two-layer fleece blanket on my lap and the dog snuggled underneath.

This post will be mostly photos and captions (because we all know photos are better). They show the sequence of how I work, and towards the bottom if you keep going you’ll be rewarded with a mini-tutorial on couched and faced edges. And yes (gratuitous self promotion here) I TEACH classes on how to do this –my Bindings and Facings and Piping, Oh MY! class, and also my collage and thread coloring process: Collage the Garden and Thread-Coloring the Garden–just click the link. Have students (and contract) will travel (hint hint).

As you can see, the work area ends up just a bit messy! I tend to sort prefused (Mistyfuse ROCKS! It changed my life!) fabrics by color and value, then start working. The heaps are the “sorted” stuff (ha!). Widgeon is coming to lay down right under my feet so I can trip over him. He likes to stay close to his beloveds.
Sometimes Yoda supervises…..
Folks say “Oh that’s the perfect fabric for the nose.” Sorta. This is seven pieces of fabric, and that’s about half of the fifteen or so tiny bits that eventually created his nose. You can see the sketch under the non-stick mat (check out Goddess Sheets at Mistyfuse.com).
Here I’m looking at what to use for the background. I used pale yellow (on which I used a pale gray pen) for the book in my lap. The pale aqua for the pillow on the left got changed for a darker value.

Now it’s time for that mini tutorial on couching yarn for quilts with facings.

Most of the time, my quilts have facings, and some of the time they *also* have yarn couched on the edges. This makes the edges more crisp and makes it WAY easier to turn the edges in a perfect straight line (provided the yarn is sewn ON in a perfect straight line). This is what the bottom of the pin tuck foot looks like. Mine is a five-groove. There are other sizes (seven I think, and maybe three), which I prefer to the usual “couching” foot because I can fit the yarn to the groove that will best control placement. See how the yarn fills the groove…not too big, not too little, but just right.
I used 2.5 stitch width and length, then reduced the presser foot pressure (how much it pushes down on what is going under the needle) to couch the yarn that ends up on the edge of the quilt.
You can see the yarn is in the center groove of the 5-groove pin tuck foot. It is the perfect sized groove for the cotton yarn I favor for sharp edges on quilts with facings. I always used to chalk-mark where I wanted the yarn to go and then hold it in place with pins and my finger. But even then it would sometimes wobble, requiring picking out the stitching and fixing. Then I discovered a much better way on this quilt!
Drum Roll! Sound the Trumpets! A Better Way!!!! Using a ruler, Janome’s pin tuck foot, and a narrow open zigzag makes couching yarn on what will be the edge of the quilt easy! It worked best for me if I let the ruler hang over the edge and use the 1″ line. If I used the end of the ruler it was actually harder to see if it was perfectly aligned with the trimmed edge. And yeah, lookit all that threadwork!
Gotta love Janome’s great presser feet and plate markings, which make it possible to create a perfect facing. In my class I explain some of the extra stuff I do that makes my facings behave so well.
Wonder Clips by Clover. Buy them. Buy a whole lot of them. SO MUCH BETTER than being skewered by pins. If you buy the big set from Clover, they come in a well made reusable box.
I Love, Therefore I am. A view of the quilting from an angle which shows the stitching better.
And a close up of the Beloved.

To see Yoda’s quilt, go to this post. Next, I’ll share Boo’s. He is the Usurper. The Delinquent. Chirpy.

New England World Quilt Show Exhibit!

Thursday, August 15th, 2019

In a rather astonishing development last May, an earlier inquiry about teaching and exhibiting turned into an invitation to have a solo exhibit, The Art of Sarah Ann Smith … so far, at the Mancuso Brothers World Quilt New England Show tin Springfield, Massachusetts (this is the one that used to be in Manchester, NH). I hope you’ll enjoy this preview peek, if you’re in the vicinity can visit, and on Saturday I hope to post a Facebook Live or other video of the exhibit. I should arrive about noon (it’s a long drive from Maine). Click on this link to get info and directions to the show. If you can’t make the show, my book has a lot of what is there plus lots of other good stuff.

Sarah Ann Smith's solo exhibit at 2019 World Quilt New England
Sarah Ann Smith’s solo exhibit at 2019 World Quilt New England
This exhibit begins in 1998, when I made Happy 80th Birthday Mama. At that point I never thought I’d ever be published, exhibit nationally, teach nationally, have a book and all the zillion other wonderful things since I decided to “make a go of it” in art quilting in 2004. That’s why I’m so proud that this quilt was in Karey Bresenhan’s 2003 I Remember Mama exhibit and book: it taught me that I was good enough to indeed try to make it in this industry.

The exhibit has its roots in my 2017 Rising Stars exhibit at the International Quilt Festival in Houston. I had been invited to submit a proposal for a solo exhibit. Karey liked what I suggested and how I would market it to our mutual benefit, and ended up creating the Rising Stars exhibit (which recurs every year now) to showcase two or more quilters. This exhibit is slightly different, as some of those quilts sold, and this one has new work.

Alms, Kyoto 1996 is on the far left, and started with my photo (taken in 1996 on a trip with my mother) and a workshop with Hollis Chatelain to learn how to dye paint. It was my first quilt ever juried in to Festival/Houston, and it took another six YEARS before I had another quilt juried in to the judged show, though I was lucky to have work in special exhibits in Houston. I think Bijagos Warrior, on the back wall, is one of my best quilts ever. Made in 2004, , it was declined by Houston (Sob, still), but he finally got to hang in Houston in 2017 Rising Stars. It was while working on Bijagos Warrior that I realized my sewing machine wasn’t helping me; I researched and came upon Janome machines. I couldn’t afford a soda fountain cola in those days, so I approached them to see if they had a loaner program. To my utter astonishment Janome America took me on. I have since late 2003 been a part of what is now the Janome Artisan program, and I am forever grateful for their support and sponsorship. Yes, I get free loaners, but I’d say all the wonderful things about their awesome machines if I paid full MSRP!

The exhibit runs in chronological order (though within a given “bay” of quilts they may be slightly out of order so we got a nicer looking display) from 1998 to 2019. Gosh….I just realized this is two DECADES of my work and evolution…and that I can now, with a bit of a gulp, call myself an artist.

The quilt on the left Earth & Turquoise, almost never travels to shows because of the sticks, stones and feathers, but since I drove to deliver and hang the quilts, it was able to go! I’m thrilled! And the back wall, let’s just call that a Mother and Child Reunion. This was the time when I was first invited to be in the Dinner@8 exhibits. See more about them below. During the middle of this century’s first decade, I was learning my craft, refining my voice, improving my technical and design skills.
These quilts range from 2013-2015 or thereabouts. Insalata, the ginormous tomatoes on the back (about the size of a beach ball) is the most recent of this batch, but otherwise these are in order.

The Dinner@8 exhibits were such a phenomenal opportunity and formative experience. For years, I have thought this 10-year run of special exhibits presented one of the best exhibits in Houston, which is saying a lot. To be able to be in them for eight years just amazes me, that I made the cut. But my best work by far was made for these exhibits. The level of excellence rose each year, and like the rising tide that floats all boats, I think ALL of us who were fortunate to be in the exhibits grew immensely in our abilities. Conceived by Jamie Fingal and Leslie Tucker Jenison, they were juried invitationals. That means you were invited to participate–it wasn’t an open call to the public. You then made a quilt to the specific theme and size, entered it, and waited to see if it was accepted. I am so grateful for the chance to be a part of this group of strong women, and feel a bit adrift that the series has come to an end with the 2018 exhibit. BUT, that meant I had to look forward and come up with my own ideas, not be dependent on Jamie and Leslie, and I’m excited to move forward with my own plans.

Amaryllis toured extensively in Australia and New Zealand in Brenda Gael Smith’s Living Colour Textiles exhibit. Eli, Cross Country 2013 is my other son and one of my favorite of his sports. Descended From the Stars on the back wall, is another favorite of my quilts because it covers so much of my life, from my high school to imagery related to my children to calligraphy and more. Peony is on the right.
2017 to 2018: I can’t say that I have achieved mastery–there will always be more to learn and explore. But I think I have finally achieved competence, and certain techniques have become integral to my art: dyeing, painting, fused collage, representational imagery. From left to right: Stand Up, Speak Out; Pink Oyster Mushrooms; Lupine. My work now focuses very much on my work–my days traveling the world as a US Foreign Service Officer (diplomat) are ancient history and I have now spent more time as a quilter and artist than I did as a diplomat!
The Art of Sarah Ann Smith...so far, a solo exhibit at the 2019 World Quilt New England show
And the view from the present to the beginning of my art quilt journey…so far! There’s more coming!

Thanks so much for sticking with me! I’ll post a few more shots after I get to see the exhibit with the show open on Saturday!

Take a class with me in Houston!

Sunday, June 30th, 2019

WOOT! The International Quilt Festival Houston catalog is starting to ship and online registration–yes, ONLINE, with instant knowing if you got into the class, goes live in July (I’ll post when it does). If you’d like to take a workshop with me, now’s your chance because I’m teaching a ton of my favorite workshops. For more detail on any of these classes, please visit the Classes/workshops page of my website and scroll down to the individual class–you’ll find a supply list PDF and sometimes links to blogposts about previous workshops sharing student work. Here’s the list including class numbers:

To look at MY classes, head to the link for all classes and search by day or by name. The classes are listed in numerical order: #100 series are on Monday, #200 on Tuesday and so on, with the exception that Friday is #500, Friday EVENING is #600, and then Saturday is #700. That way you can find what classes are available on the day(s) you are at Festival.

Collage the Garden workshop: Inspired by a wild tiger lily on the roadside in Maine–learn to create a fused collage by creating your own pattern (several ways to the same goal), then create a top to finish at home

I’m thrilled that Quilts Inc. booked both days of my Quilting the Garden workshops! On Tuesday, learn my Collage the Garden process for creating fused quilts. You’ll learn how to create a working plan/pattern from photos and fuse an 11×14 collaged quilt of a flower, but the process can be applied to anything including people, animals, landscapes, you name it.

Thread Coloring the Garden is on Wednesday: enjoy an easy prep with this kitted class where you learn how to add depth, dimension and detail to your art quilts.

On Wednesday, Thread Coloring the Garden is all about the machine quilting and learning how I select and use thread to color and bring the quilt top to live To eliminate the stress of worrying about messing up that gorgeous top you’ve worked so hard to create, we work with a photo of a day lily printed on cloth (class has a kit [fee] with flower, thread, etc.) so that you gain confidence learning the quilting before you tackle your own masterpiece.

At the Machine Quilting Forum I’ll talk about using metallic, holographic, heavy and other so-called (not-so) fussy threads. If you’d like to take the full workshop, you CAN–on Friday (keep reading!)

Thursday is a busy day. In the Morning I’ll be presenting at the Machine Quilting Forum, where I’ll share some of my current work and share some tricks for working with what some folks think are fussy fiddly threads but really aren’t so fussy or fiddly!. In the afternoon, it’s a TOTALLY FUN half day class making my patented Easy-Peasy Inside-Out Bag–they’re like potato chips, you can’t stop with just one!

Easy-Peasy Inside-Out Bag workshop with Sarah Ann Smith: Once you learn the basic process, these are easy to adapt into card carryers and book or sketchbook covers!
Friday it is the full workshop for Tame Fussy Fiddly Threads. You’ll need black fabric and batting, the paint, supplies and decorative threads are supplied.

Friday Evening I’ll be part of the Date Night Sampler, where I’ll show using paint on cloth to work smarter, not harder! And if you’d like an immersive paint on cloth workshop with me, stay tuned–good news for a 3-day class in August 2020…will be able to share in September.

Saturday you can learn my approach to Hawaiian style Applique by Machine: we use my freezer paper technique for creating TWO fused blocks to appliqué by machine. You will try a small block to get the hang of it, then start on your 18″ block.

Hawaiian Style Applique by Machine is on for my final teaching day. Though I am known for my art quilting, I love ALL types of quilting, and my love for Hawaiian style quilts launched my career in quilting, and I love it to this day. Come for a day of fun and learning!

I hope to see you in Houston, especially in my classes! I might even still be coherent (?) by Saturday evening, though I think a Margarita may be on the menu once the teaching is complete!

The Quilt Show–Sarah’s Episode!

Friday, April 12th, 2019

What a delight it was to be invited to tape a show for the Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson online “tv” show, The Quilt Show (TQS)! In the past I have taped for two seasons of Quilting Arts TV (on PBS) and did a video workshop for Interweave (Art Quilt Design from Photo to Threadwork, available as a download), but TQS is on a whole other level of professionalism. It was filmed in the Comcast center near Denver…as you walked by the main office there was an entire cabinet of awards including a few Golden Globes! And to get it up front: THANK YOU ADELE Merrell for all these great photos and Gayle Schliemann from Bernina for a bunch more!

Intro segment with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims…yes, they color coordinate their tops with the guest’s outfit! My dress is a Marcy Tilton pattern, Vogue 9112
I was so excited that I was able to pull off my surprise gifts for Alex, Ricky, John and Justin: custom TQS aprons made with a thermofax screen I made for them (with behind the scenes help from Producer Shelly to help with a graphic and favorite colors for them).
After the intro we got together and everyone modeled their custom TQS aprons. Sorry folks, there are only four of these that exist, but I’m delighted they are already using them with other guests. I bought all cotton colored aprons on Amazon (where else?). If you like the milkweed design on mine, I am selling my custom screens on my website for a limited time (maybe six to 12 months) so you could make your own!
There are two guests taped each day–I had Saturday morning. They hang the quilts first as all the other prep begins, and well before the audience comes in. The lighting is SUPERB…both of the guests and the quilts. There are light colored walls behind the seat walls with bounce diffuser lights that reflect off the exterior studio walls to create a smooth even light, then each quilt has a spot…there wasn’t a single “hot spot” or deep dark area (unless it was intentional)

And a panorama shot…the detail isn’t great because of the re-sizing I had to do for the blog, but I am standing in the center of the audience area. There were four large quilts including this year’s BOM, Sizzle, then the door to the Green Room, a monitor, the areas of the set from the “brick” wall, seating area, gallery space. The big tables are all on rollers as is the longarm and Q20 so everything can be moved easily for each segment. Another monitor on the middle-right, the staff and guest cubbyhole is behind that wall, you can see a long light thing that is the longarm, then Alex’s quilt (which is gorgeous in person) and right bank of the audience seating. There are usually 50-70 guests for each show. Tickets are free but you must reserve in advance…check the TQS website for info.
Justin Shults, Ricky’s partner, consults with the team in an area to by one side of the set where they collect the guests’ “stuff” for the episodes and serves as staff work space. I love that they said “welcome to the family.” Everyone staying at the DoubleTree collects in the same zone of the restaurant for breakfast (travel, meals, hotel are on your own dime, but it is so worth it!) and eat together. It is a delightful way to get to know the crew and principals. Left to right: Lilo Bowman, Justin Shults, Mary Kay Davis and Katie. Justin is the guy coordinating things on the set while Shelly Heesacker, the Producer, is in the control room. They communicate by headsets.
This is pretty close to the image folks will see when the show airs online sometime this autumn.
And here’s what that looks like from the sidelines
Sarah Ann Smith visits The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims
My first segment was about using paint on cloth (and I now have custom paint kits available here) and using shrink fabric to make my sunflower quilt (a blogpost to come). Here Ricky and I reviewed what I brought and what we could fit into the 10-14 minute segment. While the guest and hosts review the segments, groups of folks from the audience are allowed to come up and see the quilts up close.
In the breaks between segments, John Anderson (Alex’s husband) keeps the audience entertained, shares quilts from upcoming guests and more. This one is at the end of the day when Ricky came to chat with the audience.

Rehearsing for the thread segment: Ricky, Alex, me and Mary Kay Davis taking a close up photo.
Thanks SO MUCH to Adele, who dresses the set, for taking a billion photos for me. I especially wanted this one from inside the control room that shows what a polished and complicated production this is. Producer Shelly Heesacker is in the bottom left and she crafts each episode and runs the show.
And a close up of the screens as I am taping my second segment, with Alex, on how I do my Threadwork.

After-taping shots: here, I am holding a photo by Chris Maher from the online Photo Critique Group–it is a mock movie poster, with Ricky, Justin and many of our classmates in the assorted cast and crew roles. Too much fun!
I made TQS screen prints on my hand-dyed fabric for the audience as a little gift. MAJOR thanks to Iris Karp of MistyFuse for donating a package of MF (which changed my life and makes what I do possible!!!!! and that is NO exaggeration) so I made up a pattern for the sunflower that I demonstrated on set.
Time for some portrait shots with my quilts…this was one of the best!
Going to use this one for my FB profile photo for a while…THANK YOU ADELE!
Question and Answer session with the audience (and you can see that fun dress!) after taping.

I have to say, I wasn’t all that nervous thanks to being UBER prepared and having done Quilting Arts before, but I was wired for sound LOL..by the time of the Q&A I was relaxed and ready to have even more fun sharing.

At the end of my segment saying “It’s a new day EVERY day,” the TQS motto. Can you tell we were having fun?!!!!


My episode will air sometime in late summer/autumn. Star Members of The Quilt Show will have the first view, then there will be one week where the episode will be free to everyone. I will be sure to post, but gosh there are so many wonderful guests that I am so glad I am a member–and did you know I joined the very first day TQS began: January 1, 2007? And now, here I am as a guest! WOOT! Life is GOOD!