email Youtube

Home
Galleries
Blog
Workshops & Calendar
Store
Resources
About
Contact

Archive for the ‘Garments’ Category

A donut shirt for Joshua, the M7 Continental dream

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020
As soon as it came out of the box it went on…fit perfectly (thanks to borrowing one of his existing shirts!)

The first thing I made on the splendid new M7 Continental from Janome was something I haven’t made in decades: a button down tailored shirt! Anyone who knows Joshua knows that he is all about good food, perhaps starting with donuts. In fact, Joshua and Ashley’s wedding cake was a tower Joshua made of donut holes from Willow Bakery in Rockport! He also loves shirts with a sense of humor: sushi rolls, watermelon, lobsters. So I decided I wanted to make him a shirt for Christmas. And I succeeded beyond my wildest expectations in part due to the excellent sewing of the M7. There’s even a video below of making a buttonhole!

In the box ready for going under the tree, and looking professionally made if I do say so myself! The label was purchased at Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver–when I was taping for The Quilt Show I had a day to play and met friend Sandra Wheeler (hullo SandyAngel!) who took me out and about. The label reads “made with love {and swear words},” which I figured correctly would make Joshua laugh.

I used the Men’s All Day Shirt Pattern from Liesl + Co patterns. It was my first time using a downloadable pattern where you print and then tape together the pieces. If you download the free Adobe Acrobat software (not just your built in PDF reader) you can turn off the “all sizes” so it prints ONLY the size or sizes you want so you don’t have to navigate all those lines that end up nearly on top of each other. By measuring Joshua’s existing shirt, I was able to figure out which size would be best (Medium) but with the Large collar/neck stand. My only issue was when I combined the sizes. I should have printed the neck line of both patterns SEPARATELY (instead of on the same sheet), then traced the size large and lined it up properly. It took a while, with astounding and much appreciated personal replies from both Liesl and her husband Todd with troubleshooting suggestions, before I figured out what I was doing wrong. Kudos for the service as well as the pattern!

Sewing down the underneath side of the front, where the buttons will go
Needle moved to the far left.
the stitched fold-back, the buttons will go on the other side.
Look at how perfect that stitching is! It sure helps to have a machine that is so precise.

Using the included edge stitch foot, I was able to get absopositively perfect stitching. The first of the four photos above shows the underneath side of the shirt opening, using the edge stitch foot to sew down the turn-under. The second image shows the Janome M7 Continental screen (other Janome machines work similarly) with the needle set to the left. Because of the tiny increments in needle placement, I could get the stitches to form the exact distance I wanted from the edge. Third photo (top right) is a detail of that stitching. And the large image is the button band, stitched. I can’t believe it looks so good! There’s a video just below these still photos.

There are a couple screens of buttonhole options, but I used the basic one. Note the QR code in the bottom left corner (more info below).
The manual explains the different purposes of the many buttonholes.
First, you can select from a wide variety of buttonholes. I went for the standard (after all, I hadn’t sewn a buttonhole in over two decades!). Using the AcuSpark app (free on the App store, works with the M7 and a few other Janome’s), you open the app on your phone/device, scan the QR code in the bottom right of the machine’s screen (photo on left). This takes you to a tutorial within the app.
As you can see from the screen shots, the tutorial walks you through the process step by step. Easy peasy…my kind of sewing!
Here’s the app telling you how to make a buttonhole!
This is what that buttonhole foot looks like in real life. You slide the button into the back, attach the foot to the machine, and it makes the perfect sized hole every time. I kid you not, I make SEVEN buttonholes, perfectly, in seven minutes, and most of that was repositioning to the next spot!
More instructions on attaching and using the special buttonholer foot.
And how to finish the buttonhole.
This Nancy Zieman (oh how I miss her!) tool from Clover is an improvement over the old-school metal one. Although I have a fondness for the metal one, this version allows you to center the ruler exactly on the button band and mark your buttonholes. The darker green slider notches into the grooves so it doesn’t slide up and down the center as you work. I wondered when I bought it why I thought I needed a newer (plastic, yuck) version. Now I know. Once again, smarter sewing.

(Alert: even geekier pattern and garment sewing paragraph!) From the pattern, I also learned a new process for sequence of sewing and attaching the collar and collar stand. Instead of sewing the stand to the neckline, inserting the collar, and closing it up where the collar meets the neck band, the pattern has you sew collar and stand together, then sew the inside of the stand to the inside of the shirt and topstitch the collar to the shirt body. Ended up with absolute precision and perfection!!!!!!

LOOKIT how perfect that turned out! The only thing I would change on the next one (and yes there will be more for both sons) is to use a slightly less crisp interfacing so the collar stand holds up but isn’t quite so stiff.

So, with 50 years of sewing experience (albeit minimal garment making in the past three decades), an excellent pattern that taught this greying sew-ist a couple new things, and the incredible precision of the Janome M7 Continental machine, I am a seriously happy camper. Even better, Joshua loves his shirt!

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!

Unboxing Minerva: the new Janome M7 Continental!

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

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


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

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

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

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

Dress forms and democracy

Friday, June 14th, 2019

Or, a catch-up post! As usual, when I end up beyond-crazy-busy the blog gets even more neglected, so that means I’ve been crazy busy! I have finished a 30×50 quilt, but I can’t share it–at least until after jurying is complete at the end of the month. I’m also slamming on two new projects for Janome America to use: portraits of the dog and the cat. As you can see, I have just begun!

The dog….It will be titled “I Love, Therefore I Am”
Here she is expanded. I haven’t discovered her name yet. Gladys, named after Flavia de Luce’s bicycle (crime novels, delightful) is a possibility. So is Rose (meh). Betty given the era (also meh). So I’ll think on it.
I thought she’d feel more comfortable (and warmer…basement still chilly) if draped, so I grabbed a vintage tablecloth I dyed that turned out blotchy. It looks great. Wish my waist were then svelte……but I’m not willing to give up ice cream, so there we are!

And last but not least, it has been a Very Busy Spring for my duties as a Town Selectman for Hope. Last night was the Annual Town meeting, which is democracy in action in its purest form. All citizens of Hope are invited. You get an orange card if you are a registered voter, then you vote on things like the budget, which covers everything from snowplowing to town salaries to cemetery maintenance. The moderator asks for Yes votes, raise card. Then asks for No votes, raise card. Citizens are allowed to make amendments from the floor to change the recommendations of the Select Board and the Budget Committee.

The Hope Elementary School gym for the Annual Town Meeting


Anyway, Dick decided to not run again and really retire this time, and we had a full field of four candidates for two slots and Mike is a quiet kind of guy, so he won’t be returning. Plus our town bookkeeper who is AMAZING will retire next April, so I thought we should have a class photo. So here we are: the five Selectmen and the three office staff who both literally and figuratively here always have our backs. We will greatly miss Dick and Mike.

Back row: Chelsea (town clerk etc), Samantha (town administrator, etc), Mary (town bookkeeper etc)–the et cetera because they all wear at least a dozen hats
Front row: me, Dick, Mike, Brian and Wendy
Even though I’m the lone liberal of this group of five, it has been a rollicking good group, always respectful, sometimes witty and funny, friendly bunch. Here’s to more of the same with the two new guys!

And that’s it for mid-June in Hope, Maine. Back to the fusing station….I’ve got work to do!

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!