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Dinner Cruise to Statue of Liberty, Janome Education Summit Post #8

Sunday, July 15th, 2018

OH MY….let’s just say every single person on the boat was snapping pics like mad!

Though this was the evening before the last session, it needs to go last as a spectacular wrap-up to a fun and informative week at the first ever Janome Educational Summit.  We had Artisans and Makers from the US and Canada, members of Janome America and Janome Canada staff, so many generous and inspiring sponsors, worked on the Janome 15000, 9400, Serger, Cover-stitch machines, did piecing, quilting, Acu-design work, worked on garments, fleece, double gauze, knits, learned about industry trends and upcoming machines and campaigns, and most of all had a blast getting to know each other.  It is amazing how quickly a community of like minded souls can meld into a group that sticks together even after you go home.

At the last minute, just the Friday before the summit (we arrived Monday afternoon), Shin Yamamoto the President of Janome America, decided they needed to lay on something special for our last evening.   OH MY did they ever!   A dinner cruise on the Hudson from NJ down to the Statue of Liberty and back.  The rain of the earlier week had vanished, the temperature was perfect, the humidity low.   Traffic en  from Park Ridge to up by the Hudson and back was something else again for this Maine Mom (more cars in the 90 minutes it took to get there, there were more cars on that route than I think in the entire state of Maine), but what a treat.

At the dock waiting to depart

Sailing under the bridges…arches that I recognized from photos of NYC and some of the Janome crowd, including my main contact Erin S.

After dinner up on deck, the Janome crowd enjoying the perfect weather…gosh what a FUN group.  The collective skill level in that room was beyond amazing!

Miriam and Karen….what a fantastic photo!

Me and Meredith–can you tell we were having fun?

Terry, Sam, Meredith and the sunset, Liz, Miriam and Karen behind the pole

MORE sunset, Statue of Liberty at far left

Lady Liberty, as the Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America / Land That I Love (cue Kate Smith!) played. Utter. Complete. Perfection!

After the Statue of Liberty we turned around to head back to the dock, as night fell and the lights came up. Magical!

I’m so not a city girl, but if you’re gonna do city, this is pretty spectacular.  Look at those reflections in the water!

The NJ side of the Hudson as we headed back…loved the light falling light water down the side of that skyscraper.

The end of the trip. WOW.  THANK YOU JANOME AMERICA, and you betcha I’m shouting!

Thank you Shin Yamamoto and David Manierka for being such good advocates for Janome, Janome users, and all the folks at Janome, and for such a phenomenal week. It was such a treat to be able to meet in person folks from shipping to marketing to headquarters whose names I have known these past fifteen years. THANK YOU Regena Carvelaro for putting together a Summit that has to rival the best of these events anywhere, any time.   Thank you Erin Schlosser, for being a great contact, for supporting the makers and artisans that work with Janome, for all you did to make this event such a success.  And thank you to the sponsors/presenters, Educators, Makers and Artisans who were the lively, inspiring heart and soul of this event.  Let’s do it again!



Knits, Sergers, Cover Stitch machines, and more at Janome Education Summit 2018 Post #7

Thursday, July 12th, 2018

Thursday was a whirlwind as we finished up at lunch time.

Me with my Summit t-shirt (we also did some iron-press decals…this was a basic shirt with an altered neckline also done at breakneck pace) with my skirt tucked underneath. Even my lime suede sneakers go with it!

In that morning we had a presentation on My Fabric Designer Software by Eileen Roche and made a knit skirt using sergers and cover-stitch machines thanks to Girl Charlee.  The amount of machines and work Janome America put into having them onsite for us all to test-drive and learn was amazing–huge kudos to Janome America for such a great Summit!  And of course major thanks to the sponsors and presenters for all the goodies and best of all the learning!

Today I am actually wearing the skirt I made (photo above)…the project was to make a pencil skirt.  I’m afraid that pencil skirts and my body and lifestyle are not a match made in heaven, so once again I was the disobedient child and made a gathered skirt.

The fabric I chose…other choices were a solid denim look and a blue floral print. Heather Peterson’s Girl Charlee site is here, with a wide range of VERY reasonably priced knits. This particular fabric is still available as of early July 2018, here, and is only $8.50 a yard! It’s a lighter t-shirt weight skirt (so not too heavy for a full skirt) and is soft and comfy.

Owner Heather Peterson showed some of the fun projects she has made and gave us tips for sewing on knits.  For those who don’t have a serger, even the most basic sewing machines have an overlock stitch that you can use to whip up these fun things on your domestic machine.  What I learned:  don’t be afraid of knits!  You can do it!

Heather holding up a comfy knit dress

And on the screen behind her, tips:

Different types of knits….I had never heard of Vegan Leather….but it looks leather-ish and it actually stretches! I don’t think leather leggings are in my future, but maybe this might work on a quilt….hmmm…….

Some of the delectable fabrics at Girl Charlee

A couple knit projects up on the front table

The ladies who DID make the pencil skirt wore them and fell in love–the entire time I was thinking “I wish I had Ashley’s (DIL) measurements” because this project was ideal for her.  When I showed very petite Ashley the pattern provided (here) she was delighted and said “OMG, a pencil skirt that would actually FIT!”  The pattern has you start with your measurements, then subtract a bit, calculate the length, and presto, nearly instant skirt.   I used the full yard of fabric to make a nearly ankle-length skirt.  I didn’t have time to be afraid…we had to work FAST, so I serged up the side seams, serged the elastic (my first time ever doing that!) to the top, then switched over to the cover-stitch machine to stitch down the elastic and hem the skirt.

The hem of my skirt. I’ve never used a cover stitch machine before–I love the look of this three-needle hem. On a domestic machine, you can simulate the look of a cover stitch machine (or setting on a serger) by using a twin needle. The bobbin thread zig-zagging on the bottom side gives stretch to the hem, which means the threads don’t break.

After the summit I did some noodling around on the internet: the one issue I had was the fabric curling at the top edge of the hem.  Terial Magic would take care of that by stiffening the edge, but there is also stuff called wash-away tape that is 1/4″ wide.  That, placed on the cut edge, would hold the hem in place AND keep it from curling (which it does between the pins).  Thanks to Heather’s workshop I’m determined to take the fabric I bought to make leggings 2-4 years ago will be MADE UP into leggings this summer!  I’m not afraid any more!

Back to Eileen Roche– her company prints your designs (similar to Spoonflower) on a wide range of base goods (cottons, knits, poly, etc).  But she also offers software that works on PCs (sorry, not on Macs which is what I have) that helps you design repeats.  I could see having a lot of fun with this!

Here’s the print fabric website: and here’s where you find the software:

Although I’ve returned to earth after the rush of the Summit, just revisiting these photos has brought back what a great week this was.  A TON of good stuff packed into 3 full days!

Double Gauze and Luxe Cuddle from Shannon Fabrics, Janome Education Summit 2018, Post #3

Saturday, June 9th, 2018

Double Gauze top with fabric from Shannon Fabrics at the Janome Education Summit 2018

More fun stuff from the Janome Education Summit!   On Wednesday, we were given a choice of three kits by Shannon Fabrics…these are brilliant!   They come in a lovely box (link here to mine on Amazon…other kits are currently available, prices in the $32-39 range for all the fabric you need, click here to see Shannon Fabrics Cuddle Kits) with the exact amounts of different fabrics and faux fur to make a baby throw, about 30×40 inches.   I loved the arrow print in mine so was (once again) the disobedient child and opted to make an Infinity Scarf with one of the fabrics and the faux fur at the Summit, then make the blouse pictured above when  home.

The revelation was the incredible softness and quality of the faux fur.  It is LUXURIOUS–look for “Luxe Cuddle.”  You will want to pet it.  You will want to take it home.  One Janome Educator had made a throw of this “fur/minkee” with flannel that is so incredibly snuggly that it almost (but not quite) makes you wish winter would come sooner.  But when Winter does come I’ll be ready–I’ve already ordered 4 1/2 yards online!  Here are a bunch of photos I took of samples and items made with the Luxe Cuddle and furs.  Some are definitely more “city” than rural Maine, but I can still see some of these in fun stuff–that curly fur would be a totally fun throw pillow!   Price on the fabrics I ordered (from, not affiliated, just had a good selection) were about $16-26 a yard.  I don’t have a photo of the jacket one of the ladies from Shannon made for her daughter from a fur that looked like a baby spotted fawn…adorable.


Some great tips from Shannon Fabrics for working with Minkee, Cuddle and other fabrics that shed:

  • first cut from the back so you clip the backing fabric, not the hairs (thereby creating fewer shedding bits),
  • then run the cut pieces in the dryer — the loose bits will mostly end up in the lint filter (empty it!) and not all over you and your sewing room
  • choose a simple garment shape, boxy rather than fitted/many pieces/darts

There are great tips and tricks on Shannon’s website here.  And free patterns are here.  Including the one I used for this scarf which I made in class:

In my infinity scarf–the fleece matches my hair LOL! And boy is this COMFY!


I ordered some Faux Fox fur for another infinity scarf — a yard of $17 fabric (60″ wide) will make two long scarves 9″ wide x 60″ loop (can wear doubled as in this photo) or three shorter ones 9″ wide by 36″ loop.  Pretty quick and easy holiday gifts,  eh? And I am in LOVE with the Buffalo Check fleece, which is not in stores yet that I can find.  I want to make Christmas jammie pants for the family!  If you have wee ones, imagine making a plushie toy like the elephant and a matching nap blankie!

The double gauze has in the past been aimed at the children’s garment market, but they are starting to add not-juvenile prints and solid colors.  Some other double gauze I have used is a finer weave and softer to the hand, but costs about triple this fabric.  The fabric softens up when washed, and I know I will really like wearing my shirt.  Here is how I made it using two of the fabrics that came in my kit:

My kit showing some of the other kits available.

I used a simple vintage T shaped blouse pattern (see photo below with the pink shirt). Because the gauze is very loose and malleable, I used French seams. I sewed with wrong sides together using the Janome “M” overcast foot. Then, press the seam and turn inside out.

This is the overcast stitch I used. Your machine probably has one similar, or if you have a serger you could use that, too.

Turn the garment inside out and sew with a 3/8″ seam allowance, which totally encloses the overcast edges to create a clean finish on the seam that won’t ever ravel.

I didn’t have a lot of fabric, so I had to shorten the “sleeves” and length compared to the pattern. Even as a shell this would have been a nice top.

Here is was trying out various lengths for the addition of the dotted fabric to the hem and sleeves.

And trying it on. Those longer sleeves looked awful–needed to be shorter!

Here is my circa 1988 Vogue pattern which I used to make the pink shirt back in the late 80s or early 90s of Liberty Lawn (and I still wear it and it still looks good) and the slightly modified double-gauze top.

Double Gauze top with fabric from Shannon Fabrics at the Janome Education Summit 2018–and me, one more time.  I have on an aqua camisole underneath to show shadow-through–hardly any.  I could easily wear normal undergarments and be completely comfortable in this.  I have been thinking that this fabric would make really great pajama/lounge pants for hot summer weather.

It’s so much fun re-visiting this inspiring Summit.  In retrospect I can’t believe we packed in so much into just under 3 full days!  Thank you again Janome America for inviting me to participate, including me as a Janome Artisan, and supporting me and my art these past 15 years.  I think I’ve been affiliated with the company longer than many of their freelance educators!   And thanks to Shannon Fabric for this session, the kit, and yes, I’m totally gonna order more of that Faux Fur!




She makes clothes, too!

Saturday, December 10th, 2016

It has been a while, but I have gotten back to making clothes over the past year or two.   I began life as a garment sewer, but abandoned that when I discovered quilting.  Now that I am getting older, I find that I don’t always like the generic stuff available and have begun sewing clothing again.  Sometimes, I find the PERFECT top though, and can’t find it again.  That leads to making your own patterns.

Success! I actually made a KNIT garment. The original shirt (purchased) is on the left. After making the pattern from that shirt, I made the plum one on the right. I'll do a separate blogpost later this week with more info on how I did it and which stitches used.

Success! I actually made a KNIT garment. The original shirt (purchased) is on the left. After making the pattern from that shirt, I made the plum one on the right.

The aqua shirt on the left, from Habitat, is a favorite.  It is also getting old and tatty.  I found the plum knit (Anna Maria Horner) at Alewives Fabrics a couple years ago made up in a dress.  They had 1/2 yard more than needed for the dress, so I bought all of it.  But I decided rather than make a summer dress, I would make a top and leggings or two tops out of it, since it seemed more autumn-y to me.  The fabric is long since sold out, but Alewives has a great selection and does mail orders!

I took some cheap paper (a roll of medical exam table paper bought from my doctor about six years ago and the roll is still not near done) to make tracings of the original shirt pieces (which involves some creative pulling and pinning to get things like the sleeves outlined) to make a pattern.  I smoothed out the lines, lengthened the sleeves from 3/4 to full length for winter, and cut out my fabrics.  For my shirt, I used a lightweight fusible interfacing for the neckline, but mine turned out a bit stiffer, so maybe next time I’ll try a LOT of starch and no interfacing.

When sewing knits, you want to use a stitch that has some stretch in it and a BALLPOINT or Jersey needle–this keeps it from cutting holes in the knit fabric.  You can use a straight stretch stitch that is standard on even the most basic machines…it looks like three vertical lines next to each other, stitch 5 in the photo below.

Utility stitches on the Janome 9400. These stitches are available on even the most basic machines.

Utility stitches on the Janome 9400. Most of these stitches are available on even the most basic machines–the only ones you might not find are 6, 7, 12 (reverse), and 18.

A few thousand years ago, I took some sewing on polar fleece classes, and in those learned to use a zigzag for stretchy side seams on garments, so that is what I used for this top.


This photo shows that I used stitch 6, which I think of as a lightning zigzag, for the seam, and  Stitch 18 for an “overcast” stitch before trimming away the excess on the edges.  I like a nicely finished garment!   One could also use stitches 10 or any in the 13-23 range for an overcast if you don’t have something like 18 on your machine.

To hem my top, I used a Ballpoint Twin needle (i think mine is a wider separation between the needles, nearly 1/4″).  When sewing on knits, always use a ballpoint so the tip doesn’t cut the threads in the knit fabric.  I wound some thread onto an extra bobbin and placed it on the second spindle.  Then you thread the machine holding both threads as if they were one.  After passing through the last thread guide (photo below), hand thread (don’t use the automatic needle threader as it won’t go to the correct spots) the needles.

Twin needles

Twin needles make a lovely stitch.  The bobbin thread forms a zigzag, which makes the seam stretchy (which means the stitches won’t pop and break when you stretch the hem).

Sewing the hem. I am using a line on the throat place as a guide to create a gem that is about an inch deep.

Sewing the hem. I am using a line on the throat place as a guide to create a hem that is about an inch deep. After stitching, trim away excess fabric above the stitching.

I’m fairly pleased with my top.  I’d do the interfacing slightly differently next time (and yes, there will be a next time–the neckline on this top is flattering on me and comfortable), but the Janome 9400 performed flawlessly.  WOOT!


Janome 9400 review

Monday, December 5th, 2016

As many of you know, I’ve been fortunate to be affiliated with Janome America for many years and sew on their great machines.   They’ve come out with a new top-of-the-line NON-embroidery machine, the 9400.  And as I have come to expect, they take something that is already really good and make it even better.  We’re getting close to perfect!   To see the machine on the Janome site, go here.

My newest sewing love, the Janome 9400!

My newest sewing love, the Janome 9400!  Notice the FABULOUS lighting?  I love the pull-out light, too!

Over the past few months I’ve been able to put the machine through its paces, making a knit top, finishing a set of quilted placemats, finishing a small bag with zipper, and (who me?) piecing several quilt tops.   The machine excelled at everything I threw at it!  The 9400 has taken many features from the top of the line embroidery and sewing 15000 machine, including that awesome light on the top left that slides out.  I think the design of it  on the 9400 is even better than on the 15000, as it curves a bit.

One of the first things I did was some class samples for my Easy-Peasy Inside-Out Bag….including installing a zipper.

Zipper insertion for my Easy-Peasy Inside-Out Bag class sample.   Notice how the zipper foot fits PERFECTLY, allowing me to use the zipper coil as a guide and getting the stitching **perfect** ?  I used plum stitching as a decorative accent on the right side of the zipper, and am now stitching the second side of the left half of the zipper.

Zipper insertion for my Easy-Peasy Inside-Out Bag class sample. Notice how the zipper foot fits PERFECTLY, allowing me to use the zipper coil as a guide and getting the stitching **perfect** ? I used plum stitching as a decorative accent on the right side of the zipper, and am now stitching the second side of the zipper.

A bigger challenge, for both me and the machine, was to make a new top.  I fell in love with the plum knit and bought it a year or so ago.   I also love the aqua top, which is showing its age.  I did a “rub off” which is where you make your own pattern using an existing garment.  You can trace (with garment on top of paper) or rub (with garment under paper) to feel the edges and create pattern pieces.  I extended the sleeves from 3/4 to full length, and am delighted at the machine and the results.

Success!  I actually made a KNIT garment.  The original shirt (purchased) is on the left. After making the pattern from that shirt, I made the plum one on the right.  I'll do a separate blogpost later this week with more info on how I did it and which stitches used.

Success! I actually made a KNIT garment. The original shirt (purchased) is on the left. After making the pattern from that shirt, I made the plum one on the right. I’ll do a separate blogpost later this week with more info on how I did it and which stitches used.

I also have done quite a lot of piecing.  I used the P foot which comes with the machine for my quarter inch seams, but decided to use the optional Clearview foot which I prefer.   In a second project (which I can’t share yet because it is a Christmas surprise) I was astounded at how accurate my results were; I am NOT a piecer, and the feed on the machine worked very well (until my attention wandered, at which point I simply cut the threads, went back to my oops and fixed it).

Using the ClearView foot for piecing

Using the ClearView foot for piecing.  I really like the red 1/8 and 1/4″ markings. This foot is available for both Janome’s  7mm and 9mm machines (the 7 and 9 refer to the maximum stitch width–you need to be sure you get the correct one to fit the “ankle” for your machine). Have I said how much I love it?

I also have been able to do both free-motion and walking foot quilting, though not as much yet as I would have liked.   I finished a set of placemats and table runner called Modern Winter, which I prepared for Janome’s blog.  You can find the pattern and information here.

Modern Winter placemats and table runner.

Modern Winter placemats and table runner. Instructions/pattern on the Janome site at the link.  

The one thing I keep trying to convince Janome to do is to create feet for the top of the line machines that is similar to the convertible FMQ (free motion quilting)  feet for the Janome 8900/8200 and similar which I think are the best quilting feet Janome makes.   In addition to the traditional “hopping” or darning foot used for free-motion quilting, the 9400, 15000, 12000 all have the QO and QC skimming FMQ feet which snap on to the ankle (which is really quick and easy).  However, these feet are clear plastic and not round.   They work great for most people’s purposes, but if you look at pretty much ALL quilting machines, the preferred and nearly universally available feet are metal CIRCLES.  The metal is stronger and can, therefore, be thinner, which affords greater visibility.  And by being a circle, you can echo quilt around (for example) an appliqué, then  continue with free motion without having to change feet.  This is a small quibble but one that is important to me.

The foot on the left is the Ruler Foot for the 8900, and the two bits on the right are the optional bottoms for FMQ, the open U (as Janome made it) and the circle (which Janome made closed, but I used my Dremel to open up a tiny bit)

The foot on the left is the Ruler Foot for the 8900, and the two bits on the right are the optional bottoms for FMQ, the open U (as Janome made it) and the circle (which Janome made closed, but I used my Dremel to open up a tiny bit).  I would LOVE these options for the top of the line Janome machines (9400, 12000 and 15000).

One of the

One of the really cool things about the 9400 (which came down to it from the 15000) is the snap on feature for some of the quilting feet.  In this image, you can see the echo quilting foot, the clear disc with red circles/lines, for the 9400 on the lower left.  It just pops on and off the ankle like regular feet–fast, easy and effective.  The other three in this image are from the bottom of the convertible FMQ foot for the 8900; you have to screw them on to the holder which is a small fuss.  

I was MOST impressed at International Quilt Festival, Houston, this year.  I introduced myself to the president of Janome America to say thank you for Janome’s continued support for the past decade-plus, and to ask about developing these feet for the 9400 and 15000 (and 12000).  He whipped out a notebook and took notes!   So as soon as I finish this post, I’m going to follow up with him with details I’ve been mulling over on how best to meet ALL needs for quilting–both hopping and skimming. Love Janome’s responsiveness!  He said he’d send the info to headquarters in Japan–can’t do more than that!

Although you can read it on Janome’s site, I’m adding some info about the features and accessories included on this machine.  Best of all, a lot of stores are offering “Holiday Incentives” on the price!

Janome 9400 Stitch Chart

Janome 9400 Stitch Chart…hooray, my favorite stitches are still here!

Key Features:

  • Top Loading Full Rotary Hook Bobbin System
  • 350 Built-In Stitches and 4 Alphabets
  • Superior Needle Threader
  • Cloth Guide Included
  • One-Step Needle Plate Conversion with 3 Included Plates
  • Detachable AcuFeed Flex Layered Fabric Feeding System
  • USB Port and Direct PC Connection
  • Stitch Composer Stitch Creation Software
  • Variable Zig Zag for Free Motion Quilting
  • Straight Stitch Needle Plate with Left Needle Position for 1/4″ Seam Foot
  • Professional HP Needle Plate and Foot
  • Advanced Plate Markings
  • Full Color LCD Touchscreen (4.4″ x 2.5″)
  • Sewing Applications On-Screen Support
  • Maximum Sewing Speed: 1,060 SPM
  • Full Intensity Lighting System with 9 White LED Lamps in 4 Locations
  • 11″ to the Right of the Needle
  • Retractable High Light

Included Accessories:

  • 1/4 Inch Seam Foot O
  • AcuFeed Flex™ Dual Feed Holder with AD Foot
  • Automatic Buttonhole Foot
  • Blind Hem Foot G
  • Button Sewing Foot
  • Cloth Guide
  • Darning Foot
  • Extra Large Foot Controller
  • Free Motion Quilting Closed Toe Foot
  • HP Plate and Foot Set
  • Open Toe Satin Stitch Foot
  • Overedge Foot M
  • Remote Thread Cutter Switch
  • Rolled Hem Foot
  • Satin Stitch Foot
  • Seam Ripper
  • Straight Stitch Needle Plate
  • Zig-Zag Foot
  • Zipper Foot E

So that’s my recap!  I’ll do a couple follow-up posts on the placemats and shirt projects.  Stay tuned!