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Archive for the ‘Janome’ Category

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.  https://www.interweave.com/product/art-quilt-design-from-photo-to-threadwork-video-download-2/  

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!

https://www.janome.com/products/machines/continental-m7/

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! https://www.youtube.com/user/SmithQuilts/videos  

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. https://www.byannie.com/running-with-scissors

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.  https://valwebb.wordpress.com

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 www.valeriehearder.com.  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.  https://www.sutherlandfelt.com/felt/pressed-wool-felt/

Winding Ways: quilt and done!

Saturday, August 29th, 2020
Good tools (AccuQuiltGO!), good fabric (Michael Miller Fabrics), good thread (Aurifil), good machine (Janome Continental M7), and some experience, and you can do a lot! This return to my quilty roots just makes me happy!

Over the course of the year I’ve shared progress on this quilt:

  • First, there was learning to use the AccuQuiltGO! which I blogged about here. It was a different block, but the easy applies.
  • Then there is the PIECING of CURVES: see the blogpost here or go directly to the video on my YouTube Channel here.
  • Now there is the quilting video (that covers a couple other things), embedded below and share-able on my YouTube Channel here.

Full disclosure: I have proudly been a Janome Artisan since 2003, and this year am a Michael Miller Fabrics Brand Ambassador for 2020. MMF provided the fabric and we were given, as part of being a brand ambassador, an AccuQuiltGo and several dies. To my surprise I enjoyed the process so much I have purchased both the Winding Ways and Crossed Canoe dies. Stay tuned for more!

This is the die that I purchased to make the Winding Ways, which has always been one of my favorite traditional blocks. Click this link to see a blogpost of using the AccuQuiltGO (for another block, but it’s the exact same process) including a video.
I found this design somewhere on the internet and printed it out to mess around with a design for a future quilt! Stay tuned for a WANDERING Winding Ways! Using a grid like this can help you plan out fun color fades and settings.

Next came machine quilting. I worked on that a while back–I did end up teaching for the Mancuso Online Quiltfest in August and will do a Threadcoloring the Garden workshop in October! More info on that soon! In this video I’m practicing making a video, demonstrating at the machine, and it just happens to be walking foot quilting (fast! easy!) on my beloved Janome M7. Even if I had paid full price instead of being a Janome Artisan I’d rave about this machine’s wonderfulness! Their new slogan, Reliability by Design, is really true!

Then, the hand quilting and the finishing!

I haven’t done any hand stitching in a thousand years, but nearly two years ago I bought matching green thread from aurifil in piecing/light quilting weight and a heavier 12-wt that is about the size of a light perle cotton or 6-strands of floss. I LOVE IT…and it went so fast! I can remember clearly sitting on the porch in early summer, something to watch on the iPad, stitching away.

I just love how an angled shot shows the texture and dimension. I was surprised at how quickly the hand stitching went. I used the same green color of thread on the green parts for machine quilting as the green in the heavyweight Aurifil thread.

I wanted to repeat the orange batik in the center on the edges, but using it as the binding was too much. I instead inserted a tiny stitched down “reveal” that is a scant 1/8″ just inside the white binding. Can I also put in a plug for Michael Miller’s Cotton Couture solids? The quality of the base cloth is SO GOOD! And the consistency in color / dye lots over the years is really amazing. I dye fabric and know how hard it is to get perfect matches from batch to batch and it does.

Last but not least, those skinny inserts and perfect corners.

I taught the half day version of my bindings workshop at the Mancuso Online Quiltfest in June and may do so again in the new year. I am scheduled to teach and have an exhibit of my work at the Mid-Atlantic Quiltfest in Virginia in February, but at this point who knows if it will be in person or online! I promise I will teach the bindings (full or half day) again in the new year online, just need to figure out when. My students in June had GREAT results online so it works online too!

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed my 2020 detour back to my quilty roots. Coming soon, a new art quilt!

Piecing Curves…it is possible even for me

Monday, August 3rd, 2020
Whoo-eeeee! Lookit those perfect seams… this was my second block, and I think it looks pretty durn good for someone who doesn’t really piece a lot! There are a few MINOR things I can fuss at (like the seam allowance on the center top spike is a skosh wide and the upper left corner edge isn’t perfect, but still! Fabrics are batiks and Bright White Cotton Couture from Michael Miller Fabrics.

Precision piecing has never been my strong suit, but I am — like Michaelangelo at age 80 — still learning. One of the things I’ve learned is that it is OK to use specialty tools like the AccuQuiltGO! and byAnnie’s stiletto. Thank you to Michael Miller, for whom I am a Brand Ambassador this year) and Janome America for having me as an Artisan. For me, careful cutting for squares, rectangles and triangles isn’t too TOO challenging (as long as I’m paying attention which is never to be take for granted LOL). But CURVES? Not so much.

Back in May, I shared a video that tells yo about the amazing (Heavenly Perfection?) HP presser foot and throat plate, herhttp://www.sarahannsmith.com/weblog/?p=13206e. If you have a Janome with this option and haven’t tried it out, DO! Go watch the video… it’s a brief but I hope helpful mini tutorial. The video is also on my YouTube channel, here. I’ve been doing a bit more with brief videos…looks like about one a month. I’ll have another later this month about using the blind hem stitch for some slacks I made–you can subscribe to the channel.

After cutting using the Winding Ways die (requires the AccuQuiltGo or similar cutter, too), I laid out the blocks to see how they looked (and to make sure I had enough of each shape).
Here are the settings on my M7 for the HP foot which helped me get such amazing accuracy and careful piecing. Slowing down helps, too. Ahem.
First, I cut and assembled segments.

Here’s a quick video of me using the oh-so-wonderful HP accufeed foot and throat plate from Janome, on my M7. Thanks to Kimberly Einmo who shared her love of this accessory at the 2018 Janome Education Summit! Like I said…there is ALWAYS more to enjoy learning.

The stiletto from byAnnie.com is here.

Sub-units created
Following the assembly instructions that come with the Winding Ways die, you press seams in specific directions and create and assemble sub-units in a specific order.
Then you get as close to perfection as I am ever going to get! There is still some fine tuning I need to do (meaning the dreaded P-word: PRACTICE) to get the outside edges straight, but I mean really, look!
Here’s my Winding Ways on the design wall, considering various settings. I ended up going fairly traditional…I’ll share “done” in a week or two.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my detour from art quilting. I’ve actually needed a break to recharge myself, and this has been DELIGHTFUL. I’m thrilled with the finished quilt… will post it in about a week or so.

Full disclosure: I’ve been a Janome Artisan for 16 years, and am forever grateful for their support and machines. I’m a Michael Miller Fabrics (MMF) Brand Ambassador for 2020; the batiks and white fabric were donated as part of that ambassadorship. The AccuQuiltGO! was a GIFT (!!!!) as part of the MMF thing, and I purchased the Winding Ways die once I realized that wow, I could USE this machine! Whooda thunk it? Well, I should have. Having FUN! And lastly, thanks to byAnnie.com; their donations to the Teacher Goodie Bags in Houston one year netted me that awesome (and not expensive) Stiletto!

The next generation SEWS brilliantly…on a Janome of course!

Tuesday, July 28th, 2020

My daughter-in-law Ashley is my “daughter by another mother.” She is crafty and smart and nice and boy did I get lucky! (Well, my son Joshua was smart too….) Anyway, she was interested in sewing, so for a few years we worked on small projects together. She liked it so much we decided to SPLURGE two years ago and give her a combined Birthday and Graduation from College with Honors with a Teaching degree (yup, popping proud): her very first sewing machine, the Janome M7200. What with moving, starting her teaching career, lack of space in the first apartment in Portland, she just finished her first solo garment, the Sorbetto top, and I am SO impressed! She has every reason to be proud!

Here she is on a HOT summer’s day in Portland (Maine) showing her beautiful work, all done on her Janome M7200 (pic below, keep reading!). The pattern is free online at Collette patterns, https://www.seamwork.com/catalog/sorbetto.
LOOK at that PERFECT edge stitching!!!!! I couldn’t have done better myself. There are many specialty feet, but I go old-school as I get best results that way: use a zipper foot, carefully position the needle in the “U” shape, and then keep the edge of the foot exactly on the edge of the fold. She ROCKED IT!
And the hem….. without so much as a prompt or suggestion from me, she realized that it’s delightful to align the stripes on the inside and she did it! I’m “one of those people” sometimes, I think the backs and insides need to be just as lovely as the fronts/outsides!

Our sewing garments journey began before graduation, when Ashley said she’d like to make her own dress for graduation. She picked a pattern with (!!!!) fitted bodice, set-in sleeves and an invisible zipper! We sewed in my studio on the Janome 9450 I was using at that time (I’m a Janome Artisan and have been on the loan program for 16 years now!). I’d do the first half of something to show her, then she’d do the second half, including a complete set-in sleeve perfectly done on her own! From the start, she showed an inclination to make my heart go thumpity-thump: do it WELL with care and attention to detail. Here’s Ashley modeling the dress in our yard just before and then at graduation:

Too cute for words!
Graduation day 2018
Back in May 2018….
The SPLURGE once-in-a-decade gift for combined birthday and college graduation: a Janome M7200. Thanks a bazillion to Dave LaValley at Bittersweet Fabrics in Boscawen, NH, for recommending this machine. I told him my budget, and that I wanted a machine that will do well by Ashley for a decade for garments, home dec, crafts and maybe someday even quilting. He steered me to this one, which I had thought was more than I could afford, because it is such a well made, sturdy and durable machine, AND made it fit our budget! Dave, we’ve got a budding lifelong sewist in the family! If any of you ever get to Vermont Quilt Festival, you MUST go to the awards ceremony. In honor of his mom, who opened the shop 50 or so years ago, he GIVES a small Janome to EVERY first-time-youth entrant in the show!!!!!! The kids get up on stage… I remember one 4-year old–the machine came up above her knees! Everyone goes armed with hankies! THANK YOU DAVE!

Thank you Joshua from bringing Ashley into our family. Thank you Ashley for being you! Thank you Sue for being my co-mother-in-law and raising such awesome girls! And thank you Ashley for letting me share and brag on you!

Screen Printed Garments!

Monday, July 20th, 2020
My new Queen Anne’s Lace top. I screen printed my custom designs onto Cotton Couture solids (courtesy of Michael Miller Fabrics), this color is “Luna.”
In the summer of 2020 I saw Print Pattern Sew by Jen Hewitt somewhere online and ordered it immediately. It’s FAB! is available many places including Amazon . DO check out Jen’s site, here. Of course it took until April to start playing and until now to post. For the workshop and this post I wanted to use a pattern currently available that is similar to two vintage (circa mid 1980s) patterns that I still make over and over because I love them so much.
There are LOTS of great photos and step outs in the book.
Table of Contents
Since my favorite patterns are decades out of print, I selected this one for this project in case anyone wants to buy the book for further instruction. It comes with the pattern included.

I’ve been developing some new classes using paint on cloth and I thought as part of being a Michael Miller Brand Ambassador and a Janome Artisan what better thing to do than combine all these things I love in one! Some of you may remember this post from when I did a DIY improvement to my hall sconces; one of the lampshades was Queen Anne’s Lace screen printed on linen. I used the thermofax screens I made for that again for this top.

Step one is testing various mixes of color to get just what I wanted. You can see a colorful little plastic “flat not-a-spoon”–that is a make-up paddle, available in packages on Amazon for about $5 for 100 (more than a lifetime supply). They are great for getting into small paint jars. I used to use some Gelato spoons a shop gave me, but the flat paddles are better for scraping off (and not wasting) excess paint).
The paints I used are ProFAB Transparent paints from ProChemical and Dye, but most textile paints will work. These have a particularly soft hand to them. Starter kits are a great and cost-effective way to try them out (I have a pair of kits available here; also available in just one or the other types of paint).
LABEL what you use, what base paints are in the mix. I can promise you, with three yellows and three blues in 15 minutes I will forget which one is which! I keep these test-scraps for future reference.
I used freezer paper to make stencils for the stems. I could have made a thermofax screen, but the mesh is expensive and Freezer Paper is cheap.
I used a thermofax screen of grasses I had used for my lampshade for the bottom of the garment. I cut oversized pike for the front, back, and what I thought would be a trim for the sleeves. I later decided to leave the cuff/bottom of the sleeves plain.
I used the grass screen to decorate the “facing” piece. Instead of putting the facing on the inside of the garment, I turned it to the outside as a decorative element.
Ooops! Sometimes goobers happen. Any unwanted random little smudges of paint are quickly wet and scraped away. Or you just live with them.
The printing was done in four steps: 1. Print stems over freezer paper stencil and let dry. I ended up adding another flower later on, so had to add another stem as seen here. 2. Print grass with thermofax screen. Let dry. 3. The thermofax screen for the Queen Anne’s Lace was made from my pen and ink drawing. My lampshades were all green on white linen. For this blouse, I wanted the flowers to be white, so I **carefully** screen printed the stems through the screen (seen above left) and let them dry. 4. Then I went back in with a creamy white (mixed from white with a dab of yellow) to do the flowers. This is the point where you pray you don’t mess up!
When mixing light colors, start with a larger amount of the lightest color and put in just the TINY-est touch of color…it takes surprisingly little yellow to turn that glob of white into a softer white or barely-green. After purchasing the multicolored make up paddles, I discovered these square cornered white ones. They are great for applying small amounts of paint carefully through a thermofax screen and for getting into the bottom edges of the ProChem jars.
Once I had the front and back printed, I pinned them together and tried them on. The grasses on the bottom looked sparse, wimpy. And I wanted the shirt a bit shorter. So I went back in with the same screen, offsetting it so the same shapes weren’t repeated too closely, and did a second layer higher up. I didn’t care if the printing didn’t follow all the way up what would become the hem on the inside. And that way I could just use the same screen instead of making another one.
For the “facing” on the outside, I cut the outer edge of the interfacing very carefully so I could iron the seam allowance over it and create a lovely, smooth outside curve.
If you are new to garment making, be SURE to clip your curves well so that the facing turns and lies nice and flat.
My favorite way to get a perfect edge stitch is old school: using the zipper foot!
Place the edge of the zipper foot against the edge where you want to stitch. In this case I need to use the left side of the foot. Move the needle so that it drops a few threads away from the folded edge. I use a fingernail or thumbnail as an edge guide and don’t sew too quickly. There are indeed “edge feet” for this purpose, but I find that the blades can bend or not be as precise as I want them to be (not to mention visibility isn’t as good as doing it this way). I’d already completed the top when I took this shot, so you can see how perfectly my Janome M7 stitched!
For the hem, I decided I would use a blind hem stitch instead of hand-sewing it. The blind hem stitch I selected is for woven cloth, with straight stitches in between the zigs (#18…on the yellow part of the screen you can see that stitch 19 is a blind hem stitch for knits). Over on the white, it shows the settings and to use the G foot which I am holding up It has an “ice skating blade” (i.e. guide) in the middle.
You can see the metal guide in the center of the foot. As above, I set up this photo after the garment is complete, which is why you see stitching at th bottom of the image. To prepare for blind hem stitching, you fold the hem up with the raw edge pressed to it will be inside the hem. You then fold back the outside of the garment so that the soon-to-be-hidden part of the hem is barely visible, about 1/8″. The body of the garment folds away to the left. The straight stitching on the hem is done with the needle in the curvy part of the “blade” where it stitches on the inside of the hem. The flat part of the blade snugs up against the folded back fabric, and the “Zig” part of the stitch takes a little nibble of the outside of the garment.
My thread matched the Luna Cotton Couture perfectly. It is challenging to see those tiny hem stitches on the right side of the garment.
Back view
Side view–I love how the design goes all the way around. I hope you’ve enjoyed this mini tutorial! Thanks again to Janome for their 16+ years of sponsorship and to Michael Miller for having me as a Brand Ambassador this year!