email Youtube

Home
Galleries
Blog
Workshops & Calendar
Store
Resources
About
Contact

Archive for the ‘Favorite Products’ Category

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!

Peek Into Batiks–June Block!

Friday, June 26th, 2020

Earlier in the year I shared that Michael Miller Fabrics is doing a Block of the Month called Peek Into Batiks. It all began here. That post has links to each month as the new block goes live. Well, June is my turn! I’ve got still photos and (gasp) a video! And, drum roll here is the link to the JUNE Pattern and instructions.

Here’s the finished block! Read on for step by step instructions.

First, of course, you need to cut your fabrics. I used a hybrid method using the AccuQuiltGo! for everything except the large black triangles on the border. First, let me show you how fast it went cutting the components on my AccuQuiltGO! in this video. The video isn’t perfect–I’m improving in my editing skills. I need to mark what is within camera view though! Next video will be even better…I’m learning! When I was playing, it stopped a couple times so just click play again to continue–keep an eye on where the progress bar is. Dunno what’s up with that…another learning curve LOL!

Wasn’t that amazing? Wait until you see the Winding Ways quilt I have in progress for later this year! For now, let’s stick to Peek Into Batiks! This step is where I veer from the instructions (of course, it’s me… who follows instructions EVER completely? Not me…) In the interest of fewer seams, I chose to use the flip-and-sew method for the Flying Geese Units.

I’ve set out the large rectangles and half square triangles to make the frame for the block.
Then I chain pieced the first side of the large Flying Geese.
For the second side of the Flying Geese, same process, just make sure you get the triangles doing in the correct direction. Sew, trim, press.
And the actual sewing bit…
In the interest of not ripping out seams, it really helps to lay these out so you have theirs organized correctly.
Next up, piecing the quarter-squares for the center. First, sew two triangles together.
The Janome M7 Continental lets me piece SO accurately. Between the M7 and AccuQuilt, even *I* can be precise!
I paired up the two-triangle units to make sure I didn’t mix them up while sewing.
Then, sewing the pairs together. Using the M7’s HP foot and throat plate meant PERFECT piecing. See next pic!
And two of the quarter-squares sewn together. I can’t believe I pieced that perfectly!
Here’s the back of the block. Notice that some seams are pressed to one side, but the main seams joining the four squares are pressed open. This helped keep everything nice and tidy and perfect on the front.
Once the center unit was ready, I set up the “frame” for the block.
I sewed the sections together in three rows. Notice the only imperfection is down where *I* used rotary cutting…sigh……..
Here’s the finished block again!

Remember, go here or HERE for all the links to the six blocks so far and to check in for the rest of the year. The finished quilt is beautiful!

Easy Peasy meets Soft ‘n Stable

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

In my last post I shared the Clam Up bag from byAnnie.com, and earlier I shared my AWESOME Running With Scissors bag made for her patterns. I love bags and baskets and boxes and things to organize. One of my favorite classes to teach is my Easy-Peasy Inside-Out Bag, which makes a great 3 hours quickie class for a bag (or two if you are fast) or full day class where you can learn more details and extras. I decided to try Annie’s Soft ‘n Stable stabilizer instead of batting to see how it would work in MY bags, which are quick quick quick and FUN! (Like potato chips, you can’t make just one!)

Here it is: the Easy Peasy process using Soft ‘n Stable and accenting the zipper with “binding” the way Annie Unrein teaches in her patterns at byAnnie.com The fabric used is courtesy of Michael Miller Fabrics–the main fabric is from the Lost in Paradise collection (shipped May 2020) and the other fabrics are the Garden Pindot collection on the outside and the inside (and that’s Hash Dots on the backing of the quilt you see awaiting quilting on the back of the table).
This is a sampling of the fun bags I teach in the Easy-Peasy Inside-Out Class…. if you think you’d like me to teach this for your guild–including LIVE ONLINE workshops, leave me a comment! They are fast and fun and can be customized so many ways.
This shows the Clam Up bag and my Easy-Peasy next to it. I made this bag long enough to hold my large Fiskars flat on the bottom. Frankly, it is large enough it could hold a small knitting project or paper piecing supplies! One thing I will do differently next time is FUSE the lining to the back side of the Soft ‘n Stable. I didn’t use the walking foot and it shows. Oh well…lesson learned!
Before installing the zipper and sewing the seams, I pinned it together to check size and how I wanted to finish it. Most of my Easy Peasy bags leave the boxed corner triangles on the outside (see that photo above with the many colorful bags made with batting). Leaving the triangles outside acts to stabilize the bag and keep it upright. With the Soft ‘n Stable doing that job, I chose to tuck the “corners” inside for this bag.
Next, before boxing the bag into shape, I used the 3-stitch zigzag to secure and tidy up the edges.
The narrow accufeed foot on my Janome M7 makes it a breeze to sew zippers to a quilted, puffy base without distortion.
Here I’m adding a decorative element to the zippers. Gotta love wonder clips!
On my Janome M7, I the three-stitch zigzag looks like this, but it is available on all but the most basic machines as a standard utility stitch. The M7 allows me great flexibility in both stitch width and length–not all machines do!

My Easy-Peasy Inside-Out process is fun, fast, and infinitely adaptable. I’ll be making a new version of my notebook cover–I’ve also got an iPad case, a business card case, and a few other goodies up my sleeve. Maybe I’ll self-publish a book of patterns and variations on the theme…what do you think?

Next up, I’ll share a basket pattern that again modifies what I’ve learned from the byAnnie.com patterns! Stay tuned!