Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Jiminy Christmas!

Sunday, December 16th, 2018

Happy winter folks!  Egads….time whizzing by, change in the behind the scenes stuff on my website so trying to write a blogpost is totally unlike what it has been for 14 years…. I’m lost!   Don’t even know how to add a photo.  Well, it has been busy as usual what with massive house cleaning, getting ready for the holidays and all that.  I’m also starting a newsletter, so there is a new sign  up button on my home page and, if I can figure out how, I’ll put it in here, too. 

 Here is a snapshot of the house so far..Eli came home from college last night so we can finally finish trimming the tree this weekend.  We are due to get snow tonight and tomorrow, but after a cold and wintry November it is warming up in December so I don’t think we’ll have a White Christmas (but I’ve already watched the movie for the season!).

So it looks like I added a photo, now what…gosh I hate when things change so radically!   Trying to decipher MailChimp has been hard enough for the morning.  So here’s a quick peek at what I’m doing in the studio:

The start of a rose hip……

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?  When I grew up we made candy and delivered it as gifts, but haven’t done that in decades.  In the interest of fitting into my clothes, I am restraining myself.  But I love remembering who gave me various ornaments or where we went that year.

Here’s an ornament made by my friend Deborah Boschert, an angel that was on a gift from my cousin Anne sometime in the mid 60s (for anyone from southern California, probably it came from Pic N Save!), a spider web in glass from my first tour in the Foreign Service in Toronto (and miraculously not broken despite traveling around the world for umpteen years) and my two beautiful Lalique discs, at the top of the tree out of pet danger.

and here is an attempt at a pop-up sign up for my monthly (or maybe every other month) newsletter…I’ll fine tune formatting another day, ahem. now, I need to figure out a logo!  Give me suggestions LOL! PS–scroll down, I can’t figure out why so much blank space.

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Call me a Shannon Cuddle fan!

Sunday, October 14th, 2018

A heavenly combination: my studio, my Janome 9400 and Shannon Fabrics cuddle fabric–I’m ready for winter!  This fabric is so soft you just want to pet it, snuggle under it, and not give it away as a gift!

Last May, Janome America had its first ever Janome Education Summit, and one of the presenters was Shannon Fabrics.  From the kit they provided, I made the lovely summery top in this blogpost.  But they also shared samples of their fabrics, including these two.  True confession:  I have this Elmer Fudd-esque love affair with red and black buffalo check.  When I got home from the Janome event, I searched for the cuddle buffalo check on the internet wanting to buy multiple yards of it it but couldn’t find it anywhere, so contacted the presenter from Shannon Fabrics, who told me it wasn’t available until summer for the new fall season.  I ordered some other Shannon Cuddle and Luxe Fur from Fabric.com (still waiting to make that up, stay tuned in December).  Mid summer I still couldn’t find it, so I wrote to her again, and she SENT ME a big box to make not one but TWO projects.   This throw is SO fast and easy and it would make an awesome holiday gift. Literally, I made it in a short afternoon!

Me by the fireplace, wrapped in my jumbo throw. This is big enough for two people on a sofa. Or one person a cat and a pug in a chair. Ahem (photo below).

 Here’s what and how:

The two fabrics pictured are available at Fabric.com here/minky buffalo check and here/Studio minky forest park, both in the scarlet color way.  It is also available in a blue version, and there is a lovely silvery gray and white buffalo check too.  I used two yards of each, but had a little of the print leftover–gonna make a hat out of that!  You’ll also need some thread–color doesn’t really matter as it disappears into the pile, but I did use red. If I had found the Shannon free pattern and video (keep reading) I would have ordered 2 1/3 yards of the check since you need a little extra to wrap.  Instead, I trimmed down my white print to work.

A blogpost with lots of pictures is better. Here is the throw on the love seat / reading zone in my basement studio. You can see how large it is!

TIPS and HINTS for working with Cuddle, Minky and Luxe Fur:

  1.  The BEST tip for minimizing lint came from Ellen of Shannon Fabrics in May:  you know you when you cut Minky and similar fabrics you end up with little bits of fluff EVERYwhere forever?  Not any more!   First, especially with the long fur-like fabrics (in my upcoming December project), cut your fleece from the back cutting only through the knit backing.  This minimizes the snipped bits of fluff.  You can also do as I did with the regular pile cuddle (what I used here) and use a rotary cutter.  Then scoop up ALL the pieces (including leftovers if you keep them for small projects later), perhaps into a basket or large plastic bag, and take them to your DRYER.  Yes, the clothes dryer.  Tumble on no-heat for about ten minutes, then CLEAN THE LINT FILTER. About 80+ percent of that fluff will end up in the lint filter and not all over your sewing space and house.  OMG it really worked!
  2. There is no stretch on the lengthwise grain.  At all.  If you make a garment (my next project) make sure you keep grainline in mind when fitting the garment.
  3. The fabric DOES NOT RAVEL.  At ALL.  That means you don’t have to turn under edges!!!!!!  That means these projects are FAST!
  4. Stitch length:  The fleece will hide your stitches.  That means it will be challenging if you decide you need to remove any of the stitches, so pin carefully to avoid ripping out!   Also, it is good to use a slightly longer stitch length.  I used a 3.0.
  5. Best stitch for seams on knits: For garments, using a zigzag or “lightning” zigzag will at a 1.0 width will look like a straight stitch seam from the outside, but adds a little bit of flexibility and therefore helps avoid popping stitches in the seam.

Shannon Fabrics has many free patterns available.  I used this one for my throw, a youTube video called Cuddle Self-Binding Blanket from Shannon and FleeceFun.com.  I hadn’t found this video when I requested my fabric.  If I had, I would have ordered 2 1/3 yard of the buffalo check and 2 yards of the forest park print and had a slightly larger (better!) throw.  WATCH the video before you order fabric…it is only 7 minutes long and will help you.

I used a serpentine stitch on my Janome 9400, an “S” shaped stitch to sew down the edges. You could also use a blanket stitch or a 3-step zigzag (the one that takes three stitches in one direction, then three stitches the other way).  I mean, you can’t even SEE the stitches.

Here’s what the serpentine stitch looks like from the back. I used red thread and you can’t even SEE the red on the black square!

I have been a Janome Fan-Girl for 15+years now.  I am now a Shannon Fan-Girl too! I’m finishing up a winter jacket with more of the buffalo check and a cream cuddle fleece lining, and will share something else that will be a gift for Christmas–perhaps in late November which is plenty of time for you to whip up a few of them in time for holiday giving.  Or keeping.  Ahem!

This is what I expect to look like most evenings in winter: in my chair in the living room, me and pug under the throw, cat checking things out, ready to make a dent in my pile of reading!

And because it is boring, this photo is last, but it shows the throw out flat.

THANK YOU SHANNON FABRICS for this fabric which I was totally prepared to order!   I have purchased more of their fabrics own my own and know I will be using it again.  If they ever make their “Spa” line in some bold colors (not pastel, not purple) I am so gonna make a bathrobe…..in the meantime, I have more snuggle quilts and gifts to make to keep me plenty busy.  And as always, Thank You Janome America for making the best machines EVER!

laid out flat on my studio floor (cement painted green!)…big, warm, SOFT. And did I mention, SOFT!

 

Spiderweb TableRunner Free Pattern for Halloween!

Sunday, October 18th, 2015

This tablerunner was featured at the Janome Institute late this past summer and it is now featured on their blog, here (scroll to October 15, 2015) and here on their projects page.  And I’m sharing the pattern with you here as a Halloween Treat!

Spiderwebs table runner (c) Sarah Ann Smith 2015.   Featured on the Janome America website/blog on October 15, and on Sarah’s blog.  Photo (c) Janome-America; used with permission and thanks!

Spiderwebs table runner (c) Sarah Ann Smith 2015. Featured on the Janome America website/blog on October 15, and on Sarah’s blog. Photo (c) Janome-America; used with permission and thanks!

For many years now I’ve been fortunate to be associated with Janome America.   I have been sewing on their machines since late 2004, moving up the product line so I’ve had a chance to test machines at all levels.  And in about a week  I will review here my test-drive of the reasonably priced Skyline S7, a brand-spanking-new machine (and to spill the beans–I can’t believe how much you get for the price!).  Anyway, I occasionally do projects for Janome.  Although this tablerunner was made on a top of the line Janome 15000, all you need is a machine that does a straight stitch.  If you have the triple-straight-stitch also, that’s good because it gives you a “bold” line on the spiderweb, but it isn’t necessary.  Even the most basic sewing machines (as long as they are not straight-stitch only) have this stitch (look for three vertical lines next to each other).

Most of my work is very involved and advanced, and the projects Janome features tend to be easier, so I drove down to one of my favorite local shops, Alewives Fabrics (here).  I found the fabulous Halloween fabric, and I’m not usually a major fan of decorating for this holiday.  But I love the ghostly dresses and the “polka dots” on the black that are really little skulls!   I also adore spiders (anything that eats mosquitoes is a friend of mine) and spiderwebs.  The green cotton-linen blend was perfect!

Detail of the spiderweb block.

Detail of the spiderweb block.

Spiderwebs for Halloween Table Runner  is the PDF for the pattern (also available on the Janome projects page, see link above).  Yep–this is a total freebie, including a full-size page of the spiderweb design which, of course, doesn’t need to be just like mine!   A friend had a great idea which I wish *I* had thought of:  to include a line of glow-in-the-dark thread with the stitching on the web!   If I were to make this again, I would feed the two threads together as if one (Thanks Lutra!)  through a large needle (size 16 or maybe even 18) to do the spiderweb stitching.

I always love the backs of things:

The quilting on the back of the tablerunner, so it is reversible if you want.

The quilting on the back of the tablerunner, so it is reversible if you want.

The fabric requirements on the pattern are SCANT–they are what I had, and I used every tiny little bit!   If you find you need to square things up a lot, buy a little more than I suggested.

Spiderwebs table runner (c) Sarah Ann Smith 2015.   Featured on the Janome America website/blog on October 15, and on Sarah’s blog.  Photo (c) Janome-America; used with permission and thanks!

Spiderwebs table runner (c) Sarah Ann Smith 2015. Featured on the Janome America website/blog on October 15, and on Sarah’s blog. Photo (c) Janome-America; used with permission and thanks!

An extra thanks to Taylor D. and Janome America for letting me use some of their photos (the nicely staged ones on the table)–I forgot to take nice photos before I sent it off to them for Institute!   And as always, thanks to Janome for having me in their Artist-Teacher program for so many years.  I truly appreciate it–and best of all, for making such great machines.  Yes, I’m affiliated, but I’d say the same things if I paid full MSRP!

Whooosh! And MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

And to those of you don’t celebrate Christmas, Merry Mistletoe!  We can all do with a hug and a smooch, including pug smooches.   Just checking in briefly to say hullo, thank you and whatnot.  Can’t believe it has been a week and a half since my last post.  Can you say BUSY?  First and foremost, though, I wanted to say thank you to all of you who read this blog.  I am still astounded that there are people who read my blog and  know who I am!   I’m just plain old me, I putter in my sewing room, and blather on here and there, so thank you from the bottom of my seriously-thread-linty heart!

Christmas Tableaux, made for my alma mater, San Domenico School in San Anselmo, California

Christmas Tableaux, made for my alma mater, San Domenico School in San Anselmo, California.  Right click to view larger.

Widgeon sends smooches to the universe.  Makes me realize that perhaps, if the world were as friendly as a pug, it would be a better place.

Smooches and adorable eyes from the pug to the universe

Smooches and adorable eyes from the pug to the universe.

I made a few ornaments again this year, once again using the beautiful ribbon from Renaissance Ribbons as my inspiration.  I bought the wool felt up at Fiddlehead Artisan Supply in Belfast, Maine, and stitched the mistletoe in either two or six strands of floss, then used perle cotton for the big-stitching on the edge.

This year's ornament with ribbon from Renaissance Ribbons.

This year’s ornament with ribbon from Renaissance Ribbons.

 

 

 

 

 

And to close, of course the Christmas tree.   Thumper decided to grace us with her presence.   I expect there is at least one other cat asleep under the tree.  So far, none IN the tree.

 

 

So Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Our tree, 2014.

Our tree, 2014.

A little holiday cheer–Ribbons galore

Friday, December 5th, 2014

A brief interlude to show that I actually DO make stuff!   Ever  fall in love with those beautiful ribbons but don’t know what to do with them?  Well, I had purchased the ribbon for the ornaments (which have taken me eons to finally set aside time to make!) from that oh-so-tempting company Renaissance Ribbons.  THEN, wonder of wonders, owner (manager?) Edith Minne asked if I would like some leftover bits from their most recent (at the time) holiday trims.  Umm..YES!   I had a ball with the latter and made this narrow banner plus a similar one from the pink color way (that one says Joy, but not sure I have a photo!).

Noel by Sarah Ann Smith (c) 2014.

Noel by Sarah Ann Smith (c) 2014.

It’s made of trim, hand-dyed wool (from Fiddlehead Artisan Supply in Belfast, Maine), wool felt and perle cotton–all the impact (of floss) with 1/3 of the work.   There is no backing, just the wool.  The letters are machine appliques, as is the ribbon.  Then the white stitching is perle cotton no. 5.  Eventually I’ll make a proper hanger instead of a fat skewer and binder clip!

Then today I was in Rockland, Maine (to the south of me, instead of the north), where I popped in to the new fabric store, Clementine, to pick up some floss bobbins (after 40 years I’m getting organized…some of my floss was purchased the wrapper tells me for 12 cents a hank….ummm…think it is OLD?   Think I am OLDER?).  The owner used to work at Fiddlehead, and the store shares the modern vibe with a range of fabrics including silk blends, linens, ticking and more.  And perle cotton.  Yep, love the stuff.  So I was sharing about my ornaments, and thought SHEESH, I should share on my blog!   Feel free to adapt these ideas–yes, go buy that glorious ribbon!

Kathy Daniels, Deborah Boschert and Kate Cutko, if you see this you may read about the owl, but then STOP SCROLLING.  Spoiler alert at the bottom.  Ahem.

This is last year’s ornament, the owl:

The owl--with a nod to my friend Jacquie Scuitto, who LOVES owls.  I wrote a story in first grade about Rowl the Owl and his girlfriend, Jane.  This is Rowl.  And another nod to my friend Janice Berkebile who sent me her "retired" metalworking hammer and some tools with which I made the hammered copper hanger.

The owl–with a nod to my friend Jacquie Scuitto, who LOVES owls. I wrote a story in first grade about Rowl the Owl and his girlfriend, Jane. This is Rowl. And another nod to my friend Janice Berkebile who sent me her “retired” metalworking hammer and some tools with which I made the hammered copper hanger.

Kathy, Kate and Deborah:  STOP HERE!

Made with ribbon, wool felt, perle cotton and embroidery floss, and the copper metal wire.

And the back with the date, since I always forget WHEN I made something!

And the back with the date, since I always forget WHEN I made something!

If I had realized how long it was going to take me to make the 2014 ornaments, I might have opted for machine stitching!  But instead I watched Endeavour, a Masterpiece Mystery series about Inspector Morse when he had just joined the force, and OH MY what excellent scriptwriting, acting and editing…if they don’t film a third series soon I may have to return to England just to throttle someone–with a cliffhanger like THAT?  Anyway…back to 2014….

SWOON....is that mistletoe ribbon not some of the most gorgeous ribbon you've ever seen?????

SWOON….is that mistletoe ribbon not some of the most gorgeous ribbon you’ve ever seen?????

Again, wool felt, ribbon, floss, perle cotton.  The white will make the ornament pop out from the depths of the tree.  I like “soft” ornaments like this near the bottom of the tree–that way if the cats swat them off, they won’t break!  The fancy glass goes up at the top of the tree!

And I did succumb to machine adding this little bit of ribbon to the back.  And I had the wit to include my initials this year, too.

And I did succumb to machine adding this little bit of ribbon to the back. And I had the wit to include my initials this year, too. What a concept. 

My stitching (stab) is clearly imperfect through the layers of wool felt, but oh well!   I’m kinda wonky and wobbly, too.   And I haven’t even had any wine.  Though I do have some leftover mint that is whispering mojito, mojito, mojito….yes, that’s a Christmas drink, mojito.  And I have Kate Cutko to thank for introducing me to them!   What a fun weekend that was my friends–here’s to this year’s giftie:  friendly hug under the mistletoe!  Yes, if you nab your favorite spouse (I’m assuming you only have one–sheesh…what’s with me tonight?) hold it overhead and it will be more friendly with him.

So you have my permission to head right over to Renaissance ribbons, spend money and start plotting how to use the ribbon.  I used their beauties in my Easy Peasy Inside Out Bag which is in this year’s Quilting Arts Holiday gifts issue (available here) and demonstrated on Quilting Arts TV series 1400, episode 1402 (I’m also in episodes 1405 and 1412).  It looks as though Interweave is out of the hard copy of the Holiday Gifts issue, but it is available as a download.  If you prefer a hard copy, eQuilter still has copies (as of Dec. 4) here.