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Archive for the ‘Techniques’ Category

Mer-Pugs Summer Shirt for Eli

Thursday, July 8th, 2021

It’s a delightful feeling when your young adult son asks you to make a shirt for him. Since he lives about 5 hours away, going to a fabric store together wasn’t a good option, so I sent him to Spoonflower. LOVE it when his sense of humor prevails: he selected Mer-Pugs! Here’s the link to the fabric; I chose to print on cotton poplin as I’m not fond of their Signature Petal cotton. Needing to order 3 yards, it was a splurge, but it turned out great and he loves it!

Eli’s shirt fits perfectly!

The pattern is Liesl & Co.’s All Day Shirt Pattern. I used this earlier when I made Joshua’s donuts shirt (yes, they both have the same sense of humor!). Since Eli is a bit bigger, I was able to use what I learned making Joshua’s shirt in 2019 (blogpost here). I still had some issues getting the collar to be the size I wanted on the collar stand–I was careful to follow the instructions, but think the collar should be about 1/8″ longer on each side. Eli did not want any pleats on the back but did want short sleeves. He lent me a shirt that fits just the way he wanted so I kept that in the studio to compare as I made the merpugs shirt …much easier to adjust that way!

Earlier this year I showed on Facebook and Instagram how perfectly I was able to align and topstitch the pocket:

First, prepare the pocket. Turn under seam allowances; pattern instructions have you sew 1/2″ from edge, then iron under concealing the stitching. I did that, but having done perfect edges before without the bother of stitching, I’ll go back to my easier way next time. I love my zipper feet for all sorts of things especially perfect edge stitching. I just get better results than using the edge-stitching foot–try several ways and use what gives YOU your best results. I align the edge of the foot with the fold of the fabric, move the needle in the distance I wish, then keep my left thumbnail on the edge of the fold and foot to keep it straight.
Next tip: GLUE STICK! Be sure to use a WASHASBLE glue stick, not permanent! Run a bit of glue along the sides and bottom.
Glue stick the pocket so you have ABSOLUTELY positively PERFECT alignment. For me, this works better than pins and you get no ripples/distortion from the pins. As with the pocket hem, use the zipper foot, adjust the needle drop to the perfect spot, and sew in place. LOOKIT how those merpugs just swim from the shirt onto the pocket!
Side and back views. Perfectly aligned the pugs from collar to yoke to shirt back! Having a machine with precision feed like the Janome M7 makes it easy!
My voice sounds funny because I am getting over a cold! Anyway, here’s a quick demo of how FAST it is to do an automatic buttonhole! Next photo shows a side view of the automatic buttonhole foot
The tip of my awl is pointing to the small button in the back of the automatic buttonhole foot. This is how the foot knows exactly how large to make the buttonhole. It even worked with the teeny tiny buttons (about 3/8″) on the collar!
What does a 20-something do as soon as one puts on a new shirt? Check the phone!

Hope you’ve enjoyed this! If you haven’t already, I’d like to invite you to sign up for my monthly (or thereabouts) newsletter! Just look in the right-hand sidebar on this page to sign up, or at the bottom of all the other pages on my blog. Thanks for stopping by!

Drum roll! Snoopy Dance! Ready for summer!

Thursday, May 6th, 2021

I’ve posted some in progress pictures on social media, but at long last the cushions are done, and oh my what an improvement!

After wheedling a lot one year about 12-14/15 years ago, I convinced Paul to buy this “wicker” (ie extruded plastic) furniture. It came with the cushions you see below. I dislike stripes, and don’t like drab colors. I’ve wanted to replace the covers all this time, and finally last summer purchased the Sunbrella Awning fabric in the Aruba color. The Awning fabric is wider at 60″ than the regular upholstery fabric, stiffer so harder to work with it, and sheds water. It was both the width, which allowed me more efficient use of the yardage, and the ability to prevent water from getting into the cushions that led me to use this version of Sunbrella. I bought it online from a place in Florida, Outdoor Fabric Central. I used almost all of the 7 yards ($28 a yard).

This is what it looked like before. Furniture nice, fabric: definitely not my style!

Apparently I really dislike the old cushions so much it took searching in 4 years of summer photos to find a single one with the old striped cushions!

Here are the old ones on the floor in my basement studio. I used to work for an interior designer for a couple years when we lived on San Juan Island, so I learned to pattern from an existing cover and also to start from scratch. Measuring existing is easier! I knew I didn’t want the backs tufted, and knew also that I would move the zippers and do things my way.
When I opened up the seat cushions I discovered the reason they weren’t comfortable is because there was no foam, just dacron! I still need to do something with the frame–it is “strung” with elastic, and after 14 years the stretch is stretched out. I set plywood under the cushions last summer, but even with the addition of foam, I need something with more give. Will look for webbing/strapping to see what I can find that my arthritic hands can actually install and make work. I used an egg-crate foam mattress topper that Eli used to use. I’m replacing his twin with a Queen sleeper sofa for when the kids come to visit, so the topper is now cushion fodder.
With careful planning and careful cutting I had minimal waste! My trusty M7 Continental from Janome sewed through stuff like a champ! I used my antique (20+ years old) serger to overcast the inside seams. Because of the stiffness of the fabric, I chose to not do piping.
The Janome at work, the dog at rest.
My circle templates came in handy for rounding corners.
Wonder Clips (from Clover) are worth the price! I bought a pack of 50 and have used them for so many things! And of course the machine sewed like a champ! I LOVE MY JANOME! You might also wonder about the tan zipper. Well, 20 years ago I bought a roll of black and a roll of tan zipper tape and a billion pulls. Since I completely hide the zipper, no worries that it doesn’t match. This is wide and strong zipper tape as there is a lot of stress on seat cushions…the same bulky weight as sleeping bags.
Here’s the pile of nearly complete cushions.

Thanks to a suggestion from Diana Feit on FB, I cut a pool noodle in half and used that arched inside the settee back cushions to fill them out. I had already cut a 3″ wide strip from the egg crate foam, smooth side out, and then used the foam arched from one bottom corner to the other to fill that out. Worked like a charm. Also, notice those DEEP zipper plackets. The place is centered on the gusset, and there are “zipper garages”–little pockets on either end to conceal the zipper pull. These deep plackets use a bit more fabric, but they cover the zipper SO much better that I always make them. Last year about this time I did a blogpost tutorial on one of my Michael Miller Fabrics brand ambassador projects here and here. Click on those links for details on the how–the process is exactly the same.

So there we are….now all I need to do is MAKE TIME to sit on the porch (once it warms up, even with the electric throw it was kinda nippy out there two days ago, then it got colder!). But summer IS coming and I intend to enjoy some Porch Time!

D*rth V*d*r Meets the Hatchet Mask–it might just be the perfect mask!

Wednesday, December 30th, 2020

For months I’ve been wanting to mess around with some of the new patterns for masks in pursuit of something that is breathable, comfortable, doesn’t fog up my glasses, and lets me use fun fabric.

If you are impatient, here’s a link to the free pattern—please, it is ok to make your own, even sell in your own Etsy shop, just no mass production! And yes, the sloth fabric is totally punny!

SO, I played around yesterday and DRUM ROLL PLEASE…. I think I’ve got it! up I merged the free PDF pattern for a 7-Dart mask from DIY Craft JP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCMFxT_VdWY  with the fairly prevalent “hatchet” shaped mask—the one made of two pieces of fabric for each side that curves from the bridge of the nose to under the chin.  The seven darts create a basket shape that holds its form well which results in a fit that doesn’t touch your face and is even better (a bit) than mine if that is your goal; I used their Small/Medium size.  The drawback, besides the tiny amount of extra time sewing darts, is that the long darts on the side interrupt the pattern on the fabric.  I wanted my sloths to make people laugh.  

As you can see by my pinching, the mask extends about a half inch / 1.2 cm beyond my nose. The mask fits SMOOTHLY, without bulk!, on the sides of my face and under my chin. It would be fairly easy to modify the length to accommodate a longer/shorter face or bountiful beard. Or reduce the pattern on a copier for a smaller person.

If you forget where you saw this, you can always find the link to the PDF (along with lots of other good stuff) on my Resources page. Just google Sarah Smith Quilts or surf straight into my website, click on Resources, then scroll down to Mask: D*rth V*d*r Meets the Hatchet Mask. All those asterisks? Well, a certain movie mogul has copyrights and lawyers. But the triangular shape of the front reminds me of that black-clad villain.

Again, here’s the link to the free PDF!

Oops! Quick update: I forgot to go back and fill in the size of fabric after I fine tuned the pattern… I’ve updated the initial pattern (as of Dec. 31, 2020). You’ll need fabric about 8 x 12 inches for the outside and same for the lining. I’m clearly not one for measuring… I just got the pattern worked out, then I fold the fabric on the grain until it is big enough for the pattern to fit LOL!

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!