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Archive for the ‘Fabric’ Category

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!

Perfect Pattern Weights free pattern!

Wednesday, December 9th, 2020

These just-perfect sized pattern weights, 3″ on a side, are not only just the thing for YOUR sewing room, but they make quick and easy gifts for anyone you know who sews!

PerfectPatternWeights by SarahAnnSmith.com
Can you tell how much FUN I had? Lookit the doggie as a Halloween Ghost (top row) and the goofy Space Alien (center right) and those fantastic Garden Pindots (middle and lower rows)! See free PDF for pattern and Michael Miller Fabrics fabric details.

Early in my year as a Michael Miller Fabrics Brand Ambassador for 2020, I decided to use some Marbles (MMF Basic collection) for a much-wished-for set of pattern weights. Most patterns on the internet were way too big–at least 4″ on a side. I wanted mine smaller, to fit into smaller areas. As I made them I thought what fun it would be to remember this year by using fabrics from each collection and project that I made in more weights. It’s now December, and here’s what I have….FUN! Even better, Here is a FREE Printable PDF so you can make your own. The printable version duplicates what comes next:

Here’s the hotlink again to the printable PDF.

And some new info: My cousin said the rice filled ones can be popped into the microwave (briefly!) and make nice handwarmer’s, and a friend said she uses a combination of fiberfill for soft outside and buckshot for the center to add the heft that you need for a pattern weight.

ENJOY and stay safe–here’s to hoping next year at this time we’ll be like to something approaching normalcy with COVID controlled, almost everyone vaccinated, and holidays celebrated with a LOT OF HUGS!

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!

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!