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Archive for the ‘Kudos for…’ Category

Making an overhead camera stand for online teaching

Monday, June 22nd, 2020

As I transition to holding online classes to supplement live and in person classes, I needed an overhead view of my work table. The traditional way to do this (outside of a fancy filming studio) is with a “C-stand” that is sturdy/heavy, stands on the floor next to your work table and has a boom arm that extends over the table. Then you hang the camera/iPad/iPhone from the boom arm. Cue COVID delays in shipping. I tried the one I could get in time for this week’s Perfect Bindings class at the first ever Mancuso online shows. The accessories didn’t fit the boom arm. Back they went!

Cue: Mama’s brainstorming, Mama and son’s (Joshua) creativity, and Joshua’s awesome tools (Band saw! drill! Random bits and bobs) and construction experience and help, and a stand using leftover stuff and $5 in supplies.

A DIY overhead camera stand

The wooden “light stands” were built based on information from Holly Knott’s wonderful “Shoot That Quilt” section on her website about taking great photos yourself of your quilts to enter in shows and magazines: two pieces of 2×4 lumber and four cheap shelf brackets for each stand.

Ignore the dust, cat hair, pug hair and thread. Please. Sorry. Here’s the link to Holly’s useful webpage on quilt photography.

Joshua, our older son, did some electrical work for Mom and Dad (us) a while back, and introduced us to something called Unistrut. Link here. It is a bit heavy, which is why I looked at C-stands to begin with, but that is also its virtue: it is totally rigid. Rigid helps keep your camera (in my case my iPad) stable.

The upper brackets were from something else that was modified. Knew they’d be handy! I bought two small black brackets with one hole on each side. Joshua said I needed two holes to prevent the small L brackets from wobbling, so using his awesome power tools (tool envy!), he just drilled an extra hole. He cut the Unistrut in about 8 seconds with his band saw. It would have taken me the better part of an hour with a manual hacksaw! The length is the width of my table plus an extra inch or so to help maneuver the stand into place.
The ruler is serving as my iPad’s stunt double because I was too lazy to run upstairs and get the iPad while taking photos. Can you tell from the clutter how chaotic it has been?
I wanted the iPad above the bar for added stability and so I could have full access to the screen while teaching live online workshops.
A close up view of the stand attaching to the unistrut. Here’s a link to the iPad holder on Amazon. It isn’t the most rigid thing and the little grip thingies that hold the iPad in place aren’t huge, so that’s another reason to have the iPad on top supported by the cross bar and not just those four little pads.

SO if you are wondering what your teachers does to get ready for you, this is just one small but vital component. If you are going to TEACH online, I hope this helps you–please feel free to ask questions! MASSIVELY HUGE thanks to Lyric Kinard for her help on so many things on the technical side over the years, and to Lee Chappell who gave us newbie online teachers for the Mancuso show a studio tour by Zoom to share with us how she set things up. And THANK YOU to my wonderful, creative son who comes home and always wants to do some sort of “fix up” something for his mom and dad. Joshua, you ROCK!

Website Makeover! Please VISIT : )

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019

Those of you who have surfed into my blog over the past two weeks or so will have noticed a completely new look to my site. Thanks to Derry Thompson of GloDerWorks and inspiration from several top art quilters with great sites, I think Derry and I have come up with a gorgeous new site–my first complete makeover since creating the site in 2004. I am responsible for (guilty!) the visuals, and Derry has done all the brilliant work behind the scenes to bring my vision for my site to life.

I still have a LOT of work on my end: thanks to the vast changes in the internet since 2004, I pretty much need to re-do ALL of my photos for larger size and crisper photos. Thankfully, I have a better camera, a tripod, lighting, and better skills at both photos and Photoshop so the image looks most like the real quilt. But I didn’t want to wait for months before sharing the “New Look” with all of you. Stay tuned as I update one gallery at a time.

Here is the Nature Gallery: just click on an image. That will open a filmstrip that allows you to scroll through larger images. One more click will then take you to details about each artwork.

Some of my favorite new things:

  • The clean look
  • The colors (I gave Derry a specific palette of colors)
  • The font (Josefin Slab and Josefin Sans)–now updating all handouts etc, too!
  • The multiple ways to navigate the images: gallery, filmstrip, arrows on the sides
  • The FOLLOW social media buttons (square) at top right
  • The SHARE social media buttons (rounded)
This is the filmstrip view–thumbnails at a glance (love the way Derry made them top justified–makes it so neat and nice!), click on the image you want or use the arrow to scroll in either direction.

My inspiration came from many sites:

  • Jane Dunnewold‘s clean look to her site is a breath of fresh air. I love the font, but decided to go my own route. My green is similar to hers…one that I use in much of my art
  • Hollis Chatelain’s Gallery layout is wonderful, not to mention that she has been an inspiration to me for nigh on to two decades now.
  • Sue Benner’s crisp, clean site with crisp, clean color makes my heart go thumpety thump. I love the photos of her on her About page, down on the floor with the iron (been there, do that). I thought about an entire page for my Instagram feed, as on her Connect page, but opted for just the most recent IG image at the footer of everything but the blog.
  • Deidre Adams way of watermarking consistently on her images–more PhotoShop work for me but worth it!
  • And many thanks to Holly Knott for creating the SVG file for my signature, which is used in the header as well as on labeling (my paint kits for example). Someday I will learn Illustrator and InDesign, but Holly’s prices are so reasonable and she was so fast (same afternoon!) it would’ve been crazy not to use her skills. Holly has a brilliant page about photographing your quilts, Shoot That Quilt, and also designs websites.
Look at the detail you can see! Scroll down to see the info (see image below)
And lower down on the individual artwork page

Endless thanks to the long hard work Derry put in creating this site so that it is JUST PERFECT, beautiful, and works well. I am pretty much an “I do it all myself” business….except I made a smart decision in 2003: to go with Gloria Hansen and Derry Thompson to design and host my site. I have learned so much since 2003, a lot from these two. I never have to worry if a glitch happens, Derry fixes it. I actually scold him for answering late at night and on weekends: dude, you need to take some time off! Hoisting a pint to you!

Thanks for looking and reading this far….I hope you enjoy the new site!

Teaching at Int’l Quilt Festival Houston 2016

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

Can you tell it’s been busy?  Whenever I disappear, that means so much life is happening I don’t have time to blog.  I’ll try to catch up a little bit at the time.  First things first…the catalog is out for classes at International Quilt Festival in Houston!!!!! Here’s my very busy line up!

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 4.39.58 PM

Houston has revamped the catalog a little bit. There are now (yeah!) pictures in the catalog (not just online) and there are weblinks so you can go to my website for the FULL supply list and handouts.   To shorten the process, if any of the above look good to you, you can go to my class listings page here for info about my classes.  Each description has a hotlink to the pdf Supply list.  If I have blogged about a class, that also is in the description.  You can also find all my supply lists in one place on my Resources page.  If you click on “Resources,” Look at the jump links at the top.  Click on Class Supply Lists and it will jump you down the page (instead of having to scroll down).

I’m thrilled to be so busy and hope to meet many of you.   I will do a separate blogpost to go live in a couple days about The Nest, a new and totally fun half-day (or full day if a guild wants a full day) class, and my fairly new Easy Peasy bag class.   Can’t wait!


Dust Happens–a new article!

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Especially in my house!  Think rural.  Think cats.  Think Sarah.  But you don’t want dust inside your sewing machine!  I was so happy when editor Kit Robinson asked me to do an article on the care and feeding of your domestic sewing machine.  That article has just come out in the March/April issue of Machine Quilting Unlimited:


Machine Quilting Unlimited March/April Issue with my article on dust along with other great articles.  LOVED the one by fellow-Mainer Margaret Solomon Gunn on scalloped bindings and one on Jenny Bowker's quilts.

Machine Quilting Unlimited March/April Issue with my article on dust along with other great articles. LOVED the one by fellow-Mainer Margaret Solomon Gunn on scalloped bindings and one on Jenny Bowker’s quilts.

I was even more elated when just a few days after copies arrived in mailboxes across the US, Publisher Vicki Anderson forwarded this email to me:

My wife just received her March/April 2014 issue and I want to compliment you on the Sarah Ann Smith article titled Dust Happens.
I am a Bernina Certified tech that repairs anything that walks in the door and all brands of Long Arms. I also give presentations to the local guilds on Care and Feeding of your Domestic Machines. Her article is the most comprehensive that I have read to date. I feel as if she had a copy of my Power Point in front of her (right down to the needle photos!).
Outstanding! I agree with 100% of what she said and applaud her for the article.
Please use this and pass this along in any way that you see fit.
Duane Sellers
Bernina Tech
Lafayette, In

WOW! Talk about a HAPPY RUSH!  You all know I’m a Janome girl, but we also all know how GOOD Bernina is in terms of service and support, how good it’s repair folks are.  To have a Bernina Tech say that about my article just gives me goosebumps!  Thank you Mr. Sellers!

Here’s a peek at my article–to read it you’ll need to get a copy, which you can do online at or in places like Barnes and Noble or Books-a-Million.

The first page of "Dust Happens," my article about caring for your machine.  Just a few moments every time you use your machine will keep it much happier!

The first page of “Dust Happens,” my article about caring for your machine. Just a few moments every time you use your machine will keep it much happier!

And HUGE thanks to Marie Z. Johansen (BFF!) and Silvia Dell’Aere (a.k.a. Orkaloca) for photographs used in the article.  I needed a specific view of a Bernina bobbin case and, astonishingly, despite having hundreds of photos available for press use, Bernina didn’t have the view I needed, so I called Marie–who is a fabulous photographer–and asked if she could save my bacon and photograph her Bernina’s bobbin case (right before deadline no less), and she did!  THANK YOU!  And Silvia has allowed me to use a photo of hers of the tips of new vs. slightly used needles in my class presentations for years.  I asked for a print-resolution photo, but she had to take a new one–Thank you!  So please, visit their blogs and say thanks! Here’s the page with their photos:

Two more pages from the article. In the "nine patch of photos," Marie's photo is middle row, right.  Silvia's is top left.

Two more pages from the article. In the “nine patch of photos,” Marie’s photo is middle row, right. Silvia’s is on a different page.  Thank you both!

Have another article in the next issue of’s been a good year for writing (which I love as much as quilting).  Thanks, Vicki and Kit, for the opportunity to write for MQU.  I’m so happy to have been able to bring good articles to you.  Thanks also again to Mr. Sellers for taking the time to write such a nice comment!

GREAT Reviews for ThreadWork Unraveled!

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

WOWIE ZOWIE!  See these?

Those are probably my two favorite magazines in quilting, ever:  Quilter’s Newsletter and Quilting Arts. And they BOTH gave my book great reviews!

When I first found quilting in 1988, I found Quilters Newsletter Magazine shortly thereafter.  I promptly subscribed, and ordered every back issue I could get, and have read ever issue since cover to cover.  That is 1984 to 2010 and still going.

Back in 2001, I went into the grocery store in Friday Harbor (San Juan Island, Wash., where I used to live) and discovered the second issue of Quilting Arts magazine.  I went home, called the phone number, ended up speaking with the editor Pokey Bolton (and discovered we both went to San Domenico School, albeit about 14 years apart, when we were kids) and subscribed.  I have read every issue of that one cover to cover.

Whooda thunk it…. BOTH my favorite magazines have not only reviewed my book, ThreadWork Unraveled, but given it GREAT reviews.  THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

In Quilters’ Newsletter (April 2010 issue), there is a four-page article on Staff Picks…and guess what number ONE is?  MY BOOK!

Here’s a closer picture:

To say that I am dancing a major Snoopy Dance understates things in such a major way!

And here’s p. 82, the Book Review section in Quilting Arts magazine, April/May 2010 issue:

And again, a closer view:

It is so wonderful when you worked hard to do your best, and then have others think you’ve done well.  Thanks so much… and Pippa, the managing editor of Quilting Arts, said the nicest thing… that I am at my best when encouraging others:  “the book’s most inspirational sections encourage quilters to use a needle and thread as they would a paintbrush and paint, creating fine nuances of shading and detail that can’t be captured solely with cloth.  Her advice ranges from the technical to the theoretical as she guides the reader through design considerations such as light source and coloring.  Five stitching projects are included, but Smith encourages quilters to experiment,”  Wearing my teacher hat, it doesn’t get much better than that!
WOOOOHOOOOOO….that shaking in the upper Northeast is not an earthquake, that’s me Snoopy Dancing and being happy all over again!