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Archive for the ‘Janome’ Category

Sundress on the Janome M7

Wednesday, August 18th, 2021

Another new make on the Janome M7 using various stitches and features to make a great dress perfect! I found a link to a free blouse pattern on the Australian Peppermint Magazine on Spoonflower. Following the trail of cookie crumbs (or thread bits), I then found the Wide-Strap Maxi dress pattern, which is a free PDF download. They ask if you’d like to make a donation to support the cost of the site, so I did, and I GOT A THANK YOU! Nice! Click on the pattern name or here for the hotlink. Along the way I took pictures and the edited them into this under-3-minutes video:

There’s no audio for the first two minutes, but there are captions. At the end for the video of me out in the yard, you may want to turn up the sound…I increased the volume on the film clip, but it is still sorta quiet when I am turned around.

Here are some of the pictures from in the video!

The cotton lawn fabric is from Leslie Tucker Jenison’s Wildwood line for Robert Kaufman. I purchased mine on Etsy in late spring 2021. The dress has a facing on the front and wide straps (hence the name Wide-Strap Maxi Dress). I shortened the dress by 8 inches to a midi length. The only other change was to add interfacing to the facing since the cotton Lawn is so soft. If made in linen or a heavier weight cotton or tercel, would likely not need the interfacing.

From the back: there is a casing at the top, with wide elastic inside. You set the length so that it holds the dress snug against your back (NO wardrobe malfunctions!) but not tight (no “muffin top”!). The pattern suggest testing the placement of the straps. I agree. The gathers had a tendency to move, with the dress going flat in the center and the straps moving towards my underarms. Which led to the straps falling off my shoulders. So with the dress OFF, I move the straps toward the center and safety pinned them in place. This concentrates most of the gathers in the center, which makes it flattering from the front and solves the straps-falling-off issue. I will stitch a vertical line on the casing/elastic so I can remove the pins, but using pins first to get the straps where YOU want them is a good idea. I also now understand why some sundress patterns have the straps go really narrow and “V” in the center. This way, though, they easily cover bra straps.

Since I live in Maine and my 20s and 30s were long ago, I find that I feel rather bare, but I am getting used to the open back. I had thought even before making it that I would shorten the straps to be less bare, but discovered that would put the darts well above my bust and make the front fit poorly. If/when I make this again, I will cut extra at the top sides, shorten the straps, and then figure out a better-for-my-body placement of the darts.

Like many of the indie patterns now, the instructions are like a class in a bag–they certainly aren’t like the bare-bones info in the Butterick and Vogue patterns from the 70s, 80s and 90s that I grew up using. There are delightful instructions for using French seams which totally enclose the raw edges. Hint: be sure to trim the edges of any fraying threads before you sew the second part of the seam so that no “whiskers” pop out.

Having a selection of presser feet makes it SO MUCH EASIER to do beautiful work! I like my clothes as pretty on the inside as on the outside!

Thanks as always to Janome America for having me as a Janome Artisan since 2003!!!!!!!

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!

Eva Dress

Saturday, June 12th, 2021

It’s a miracle…sewing for pure fun! Last summer I ordered the PDF download of this Eva Dress pattern by Tessuti Fabrics in Australia (don’t ask me what delightful rabbit hole I fell into that led me to a fabric shop half-way around the world). I had 2 1/2 yards of art quilter Leslie Tucker Jenison’s fantastic Warehouse District design printed on Kaufman’s Essex cotton-linen blend, a perfect weight for this jumper (there’s also a short sleeve version). Be sure to see the short video below!

With Phineas the Phlamingo and his bestie Sven the slightly tipsy gnome

The pattern is a PDF download from a fabric store in Australia. You can print at home and tape the pages together or print at a local or online copy/print shop onto A0 (about 36″ wide) paper, which is way easier! I use medical exam table paper (cheap!) to make pattern tissues, which preserves the multi-size pattern. I am a US ready-to-wear size 12 or between a Medium and Large. In this pattern, I chose the Large. It is fitted in the bodice with wearing ease but not a lot of extra room, with a roomy skirt.

I made three/four modifications:

  • Added a very small dart coming in from the armhole, about 3″ away from the side seam, because the armhole gapped slightly. It is only 1/4″ wide and about 2″ long. As I am small-busted, and there isn’t a ton of room, I suggest making a muslin just for the bodice or cutting the top a bit oversized and fitting it carefully especially if you usually need to make a full bust adjustment. Pick a mid-skirt pattern piece that corresponds in size to the bottom of the bodice, then grade the sides to match your usual desired size.
  • Because I live in Maine where it is often cool (or cold), I wanted to be able to wear a shirt underneath, so I lowered the bottom of the armhole by 1/2″ (a bit more than 1 cm), tapering to 2″ on either side (5 cm).
  • I lengthened the pocket by about 2″ so I could slide my large iPhone in and there would be no risk of it falling out. My fingertips just brush the bottom of the pocket.
  • The fourth change I ended up not making: I was concerned when I measured the circumference of the hem that I wouldn’t be able to take large steps. I widened out the bottom, then basted along the original seam line. It was just fine, so I trimmed away what I had added because it wasn’t needed.

If you want a short dress, perhaps just above knee length, without the cocoon or bubble shape, it would be pretty easy to lengthen the mid-skirt and just make it that way.

The pattern calls for 3 1/4 yards for a size Large. Well, I had 2 1/2 yards! I knew I could make the bias for finishing the armholes, neck and hem out of a quilting cotton, and I JUST barely managed it because the fabric did not have a one-way pattern. One pocket piece isn’t quite on grain, but so what? I had very few scraps left!

Of course using my Janome Continental M7 made it easy! I used these three feet: Quarter inch (for putting on the bias binding/facings), F clear applique foot because of the visibility and the red mark in the center which allowed me to align my topstitching, and the zipper foot which is my favorite foot for under stitching and topstitching.
Back view showing roominess of skirt
This is all that was left of 2 1/2 yards! Considering the pattern called for 3 1/4 yards, I was thrilled not to have to shorten or otherwise mess with the dress design. I used a lightweight quilting cotton to make the bias which is only seen on the inside. It is used in lieu of traditional facings and hem.
https://www.tessuti-shop.com/collections/patterns-dresses-skirts-tunics/products/eva-dress-pattern

I celebrated the finish (yesterday) by wearing it to the first in-person post-COVID meeting of our local quilt group this morning!

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!

Sarah’s Favorite Things, 2021 Edition

Monday, February 15th, 2021

Back in 2013 I did a post on this subject, and decided it was high time to update it! So here you go. There is a downloadable PDF for you to enjoy; it’s also listed on my Resources page.

Sharing is a good thing, so today I want to share some of my favorite things: products that I use and recommend.  If you discover a link is no longer working, please let me know by leaving a comment or using the Contact Me page. Since this list is quite long, here is what you’ll find below, my stuff first (sorry) then alphabetical order:

  • Threadwork Unraveled, my book about all things thread
  • Art Quilt Design from Photo to Threadwork video workshop
  • The Art of Sarah Ann Smith, so far
  • Big Design Wall
  • Clover seam ripper
  • Clover needle threader
  • Famore Cutlery Bent-tip tweezers
  • Heidi Proffetty’s insanely sharp tweezers
  • Janome M7 Continental Sewing Machine
  • Karen Kay Buckley’s Scissors
  • Mistyfuse Adhesive Web
  • Mistyfuse Goddess Sheets
  • Mistyfuse Transdoodle 
  • Panasonic Titanium Non-stick Iron
  • Running with Scissors bag and byAnnie’s patterns
  • Textile Paints
  • Val Webb, art teacher extraordinaire
  • Valerie Hearder—jumbo non-stick press sheeting
  • Wool Felt ironing pad

Threadwork Unraveled by me, Sarah Ann Smith

My book is about all things thread.  You’ll learn everything you need to know about thread, from how it is made to what will make your life easier, and your quilting better!  The book is organized in three sections:  The Basics, Applique, and Quilting, and is designed to be a reference book you’ll come back to again and again.  You’ll learn how needles, tension, your workspace, sewing machine, stabilizers, and other tools all help you in using all those wonderful threads now available.  I’ll help you understand how and why certain tools and notions work best and when another option is a better choice.  Click here to read more and to order.  Now out of print, it is still a valuable reference tool.  I have a number of new copies and you may be able to find it online / used elsewhere.

Art Quilt Design from Photo to Threadwork 

The complete cover of my video workshop, back when it was a dvd, Art Quilt Design from Photo to Threadwork with Fabric Collage and Machine Quilting.  Order the download from Quilting Arts here.  https://www.interweave.com/product/art-quilt-design-from-photo-to-threadwork-video-download-2/  

Big Design Wall

There are a ton of different ways to get your own large design wall.  When we moved into this house, my studio was a grim, mostly unfinished basement space.  I did a series of blogposts in 2011 as I transformed it into my dream studio (well, except for moving it upstairs).  Here is the first of the posts… just pop “state of the studio” into the search box.   I designed my space and had my carpenter make a storage area by installing “closet doors” made of two hollow-core doors framed with 1x lumber.  We nested 1” rigid foam insulation into each of the 48” wide doors.  Due to low ceilings, they are a bit under 7 feet tall.  If you don’t have space for a permanent design wall, just a 48” wide piece of rigid insulation—perhaps trimmed to 72” tall—works.  You can stash it behind a door or under a bed.  Trust me, you’ll LOVE having it.  

By Annie’s Stiletto

I’d never really liked stilettos until I met this one.  The grippy texture on the metal point is what clinched it, but the “ironing” flat end and the comfortable grip help, and the two flat sides to the grip area prevent it from rolling off the table—what a concept! Recently I thought I’d somehow lost mine in the studio and almost ordered another.  For once, I found it before I hit Place Order! 

Clover Seam Ripper and Clover Needle Threader

Seam Ripper:  Sharp.  Narrow tip.  Comfortable handle.  Little rubbery bit to grip.  What more can you ask? 

Needle Threader:  I received this as a gift when I lectured for a local area guild.  I didn’t use it for years.  WHY NOT?  It really works.  Has a place to hold the needle that somehow magically turns the needle so the eye is in the correct direction.  Has a thread cutter.  Drape the thread as indicated, push down on the lever and presto, threaded needle!  

Famore Cutlery Bent-Tip Tweezers

I received these as a gift in a teacher goodie bag at International Quilt Festival Houston.   They are AMAZING!   They GRIP.  The have             this bent tip that allows you to use them to slide under a stitch like a seam ripper and pop a stitch.  When you have little pesky bits of thread, they grab and pull them out…they are so sharp they just pinch down tight and WORK. 

Heidi Proffetty Tweezers—wicked sharp! wicked precise!

For years, I used the tip of my scissors, fingers, a skewer or a pin to coax and nudge itty bitty bits of fabric into place on my collaged art quilts.  Then my friend and colleague Heidi Proffetty came up with a better mousetrap:  some ridiculously fine, SHARP, POINTY tweezers to place those little bitty bits into place (she does mosaic quilts and does a lot of fiddly work).  I don’t know how I managed without them!   

Janome M7 Continental Sewing Machine

Look at that harp space! That quilt is 104″ square!

Astonishingly, I have been affiliated with Janome since 2003.  I am a Janome Artisan, and proud to be associated with them.  Even with that, I’d say all the wonderful things I say about Janome machines if I weren’t.  There is a reason why I have chosen Janomes for my sewing.  Since the 6500 in 2003, with each new machine they send me, I keep thinking they couldn’t get better.  But they do.  The 6600 all those years ago was a giant leap forward, and the M7 is perhaps even more of a qualitative leap into excellence.  The machine is huge, sturdy, easy to use, and performs flawlessly.  And the harp space—that is a 104” x 104” quilt in there!

https://www.janome.com/products/machines/continental-m7/

It started in 2003 when I was frustrated with my then-machine’s balkiness using assorted fun threads.  I wanted to decide what threads to use, not have my machine dictate what I could use because the machine would otherwise crab at me (for example, on that other-brand-machine, it didn’t like it when I used Superior Threads 40-wt poly in the needle and 60-wt  Bottom Line in the Bobbin; ALL the Janomes I have used  handle that with ease).  A huge, Huge, HUGE Thank You to Janome America for their long-term support of me!  I think I’ll go hug my Janome right now!

I have started making a few videos of me using my beloved machine to help you learn and posted them to my YouTube channel, here.  Hope you enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/user/SmithQuilts/videos  

Karen Kay Buckley’s scissors

Honestly, I love and use all of them!  They are well worth the not- expensive price, and will likely soon become YOUR favorites, too. You can find these on Karen Kay Buckley’s website as well as at many shops and online.  The two on the left are “regular” scissors.  The four on the right are the micro-serrated scissors with a non-stick coating (the black ones).  The precision in cutting with the micro-serrated scissors allows amazing control and is key to creating my work. The Purple handles are the first ones and still the first scissors I reach for.  The curved tip on the little red ones is nifty, and I also use the plain (pink and orange) fairly often.  

Mistyfuse Adhesive Web 

I am a complete fan of Mistyfuse products.  I LOVE this fusible web!  It leaves such a light, soft hand, never “expires”, doesn’t gunk up the needle EVER, and works really well.   I also like that it does NOT come packaged with release paper (which in other brands either comes loose too easily, or sticks, or whatever); you use baking parchment or a non-stick press sheet (next item) which is less wasteful than all that release paper, and once you see how to use Mistyfuse, it is infinitely easier!   For most projects you would want either the white or the Ultraviolet; the latter is best for light colored fabrics.  The black has lots of fun uses. 

Mistyfuse Goddess Sheets

Goddess Sheets are non-stick press sheets.  You could use Reynolds Baking Parchment, but these sheets won’t wrinkle and wear out or tear like Baking Parchment.  I’ve been using my press sheets for YEARS–the only wear and tear is where I accidentally sliced off a sliver with my rotary cutter!   I prefer the largest sheets; the Fat Goddess is so named because it allows you to fuse up an entire Fat Quarter (18×22 inches) of fabric without having to move the sheet.  The Holy Cow sheet is 36 x 48 inches!

Mistyfuse Transdoodle Transfer sheets and

Saral Transfer Paper in a roll

To transfer designs, I use Transdoodle or trace; but you could use a light box.  If the fabric is light enough , I can trace by placing the fabric over the design, OR I layer things up with the fabric on the bottom, Transdoodle Transfer paper in the middle, and the pattern on top.  These sheets last a LONG time, can be used over and over and over again.   Available in white, it has a heavier chalk load and last longer than Saral.    Saral is a transfer paper available in art supply stores and online and is available in sheets like Transdoodle and in rolls.  Sometimes you just want a long roll of white for a large design or motif.  You can find Saral  here at Dick Blick among other places..  I will note one caution:  if  like me you forget to test for removability, whenever you use ANYTHING yellow, TEST!  It doesn’t like to let go of some fabrics!  I stick to just white or blue.

Panasonic Non-Stick Titanium Coated Iron

I have had several of these over the years—one fell to the cement floor one time too many (I filed off the broken tip and kept using it tho!).  The other I used so much I wore off (after multiple years) the finish on the sole plate!   Oh how I LOVE LOVE LOVE this iron! I think iron manufacturers think non-stick means doesn’t stick to clean fabric.  These you can melt fusible onto them directly and wipe it clean with a paper towel!  No more iron cleaner fumes!  

The key word appears to be Titanium–-other non-stick irons don’t work the same way!  There are several models available at the moment on Amazon, and in various wattages…I’m going to order the 1800 as the one I have now is 1200.  In 2020 I tested various other irons including one that is “titanium” but none worked nearly as well as the Panasonics have over the years.  For the price of four or five tubes of iron cleaner, you get an iron you can wipe clean!   Mo’ bettah!  Put “Panasonic Titanium Non-stick Iron” into the Amazon search box for a current listing.

Running with Scissors bag and byAnnie’s patterns

Initially I made this as a “travel” case for teaching on the road.  In March 2020.  When the world screeched into a parallel universe with the arrival of the COVID pandemic.  As I type, it has never been on the road.  It has also never been put away.  I LOVE this bag:  it stays open on my worktable and is so easy to use!  I enlarged the size about 1” in both directions so I could fit a 9×12” cutting mat inside the outside pockets (or corrugated plastic) so that I can stand it up without having to make and use the companion bag.  This is not a fast project, but the instructions, as I have learned from other byAnnie patterns, are brilliant.  Take it one step at a time, use the top-quality products from byAnnie (not affiliated, just a fan-girl), and you’ll LOVE it. https://www.byannie.com/running-with-scissors

Superior Threads

There are many brilliant threads out there now, that is one of the things that prompted me to write my book:  so that folks could understand how to use them.  Since I teach, I try to be fair, honest, and give all companies an equal chance.  There are a number of companies that make threads I use, respect and like:  Superior Threads, Aurifil, Madeira, Isacord and others.   But Superior is far and away the best at striving to educate the public.   I highly recommend the Education section of the Superior Threads website.   As well, they make brilliant quality threads, stand behind their products, and have great customer service.   When I switched from quilting with only cottons to using a wide range of threads (thanks to my Janome’s ability to do so without a grump), I decided to build my stash to “one of each please”–the thread equivalent of the BIG box of crayons!  I did so 10 or 12 spools at a time, and having a wide range makes it so much easier for me to do my thread-coloring.

Textile Paint 

You could spend years having fun with surface design, textile paints, drawing materials and dyes.   My DVD just mentions the use of transparent Textile Paints.

There are many, Many, MANY types of textile paints including opaque, transparent, metallic and so on.  You’ll find different ways to use them, too. All of the major brands work but have different properties.  Some are creamier, more like sour cream that is well stirred, but others are more like a dense yogurt, almost spreadable Which to pick depends on your personal preferences and what you intend to do with the paint:  direct paint, stencil, screen print.  Yeah, I know.  Helpful as mud LOL!   

My favorites now and which I sell on my website are ProChemical & Dye’s ProFAB and ProSilk paints.  The ProFAB are sour cream consistency and great for stamping, screen printing (my fave) and direct painting.  The ProSilk can, despite their name, be used well on cotton.  They are an ink-like consistency and you can almost use them in a watercolor-y way.  You can see my custom kits on my website store, here. Or click on the photo which is a hotlink to the item.

Val Webb, art teacher extraordinaire

In late 2012 I took Val’s first online class.  I have no idea how I learned about her, but I am so glad I did.  I have learned SO MUCH from her.  I have taken other online classes, but the most important thing in any representational art form is learning to see, and that I what she has taught me.  My first workshop, I could tell something was maybe a bit amiss, but not what.  Over various workshops over the years (several pictured at right, that’s Val’s art), I’ve grown to where I can study and compare, using tips and tricks and techniques.  For example, I am not a fan of the waxiness of colored pencils, but learning the slow, repetitive nature of shading with them has taught me how to layer dyes and textile paints to create what I want in my artwork.  If you’d like to see some of the blogposts I’ve done over the years about my work in her classes—the vulture is one of my favorites–click here.  The skills of seeing and thinking translate directly for me.  After a couple-year break for busy life, I am now signed up for my 8th class with her.  So I encourage you to check out Val’s site and consider her classes.  https://valwebb.wordpress.com

Valerie Hearder non-stick pressing sheets, ginormous

Some years back, after a good teaching year, I finally indulged:  not one but TWO VAST non-stick pressing sheets, which I ordered from art quilter Valerie Hearder, who lives in the Canadian Maritimes.  Val says “I sell the wide teflon by the yard and can sell any length.  Check out www.valeriehearder.com.  I have 18” wide and I also have 37” by any length. Note that my prices are in Canadian $ which is a big saving for Americans.  In the pre-COVID days I had no trouble ordering my two 36/7 x 72” sheets.  One lives on my Big Board (a 22×60” ironing surface) and the other on my design wall.  When I do Really Big quilts, I can pin both up on my design wall (see above!).  Expensive, but if you do a ton of fusing and tend to work big, worth it.

Wool Felt Ironing Pad

When I was a kid, ironing boards came with a real wool felt pad under the cloth.  Things ironed beautifully.  Then things went to polyester and synthetic foam and, well, yuck.  The quilting world recently rediscovered the joy of a nice wool press surface.  As usual, if you stick the word quilt on the product, the price doubles, triples or more.  So I did a little sleuthing.  I knew of a felt manufacturer so I went to see if they had the wool pads.  THEY DO.  And they will sell to the public.  It helps if you get a bunch of friends together and do a group order.  Their ½” wool felt is 72” wide and is sold by the yard.  Some friends from my local guild and I got together and did a group order for 2 yards.  Rather than me try to cut the thick felt with a linoleum knife (and end up hospitalized), I paid the modest fee to have them cut the pads.  One woman and I each wanted a 72” x 22” wide piece each.  The rest we had cut into pieces 14 x 18”.  Each yard cut that way yielded one large and three smaller pieces.  You can have it cut into whatever size works.  We ordered the F-7 Gray ½” thick felt.  Shipping added to the cost, but I think the 14×18” pieces ran about $33 including cutting and shipping.  Current prices for about the same size are a bit lower than two years ago, and are roughly $40, and for the large ones, my 22×72 cost me about $98, while the current prices for 20×60 are around $112 on Amazon.  https://www.sutherlandfelt.com/felt/pressed-wool-felt/