Sew Karen-ly Created...

If you have arrived here via a link (such as to a tutorial) click on "Sew Karen-ly Created" to return to the latest blog post. I invite you to my website to see a gallery of quilts and patterns available for purchase.
Comments are always appreciated, simply click the word "comments" at the end of each post to leave your message. Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, 7 April 2018

American Patchwork & Quilting Podcast

You truly never know what each day will bring.  Sometimes we have days full of frustration where nothing seems to go right.  Other days are golden: all your seams match and you have the correct shade of quilting thread.  And then there are days where you open your email and Pat Sloan is inviting you to be a guest on her quilting podcast.  Wait - what?!   Yup! :)
That will be ME on Monday, April 9. It will be a phone interview (so I don't have to fuss with my hair!!) at 4 pm Eastern time...which is 5 pm our time (and 5:30 in Newfoundland).

You can listen here, and I hope you will.
So...any questions for Pat? I know she's a big favourite of most quilters!

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

2018 Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival

Although the list of workshops is not as yet posted on the festival site, I have started taking registration for the two classes I will be teaching this year at the Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival.  Both involve free motion quilting. 
On Thursday, October 11, 2018,  I will be offering my very popular beginner class.  Entitled, "Free Motion Quilting for the Absolutely Terrified", the class is about confidence building. We start at the beginning with how to adjust thread tension (both top and bottom), learn about needle selection, thread delivery, marking, and lots more.  

 It's all about getting comfortable with your domestic machine, and with the process.

Our project for the day is a very simple whole cloth, which features following a marked line, echoing, and background fillers. 
The second class I am offering is "Beginner Feathers".  Note that this is a beginner feather class, NOT a beginner free motion class.  This workshop will be held on Friday, October 12, 2018, from 9 am to 3 pm.  It will cover instruction for 3 different approaches to creating free motion feathers:  easy, bump, and hook. 

  Once you've decided on your favourite feather stitching method, we'll do all-over feathers, for a fabulous background fill. 
The class project will be a small whole-cloth, featuring a wreath and some feathery swirls.
You can find more information on both classes here,as well as a link for online registration.  These classes are limited in size.  If you have questions, email me here. 

Monday, 2 April 2018

April Fool!

I have been waiting and waiting to post this quilt on April Fool's Day...then I realized that this year, it fell on Easter Sunday. So, this April Fool is a double one - a trompe l'oeil , posted on the wrong day!

*I would like to encourage you to read to the bottom of this post before Googling and clicking links you find online.*

I did NOT design this quilt;  I saw it online a good many years ago, and it has been on my bucket list all those years.  It's a fabulous design, the brainchild of Ukrainian quilter Mezhibovskaya Valery Vadimovna, who blogs under the name lerusisik. You will notice I did not add any live links to her site as I normally would do. There's a reason...
Lerusisik designed this quilt as part of a guild challenge on twisted log cabin blocks.  They had 6 months to complete the challenge, and she came up with this brilliant design which she called "Through The Lens."  Amazingly, it did not win the challenge. (? must have been some pretty strong competition in that guild!) She next entered it in a math contest (didn't win that either) and then decided to submit a picture of her quilt to a German magazine, Lena's Patchwork, who developed a pattern, and featured it on the cover.

As happens, people began making the quilt and submitting it to shows and winning prizes, with no credit given to Lerusisik. They claimed the design as their own.I know how hurtful that is, and Lerusisik became quite upset about the whole thing. Earlier this year when I began my version of her quilt, I tried to revisit her website, with not very good results.  My McAffee program refused to let me on the site, saying there was malicious code.  I tried from a different computer, and Windows Defender gave the message, "Whoa - are you sure you want to go there? "  Clicking a link from a saved sketch in Word gave the message, "this site contains viruses, click at your own risk."  Hmm...I got brave (or stupid) and clicked it anyway.  I got to the main page ok, and everything seemed fine, so I decided to try a link to Barbie doll clothes (that sounded innocent enough, right?)  I ended up on a porn site.  So...draw your own conclusions, but for these reasons I am not posting any live links to her site, and if you Google and click, do so at your own risk. I am not going back.

Despite all of this, I still wanted to make the quilt!  Originally, she had shared her working sketch, done in Corel Draw, on her site for readers to download (with permission), and I had saved that sketch.  That's what I used to work from:
In hindsight, I should have taken the time to draw this out in EQ8.  It may not be obvious, but if you study the sketch, you will see that some of the blocks cannot be pieced as drawn.  There were many last minute adjustments in strip sequence as I went.
As you see in the magazine cover above, the original had multi-coloured centres but I chose to go with just 3 colours for the quilt:  black, white, and Canada Red Kona cotton.  I think the high contrast in colours helps add to the 3-D effect, and I like how clean and crisp the colours look together.
There are only 4 square blocks in the entire piece (the corners), and these measure 4".
The strips range from 1/2" to 1/8" wide, many of them curved. It was a nightmare to piece.
 I wasn't sure where all these pieces would fit in the final puzzle!

 I've done a fair bit of patchwork in my day, but this was truly difficult.  About 6 blocks in, I decided I couldn't do it. I set it aside for a couple of weeks while I thought on it.  It occurred to me that the piece is symmetrical side to side and top to bottom, so once I had the first quadrant of 9 blocks figured out, that would be the worst of it, as the shapes would repeat after that. I think I can, I think I can...
 Amazingly, as the blocks grew, the centre popped up right away.
These are the sewn blocks before joining...which took another week or so to ponder.  Since the blocks were all different could I possibly join them in rows?  It couldn't be done.
I thought back to the Global Warming quilt I did last year, and a light bulb came on! I needed to join the centre blocks in a circle, and then insert them into the outside blocks, like sewing a sleeve in an armhole.
 There was a small fly in the ointment, as perhaps you can see below:
 No?  Look here; there are gaps in the corners, where square meets round.

 I cut 2 triangles of black and 2 of white and hoped it would work.
 It did! :)
 About this time, Polly came along to shatter the illusion!
The quilt is by no means perfectly made.  There are strips that don't match up at the joining of the sphere to the background, but I did my best, and the illusion still works.  Interestingly, I recall reading on Lerusisik's site that she also had issues figuring out how to join her blocks and finally sewed them together by hand, using an EPP method.  I added a very simple border of black and white blocks and strips, which help add to the movement of the whole piece.  It is quilted very simply using Aurifil white, black and red thread.  All of the stitching is done in the ditch, so as not to detract from the fabric.

This is far and away the most challenging patchwork project I've done.  I cannot say I enjoyed making it, but I sure as heck enjoyed finishing it!  If you would like to try your hand at this...I wish you the best of luck. Thank you, Mezhibovskaya Valery Vadimovna, for your very brilliant design.
Beth of Mrs. Pugsley's Emporium has kindly invited me to display the quilt at her shop later this spring.  I'll keep you posted on when that will be (I think we need to decide first who is climbing the ladder to hang it...).

Monday, 26 March 2018

Easter Carrots

Easter is quickly approaching and it's always fun to sew little cute things. I found this tutorial for carrot treat bags on the Make It & Love It site, designed by blogger "Stitched By Crystal"

As an Island Batik Ambassador, I was sent a very generous supply of fabrics and I knew there were perfect shades of orange and green included. I chose "Round Petal Floral - Cantaloupe" and "Marble - Leprechaun" from their Batik Foundations.  I matched them with Aurifil thread #1114 Grass Green and a variegated orange 4657 called Tramonto a Zoagli. 
Following Crystal's excellent instructions, these came together in no time.
I did make a few "quilty" adjustments, such as using a 1/4" seam allowance instead of the suggested 3/8". Doesn't that variegated orange thread work perfectly with the batik?
Using a sleeve board made pressing the seams open very easy.  Island Batik uses cotton with a very high thread count which means the seams do not ravel the same way a regular woven cotton does.  For this reason, I chose not to drag out my serger to clean finish the edges, as shown in the instructions.
I also folded the cuff down to meet the seamline, so that I could stitch in the ditch from the right side, a trick quilters learn from machine binding. When it came time to make the 1/2" channel for the drawstring, I simply switched to my walking foot, which I know from experience is 1/2" from the left side to the needle.  Quick and easy - no marking!
The treat bags are adorable, and can be filled with all kinds of goodies.  Chocolate eggs are one choice...
 ..but other things fit inside too, depending on your recipient. I am thinking perhaps even a Barbie dress for a special little gal-pal would tuck in nicely :)
Bunny approved!
A fun, quick project.  Thank you, Island Batik and Aurifil thread for supplying the materials, and to Crystal for sharing her pattern.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

How Much Thread To Quilt A Quilt?

Did you ever wonder how much thread it takes to quilt a quilt?  I've discovered that as a general rule of thumb, 1000 m of thread will cover a Queen-sized quilt with a medium amount of quilting. If you are adding lots of dense quilting, you may need more like 1500 m.  Let's use this scrap quilt (more pics here) from last year as an example.  It's around 90" x 100", and had a lot of seams.
To keep it puffy, it was quilted in the seam ditch of each strip (2" x 6") in the top, and in the piano key border (1" keys).  A feather was free-motioned up the plain 4" borders. That's a fair amount of quilting.
I used a new, large spool of Aurifil #2314, 50 weight, in both my needle and bobbin. These spools contain 1300 m of thread.
When I finished, I had this much left  - maybe 150 meters.
 Those large spools of Aurifil really go a long way! 

Monday, 12 March 2018

Interlocking Herringbone

The products featured in this post were given to me by Island Batik.
I mentioned in a previous post that all Island Batik Ambassadors were challenged to try a new technique this month.  Over the past couple of years, I have been whittling away at my "some day I want to try..." list, so it took some thought. Many years ago, I saw an antique quilt made in a herringbone pattern where the strips interlocked and joined together like magic. That quilt stuck in my head like a herring bone would in my throat.
Technically, the piece "builds" like a braid quilt, and I've done several of those.  But with the braid method, the sides of each column are squared off, creating a straight seam line up the quilt. You can see what I mean on Bonnie Hunter's braid, where the seam between the blue and white in the second picture is quite distinct. Easy to do, but not as aesthetically pleasing for those of us who want the patchwork to flow uninterrupted across the face of the quilt. (I almost wrote, "to flow seamlessly..." but that would be silly! :) Obviously there was a way to do this, and it was fun figuring it out. The best part?  I used up nearly every little inch of my beautiful fabric, except this small pile of trimmings:
I started with some Island Batik "Stashbuster" rolls.  Love the colours! The piece with gold was chosen especially to match a favourite pitcher.
Then I started building my patchwork.  The colours were all added in a random, scrappy fashion.
Because I have a penchant for odd-shaped, pointy things, I didn't trim off the points on the ends.I let the shape of the patchwork naturally determine the shape of the finished piece.
I chose a 50 weight Aurifil 4644 - Smoke Blue - for both the piecing and quilting. It blended right in.
Because the patchwork is fairly busy, I chose to quilt simple, straight lines, 1/4" away from all seams. The batting used is Hobbs Thermore, which you can purchase locally at Mrs Pugsley's Emporium. It was very easy to work with, and gave just enough loft to each little pillow.

Here's the finished runner;  you can see the points left on both ends.
It's a perfect size for my table with the extension leaf in.
I thoroughly enjoyed learning this technique, and...well...actually have a queen sized quilt underway, using batik scraps.

You can download the pattern for the runner here.  In addition to instructions for the runner, I've also included cutting charts for Lap, Twin, Double, Queen and King sizes.
Thank you, Island Batik, not just for providing the fabrics for this challenge, but for the challenge itself.  I thoroughly enjoyed learning how to do this.