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!

Friday 9 February 2024

Palazzo BOM: Aurifil Thread-of-the-month for 2024.

A brand new Aurifil BOM thread subscription program for 2024 has just been unveiled, and I am pleased to share the latest chapter in Aurifil’s creative journey with you. The Palazzo BOM will launch in April, featuring an exclusive monthly foundation paper piecing quilt pattern designed by Kitty Wilkin (Night Quilter) in partnership with Aurifil's 50 wt. Italian Colour Builders.

The Palazzo BOM promises to transport makers to the heart of Italy, encapsulating a rich and storied architectural history through the use of vibrant colour and contrast between fluid and angular shapes.  Regardless of whether you think of a large palace or really wide pants (!) when you hear the word Palazzo, you will end up with a breathtaking quilt and an enviable Aurifil stash. This program uses the very popular 50 weight 2020 Colour Builder sets, but includes new patterns and videos. 

Each curated set contains three large spools (1300 m each) of 50 weight cotton thread in a light, medium, and dark shade of the same colour.  These are SOLID coloured threads, not variegated shades. Along with the threads, you will receive an emailed newsletter which will contain a downloadable pattern in PDF, tips & tricks, and an exclusive video from pattern designer Kitty Wilkin. The pattern is recommended for Advanced Beginners utilizing the Foundation Paper Piecing Method. As my customers well know, I am happy to provide any help you may need with your pattern.

Cost of the program is $49.99/month CANADIAN for 12 months, plus applicable tax. Registration for the program opens today, and runs until March 12, 2024.  I have more details I can send along to you via email, or message me on Facebook.   (or find me on Instagram @sewkarenly).  This will be my fourth year hosting an Aurifil thread subscription program, and I can personally vouch for how pleased folks are with these programs, and how smoothly they run. 

Saturday 20 January 2024

"A High Tide Floats All Boats": 2023 Hoffman Challenge

Last year when Hoffman California Fabrics announced the fabrics for their annual design challenge, I knew right away I had to have them!  They were an enticing selection of watery greens and blues, just begging to be sewn into something with a seaside theme. To top it all off, they were batiks;  how could I possibly resist? 

The prestigious Hoffman Challenge is an annual , long running event;  you can read more about it at this link. This is the second time I have entered the challenge, the first being in 2015.  My entry that time was also juried in as a finalist, and travelled around North American for the duration of 2016.  It was a wonderful experience to be part of this show, and I was excited to try it again.  Here are the fabrics to be used for the 100 year anniversary challenge:

My first hurdle - and this was no small one - was to source the fabrics from a quilt store in Canada. I am a strong believer in supporting local whenever possible. The collection was to arrive in shops at the beginning of April. I began my hunt shortly after Christmas, contacting shops first in Nova Scotia, then the Maritimes, and finally in all of Canada, to see who had it on order.  Not having any luck, I broadened my search and contacted the Canadian distributor for Hoffman Fabrics, who supplied the name of a shop who had ordered them, but when contacted, the shop denied having any knowledge of such an order. Disappointing. This was now late April, and time was running short, so I finally gave up and purchased the fabrics online from The Fat Quarter Shop in the U.S., who put them in the mail immediately. No complaints about the service, and no issues at the border...which sometimes happens. I had already purchased the accompanying Aurifil thread collection, and I couldn't wait to match them to the fabrics.

While searching for fabrics, I had sketched a general blueprint on the computer of where I was headed.
I stitched a practice piece from similar colours to get the proportions of the little sail boats.  Although my sketch had looked fine, I didn't feel the sailboats showed up well on the pale background, so I tried again.  You'll also notice I changed the orientation of the boats.
This one suited my eye much better (but the sail boats are too large.)
My  plan was to free motion embroider whitecaps on the top of the waves, but I was unsure which weight of thread to use.  Doing trial stitching with different weights on water soluble stabilizer was a great way to "audition" the whitecaps on the waves.  
I just laid the thread embroideries on top of the fabric, and decided 28 weight Aurifil thread gave the look I wanted.  

With these many hours invested and my plan of action decided, it was now time to start the real thing. I began the process all over again with the challenge fabrics.  The centre Mariner's Compass in this quilt is 10" across, so there are lots of tiny pieces to work with.  Much patience was required, and many days ended in frustration, trying to get the points as sharp as possible.
The letters were a nightmare, both to cut out and to stitch.  Leave it to me to choose a skinny, curly font.
The choice of batting was not a simple one;  the finished quilt is small (36" across) so I didn't want anything thick to overwhelm, but it also needed to show the stitching, and hang perfectly straight.  I ended up going with a single layer of Hobbs wool batting.

Even though it's not a large quilt, it took hours of free motion stitching.  My eyes ached from working all those tiny pebbles, but I do like how they look.

My original plan was to take photos of the quilt at high tide by a wharf where ships were tied up.  I've taken such shots in the past at Advocate Harbour, but the tide table was not in sync with best light and the deadline for submission was imminent. I ended up taking the shots at the lighthouse park in Five Islands, N.S. High tide was around 7 am so we were in place early.

You can read the warning sign for the high tides in the background.
You will have to take my word for it because they don't show well...but there are actually three boats "floating" by in the water.  If you look closely, you can see the white foam streams. :)   If you are curious to know, the islands in the background, l-r, are Moose, Diamond, Long, Egg, and Pinnacle.
The Artist Statement submitted with my quilt reads as follows:

Living on the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia, home of the world’s highest tides, the title aphorism is well known. Even JFK knew it! The design is inspired by the watery blue batiks of the challenge.  The quilting is free hand, free motion (not marked) to mimic the rise and fall of an uneven tide. Centre compass is 10-1/4”, quilt perimeter is 129”.

The Hoffman Challenge 100 Years Exhibit opened this past week at the Road to California Show in Ontario, CA.  I am grateful to internet friend "Darlene Sewista" for taking and sharing these pictures from the show.

Thursday 16 November 2023

Toy Soldier Wall Hanging

As our good friends at Monty Python's Flying Circus used to say, "and now for something completely different!"  I've had a series of life-sized wall hangings bopping around in my head for months now, and finally managed to birth the first one (s). These giant (6 ft. tall) toy soldiers add a fun, whimsical touch to our Christmas decorating. Simple to make for even a beginner quilter, the pattern has straight seams, rotary cut pieces, and fused appliqué features. These wall-hangings are intended for indoor use, protecting doorways, or standing guard beside the presents under your Christmas tree.

 I think these toy soldiers are so fun, and I can't wait to hang them this Christmas.  As with most things simple, it took a lot of thinking and complicated maneuvering to make it so.  It was important to design this big fellow in such a way that a full sized pattern wouldn't take 100 sheets taped together when printed.  And it doesn't.

With the words of Albert Einstein bouncing in my head, I made these fellows "as simple as possible, but no simpler." The pieces are rotary cut, and honestly, you can easily finish one of these fellows in a day. The blocks are appliqued before joining together so there is not a lot of fabric to deal with on the sewing machine bed.  I used a blanket stich to outline the shapes, dipping into my stash of Aurifil threads to match them to the fabrics being used.

The quilting was kept to a minimum,  The soldiers use "flex foam" batting to keep them standing straight and tall.  The next bit of fun was finding a good spot to photograph these sentinels.  Here they are keeping guard outside a bedroom .

I swear their eyes followed me whatever angle I chose!

One soldier alone decorates a door nicely.

I took them outside to dress up the front door, but they will not spend the season here as they were made of quilting cottons.  A weatherproof fabric intended for outside would solve that issue.  The pattern is available in both print  or download  versions, or ask your local quilt shop to order then in.

When our tree goes up. these fellows will be standing on guard to make sure a certain little kitty cat does not go climbing...
Next up:  The Magi! 

Saturday 29 April 2023

Cut Glass Pickle Dish Workshop

Have you ever wanted to make a pickle dish?  Not the kind that holds gherkins and olives at your festive table,  but one from fabric, whose points and bevels sparkle like cut glass.
As part of this year's Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival, I will be teaching a full day workshop on the red and white runner pictured.  This table runner pattern is a perfect introduction to conquering a much-loved quilt block.  We will use both freezer paper piecing, as well as traditional piecing, to make this generously sized (26" x 38") runner.  
Photo by Jerry Khiev of Island Batik

Part of the fun of designing is trying out different layouts for the blocks, and I've worked out two smaller versions of the runner which will use the same method and masters as the original. You are welcome to choose these layouts for your class project.  

This is not a beginner class, but you do not need advanced skills either.  If you have a bit of experience with piecing, and a consistent 1/4" seam allowance you are good to go.  As always, the design looks more complicated than it really is, but during class we will break it down into easy to manage steps so you can master the technique.  The class project is for a runner, but you can certainly continue on to make a full sized quilt if you feel inspired. 

The workshop will be held Friday, October 13 in Amherst, Nova Scotia, and will run a full day. Cost of the workshop is $85. which includes tax, pattern, and all the printed foundations you will need to complete the project. Classes fill quickly, so please email me right away to register if you would like to join us.    

Friday 21 April 2023

Aurifil Thread Labs


Introducing Thread Labs, Aurifil’s 2023 subscription series curated in celebration of Aurifil’s 40th Anniversary. Thread Labs is a six part series that tells the story of Aurifil– from the history and unique production process to an in-depth education on their revered threads. It was developed as a no-fuss program in reaction to the increased consumer demand for education. From July through December, subscribers will gain the necessary tools to more confidently create with a variety of thread weights and techniques. You will finish the year inspired, armed with new skills and a wealth of knowledge. Topics covered will be Thread Fundamentals, Big Stitch Quilting, Foundation Paper Piecing, Machine Quilting, Machine Appliqué, Cross Stitch, Needle Turn Appliqué, and Embroidery.  The threads included will be the full range of weights and fibre content available from Aurifil.

This monthly education subscription program runs from July to December 2023.  If you were a member of the Colour Builder program, it will operate in a similar manner. Over the course of the six months, you will receive and learn how to use all Aurifil thread weights and will also learn some techniques from Aurifil designers. Each box will include a thread assortment and instructions including a QR code which can be scanned to gain access to the educational materials and projects. Subscription cost is $125.00/month, billed monthly when the threads are ready to ship. 100% of the cost is for product included in the box; the education portion of the box is complimentary and can only be accessed by purchasing the boxes.  Your enrollment in the program must be confirmed by May 10, 2023, and you will receive your first box in July. Please email to sign up.

As many of you know, I am not just a retailer for Aurifil, I am also a dedicated user, and have years of personal experience with all of these threads.  I will be working through the program with you, and am always available to answer any questions you may have, via phone or email.

We are happy to ship across Canada, however there will be a small charge for shipping.  The amount will be determined shortly when I receive the weight and dimensions of the boxes, but just know that it will be a subsidized rate, and as fair as it can be for both of us. As always, you can add any extra threads to each order with no additional shipping cost– it will be a flat rate regardless of what is shipped.

Deadline for registration is May 10/23 and orders need to be in then, so if you are interested, kindly let me know before then so you don’t miss out. I am really looking forward to learning more tips and techniques to take my thread journey to new heights!  Email me  sewkaren at

Wednesday 15 March 2023

Space is Limited

Well...imagine my surprise to learn that my blog is at capacity, and I either need to stop writing so much, or delete some old posts to continue.  I am opting for the latter, so please be patient while I work away at getting my house in order!  In the meantime, please visit me on Facebook   (@sewkarenlycreated) and Instagram (@sewkarenly).  Hope to see you back here soon! :)  ~Karen

Tuesday 22 November 2022

Poinsettia Stitchery Kits

With snow on the ground and the neighbourhood decorations going up, it's starting to feel like it's time we get serious with our gift lists.  If you are like me, you want to include something hand made... or hand-makeable.  These small stitcheries work up very quickly, by hand or machine. (Mine are all done on the sewing machine).

A simple poinsettia shape is outline stitched in 12 weight Aurifil thread. You trace the design onto your fabric and layer with batting and backing as you would a quilt.  

Set your regular sewing machine up as for free motion quilting, and use either 40 or 50 weight thread in your bobbin.  For the needle, choose a size 100/16 TOPSTITCH needle, and thread your machine with the 12 weight thread.  It's always good to do a tension test before beginning;  you may need to lower your top tension just a smidge to accommodate the thicker thread. Then just colour on the lines with your thread. It's that simple!

This piece uses 3 colours of 12 weight - yellow, red, and green.  The background stitching is done with regular 50 weight thread.
I've made many of these, some for small candle mats and wall hangings, and some became cushions for Christmas décor.  This would look lovely as well stitched on a Christmas stocking.  Use your imagination!

I am happy to share the pattern, which I am including free of charge in a small kit which includes the three spools of thread and one size 16 needle, packaged in a Christmas  box ready for gifting.

You can find the kits on my website, at this link.