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. Shown here is "To Be Where You Belong", presented to Sir Paul McCartney on his visit to Nova Scotia in 2009.
Comments are always appreciated, simply click the word "comments" at the end of each post to leave your message. Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, 29 August 2020


 This is Encompassing:

Nautical patterns, especially compasses, hold a special place in my heart.  Far from being difficult to sew,  "Encompassing" has simplified lines of all straight seams, sewn using foundation piecing (no curves). 

Careful colour placement creates a secondary design of stars encircling the compasses. 

The quilt is photographed on the steps of the lighthouse in Five Islands, N.S. 

The pattern for Encompassing has been re-formatted as a pdf download and is available here.

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Braiding A Mat

 These past few months I have had two mandates in my sewing life:  use up stash, and experiment with different weights of Aurifil thread to see what each can do.  One thread in particular I've enjoyed is 28 weight, so when I decided to dig into my scraps to make a rag rug, it was my first choice to use.  My mat is not yet complete (the end is tucked under for the picture) as I am still unsure how large I'd like it to be, but I've got a good handle on the process now.

Polly and I had a great time going through boxes and boxes of fabric scraps (all cotton) to pull colours to include.  The mat will go in a room which has a red and blue quilt on the bed so in addition to those colours, we included grey, black, and a bit of off-white.  We were not too picky about what we used, and you can see some of the prints have yellow and orange.  Having never braided a mat before, I read lots and lots online about how to proceed.  Naturally, there were many different - and sometimes contradictory -suggestions.  Nothing to do but jump in and see what works and what doesn't.  

We decided to tear our strips, and had a ball doing that.  There is something so satisfying about that sharp RIIIIPPPPPP!   Polly loved playing with the braided strips.  

We braided and braided and kept rolling it together to see how big it was getting.  I had no clue how long the braid needed to be.

Finally we decided to start joining.  The online instructions I had read all recommended sewing the braids together by hand.  Ha!  Not this gal.  I was hoping for the mat to be oval so I didn't curl the centre into a circle.  Next time I will make the centre longer before turning the corner, as my mat is only slightly ovate.

The thread I chose for the job is Aurifil 28 weight, heavy enough to be strong yet not too thick that it will show.  The colour is # 2775 Steel Blue. which is now my favourite shade.  It blends so well.
Joining with the machine was no problem at all.  I set the machine to the widest zigzag possible - in this case only 5.5 mm.  If I could have set it wider I would have, as I had to watch carefully to ensure the needle grabbed each side evenly. A 9mm width stitch would be perfect.  The key to joining the strips is to make sure you add the braid in a counter-clockwise direction so that the mat grows to the left side.You also need a totally flat surface so the mat doesn't curl up into a big bowl.
We have used almost a full small spool to join 29 m of braid.
The mat measures 26 "x 28", and will no doubt go at least a big larger.  After this is finished, I will figure out how much yardage was used.  I marked the braids in 3 m increments with a piece of masking tape (you can see the one on the right says 26) and measured the mat after each addition.  A bit of math will be involved
I do know it made a noticeable dent in my scrap pile (yay!) and I can't wait to make another.  With the raw edges and many threads from ripping, this has a rustic look for sure, but it will be perfect in the intended room. 
You can find Aurifil 28 weight - and many other weights - in my online thread store.

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Contact-less Pickup Available


If you are a local, or passing through Amherst while taking advantage of our "Atlantic Bubble", don't forget that we offer contact-less pick-up on Aurifil thread orders. Simply choose "pick-up" at the checkout, and in the comment section let me know when you would like to pick up your thread.I will be in touch with directions. If you prefer to use e-transfer instead of going through the online checkout, kindly email your order and I will send you an invoice. You can see and order all the gorgeous threads here:

We deliver across Canada! 🇨🇦🇨🇦
(Pictured is machine quilting on cotton batiste using very fine 80 weight thread.)

Sunday, 19 July 2020

Adventures in Mask Making: First Draft

Yesterday my friend Cheryl (aka Grandma Coco's Designs) posted these incredibly beautiful, embroidered masks which she makes as a fundraiser for the Lyndhurst Feral Cat Project. Her two-tone masks in particular spoke to me, as I had not considered fancy piecing as mask covers.  When she first shared her progress photos with me a week or so ago, I jokingly told her I should do a New York Beauty one, and she of course said, "great idea - I think you should do it!" That sounded a bit like a challenge...or a I decided to give it a go.

Where to start? In drafting the pattern, I started with the thinking that 4 New York Beauty blocks set together form a circle;  the rounded edge of that quarter circle centre section could form the curve up the nose.  I began by drawing a circle and worked back from there.
Normally, I draw my patterns in EQ8 but I figured flying blind would mean lots of erasing, and easier to do that by hand. It came out looking a bit like a basketball at first...
Once I had the shape, my easy method for adding seam allowances on curved edges is to unthread the machine and stitch with my 1/4" foot.  I did that all the way around my template.
Using my curved ruler, I marked equal divisions on the outer ring and staggered divisions on the inner ring.  With a ruler, I connected the dots to make the NYB spikes. 
Once I had my pattern, I made 3 copies to cut up into a template and a foundation.
With only three spikes, the foundation piecing was quick.  I reached in and pulled Island Batik scraps from a basket as I went, paying no attention to colour at all.
After the foundations were trimmed, I added the curved bottom section. I used my pieced sections as a pattern to cut two pieces of lining from batik, and also one layer of nonwoven interfacing.   In total my mask has 3 layers, two with no needle punctures.
I added a casing to each end to insert the elastic, which made it easy to adjust the length for my mask model. I call her Louise.  Her ears are not in the same place as mine. :)
Granted, you don't really get the effect of a NYB block;  it's more of a diamond pattern across the centre which stands out.
It's really not a bad fit, for either me or Louise, and perhaps a good jumping off point to try again.  Having spent most of my summer with monotonous mask sewing, it made for a nice change of pace.
The nay-sayers will be quick to point out that there are perforations in the mask because of the seams,  and thus not safe to wear.  I will say again that the pieced layer is simply a cover, and that there are two layers underneath this, one of which is non-woven. It was a fun project to challenge my brain.  Thank you, Cheryl, for your continued inspiration! :)

Monday, 25 May 2020

Wholecloth Quilting

A couple of weeks' back I started machine quilting a whole cloth quilt as part of my "self-threaducation" during lockdown.  I have set myself the task of trying out different weights of Aurifil threads in various applications to see how they look. As a dealer for this wonderful product I feel I should not just offer the thread for sale, but actually know how it performs in various applications.
The stitching was a breeze, but getting a good picture has been tricky!
This is a pre-printed kit from Benartex;  on their website it is entitled simply Nautical Wallhanging, but it is labelled as Anchors Aweigh #783 on the package.

I chose to use a 28 weight thread on top, and a 40 weight on the bottom. For the 28 weight (wound on the grey spool) I chose a shade darker than the fabric 2314 Beige, just to give a bit of contrast.  The thread in the bobbin is 40 weight in 2021 Natural White. It was a perfect match to the muslin.

Cross-hatching those straight lines seemed to take forever.  In hind-sight, I should simply have used those lines as grid-marks for a quicker free motion filler.
The anchors and rope borders moved along very quickly.  I had reservations about those lines coming out in the wash, but they did, all in one go.  I hung it on the line to dry.
Since it has a nautical theme, I thought photographing it on the steps of the light house in Five Islands would be smashing.  However, the tide was coming in when we were there and the high tides along this Bay of Fundy coast blow in with great enthusiasm. This small quilt didn't stand a chance of staying flat in those winds!
I tried it in various places, at various times of the day, with variable cloud and sunshine. Here it is in front of our new old barn.

In the end, soft natural light through the window seemed to show the stitching the best.
I am quite enamored with this 28 weight thread and how easily it stitches. You can purchase the thread here.  More colours will be added soon.
 The package calls this a wallhanging, but I think it would make a beautiful, heirloom baby quilt.

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Andra Tutto Bene

Yesterday while sewing a stack of somewhat subdued colours into half-square triangles, I could hear a little voice whispering, " know there is a rainbow in the basket behind you."
I ignored it as long as I could, but somehow that basket ended up on my sewing table and sure enough...out spilled a rainbow...of Hoffman 1895 Bali watercolours.
The previous day, I had read a post on the Aurifil blog about a small wallhanging designed by Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill of  Whole Circle Studio.  The post says, "Andrà Tutto Bene (Everything Will Be Okay in English) was inspired by the words and beautiful artwork created by children in Italy during the Covid19 pandemic in 2020. While children and their families in Italy were quarantined in their homes, many displayed rainbow-themed banners and posters featuring the phrase "Andrà Tutto Bene"to send messages of hope and positivity."  We could all use a bit of that.  Sheri supplied a foundation pattern for the rainbow, which I printed on newsprint for easy removal.
The 1895 Watercolours are perfect, especially the blue for the sky.
The original design featured clouds, but part-way through sewing I decided I would switch out the clouds for a world. I searched out my largest paper coffee filters to make positioning the circle super easy.
Then I printed an outline of the world to that size, and cut out the shapes to applique.
They were fused in place, and stitched down using clear Aurifil monofilament.
I sewed completely around the circle and matching lining, and cut an X in the back near the top where I could turn the world inside out.   It was appliqued in place using the clear monofilament.
I printed "Andra Tutto Bene" in a script font in Word, printing 200 point size letters in mirror image so I could trace them onto fusible web.  Cutting out the letters was the slowest part of this project.  They got stitched down using free motion quilting.
Then the fun began: choosing thread colours to quilt the rainbow. I am using all 50 weight Aurifil in this project.  I found a scrap of Hobbs Tuscany silk batting which was just the right size.
The bottom edge was cut to the same shape as the rainbow.
A little red heart is stitched on where I envision Nova Scotia to be.

This bit of hope and encouragement is now hanging in our Family Room window.  It's raining today, but perhaps soon we will have a real rainbow.
If you would like to make your own, there is a link to Sheri's pattern here on the Aurifil post.  Thank you to Sheri and Aurifil for making this available.