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!

Thursday 20 June 2024

Aurifil Advent Calendar L'Alpi

An advent calendar for thread lovers - how fun! Better than chocolate, each of these 24 compartments holds a small spool of Aurifil thread . The palette of 24 hues includes five brand-new, limited-edition 50wt colors exclusive to this advent calendar as well as the introduction of five new shades of 8wt and a medley of Aurifil’s cotton thread weights.
We are taking pre-orders for Canadian customers now until June 28. That's only 8 days away! These calendars are limited production and need to be pre-ordered. We are happy to ship across Canada for a very reasonable rate. Please email for more information.

Friday 10 May 2024

Catch of the Day Lobster Tote

Drum roll please!  I am happy to announce the release of the 4th pattern in the Tidewater Totes series.  There's nothing that says "east coast" more than lobsters.   

I sewed the red, white and blue bag first and then saw this picture online, which suggested a totally different palette for my crustacean.  

I had the perfect mottled orange-red batik in my stash.
All the stitching on the bags is done completely by machine.
The colours are off in this shot, it's actually prettier in person, but you can't order up sunny days at will.  (Or at least I can't...)
The totes feature two inside pockets, one of which spans the width of the bag, and has a simple loop and button closure.  I actually used a wooden toggle on the green bag. The features are added with thread, but you could use a permanent marker (like a Sharpie) for the feelers and eyes if you prefer.

As before, we took the totes to the lighthouse park in Five Islands for the photo shoot.

If you have ever been near the Bay of Fundy when the tide is coming in, you will understand that it's no small feat to take good pictures.  These bags are all weighted down with bricks inside to prevent them blowing off the bench.  Even so, it's snap, snap, snap quick-as-you-can!

The totes for all 4 of these designs are available in print and download version on my website, and are shipping out to stores as I write so please check at your local quilt shop.  

Monday 29 April 2024

Aurifil Thread Labs 2.0

I am excited to announce that Sew Karen-ly Created...will again be a host shop for the latest thread-ucation program from Aurifil thread. 

Thread Labs 2.0 is the sophisticated successor to the inaugural educational subscription offered last year. Building upon the foundational knowledge provided in 2023, the 2024 program will offer an intriguing exploration of techniques and applications, guided by a distinguished team of educators. From July to December, participants will engage in an immersive learning experience, covering a diverse range of skills from FPP to Machine Quilting, through the practical use of various Aurifil thread weights. Subscribers who participated in Thread Labs 1.0 can expect a unique program experience with Thread Labs 2.0 with no repeats in either the product you receive or in the projects and presenters.  The first box, Lab 2.1, grants early access to the Aurifilosophy Cool Thread Exemplar, a compact spool storage case, and a unique thread tracking booklet. Aurifil Designer Nicholas Ball will lead subscribers through a creative project that utilizes several thread weights included in the Thread Exemplar, while tutoring via exclusive video content to ensure a comprehensive learning experience for all proficiency levels. Subsequent labs will introduce new educators, thread assortments, and innovative techniques, fostering an environment where creativity and skill development flourish.


Featured Educator: Nicholas Ball / @quiltsfromtheattic

Featured Educator: Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill / @wholecirclestudio

Lab 2.3 | SEPTEMBER / 80wt & 12wt, BIG STITCH QUILTING
Featured Educator: Sarah Fielke / @sfielke

Lab 2.4 | OCTOBER / 8wt & 12wt, EMBROIDERY
Featured Educator: Anna Maria Horner / @annamariahorner

Lab 2.5 | NOVEMBER / 28wt, 12wt, & Aurifloss, MENDING & APPAREL
Featured Educators: Jenni Smith & Kay Walsh  / @jennismithsews & @kaynwalsh

Lab 2.6 | DECEMBER / 50wt, 40wt, Forty3, MACHINE QUILTING
Featured Educator: HollyAnne Knight / @stringandstory

What is the Aurifil Thread Labs 2.0 Subscription Box program?

Threads Labs is a monthly education subscription program running from July to December 2024.  Subscribers to the program will receive monthly thread boxes. Over the course of the six months, you will gain all the necessary tools to more confidently create with a variety of thread weights and techniques, finishing the year inspired, armed with new skills and a wealth of knowledge.

How is Thread Labs 2.0 different than Thread Labs 1.0?
Thread Labs 2.0 builds on the educational foundation set by Thread Labs 1.0. The program features six new educators highlighting custom curated ranges of threads for 6 new projects. Boxes are focused on technique and on inspiring new and creative use of Aurifil threads. There are no repeats and subscribers who participated in Thread Labs 1.0 can expect a unique program experience with Thread Labs 2.0.

I didn’t participate in Thread Labs 1.0… can I still dive in to Thread Labs 2.0?
Yes, absolutely! Knowledge gained in Threads Labs 1.0 is not required for success with Thread Labs 2.0. That said, if you’re interested in gaining detailed knowledge of Aurifil’s history and a peek at the production process in addition to an in depth thread education on available products, we’d highly recommend looking into Thread Labs 1.0. which is now available as individual boxes.

What is included in the boxes?
Each box will include a range of Aurifil threads relevant to that month’s featured thread weight and technique along with access to a secure portal containing education materials & projects, exclusive videos, a monthly giveaway, and partner offers.

How long will content be available online?
Monthly secure online portals will remain active through June 30, 2025.

What is the cost of this program?

100% of the cost is for product included in the box. The education portion of the box– along with any bonus assets– is fully complementary and exclusive to subscribers. Sew Karen-ly Created is happy to offer Thread Labs 2.0 for $110. per month for Canadian customers. We ship across Canada for a very reasonable (subsidized) flat rate, or you can pick up your threads in Amherst, Nova Scotia.

When will my boxes arrive?
Thread Labs 2.0 Subscription boxes will ship at the beginning of each month, July – December 2024. Boxes SHOULD arrive to you by the 15th of each month.

How and when do we sign up?
Simply send an email as soon as possible stating your intention to join.  There is no registration fee, and no deposit required – just your word. 

Is there a sign up deadline?
Orders need to be submitted no later than Monday May 13. You may still join after this date but your boxes may be delayed. All boxes are assembled by hand and with care in the Aurifil offices. 

What is the cancellation policy?
Cancellations are possible with a 30 day notice. Example: You cancel your subscription in mid-August. You will still receive and pay for your September boxes, but will not receive your October boxes.

If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to be in touch. It's going to  be a wonderful program!

Wednesday 10 April 2024

Tidewater Totes Launch!

"Tidewater Totes" photographed at the Lighthouse Park in Five Islands, Nova Scotia.

I am thrilled to announce that the first three patterns in a series of "Tidewater Tote" Bags are now ready.  These have truly been a labour of love, and learning.  The challenge in designing is to make things attractive and detailed -while keeping the sewing as simple as possible- and I believe that goal has been achieved in these simple-to-stitch projects. Whale tails flashing above the water line, lobsters with their claws held high, anchors, and sailboats adorn the tote bag fronts, which are added in fusible raw-edge appliqué. These are uncomplicated, quick and easy to sew bags that can be made one day and put to use the next.  Tidewater Totes patterns include clear, tested instructions and full sized templates.

The idea for these bags actually originated with local businessman James Austin, who felt we needed a bit more "Maritime" in our buying choices, and I thank him for that. Tidewater Totes are a series of fun, practical bags with an east coast flair. The bags are fully lined and sport an inside pocket, but each design has different features and dimensions. Some have outside pockets or zippered inside pockets, while others feature open tops or tops closed with hook and loop tape, recessed zippers, flaps, or toggles.

This is the Sand Point Beach Bag which features soft rope handles.  I am happy to say I figured out an easy way to attach the handles which does not involve applying grommets or making buttonholes. (I hate cutting holes in a project; I always make a big mess, or get the hole in the wrong spot and then it's ruined.) The rope (available at craft shops) gives a nice, nautical touch.  The bag has an open top so you can easily stuff it with necessities for a day at the beach.

Inside is a zippered pocket for valuables. as well as a key strap for a carabiner to hold your keys. 

The bag takes its name from Sand Point Beach in beautiful Five Islands.
This one is "The Boat Tote", generously sized and featuring a recessed zipper on the top of the bag.  Inside is an open pocket.

My favourite of the bunch is The Whale Tail Tote.  
This pattern contains instructions for two different versions.  The one shown in blue has a double open pocket on the front (under the wave)  Version 2 (shown in green) has a simple appliquéd wave.  Both bags feature an inside pocket and a hook-and-loop top closure.

Soon to follow will be fish, lobsters, lighthouses, and a few more nautical surprises. 

Patterns are available in both print and digital downloads from my website at this link:

Patterns may also be found at selected quilt stores, so please ask at your local quilt shop for your Tidewater Tote pattern.  

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.