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 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.  

Thursday 29 September 2022

Quilter's World: Poinsettia Centrepiece

 Sometimes life circles back on itself...

When I started designing quilts professionally, my first submission (back in...cough...1989) was to Quick & Easy Quilting magazine. The pattern was for a set of placemats using Seminole piecing.  Then editor Sandra Hatch accepted the design for publication and contacted me again to ask would I be interested in doing a regular column on that technique? Writing that column (pre-internet, and on my typewriter with hand-drawn piecing diagrams) spanned the next 12 years, and was a wonderful, wonderful learning experience. Eventually, three sister publications merged into a new and revised format, called Quilter's World. One of my designs appeared in the very first issue of Quilter's World, and made the cover for the second issue of the magazine, in Feb 2003.  

I went on to design for Quilter's World for a couple of years (issues shown below) ...leaving only to work on my first book.  And then my second.  And so on, and so on.  

Over Christmas last year, deciding that some of my Christmas linens needed updating, I sketched out a design for a somewhat modern table centrepiece.  It may not be a traditional representation of a poinsettia, but to my eye it's like looking down into the centre of one, with red leaves and a touch of green swirling around.
I knew those reds needed to be vibrant Island Batik, and they graciously sent me lots of these beauties to work with. Thank you, Island Batik. ♥♥♥ These are all from their Basics and Foundations, which are always available. 
With foundation piecing, it went together quickly.

"Birthing" the centrepiece  means there is no binding to deal with, making the finishing super quick.
They are quilted simply, with a leaf outline and pebbling in the centre.
The size makes it usable as a table centrepiece...
...or as placemats. As you can see, I've made several of these now, and they take no time!

I am delighted that Quilter's World still welcomes my designs, and have showcased this one in a newly released special edition called "Merry Quilted Christmas".  
The issue is filled with lots of full sized quilts, as well as smaller gifty projects you can work up in time for the holidays. The magazine is on newstands now (locally I've seen it at Pharmasave and Walmart) or you can purchase it online from Annie's.

Monday 26 September 2022

Hurricane Fiona

Hurricane Fiona made a whirlwind visit to the Maritimes on the weekend, and has certainly left an impression wherever she visited.  Here in Amherst, N.S. we got off rather lucky, our area of town in particular.  
We lost power during the night as the storm raged; the winds were wicked.  Before stepping outside to assess damage in the morning, we were greeted with this odd view from a kitchen window.  There were leaves covering everything!
 Even the house was plastered!

There were several large trees down on our street, including this one which fell across the road.

We spent the day getting the new invertor generator connected to the essentials in the house.  I am happy to say it worked wonderfully, and by the end of the day - miraculously! - Nova Scotia Power had our electricity restored. Yay! It took another day to get internet but we are far from complaining, as most of our town and province are still without power, and will be for several days yet.
Yesterday we took a drive along the Parrsboro shore, all the way to Truro.  The damage is widespread, with many trees on power lines, roof shingles and siding missing, and some sheds overturned.  This scene in Great Village, of the former United Church, is particularly sad.
This huge picturesque church stands at the centre of the village.  We understand that crews are working now to safely remove the steeple.

The closer we got to Truro, the more pronounced the damage.  Many streets were blocked by trees. (This is Smith Avenue).
Arlington Place
If you look closely at the below Victoria Street scene, you can just make out a car buried under this tree.
Roosevelt Avenue

Back in Amherst, the damage to large, older trees is significant.
We understand power crews from New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, and Maine are helping with the restoration of power to our province.  Warming stations have opened up in most communities to offer hot tea and a place to charge devices.  We witnessed long, long line-ups at the few gas stations that are open. This picture was taken this morning.
We feel so very blessed to have not suffered any damage from the storm, and our fingers are crossed that "normal" will be restored quickly.