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. Pictured is "Sunset"; pattern available here.
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Monday, 8 July 2019

Colouring Inside The Lines

This month's Ambassador Challenge for Island Batik is sponsored by one of our industry partners, Aurifil thread. 
We were sent a selection of weights and colours in our Ambassador box back in January, and an additional packet of thread arrived later this spring.  It included these 3 spools of 40, 28, and 12 weight to be used in our challenge. 
Our instructions said, "Fabric is your canvas and Aurifil thread your paint! Create a one of a kind art quilt or project with Aurifil thread."
This project took a great deal of thinking.  Normally, we design to showcase the fabric but this time the thread needed to take centre stage. We had been sent cuts of solid colour batiks, and I decided to use the plain white as my background.
I printed some New York Beauty blocks from EQ8 on plain white paper and started colouring in doodles with a box of markers to see if I could make this work.
We all know if you can draw it, you can stitch it, so I pulled some of the same colours from my thread stash and set to work.
This is my working sketch from EQ8;  the blocks are drawn to 6". The only unappealing part of this project was tracing the block outlines onto my fabric.  I wanted to get stitching, and this was going to slow me down!!
My solution was to cut both freezer paper and the white batik into 9" x 12" pieces, and iron the freezer paper to the back of the fabric. It was then trimmed to 8-1/2" x 11" and fed through my printer. It was a super easy (lazy!) way to transfer the lines.
 I printed one block first as a test and did this much stitching before I decided it was going to work. (I'm not big on practicing!)
 The freezer paper was removed from the fabric and the blocks were joined with 1/4" seams as per regular patchwork.
I used my favourite Hobbs wool batting for the middle, and another layer of white batik on the back. My bobbin was loaded with 50 weight Aurifil in 2024 white.
To say this was fun is an understatement! I changed my needle as often as my thread, opting for a size 12/80 for my 50 weight, a 14/90 topstitch for the 40 and 28 weights, and a 16/100 topstitch for the 12 weight.
 The 12 weight thread fills in beautifully, even with just rows of straight stitching.

 The project took about 2 weeks to stitch, and I loved adding new bits every day.

Below you can see how fine the 50 weight (purple) used in the swirl inside the spike, appears next to the 12 weight (black).
 For the white background bits, I simply stitched feathers in white 50 weight.

 I toss my emptied Aurifil spools into a container, so I fetched two to use as finials.
 They slid onto each end of a 3/8" dowel for the perfect finishing touch.
 In all, I used 26 different colours and 4 different weights of cotton thread.

Thank you to Aurifil thread, Island Batik, and Hobbs Batting for supplying the products used in this challenge.

Monday, 3 June 2019

A Triple Crown

June's challenge for the Island Batik Ambassadors is to try a technique that's totally new to us.  Island Batik, as well as industry sponsors Aurifil, Accuquilt, and Hobbs, supply us with amazing products to use in our projects.

For someone like me who's been quilting forever, it takes some deep thinking to come up with something I haven't yet tried.  Last year, I figured out how to do an interlocking herringbone, a technique I now like very much. Thinking cap firmly in place, I started jotting down ideas.  
About this time, my friend Nellie dropped in and casually mentioned how she was making an old-fashioned scrap quilt, and stitching it on her treadle.  That sounded fun, and something I hadn't tried. Then I got to thinking...there are other machines in my house never used for my beloved Juki serger.  That would be interesting, so I added it to my list, which now read like this:
  1. Do a quilt -as -you-go
  2. Make a totally reversible quilt
  3. Make a quilt on the serger 
In a blinding lightbulb moment, I decided to combine the three techniques for a veritable quilting trifecta (or in this case...a TRY-fecta - groan...)  I hauled my serger down to the diningroom table, put in a new sharp needle, and threaded it with Aurifil 50 weight.

I had some pre-cut strips left from a previous project using the French Blue collection which would be great on one side, and chose colours for the other side from the Stashbuilder rolls. My plan was to alternate concentric rows of colour, with plain white batik.
So, if all goes as planned, one side will look like this:
 ...and the reverse side will be this:
I used my Accuquilt Go! cutter fitted with the 2-1/2" strip die to cut my pieces.  It was done in jig time, and the WOF strips were perfectly even. I SO love this cutter!!

My quilt-as-you-go/reversible plan meant I would layer strips of fabric wrong sides together, with batting strips in between, and stitch them using a log cabin courthouse steps design. Then, in another lightbulb dawned on me that I could also cut my batting strips with the Accuquilt Go!
It worked perfectly for this.The batting I chose was Hobbs Poly-Down, which is a very stable, evenly needled, polyester.  I started with a 4" centre (4-1/2" die) and cut 1 square of red batik, 1 square of yellow batik, plus one of batting.
The fabrics were layered, and the edges lined up and pinned in place;  notice my pins are not near the edge where they might knick the serger blade.
I was using the left needle only on my 4 thread serger (i.e. making it a 3 thread) and it's a perfect 1/4" seam if my fabric is hard against the blade.
All four sides of the sandwich were stitched, and then I added a strip of white on one side and a strip of yellow on the other, right sides facing. After stitching these in place, I flipped them away from the centre and added a strip of batting in between the two layers, butting it against the sewn seam allowance. Since it wasn't in the seam, my batting strip is now too wide...but the serger blade trims it even, so it wasn't necessary to use the rotary cutter at all. Easy-peasy.
Here's the first row of strips in place.

I continued building and trimming as I went.

In no time, this baby-sized quilt was cut, sewn, and quilted-as-I went.
The next challenge was to figure out how to photograph this, so Polly and I headed outside.
Polly perched herself on top of the pergola for a bird's eye view.

Here's the other side. Even though technically this is quilted, you can see how it looks a little "baggy".  Clearly it needs more quilting.

Switching back to my regular sewing machine, I chose matching colours of 50 weight Aurifil thread and did an outline stitch 1/4" from each seam with the walking foot.  On the back, where it was both blue and yellow strips, I used the pretty yellow in the bobbin.
Now it looks quilted!

The quilt ended up at 36" x 40", a good size for a baby quilt.
This was a fun and interesting project;  thank you for a great challenge, Island Batik, Hobbs, Aurifil,and Accuquilt!