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!

Sunday, 21 March 2021

Spring Promise

The old saying of "time flies when you are having fun" is certainly true in my case.  When I have my head down designing and sewing, little else gets attended to.  (like blogging...or housework!) 

I've really been concentrating on new designs lately, and have well over a dozen sketched out.  Not all of those will come to fruition of course;  some will get added to the "what was I thinking??" pile.  Others are just snippets of ideas...things that might work for a border, or as a secondary block, but not be the star of the quilt.  Those go into a vault for when an idea is needed.  

This week with the approach of spring, it was time to sew a new runner - a quick and simple one. It features a central appliqued blocks flanked on each end by checkerboard patchwork.  The petal elements are arranged in a circle.  

I have found the easiest way to get a perfect circle is to fold the fabric into quarters, and press it lightly to mark the lines.  Then I rifle through all the pot lids in the kitchen to find one the size of my circle.  I trace around this with a Hera marker, so that I have no marks to remove afterwards.
As you can see, it leaves nice registration marks in the fabric, which come out with a quick press once the elements are added.

I decided to use 50 weight thread to do the blanket stitch around the edges.  

The end panels are quilted in diagonal lines using a walking foot.  The fun begins with the centre block, where feathery shapes are free motion quilted.
The feathers almost look like butterflies. (Happy accident!)
The pattern is available from my website and you can follow the links there for printed or downloadable versions. As always, I am grateful for the sharp eyes of Cheryl Coville of Grandma Coco Designs for her help in checking the instructions.
I've also done up thread sets with spring colours of Aurifil 50 weight which you can find here

The pictures are a wee bit pale because our weather was anything but spring-like for the photo shoot. (it was snowing!) However...we do have the promise of spring. :)

Monday, 8 February 2021

February Snow

 Nova Scotia had a dusting of snow overnight (we understand between 30-45+ cm, but no official word on how much our area received. We know Polly was greeted with a nice wall of snow at the back door.

Here are the steps from the bottom.

With Polly's guidance we made short work of clearing the drive.

Luckily, we have no need to be in the backyard for anything other than to make snow angels. (Polly does not like doing those.)

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

One Bite At A Time

The Aurifil Color Builders  program has launched, and the block for January is a Sumatran Elephant.  I couldn't wait to tear into my beautiful little box of threads!

This month includes 3 greys: 2600 Dove, 2610 Light Blue Grey, and 5004 Grey Smoke.  I chose similar shades from my stash of  batiks.  I particularly like that one in the middle, from Island Batik.  It looks very elephanty to me.  I also chose violet as an accent colour, and blue for the background.

The foundation patterns for this program are designed by Cassandra Beaver; the detail is fabulous. The colours have nice contrast and work well in the pattern.  When I began, I thought that light grey section below was his trunk, but soon realized it was the other end of the elephant! (The foundations arrive reversed.)
I am as yet undecided as to whether I will quilt and bind this as a stand-alone mini-quilt (it's 16" square), or quilt each of the blocks and join them as a quilt-as-you-go at the end of the year.  My other option of course, is simply to join all the blocks when they are complete and quilt them traditionally.  We'll see.

In addition to the foundation-pieced pattern, there is also an embroidery design sent each month. I don't have an embroidery machine, so I will be doing mine free-hand free motion on my domestic sewing machine.  It should prove interesting. These patterns are exclusive to Aurifil Colour Builders 2021.  If you would like to join in, you may do so at any time.  I've ordered extras, which you can find here. We ship across Canada.  More details on the program may be found on the Aurifil website.

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Roxi's Rhythmic

This has got to be one of the best versions of "Rhythmic" I've seen!
Roxi Miner, from western Canada, has chosen a vibrant palette which is perfect for this design. The bold colours with high contrast really add spin.  I love it, and it looks great on her table.

Roxi has made Rhythmic several times, giving them all away. Her latest version she is keeping for herself.   She has been very generous in sharing pictures of her gorgeous work, and I have posted the below shots before.

The pattern for Rhythmic is available on my website as a mailout , or here as an instant download.  Below is my original version, shown hanging at Paducah...

...and in the Hands All Around Exhibit at International Quilt Festival:

 Thanks so much for sharing, Roxi.  I can't wait to see the next one! :)

Friday, 22 January 2021

Aurifil Thread Case Special

Our thread store has recently received a LARGE order from Aurifil; we are (literally!) stocked to the ceiling with thread! 

As usual, the ever-vigilant Polly was on the job to inspect the packages. (There might just be some Catnip-19 in there...)

In total, the boxes weighed a little over 32 lbs.  If you consider how light a single spool of thread is, you can appreciate this is a LOT of thread!  We are really doing our best to stay ahead of any hold-ups that may occur due to the on-going pandemic.  We do not want our sewing interrupted! One of the things we were able to secure was another carton of the thread + case specials which were so popular awhile back. 

These are a terrific deal, with a spool of 50 weight 2024 Mako cotton thread plus a reusable storage case which holds 12 large spools, both for just $19.99.  As you know, the thread sells on its own for $14.99 and the cases are $12.99 so it’s a great price, and good time to stock up.  These sold out very quickly last time we had them.

We also ordered in a couple of extra Colour Builders sets for January in case you missed out on joining earlier. This is a fabulous monthly subscription from Aurifil which highlights the plight of endangered species world wide.  In addition to the thread, subscribers receive exclusive embroidery and foundation piecing patterns each month, the latter being designed by the talented Cassandra Beaver.

Our collections have been replenished, including a brand new one from Edyta Sitar called  "Secret Stash". 

You can order these items from the website  We deliver across Canada, and offer local contact-less pickup.  

Friday, 4 December 2020

Christmas Thread Set Gifties

 Last year, looking for quick and unique gifts, I stitched up this cute little poinsettia mat using Aurifil 12 weight thread. It was fun to do, and I ended up making several of them.

I printed the pattern and instructions, and put together little Aurifil thread kits, perfect for Christmas stitching and gifting. Last year these were the Christmas special at the various pop-up shops and venues where I was vending, but this year being what it is, they are now available from the website.  
These pieces have all been stitched on my regular domestic sewing machine, set up for free motion,  NOT on an embroidery machine.
You just trace the design onto your chosen fabric, layer the top on batting and backing,  and stitch on the lines. Regular 50 weight thread is used in the bobbin.  It's like colouring with thread instead of a crayon.
I've used the design both on cushions and small stitcheries which can be used as wall hangings or table mats.
 The sets come in two sizes:  the smaller contains 3 spools of 12 weight thread, a size 16 machine topstitch needle, as well as the printed pattern.  It's packaged in a gift box, all for the special price of $18.99. 
The larger set contains 3 big spools of Aurifil 12 weight, a size 16 topstitch needle, and the printed pattern, all for the special price of $39.99. 

You can order from the website for delivery across Canada, or pick up your order locally in one of these nifty reusable bags, sporting the Amherst logo (while quantities last.)

Thursday, 26 November 2020

Last Call For Early Bird Pricing


It’s not “last call” for the 2021 Aurifil Color Builders program, but it *IS* last call for the early bird pricing. To take advantage of guaranteed 2020 prices, orders must be in no later than 8 am (AT) on November 30th.  This fabulous thread-of-the-month program includes 12 curated boxes of 3 large spools of Aurifil 40 weight Mako cotton thread, a foundation piecing pattern, and an embroidery design all to benefit endangered species world wide.

Contactless pickup is available for the threads, or you can have them delivered to your door.

I will be participating in the program, and sewing along each month.  If you'd like to join in, please email me for more details. karen at

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Aurifil Colour Builders 2021


As you may have read on the Aurifil blog, the Colour Builders program for 2021 has been announced, and sign-ups are now being accepted.  The Colour Builders program is a no-fuss monthly subscription service hosted by your favorite Aurifil thread dealer – that's me! – whereby you receive a curated selection of threads each month, paper-piecing and embroidery patterns using the theme and colours, AND help  out a worthy cause while building your thread stash.  It’s a win all around!

Last year the very successful program highlighted different areas of Italy;  this year will focus on a cause that falls in line with the goal to increase Aurifil's sustainability and positive environmental impact: endangered species. The program highlights the very first thread weight produced by Aurifil: 40wt. Wound on a bold green spool, Aurifil's 40wt/2ply thread is every bit as versatile as the 50wt but with just a bit more strength. 40wt is tremendous for sewing bags and garments, or for when a more defined topstitching or quilting pattern is desired. It is also the number one recommended weight for quilting and machine embroidery. 

Featured animals are the Sumatran Elephant, the Red Panda, the Sea Turtle, the Iberian Lynx, the Pink Land Iguana, the Whale Shark (I can’t wait to stitch him!), the Sumatran Tiger, the Blue-throated Macaw, the African Wild Dog, the Cross River Gorilla, the Pangolin, and the African Penguin.

The Colour Builders program is modeled on a BOM concept, except you receive thread and a pattern each month instead of fabric.  

Each block or pattern serves as a tribute to an endangered species.
Our list of subscribers is steadily growing, and we would love to have you join us. I plan to participate as well and will be sewing the blocks along with you each month.  I don't have an embroidery machine, but look forward to stitching the designs free hand on my sewing machine.  It sounds like a fun program, and a great way to kick off 2021. Cost of the program is $46.99/month plus tax (and shipping if needed)  if you register by December 1.  Registration is through email  (

You can check out these links on the Aurifil blog to see the threads and read more about the program:

If you are interested, kindly let me know asap so I can add your name to my list. We would love to have you join in! 

Friday, 13 November 2020

Christmas Candy Mug Rugs

Christmas gifting is as much about the present-ation as it is the present, and with this quick and easy scrap-busting project, you get both.  Who doesn't need a mug rug, especially when they come as sweetly packaged as these?! You can turn your mug rugs into lollipops...

...or candy treats!
As quilters, we have lots of cotton scrap fabrics lying around, and these only take 4" x WOF each of 3 different colours. Cotton strips are easy to braid, and may be joined by either the machine or by hand.  Naturally, I do mine by machine. 
The instructions below are for one coaster approximately 6-1/2" across. You need:
  • 2 strips each of 3 colours, each 2" x WOF (a total of 6, 2" strips.) A light,  medium, and a dark work well. (If you don't have WOF strips, just seam together enough shorter pieces to measure around 42".  The joins don't show in the finished project.)
  • neutral 50 weight sewing thread (Aurifil of course!) 2600 Dove Grey is perfect.
  • if stitching by machine, a size 16/100 JEANS needle.
  • 1 piece of clear cellophane 16" x 18".
  • 1 large safety pin.
  • 1 small clip (a clothespin works).
  • scrap of fabric for ties (or pretty satin ribbon). 20" per tie is a good length.
If you are making the lollipop version you will also require a straw for the stick.  These came from the $ store.  You could also use a small piece of dowel, approximately 9" long.
I dug into my Island Batik stash and chose bright colours for my candies.  I have 2, 2" strips of yellow, green, and cream.
Using 1 strip of each colour, fold in half lengthwise and layer the fabrics one on top of the other; stitch them together on one short end. (We will add the second strip to the length later.)
To hold the end steady for braiding, put a safety pin through the end and clip it to your great-grandmother's treadle sewing machine. (You can see the braided mat I am still making on the floor.) Firmly braid your strips together.
When you get to the end of  your strips, place your clip or clothespin on the braid to hold it together. Add the second strip in a diagonal seam, as you would for joining binding.  Finger press the seam open. Remove the clip, and continue braiding as before. (The reason you don't join the strips together at the beginning is because it makes it slow and awkward, as the ends get all tangled together as you braid.  Using one strip of each colour at a time and joining as needed is actually quicker in the long run.)  
When all the fabric is braided, simply straight stich across the end. Your braid will measure around 64" long.
Now the fun starts! You want to coil your braids into a circle with the edges butted against each other - not overlapping.  To do this, turn the end of the strip so it forms a "U" and zigzag the edges together.   I set my machine to the widest possible zigzag (5.5 mm), and about 2.5 mm long. Keep turning and stitching your braid into a circle, making sure that the braid is added to the right of the needle.  This way, it grows to the left side leaving you room to stitch.
When you run out of braid, simply tuck the end underneath and stitch off the end, locking your stitches.
It will look like this:
Depending on how tightly you have braided your strips, your mug rug will be around 6-1/2" across.
Place the mug rug in the middle of the cellophane and wrap the 16" sides to the middle, securing with a small piece of tape.  You should have about 6" of cellophane extending past each end.  Gather the ends close to your mug rug and tie with a bow.
Ta Da!
The cellophane is removed before use.
To make the lollipops, secure the straw  to the back with a piece of tape, Wrap in cellophane, and add a bow.
This is cute used instead of a bow to jazz up a parcel or gift bag.
And there you have it - simple as that!
You can keep going with your braiding, making matching trivets, or placemats.  Or even a mat :)
I hope you have enjoyed this, and will share pictures of what you make.