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 28 September 2008

Notecard Giveaway

Whew - that was fast! There's sure no flies on Peggi from Ontario; Canada Post will work their magic as soon as the office opens tomorrow to deliver the notecards to her. Thanks to everyone who wrote...Please keep checking back because you never know what's next (I never know what's next...)

Another Giveaway!

I have one set of "quilty" notecards to send to the first person who emails and says they'd like to have them.

Friday 26 September 2008

Pattern Giveaway

Well, how cool is this? Turns out our winner - Potpourri - is a fellow Nova Scotian! So while the Anticipation pattern wings it's way there, we will wait with anticipation for the picture of Roma in her new apron strings to arrive from North Carolina.

Tuesday 23 September 2008

Christmas (on a Shoe String) Placemats

Here's another quick and easy (not to mention frugal) idea for what to do with your scraps. These placemats work up really quickly, and have little cost involved. You will wow your friends with these!
Finished Size: 18-1/2" x 12" (46.25cm x 30 cm)
Finished Block Size: 6" (15cm) square
Fabric Required: Made from scraps and leftover strips of fabric. If purchasing new fabric, approximately 1.5m (about 1-1/2 yards) in total is required for a set of 4 placemats. Fabric strips should be cut in varying widths from 1" to 2-1/2".
.5m (1/2 yard) for end strips
.6m (5/8 yard) thin batting (cotton works well)
.6 m (5/8 yard) backing
.5m (1/2 yard) fabric to make straight grain, 2" wide binding
Foundation material (phone book or thin paper)
As you will see, I am using last year's Aliant phone book for this project. Tear out 4 pages/placemat and cut them into 6-3/4" squares. Lay your first strip of fabric right side up diagonally across the paper, near the centre. Place second strip right sides together with this strip. Sew along the length, and flip to right side. Press. Continue adding strips in this manner, using random widths and colours, until foundation is covered. Trim block to 6-1/2" square. Your blocks will look something like this:
Or this:
Gently tear away paper foundation from back of blocks. Place blocks together in 2 rows of 2 blocks and stitch. Press seams to one side.
Cut 2 pieces end border fabric each 3-1/2" x 12-1/2". Sew one to each side of placemat; press seams away from placemat. Layer top, batting and backing. Pin baste and machine quilt as desired. Trim edges even; bind §

And that's all there is to it. Now...go make 3 more to match this. Don't forget to send me pictures of your finished placemats!

Sunday 21 September 2008

Nancy brought the dip!

What's a party without dip? Here's a recipe for Taco Dip which came from my sister. It's great with corn chips (honestly, it's great to eat on a spoon...) Needless to say, it never lasts long.

Nancy’s Taco Dip

1 8 oz. pkg cream cheese*
1 small tub of sour cream*
1/2 cup mayonnaise*
1 jar of salsa (medium)
1 lb. hamburger (browned and drained)*
1 envelope taco seasoning*
Green peppers
Grated cheese
*We use the “light” version of all of these, lean ground beef, low fat cheese and salt-reduced taco mix.
Mix first 3 ingredients and spread in a 9 x 13 cake pan (or 2 pie plates).
Brown the hamburger, making sure you drain off any fat, and add the taco seasoning. Spread on top of the first mixture in the pan. Spread salsa on top of this, then sprinkle with cheese and green peppers.

This travels well and has made many trips to school parties over the years, even to Acadia. I vary the decorations by season - for Hallowe’en I make it in a round dish, use Cheddar cheese and orange peppers cut out in shapes to make a Jack-o-lantern face. At Christmas time I use Mozzarella (to look like snow) and cut red and green peppers in holly and berry shapes. Here's a picture from last Christmas: And speaking of holly berries...the bushes in our backyard are so gorgeous - laden with bright red berries. I will post a picture soon.

Today we will continue to take the honey off and get the hives moved around in preparation for winter. Yesterday we worked away at that, encountering only one hive which refused to let us have their honey cache. We'll see what mood they are in today. These hives are located on a cranberry farm in Cumberland County, an idyllic setting. Yesterday when we were working there, I glanced over at the pond and was startled to have something blood red in the water catch my eye. Upon investigation it turned out to be a reflection of the barn. This was the first time I had gone bee-ing without my camera, so I rushed home to get it, hoping the light stayed long enough for me to return and get the shot. Isn't this a beauty? Oh to be a bee...

Monday 15 September 2008

Rail Fence Rice Bag

Here's another top for a rice bag; this one uses only 3 strips of fabric so it's super simple!
Rail Fence Rice Bag
Materials Required:
3 strips 1-1/2” strips x WOF (light, medium and dark work well)
Backing fabric 13” x 9-1/2"
Backing Fabric 9-1/2” x 4"
Muslin for inner bag 12-1/2” x 9-1/2"
3 cups rice
Sew strips together along long edges using a 1/4” seam allowance. Press seam allowances to one side. Strip should measure 3-1/2” wide. Fold strip in half and cut into 3-1/2” wide segments. You will get 12, 3-1/2” segments from this strip, just the right amount for your project.
Lay blocks out 4 across and 3 down. Sew together first in rows, then sew the rows together. Press. This piece measures 12-1/2” x 9-1/2”.
Cut back fabric 13” x 9-1/2”; if your patchwork is a different size than above, cut the back the same size as your patchwork plus 1/2” for hem on the longest end. Turn under 1/4” twice on the longest end and stitch to create the hem.
Cut another piece of backing fabric 9-1/2” x 4”; Sew this strip to the longest side of the patchwork front. Turn under 1/4” twice on this plain strip and stitch to create a hem.
Lay patchwork and backing right sides together, making sure that the hemmed strip is lying flat against the right side of the patchwork. Sew along three sides. Turn right side out.
The inner rice bag is constructed in the same manner as shown in the previous tutorial. Scroll down to see pictures of the construction. For the Rail Fence inner rice bag, cut 2 pieces muslin 12-1/2” x 9-1/2” (or the same size as your patchwork). Sew together along 3 sides, turn right side out. Turn in ends of bag 1/4” along top edge; press. Fold bag in half lengthwise and press to mark a crease down the centre. Open up and stitch along this crease making sure that hem is tucked under on top edge as you stitch. This creates a channel in the bag to prevent the rice from clumping together all in one end. Fill each section of rice bag with about 3 cups of rice per channel; a 1/3 cup measure makes a good sized scoop for the opening. Machine stitch along top edge to close opening. Insert muslin bag into patchwork bag, flip hemmed edge over top.

Friday 12 September 2008


While I work on the pictures for the next tutorial, the 15th person to leave a comment here will receive a free pattern. Please know that there is no way to contact you from your comment on this blog, I will need to have you email me with your address. So watch the numbers, and if you are lucky #15, send me a note!

Wednesday 10 September 2008

Patchwork Rice Bag

Thanks for watching the cake, it turned out great! Your help allowed me some sewing time so I'll share with you what I came up with. This is another scrap "patternless" project which makes a great gift. We've used homemade rice bags for years; when they were younger, the boys each had their own with flannelette covers reflecting the favourite hockey team. (Montreal Canadians and The Mighty Ducks, respectively). They are great for taking in the car on cold days, or tucking in bed by your feet on chilly nights. Making a removable cover allows you to launder this easily. I have a couple of different versions underway, we'll start with this Log Cabin one.
Log Cabin Rice Bag

Finished Size: 9-1/2” x 11-1/2”
1/4" seam allowance used
Fabric Required:
8 strips of dark 1-1/2” wide ranging from 4" long to 12-1/2” long
8 strips light 1-1/2” wide ranging from 2" long to 10-1/2” long
Medium colour for centre: 2” x 4”
Backing Fabric: 10" x 12-1/2" (or the size of your block); 4" x 10" (or width of your block)
2 pieces muslin 10" x 12" (or size to match your block)
Remember not to use fabrics with metallics, as the bag goes in the microwave.
A serger is great for seams and finishing the raw edges of the fabric.
To Make the Log Cabin Courthouse Steps Block:
Sew 1st dark to both long sides of centre rectangle, flip back to the right side and press.
Trim ends even. After each strip is added, lay your ruler on the strip to make sure it is 1-1/4” wide. Trim if necessary. Sew light strip to each end, trim as before. Continue until all the colours are added to the block. It should measure 10” x 12” at this point (but don’t worry if it doesn’t - you can adjust)
Cut a piece of backing fabric 10” x 12-1/2”” (OR the same size as your patchwork block plus 1/2” on the long end for hem). From same fabric, cut a strip 4” x 10” (OR 4" x the width of your block). Hem one long edge of this 4" strip by turning under 1/4" twice to the wrong side and stitching. Sew raw edge of 4" strip right sides together to one light end of patchwork. Lay patchwork and backing right sides together, making sure that the hemmed strip is lying flat against the right side of the patchwork. Sew along three sides, leaving the end with the flap free.
Turn right side out and flip the flap down over the back.
Ta Da! This part is done
To make the muslin liner to hold the rice, Cut 2 pieces muslin 10” x 12” (or the same size as your patchwork). Sew together along 3 sides, turn right side out. Turn in ends of bag 1/4” along top edge; press.
Fold bag in half lengthwise and press to mark a crease down the centre. Open up and stitch along this crease making sure that hem is tucked under on top edge as you stitch. This creates a channel in the bag to prevent the rice from clumping together all in one end.
Fill each section of rice bag with about 3 cups of rice per channel; a 1/3 cup measure makes a good sized scoop for the opening.
Pin top edge of bag, making sure pressed edge is tucked inside. Machine stitch along top edge to close opening.
Insert muslin bag into patchwork bag, flip hemmed edge over top. Heat in your microwave for 3-4 minutes.
And that's all there is to it!

Tuesday 9 September 2008

Every party needs a cake

While we wait for the apron to wing it's way to Roma in NC, we’ll get started on the cake we always serve at our house for celebrations. This recipe is from The MacDonald Mixing Bowl: 500 Down-East Recipes. This book is often simply referred to as “The Liberal Cookbook” as it is dedicated to Agnes MacDonald, wife of the former Nova Scotia premier Angus L. There is no date on the cookbook, but it goes back to at least the 1960’s as I recall making this recipe with my Gram in her kitchen. It’s a winner:
Mrs. Guy Pelletier’s White Cake
1/2 cup shortening with 1/2 cup butter (or 1 cup of butter for an even richer cake)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup hot water with 1/2 cup milk
3 cups flour
3 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla (Gram always used lemon flavouring in hers)
Cream shortening and butter. Add sugar gradually until light and fluffy. Add milk and water. Beat well. Add 1 egg, then 1 cup flour which has been sifted with the baking powder and salt. Then add 1 egg, 1 cup flour, 1 egg, 1 cup flour beating between each addition. Add vanilla. Beat well 5 minutes. Bake in tube pan at 3250 for approximately 1 to 1-1/4 hours. Cake may also be baked in a 9 x 13 pan, or into cupcakes.

There...we'll pop the cake in the oven and maybe one of you will watch it while I go sew. ..

Sunday 7 September 2008

Apron Strings

Hurray! We have a taker to model the apron! Roma, can you email me please to send me your address? Thanks, Karen.

Saturday 6 September 2008

Party on!

Thanks for all the kind emails and comments on the Apron Strings tutorial. I really think it needs a real person to model it though, so how about this: I will give the apron to the first person who promises to send a photo of themselves wearing it! (Please, Rob, not you...) Sound like fun?

Thursday 4 September 2008

Celebrating 15 Years On The Net

Anyone remember what they were doing this time 15 years ago? I sure do…! In April 1993 we purchased our first computer, a huge beast running state of the art Windows 3.1. How exciting! My quilting career was well into its fifth year and I decided I needed a web site. Since I’m one of those people who think they can do everything themselves, I set about learning how to make my web site. For weeks on end I hoarded every piece of information on coding html that I could lay my hands on (WYSIWYG editors were few and far between). Online tutorials were also scarce but by using the major search engines of those pre-Google days (Altavista, HotBot and the shiny new Northern Lights) I unearthed several how-to sites and printed off the info. I studied in bed late at night after the boys were asleep; I ate, slept and dreamed html, determined to get my site up and running.My ISP (iStar in those days) provided free webspace for their clients and instructions on how to upload pages. Windows 3.1 had a built-in database of usable web backgrounds and I chose a grey one which resembled wrinkled paper. I uploaded my first page in Sept. ’93; a mere three months later I figured out how to get a picture on the page to replace those frustrating broken image holders… As awful as that first site was -one single page which scrolled on and on forever…much like this blog post- it afforded me the distinction of being one of the very first Canadian quilt sites on the web. We’ve come a long way, baby! To thank you for your interest and support over these years, I invite you to share in my 15th web-anniversary celebrations. We’ll push aside some of the piles of scraps which have accumulated from the various projects over the last 20 years and make room to party. We'll have food and fun and give-aways, so check back often. Let's start with instructions for a super quick and easy apron to use up some of those scraps...
One of the places the Internet has brought me is to an incredible online guild of Cyberquilters. Last year members “Mary & Paul” of Arizona conducted a fun workshop on string quilts. I had several leftover blocks from that weekend and will share with you how I fashioned them into an apron:
Apron Strings

Materials Required:
Lots and lots of scraps, in a rainbow of sizes and colours.
24-1/2” x 30-1/2” cotton print for lining
3 strips each 4” x WOF (width of fabric)
3/4 yard muslin (or other foundation material)
Velcro 2” x 1”
Sewing thread to match
Finished Size of Apron: 24” x 30”
Finished Block Size: 6”
Number of Blocks: 18
Note: 1/4” seam allowance is used in the construction of the apron.
To Make the String Blocks: Fabric strips are pieced onto background foundations (I used muslin for my foundation, but any leftover fabric pieces may be used as they will not show. Just make sure the foundation fabric you use is all the same weight. Otherwise your apron may hang lopsided…and people will think that’s you.)
Cut 18, 6-3/4” foundation squares

Assemble your scraps, using a variety of colours, lengths and strip widths. If you need to cut your fabric into strips, aim for a range from about 3/4” to 3” wide. Lengths are trimmed as you go.

String piece blocks as shown in photo below. Begin by placing the first strip right side up near the centre of the foundation on the diagonal. Lay the second strip with right sides together on top of the first strip and sew along the long edge. Flip this piece back to the right side and press. Continue adding strips to both sides of the beginning strip until the foundation is covered. Repeat to make 18 blocks. Trim each block to 6-1/2” square.
The back of your blocks will look like this; you can see the strips are all different widths.
Lay out 16 blocks as shown, 2 rows of 2 blocks and 3 rows of 4 blocks. To Form Corner Triangles:
Cut remaining 2 blocks in half 1/4” past the centre diagonal. To do this, line up the 1/4” line on your ruler from corner to corner; cut 1/4” past this.
The piece you trim off is discarded (but don’t really discard it: sew the 2 discards together to form a new, smaller block for your next project!) Place corner triangles at ends of rows of second row of blocks as shown. Sew blocks together in rows, then sew rows together.
To Make Ties: Cut 3 strips of fabric each 4” wide across the width. To clean finish an end on each strip, fold under 1/4” on one end; press. Fold strip in half lengthwise and press, making sure folded short end is tucked neatly inside. Open up and fold raw edges in to meet at the fold along the middle. Press, then fold in half again along original crease and press again. Repeat for remaining ties. Topstitch along both long edges. Cut each strip approximately 24” long. Sew ties to sides where indicated, about 1/2” down from top edge of side. Sew neck tie to left side of apron block approximately 1/2” in from outside edge.
Place apron on lining right sides together and pin. Sew around outside edges in a 1/4” seam, leaving an opening along bottom edge approximately 8” long for turning. Turn right side out; press.
Pin opening closed and topstitch around entire outer edge of apron, approximately 1/8” from edge. Fit neck tie for length and mark with a pin. Sew Velcro to lining and strap at pin marks. Ta Da!! Here's your finished apron (no, silly, that isn't me; that's my newel post...) I couldn't find a live willing model; any volunteers?
Thank you Cyberquilters Mary and Paul for the inspiration and thank you all for helping me celebrate. (Who's bringing the dip?)

Wednesday 3 September 2008

Sandra's Beauty

This morning a new photo has been added to the Sew and Tell page of the website. The colours chosen for this piece are spectacular, to say the least. I love it!
Thanks so much for sharing the picture, Sandra. We will look forward to seeing this one quilted and bound.