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!

Tuesday 29 December 2009

Christmas Snow

With snow overnight, it is Christmas card pretty in Amherst, N.S. today.
Snowy days such as this often drive many birds out to the feeders, and we are hopeful the cardinals will return soon. A Northern Flicker stopped by earlier, however by the time I got the camera this sole Mourning Dove was the only one who agreed to pose. I am wondering where his mate is, as they seem to always travel in pairs.

Monday 28 December 2009

World Cup Knitting

During the holidays is the time the World Cup Jr.'s are played (hockey) and this year they are being held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. We all watch, and it's great opportunity to get in some knitting on my socks. I am a very slow knitter and do not accomplish many pairs in the run of a year but I always figure it gives me something to show for time spent in waiting rooms, or in front of the T.V. Plus, we all love the wool socks! Here's a pair which I made for my sister Nancy for Christmas:
My knitting strategy is to keep two socks on the go at the same time and to make sure at least one of them is in the "mindless" section of straight knitting so that it can easily be transported without pattern book or counters. Last night I finished up one sock and have its mate ready to turn the heel. Because this takes a bit of quiet and concentration, I started a new pair on the spare needles. When I have peace and quiet, I will get the heel turned on the flax sock, and no doubt by the time I am on the straight part of the foot, the natural one will be ready to have the heel work done.
It's a system that works for me.
Found these pictures on my camera card and figured I might as well share them. It's a couple more of the Diamond Chips projects from an earlier tutorial. If you are on my gift list, you may have found one of these tucked in your package :)

Monday 21 December 2009

Readying For Christmas

We're just about there. The shopping is done, the presents are wrapped, the tree is up and the baking has started. It smells like Christmas. (Never mind the tree fell over and some of the cookies burned - that's all part of the Christmas memories!) These dear skates in the picture above were carved of wood by my brother-in-law, Ralph. One pair is for us to keep, and one to give. I love them, and know that he spent many hours on the details...just as we do on our quilts.
The Christmas lights around Amherst are stunning; I am particuly awed by Victoria Square this year. The lights woven through the trees create a spectacular canopy. The holly bushes in the backyard are laden with berries, although today they are not as visible as last week when this picture was taken. We enjoyed some snow overnight and are still receiving a bit more. It looks like Christmas.The Christmas Bird Count was tallied one day last week. Normally our cardinals have returned from their summer vacation in time to be included in the count, but we have yet to see them this year. So far it has only been Bluejays, Starlings, Mourning Doves and Chickadees at the feeders. Perhaps today's snow will signal the cardinals to settle in for the winter. The bees are wrapped like presents without bows for the cold season ahead. It feels like Christmas.

School is finished and many students are returning home from university for the holidays. It's great to hear the laughter and see how everyone has grown and changed. It sounds like Christmas.

From my family to yours, our wishes for a wonderful holiday season.

Friday 18 December 2009

Bernina Maiden Voyage

I've been a bit behind on my blogging as I have been occupied finishing a quilt for an imminent deadline. This is the first project I have stitched with the new Bernina and I have thoroughly enjoyed getting acquainted with the machine. The 440QE is an absolute pleasure upon which to sew, and I am thrilled to pieces with how it performs. The power it has is unbelievable - this machine knows how to sew. I can't show you the quilt just yet, as it will be featured in the spring issue of Quilter's Connection magazine but will post pictures as soon as editor Heather MacArthur gives the go -ahead to do so. I have been comfortably free-motion quilting for many years and admit that the BSR (the Bernina Stitch Regulator) at first struck me as a nice extra I would never use. However, The Bernina Lady said "try it" so I did...and I am hooked. The stitches are perfect. I have a tendency to get really focused on what I am doing to the exclusion of everything else around me, and often a quiet visitor to my room will startle me into a scream and a jump. Normally, that requires a bit of ripping for that section, but not this time. The BSR is startle-proof.
Do I have regrets with this machine? Just one: I should have done this YEARS ago. It's brought a joy and excitement back to my stitching that I haven't felt for some time. I love it!

Wednesday 9 December 2009

Cumberland Quilt Guild Diamonds

As promised, here are pictures of completed projects from the "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend" workshops held during the Fibre Arts Festival. These participants are all members of the Cumberland Quilt Guild in Amherst, Nova Scotia. Here's Shelley displaying her lovely table topper:
Shelley also made another, this time arranging the colours in her blocks to create the optical illusion found in a "tumbling blocks" setting. The 3-D effect is quite pronounced. Shelley made this wallhanging for her daughter and you can see appliquéd lizards (geckos?) playfully circling the blocks:
Shelley was the photographer for this group picture so didn't get to be in it. Here you see Jennifer, Debbie ("Supreme Commander"), Sheila and Marilyn in the front row and Jackie, Sharon, Nancy (who is modeling hers as a cape) and Chris in the back. Aren't they lovely? (both the quilts and their makers :)
You can see there were lots of giggles.
Thanks to all, and a special thank you to Shelley for the great pictures.

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Cumberland Quilt Guild Christmas Party

This morning I awoke with tiny, round bruises on the inside of both knees…which, upon closer scrutiny, looked suspiciously thimble shaped. Hmmm…I wonder…could they be from some of the shenanigans at last night’s Cumberland Quilt Guild’s Christmas party? What an evening! Guild President Debbie (who, by the way, sports a nametag which reads “Supreme Commander”) led us through a wonderful time of scrumptious food, fun games, and an incredible Show & Tell display. Despite a brief “alarming” moment (!) the evening was fun from start to finish. For the games, I was lucky enough to be on a keen team of competitors and we kicked butt in the needle threading challenge, as well as the carry-the-thimble-on-the-back-of-the-spoon relay race. We fared poorly, however, when we were required to use our knees as transport for that darned thimble. Such a maneuver requires intense training which we obviously lacked (thus the bruises).
The Show & Tell portion of the evening was fabulous, including the results of a Christmas Nine Patch challenge in which the members participated this fall. We also got to see the completed pieces from the Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend workshop in October. Stay tuned for pictures shortly – they’re gorgeous! Show & Tell continued with members displaying their first quilting project, some dating back many years.
The evening closed with the exchange of gifts and I was surprised and humbled to receive a gift certificate for Dayle’s from the Guild. I know in which department this will be spent! I also received a very dangerous looking tattoo which reads “Born To Quilt” which I will be sporting next year at Fibre Festival. Although I am not a member of this guild, I certainly appreciate the friendship and feeling of inclusion extended to me throughout the year by this very lively and spirited group. Thanks for a wonderful evening, ladies!

Monday 7 December 2009

My Happy Dance!!

Click the arrow in the video to see my happy dance... :)
Now scroll down to see what I am celebrating!!!

For the past year, I have been following Jeanne (aka The Bernina Lady) around to her displays and hounding her with questions via email. No doubt she was beginning to think she had a stalker! She has been so wonderful through the whole process and I feel confident she is as dependable as the Berninas she sells. Wednesday she was passing through Amherst and the Christmas specials she was offering made the timing right. I did it!!! I am soooooo thrilled with this beautiful machine:
The Bernina Aurora 440 Quilter's Edition.

Sunday 6 December 2009

First Nova Scotia Snowfall 09

Old Man Winter left his calling card this morning in the form of a heavy snowfall. We awoke without power so, like true Canadians, headed out in the 4 x 4 to Tim's for coffee. As you can see, they were a very busy spot!
Isn't the snow pretty?
The storm caused a bit of disruption, and the Christmas band concerts at the high school were cancelled for this afternoon and evening. Disappointing not to have a chance to hear that spectacular drummer perform. Luckily our power was restored fairly quickly, unlike others in the county whom we understand are still without.

And so it begins...

Thursday 3 December 2009

Sussex Vale Quilter's Guild

Wow - look at all these presents; Santa would be pleased to see this!
Judy Steeves sent along this picture of the results of a November 24th sew-in held by the Sussex Vale (New Brunswick) Quilters’ Guild. Twenty two quilters spent the day piecing these projects…3 of them over 90 years of age, and some past 80. Judy led the session with a mock up of the directions from my blog tutorial posted step-by-step on a large piece of Styrofoam. The completed projects you see here were shown at the Guild's annual Christmas luncheon. I love to see all these colourful "gifts" spread out on the table. Don't those black and white ones stand out?
Judy mentioned that instead of binding one of hers, she "birthed" it (sewed the back to the front around the outside edges and turned to the right side through an opening in the seam.) This is a quick and easy finish for those who don't care to fuss with binding. Judy also mentions that she sewed a snap in place under the bow so that it can easily be removed. These are both great suggestions.
Chances are if you live in Sussex and know a quilter, one of these will be under your tree this year.

Thursday 26 November 2009

Quilter's Haven

Check out this gorgeous quilt shop in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. I see Canadian Heritage Quilting and a picture of Log Canada just behind the counter! If you scroll down you will see mention of tin ceilings and 14 foot walls; I'd say this quilt shop is aptly named - a haven indeed.

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Farrago Revisited

If you are like me, you have more ideas in your head than can ever get sewn. Fortunately, we live in an age where we can use our computers to sew a virtual quilt with unlimited fabric and colour combinations in only a few minutes. For fun, I coloured the Farrago pattern using gorgeous red and green Christmas prints from Moda. What a pretty piece this would be on a wall, table, or under your Christmas tree. Done in cold blues and silver lamé, the spikes look like icicles on a frosty winter morning. I've added a few more shards in the side diamonds on this one:

Farrago Pattern # 409 is available on my website. Companion pre-printed foundations will save even more time, as you will be ready to start stitching at once. A month from today is Christmas Eve!

Saturday 21 November 2009

Yuletide Jewels

The Christmas season kicked off in Amherst, N.S. last evening with the official town light up in Victoria Square. This is always a well-attended event, and the high school band provided music for a carol sing in the Baptist Church. They sounded spectacular (especially that one playing the big bass drum *-). As usual, the place was packed. As the last carol is sung, the town then heads up the street for a second light-up at Dayle's Department Store. It's breathtaking when the lights switch on in this beautiful old building, whose Christmas décor surely must rival Macy's. Today the festivities continue with the Olympic Torch passing through town and the annual Santa Claus Parade. Lots of Christmas fun!
There was even more Christmas fun in my mailbox, with the arrival of pictures of one of my designs. This is Yuletide Jewel, made by Bev Crouse of The Quilter's Net. Bev says, "it reminds me of those lovely "back in the day" Christmas ornaments. And it was delightfully easy :-)"
She has added some glittery ric-rac, topstitched around the first circle and a button in the middle.
Below is my original version. As Bev says, it is a very easy project as it is only 4 blocks. It's a nice size to hang on a door instead of a wreath.
If you'd like to make your own Yuletide Jewel, the pattern is available here:
Santa will be arriving later today - smiling and waving and laughing his trademark ho-ho-ho's from atop a float at the end of the parade. I'll be there waving back, hoping he has me on his 'nice' list this year; I sure have something nice on my list...!

Thursday 19 November 2009

Want to Get Published?

I haven't shown much of my own sewing lately, as I am working on something which cannot be shown as yet. It's a piece I am designing for the Spring issue of Quilter's Connection Magazine. Here's some of my fabrics, as a hint:
Hmmm...looks like a pile of scraps you say? Green scraps, maybe? If you guessed it's for a "going green" issue, you're correct. My project will be a scrap-buster using small pieces left from other projects. If you have any great tips to pass along on the topic, Heather - the editor of Quilter's Connection Magazine- would love to hear them. This blog post gives details of where you can send your ideas, which will be published in the Spring issue. You might even win a prize!

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Small Project Tutorials

There have been a lot of emails this week from new readers unfamiliar with how to access - or search for - older blog posts. I decided to gather some past tutorials here to make things easier for all. The direct link to each post is listed below the pictures.
Christmas (On A Shoestring) Placemats

A Something From Nothing "green" tote bag:
Quick Christmas Sachet:
(this reminds me - I must check to see if Mrs. Pugsley has the scented cranberries in at her Emporium yet!). These are great to hang on doorknobs (and tie on packages):
Apron Strings:
For the person who asked yesterday if I am all ready for Christmas yet, with sewing and shopping done and house decorated...well, not quite...but hubby did take the balloons down from eldest's birthday party last week...which was in August, and the Jim Shore Santas are up in the Family Room (ok, they didn't get put away from last Christmas...) From this, I'd say we're ahead of ourselves this year...
Enjoy the tutorials! :)

Monday 16 November 2009

More Christmas Diamonds!

Oooohhhh - look at these beauties, from Joan!
Joan has added a ring to the back of hers for hanging. The size of the mat is about right to hold a pot of Christmas tea. Beautiful work, Joan, as always. Love seeing all the pictures - keep them coming!

Saturday 14 November 2009

Carol's Workshop Diamonds

Carol, from "beautiful downtown Wallace, N.S." has sent in this picture of her completed top from the workshop in October. You can see that Carol had in-house help with her project.She calls Gusavus her quality control schnauzer.
Nice work, you two!

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Ruby's Diamonds

I couldn't resist that title...but an even more appropriate one would be "Ruby's Gems", as Ruby from N.S. has sent along pictures of two of my projects which she has completed. Here is Ruby's version of the Diamond Chips tutorial from last week. It's lovely!
Ruby also made my design for this selvedge tote bag, which appeared in last month's issue of McCall's Quilting. Ruby's comments on the tote bag echo my own experience - so much fun to sew, and a great conversation starter. Someone always asks about the bag.
I found myself reading the selvedges on Ruby's tote to see if I had used any of those same fabrics. Can you see any familiar ones there from your stash? :)
Thanks so much for sharing, Ruby. I encourage all visitors to leave a comment at the end of the blog posts. It's easy to do: simply click on the word "comments" and a field will appear where you can type. If you do not have a Google account, just choose "anonymous" and the comment will post.

Tuesday 10 November 2009

Another Gift From Lynn

As promised, here's another Christmas Gift diamond project from Lynn. Isn't it yummy in these colours - it looks like a petit four- good enough to eat!
For those who have emailed asking where the directions may be found, just scroll down through the posts to October 25th, or click here.
Keep the pictures coming, Lynn (and everyone else!) - we love seeing them!

Friday 6 November 2009

Christmas Diamonds

The emails I've been receiving on this Diamond Chips tutorial have been terrific! Thanks so much for the great comments. I am hoping you will share your pictures of completed projects for all to see, as my good friend Lynn Bourgeois of N.S. has done. Isn't this pretty? Lynn is busy making another, so perhaps we will see it soon also. The neat thing about this gift is that it already comes gift-wrapped. You could tie a tag to the bow, or better still machine quilt a tag by stitching the recipient's name inside a rectangle right on the top diamond.

Tuesday 3 November 2009

(Quilting) Angels All Around

An angel appeared in my mailbox this morning – both literally and in spirit. I was very surprised to find a package from Joan who attended the Diamonds workshop at Fibre Festival last month. My first thought was that she was sending more selvedges to go with those she brought to class. Here’s what I found when I opened the package:
The Quilter’s Angel: The Protector of All Things Unfinished
Well, who doesn’t need one of those!? This angel will be particularly busy as there are many things unfinished around here. Not only did Joan send the pattern by Applepatch Designs, but she kitted up the material to make the project and carefully labeled each piece as to its intended placement. What a treat this is. Honestly, I can’t recall the last time I made another’s design and I will so enjoy having the instructions all laid out in front of me to follow instead of making things up as I go. I am very anxious to start the project and the colours are perfect for my room. Notice also the beautiful card which features one of Joan's quilts. Thank you, Joan, for this delightful gift. If you check out Joan's blog, you can view her completed Log Cabin Diamonds from the workshop; As you will see from her posts, Joan is a very productive quilter - do you suppose she has an angel working on her behalf? Hopefully my angel can begin her protective duties while still in the package. No sewing for me today, as tonight I am speaking to the U.C.W of Trinity St. Stephens United Church and will spend today sorting and packing quilts to take.

Sunday 25 October 2009

Diamond Chips

In no time at all, we will be scrambling for ideas on what to make and give for presents this holiday season. Here's a quick tutorial for a potholder which makes an inexpensive and useful gift. If you attended the Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend workshop last week, you will have leftover short strips which will work well in this project. The potholder is designed to use up your 2" strips. The finished size is 9" across and 10-1/2" high (point to point). You will require 3 different shades of one colour, in this case green: a light, a medium and a dark, as well as one red. We have kept the same red constant throughout; the dimensional effect is carried by the main colour. Please read through the instructions before beginning project. Materials Required: 2 strips 2" x 10" each of light green, medium green and dark green 4 strips 2" x 10" red 1 strip 3-1/2" x 19" red 12" square backing fabric 12" square cotton batting (I used 2 squares in mine to make it thicker) sewing and quilting thread to match Supplies Needed: Rotary cutter and mat; acrylic ruler with 60 degree line
For the Light Diamond:
2 strips 10" x 2" light green
2 strips 10" x 2" red
For The Medium Diamond:
2 strips 10" x 2" medium green
1 strip 10" x 2" red
For the Dark Diamond: 2 strips 10" x 2" dark green
1 strip 10" x 2" red
To Make the Dark Diamond: Sew the red strip between the 2 dark green strips lengthwise using a 1/4" seam allowance. Press seams to one side. This strip set should measure 5" wide after pressing. Using your ruler and rotary cutter, place the 60 degree angle line of the ruler on the bottom of the strip and trim off the left side of the strip on this angle. Move the ruler over 5" and make another cut on a 60 degree angle. To Make the Medium Diamond: Sew the red strip between the 2 medium green strips lengthwise using a 1/4" seam allowance. Press seams to one side. TURN THIS STRIP SET UPSIDE DOWN and trim the left side as above for the dark diamond on a 60 degree angle. Move the ruler over 5" and make another cut on a 60 degree angle. You will now have two diamonds like this:(notice the medium green is upside down in the photo)Flip the medium green diamond to the right side and position the diamonds as shown below. You will see the reason you cut the medium strip upside down is so that the red stripe would be properly oriented when joining the diamonds.
To Make the Light Diamond: Sew the red strip between the 2 light green strips lengthwise using a 1/4" seam allowance. Press seams to one side. Place the 60 degree angle line of the ruler on the bottom of the strip and trim off the left side of the strip on on this angle. Move the ruler over 2" and make another cut on a 60 degree angle. Repeat to cut 2 strip segments like this:
Sew a red strip to the right side of one segment. Trim off top and bottom on a 60 degree angle, and then add the second segment to the red. When joining, don't forget to offset the pieces to allow them to align properly; there will be a tiny point of fabric extending at each end.
Lay out your three pieced diamonds as shown.
Choose your favourite method to sew the Y seam - either the 1/4" open, or pivot method.  I like to sew the seam between the medium and dark diamonds from the outside in, to within 1/4" of the end, and lock my stitches. Press this seam open. 
Sew the seam to set in the top diamond the same way, leaving 1/4' open at the centre; press this seam allowance down over the the open seam allowance. This will make your Y seam lie flat.
Layer top, batting and backing, pin baste and quilt as desired. If you are intending to use this as a potholder, do not use polyester batting. Two layers of cotton batting makes a good thick pad. My sample was quilted in the ditch along the red ribbon. When quilting is complete, trim edges and bind.** You will need approximately 55" of binding. If you have more leftover 2" strips, piece them end to end for length. I used a straight grain double French fold, cut 2" wide and pressed in half. Binding was attached by machine to the front of the quilt, then folded to the back and hand stitched in place.
** An even faster, simpler method is simply "birth" the potholder.  To do this, lay the patchwork right sides together with the backing and batting and sew around the outside edges, leaving an opening to turn.  Turn right sides out, and stitch the seam closed by hand.
  To Make the Bow: Cut a strip of red fabric 3-1/2" x 19". Fold in half and sew across one end and part way down one side. Break stitching, leave a 6" length for turning, and continue sewing the remaining length of the strip and across the other end. Turn strip right side out, press, and slip stitch opening closed with hand stitches.
Tie into a bow and tack on the top of your gift.