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. Shown here is "To Be Where You Belong", presented to Sir Paul McCartney on his visit to Nova Scotia in 2009.
Comments are always appreciated, simply click the word "comments" at the end of each post to leave your message. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, 15 May 2009

My Roots Are Showing

Every year for the past 10 years or so, I have participated in the annual Trend Tex Challenge through The Canadian Quilter’s Association. This challenge is a fund-raiser, with all quilts being donated to an auction in support of CQA. This will be held during Quilt Canada in Saskatoon, May 25 - 30, 2009. Each participant purchases the same 5 Fat Quarters of fabric and is asked to interpret the same theme. In past years, themes have been such things as “Celebrate”, “Quilting From The Edge”, and “Time”. (If you scroll back through my posts, you can see my last year’s entry for “Quilting From The Edge”) This year the theme is “Roots”.

Originally, I decided that I would portray “square roots” and had great fun imaging how these would be expressed in patchwork, and drafted out several interlocking block variations in my head. When the fabric arrived last fall I set it aside, figuring I knew exactly what I was going to make. However, when the time came to sew the fabric, it just wasn’t amenable to anything so mathematical. Instead, it cried out to be something wild and crazy. Blame it on a weak batch of Miss Clairol Nice ‘N Easy if you will, but my piece suddenly took on a life of its own and morphed itself into saying “My Roots Are Showing”. It isn’t difficult for me to determine the tuber of my own quilting; as a Maritimer, my roots are historically and firmly planted in patchwork. I began with a sketch on freezer paper.

I was determined to use only the 5 Fat Quarters so I needed to make sure the bias binding for the circular outer edge was made first. For this I chose the stripe and cut my binding strips 2-1/4" wide.
The wildest piece would be my background, and the binding picked up the colours in it very nicely.
I traced my appliqué pieces onto fusible web.
With only 5 prints, I needed to get creative to add variety to the patchwork, so I used the wrong side of the orange to give a softer shade for skintone. The orange was used again, right side up, for the lips. The white teeth were cut from a selvedge edge on one of the fabrics. When the hair tentacles were laid in place, they were lost in the busy background.
I decided to use some of the plain blue underneath to add definition.
2” Log Cabin blocks were pieced for the hair roots (Oops…! how did Paul get in there?! That's a pic with his beloved Hofner from his Quebec 400 concert last July...)
The blocks were sewn together, and then cut to shape for the hair.
At this point, the piece is mega busy…too much going on. When I added the outer blocks, it got worse.
My solution was to turn the background piece to the wrong side, as I had done to soften the orange face. The blocks shown circling the perimeter of the quilt represent some of the myriad of techniques used in quilting: trapunto, satin stitch appliqué, blind stitch appliqué, raw edge appliqué, hand appliqué, faced appliqué, selvedge edge patchwork, embroidery, embellishments, ragwork, yo-yo’s, crazy quilting, foundation piecing, and strip-piecing. Each block uses a different technique.
An extra layer of batting was applied for trapunto under the face.
The excess was removed with scissors. Then I layered the quilt, pin basted and began machine quilting.
I really like the dimension achieved in the quilting from the extra layer of batting.
Here she is, in her wild and crazy glory. I think of her as Hairiet :)
For me, quilting is as firmly rooted in the patchwork tradition of the past as are Hairiet’s wild tresses in log cabin blocks.
For those of you who will be in attendance at Quilt Canada, please check out the Quilter's Haven booth in the vendor's mall. They will have a selection of my patterns as well as Canadian Heritage Quilting.


  1. WOW!! Karen, I am SO impressed. I love your piece! I did not do the Challenge this year, those wild fabrics really put me off. Guess I just have no imagination....

  2. Wow! That's fabulous! What a great imagination. And thanks for showing us your step by step process.


  3. Oh my. Harriet looks like me on a GOOD hair day!!! You are very creative Karen and what a great way to use all the fabrics. You have reminded me that I was given a "hair" challenge a couple of years ago from an online group. I started buying supplies for the piece but never saw it through. I think it is time for me to go on the hunt for all of that Angelina fiber I bought.

  4. OMG, that is so wonderful. I can't believe how many techniques you had to use. And to turn the fabric over to use the back, who would have thought. It's stunning. Great work. Now I'm sorry that I never ordered a kit.

  5. Looks like a great hair day to me. It certainly made me smile.
    Great work Karen.