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!

Monday 26 April 2010

Late Breaking Beauty!

This just in: Gail has finished up her Maritime Beauty in dark batiks. Check it out here (scroll to yesterday's post)...and make sure you leave a comment for Gail while you're at it. Her work is always so lovely - who can ever get tired of hearing that?

Sunday 25 April 2010

Quilt Canada

This week - April 26 to May 1 - quilters from across Canada will be flocking to Calgary, Alberta to attend Quilt Canada. This annual conference of the Canadian Quilter's Association moves around the country each spring from coast to coast. It is a dazzling display of talent from across our country including a National Juried Show, an exhibit of challenge quilts sponsored by Trend Tex Fabrics, an opportunity to learn from top teachers, and a fabulous time to stock up on must-haves at the vendor's mall. Although I will not be in attendance this year, several of my quilts will be on display in different venues. A small wall quilt will be in the Trend Tex Challenge which I enter every year - not to win, but for the fun of doing something completely off the wall. In this challenge, each participant is provided with the same 5 Fat Quarters of fabric. That in itself is a challenge for me, as I don't do Fat Quarters well; I always seem to need more yardage. If you set one aside for the binding, this leaves pretty much just 4 F.Q's with which to work. Technically, you can add 2 more fabrics but I think it's more fun to stick within the strict challenge rules and only use the 5 given. There is also a theme, and this year it's The Sky's The Limit. After mulling that around in my head, it came out thus: Since many of us have our fabric stash piled sky-high, do we dare dream it can go to infinity …and beyond? My piece is entitled, “The Sky’s The Limit…Or Is It?” I started with a rough working sketch on freezer paper with a ladder climbing into the clouds. The ladder was angled to give perspective and the background fabric goes from darker at the bottom to lighter at the top to accentuate that.The rungs are progressively narrower and shorter as they are placed near the top of the ladder. The sides of the ladder are fused down, but the rungs are clean finished and stitched in place later so the fabric can wind up the ladder in a 3D fashion.
Stacks of fabric climb to the sky along the sides of the quilt, and spread across the top in a sort of fabric heaven. Ideally the fabric would climb in a more topsy-turvy fashion (like an uneven stack of books) but there was only enough fabric to do straight pieces and none to spare. Hopefully, it is enough to convey the idea.
An extra layer of high loft polyester batting was added for trapunto across the top of the sky so that the clouds would appear extra fluffy.To make the clouds uniform, I auditioned several round shapes to get the desired size. The circles move from the vegetable soup, to the large Guterman cotton and finally to the small spool of Guterman polyester.
I made a stencil from cardstock and cut along the line with an exacto knife blade.
The swirls were marked and quilted on the extra layer of batting. The vertical squiggly lines are on the single layer of cotton batting. The strip of red print - tapered at the top - was heavily starched and tacked in place by hand as it wrapped around the rungs of the ladder
It finished 23” x 26”. You can see by the green strip along the bottom that I ran short of binding fabric. What you can't see in the picture is that there is a golden light quilted in the "heavens" with gold metallic thread, and rays reaching down towards the fabric to welcome it up the ladder.
In the vendor's mall, Quilter's Haven from Moose Jaw have several of my quilts and patterns for sale at their booth, including Farrago, Oriental Beauty and Log Canada. Canadian Heritage Quilting, the book which features this quilt, will be available at their booth and co-author Diane Shink will be stopping by to sign copies. You can check with Heather and Arlyce for Diane's signing schedule.
In the Quilter's Connection booth, editor Heather MacArthur will be there with all the projects from the current edition of this Canadian quilting magazine, including my Meadow Song.
I am hopeful some kind photographers will send snaps taken at the show to share with those of us unable to attend.

Friday 23 April 2010

Week's End

The appliqué is almost complete on the border of "With Glowing Hearts". Normally I would simply pin baste the pieces in place but I am thread basting this time as this project is one that has been sitting for a bit while I worked on other things. With the pins out of the way, I will be able to give it a well-needed press before machine stitching. Since this is playoff season, the handwork is done while I watch the games (triple overtime last night meant the border was almost completed!)
Working on simultaneous projects which fit into one's life schedule is one of the points to be included in an article I have been asked to write on time management. This week I had the pleasure of meeting up with Bev Crouse of The Quilter's Net and she kindly invited me to be a guest blogger on her site, sharing tips on how to fit everything into a crowded day. As quilting is a profession rather than a hobby for both Bev and myself, I value our brainstorming sessions together a great deal. I will let you know when the article is ready and post a link to it from here.
This weekend is the Gathering of the Guilds in New Brunswick, hosted this year by the Sussex Vale Quilter's Guild. We wish all of those attending a wonderful time.

Thursday 22 April 2010

Go Green For Earth Day

Quilters have always been good at recycling and using up what's at hand - after all that's where and why our grandmothers began quilting in the first place. This lap quilt entitled "French Silk" is stitched from silk blouses found in a popular Maritime second hand clothing store. The labels, buttons, and shirt cuffs are stitched in as part of the patchwork. The black satin sashing was found in the yardage bin at the same store here in Amherst, N.S. as was the brushed cotton used on the back. Instructions for "French Silk" may be found in the book penned with Diane Shink, Canadian Heritage Quilting.
How will you honour Earth Day in your quilting?

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Quilting Legacy

I have been trying out the new 100% wool Legacy Batting from Pellon. The previous battings in the Legacy line are a wool/cotton blend; because of a recent allergic reaction to cotton batting I was very keen to find one which was pure wool. This batting is lovely. It is very soft and a uniform thickness all over.
I decided to stitch a miniature whole cloth, quilting some parts heavily and leaving some puffy. As with all wool batts, it gives beautiful loft when quilting, even on this small sample.Here's the back. White-on-white never photographs well...

The label said "no shrinkage" but it's always good to test these things out. I plopped it in the sink and swished several times in warm water to remove the marks, blotted it on a towel, and laid it flat to dry. It measured 8-1/4" x 11-1/4"before washing...
and the exact same this morning.
This is the batting I used in both New York Beautys which I quilted earlier this week, and the basting pins went in so easily. I give it two thumbs up (I'd give it ten, but then you'd know I am all thumbs...)
As this batting is from Pellon, it will be widely available in stores - everyone carries Pellon. It's my new favouite.

Monday 19 April 2010

Help From Unexpected Places

Often we find something seemingly unrelated from our background which serves as help in our day to day quilting. For me, an English Lit. course in Shakespeare at Mt. A. many, many years ago has proven to be a valuable asset and one which I use everyday.
My huge Riverside Shakespeare edition is the perfect thickness to sit on at my sewing machine. William Shakespeare has helped me rise to great heights in my quilting...literally. : )
As he says in As You Like It Act 2, scene 7, 120–126 , "And therefore sit you down in gentleness, And take upon command what help we have That to your wanting may be minst'red."

Sunday 18 April 2010

Quilting The Beauty

It's been a l-o-n-g day of quilting. It's all done now but the plain centre of the quilt (wait - wasn't I supposed to do that part first?) I ended up stippling between the points...
...and quilting a leaf motif in the centre of the blocks.
Looking around for inspiration on what to put in the background, I was influenced by the motif on a roll of toilet paper. It's what we in the business call "that which seemed like a good idea at the time." It wasn't. It was a b-i-g space to fill, and the grid lines were marked 1/2" apart. I figured I would sail right through this as quickly as the stippling since it was all free motion, but it was not to be. My friend Lynn and I have been talking much about patience lately and frankly...I don't have any. An hour in, I was perhaps 1/4 of the way finished...and very bored with the tedium of doing the same thing over and over. Machine quilting is much like giving birth though - you can't change your mind half way through the process. It would take longer to rip out what I'd done then to continue and finish the quilting. Oh my...
So I persevered and 6 bobbin refills later, the background quilting is finished (and Bernina bobbins are not small!). At one point, I became so mesmerized trying to stitch curves around the grid lines that I had to stop and rest my eyes.
A Sens/Pens game is on the docket for this evening and it will be a nice change of pace. I am grateful I do not have to quilt toilet tissue for a living...especially those double rolls that go on and on and on...

Saturday 17 April 2010

Virtual Becomes Reality

Yesterday I had lunch with someone I met over the Internet.

That sounds pretty risqué...except that it was Linda who pens Stitch Lines. (hmm...perhaps I should have read her last post about her wanting to become a hooker first!) It was great to be able to put a face and voice to an online friend. Linda has generously offered to send pictures of her custom made Bernina table for inspiration for the one hubby will build me. I am taking my time collecting ideas so that the table will meet my needs as perfectly as the machine does.

In addition to a great lunch with Linda, it was a productive day of stitching. In the morning I made continuous bias binding and applied it to my last NYB Fossil Fern project, and got the current one basted. The quilting with the foot has been done on this piece, and now I am trying to decide what free motion motifs to add. It's very green so I am thinking leaves.
Our weather has been a bit temperamental. I see snow outside the window; the bees will not be happy when we visit this afternoon.

Monday 12 April 2010

Filling in The Space Between

The hardest part for me in quilt making is deciding how to quilt what I've just spent many (blissful!) hours piecing. Based on the number of "how do I quilt this thing?" queries from others, I am not alone in this. The quilting adds another dimension on top of your work and often is what makes or breaks a quilt. In my mind, the quilting should enhance and expand upon what your top is about. One time years' back I read an interview with an octogenarian quilter who had been plying her needle almost 70 years. Her advice was simple: "Quilt what you want them to see." I thought it was a very sound approach. Last evening I puzzled what to quilt between the points of the latest New York Beauty. The blocks themselves have lots of movement, and I wanted the stitching to echo that in a continuous circle around the spikes. I auditioned several possibilities in my doodling, but kept coming back to the same motif. Since I do not draw well, thinking about stitching alternating spirals was a bit scary; it helped immensely when I realized that this is really a large S. Good penmanship I can handle :)
After my S unfurled, my stitching wandered off in a wavy line to connect to the next triangular section.
The piece is ready now for bias binding which perhaps will get added this permitting.
I have already started to piece a variation of this quilt using the same blocks; it has an entirely different outside shape and colourway, pairing a Benartex bali with the Fossil Ferns. It will call for alternate stitching to help convey what it is about. When both are completed, I will post the pictures here.
How do you decide what to quilt?

Sunday 11 April 2010

The Space Between

Judging by the thermometer, we had a nice day outside (+10 Celsius) but the wind told a different chilly story. Despite that, the bees were very active.
Near the hives are alder buds which are an early source of pollen - and thus protein - for their spring feeding.
I was glad to have wool socks inside my boots on a day like this. The plum wool socks are progressing tediously. The yarn is much thicker than I am used to and is slowing me down. I suspect a change to larger needles would have been prudent but already these socks look huge with the number of stitches I am knitting. The shrinkage factor is the unknown and I am aiming large because of that. I've already asked hubby if he can wear this colour in case they turn out too large. The colour of the yarn is really appealing to me so I hope they end up as mine :)
The quilting has begun on the latest New York Beauty project and I am enjoying it a great deal. First the straight line, stitch-in-the-ditch work with the walking foot secures the piece so the safety pins may be removed for the free motion work...the part I love.I am not a big fan of marking quilting designs. Some might call that lazy, but I'd prefer to think of it as an efficient use of quilting time because when you don't mark you don't have marks to remove afterwards. I use the guides which fit through the back of the feet whenever possible. All the marking that's been done on this top is a small circle in the centre - everything else echoes from that.
The spikes of the NYB purposely only receive a lick-and-a-promise when it comes to quilting as I like them to stand out a bit. Too much quilting will flatten them down and that's not the effect I am aiming for. I had a spool of Sulky Blendables I picked up at Timeless Stitches awhile back which was a perfect choice to accent the Fossil Fern fabric. The colours of the thread echoed the subtle colour change in the fabric very nicely.
My preference is to quilt the background - the space between the spikes -fairy heavily, sometimes in stippling and sometimes in a motif which adds movement to the block. I have been sketching out different shapes on paper for this quilt, but nothing is really jumping out at me yet so this will sit and perk for a bit. In the meantime, I will work some more on those plum socks...

Thursday 8 April 2010

Are The Days Really Getting Longer?

I keep hearing folks say this but I'm certainly not finding any more hours in mine...with spring here, there are even more things jockeying for our attention. The flower beds did get a quick once-over to remove a bit of mulch but I hesitate to bare the plants completely. Our Maritime weather is infamously changeable and can morph from sunshine to snow in a twinkling. Inside my workroom, I have been spending more time designing on the computer than actually doing any sewing. New York Beauty blocks never cease to fascinate and the designs generated in the last couple of weeks have mostly included variations of this gorgeous block. Yesterday I started sewing one of the new designs in some Benartex Fossil Fern. This is a great fabric to use with NYB's as the subtle colour changes in the cloth add movement and interest to an already lively block. My take-along sock knitting has reached great heights and 3 pairs have been completed already in 2010. This is a new personal best; my normal pace usually sees this many in a full year. I look forward to wearing the green ones in my bee boots this weekend.
Last summer, I purchased some heavy MacAusland's wool and have the cuff completed on one sock. I doubt these will fit in my boots but will make dandy bed socks for winter. The wool is a pretty plum shade and should work up very quickly.

Monday 5 April 2010

The Easter Weekend

The Easter weekend has been a wonderful time of family, friends, good food and even better music. We had the privilege of hearing Gordon Lightfoot perform at the Coliseum in Moncton, New Brunswick Saturday night. He is truly an incredibly talented songwriter.
Yesterday was off in the opposite direction to spend the day with family in Nova Scotia. We took advantage of the beautiful weather to travel some backroads and made sure to stop at the always busy Masstown Market. Even though today is still officially part of our Easter holiday with schools, banks and government services closed, I am working away on pattern orders as well getting the New York Beauty piece ready to ship to Benartex in the morning. We will also make another visit to the beeyard to see what they have been up to the past couple of days. With our warm spring weather, the bees are very active so we need to make sure they have plenty to eat untl Mother Nature pops open some blossoms...which won't be long now.

Sunday 4 April 2010

Quilted Easter Egg Hunt

That funny Easter Bunny was up to his old tricks here this morning, hiding eggs painted to match some of my quilts! Here's Farrago... The Day The Stork Arrived:
Charm School:
Roundabout Beauty:
Chrissy's Maritime Beauty:
Log Canada:
Oriental Beauty:
Ship Of Dreams:
Storm At Sea:
Christmas Beauty:
...and Yuletide Jewel:
I hope you had as much fun with these as I did. Happy Easter to all.