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 "Log Canada" from the book "Canadian Heritage Quilting".
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Tuesday, 8 March 2011


Today the mailman brought the spring issue of Quilter's Connection magazine. Editor Heather MacArthur has put together a very interesting issue.
One of the projects featured is my Fandango quilt, which I have shown snippets of here while it was in progress. Now I am pleased to be able to show the whole thing. It is pictured here spread out on my great-grandmother Christina Patterson's treadle machine.
The soft palette chosen for the old-fashioned fan blocks are from Benartex's Forever Spring collection, designed by Nancy Halvorson. The fans are set together in diagonal pairs to form butterfly wings.
I love sewing curves, and my little secret to keeping the blocks true is to pin not just along the curve where you stitch, but also at each end to keep the background piece square to the edge of the blades. I use this method to sew my New York Beauty blocks as well and find that they come out (dare I say it?) perfect each time. You will notice a row of stay-stitching on the lower curve, and that's another little trick to keep your curves smooth. The top curved edge of the fan blades (under those pins) has also been stay-stitched before this background piece was added, about 1/8" from the edge.
After the centres and background sections are added to the fans, each block is numbered and lettered to show the final placement in the quilt.
The butterfly bodies which are added by appliqué are simple to make, using freezer paper and starch to turn under the edges.
They are sewn to the quilt using invisible thread and a blind hem stitch. Fast and easy!
Basting is never fast and easy, as I spread the quilt on the floor and use safety pins. Masking tape holds all the edges taut and smooth before I begin pinning. The salvation for this chore is music, which needs to be loud enough to drown out my singing while I work...!
When I move the quilt onto the machine, the first part of the quilting is with the walking foot on. I outline all of the blocks and patches which form the design. We often hear that our work should look as neat on the back as on the front, and this applies to machine quilting as well. Outlining the patches makes the design discernible from the back, which it otherwise would not be if the quilting were only done to highlight various areas on the front.
Once the quilt is secured with this outline stitching, the safety pins are removed and the fun begins.
Without the quilting, these are merely fan blocks with an oval appliquéd between. Much as a butterfly emerges from a cocoon, these fan blocks morph into butterflies with the help of thread.

I wanted the quilting to be soft and light and springy so I chose curlicues to give a filigree look.
Antennae were stitched at the end of each butterfly.

A scalloped border of fan blades was added to the outer edge. Using a triangle at the corners made for easy turning...and binding.
Heather MacArthur added a bonus tutorial in the magazine with instruction on how to make bias binding.
Another bonus is that this pattern is Fat Quarter friendly, so if you have been collecting F.Q.'s, this is a great pattern for their use.


  1. Wow! Your Fandango is absolutely gorgeous! I love it. So pretty. The fabrics are awesome. You did a wonderful job on the machine quilting. I especially love the curlicues. Your post is so informative . Thanks for sharing your process and for the helpful hints. I cant wait to get my copy of the magazine.

  2. Absolutely beautiful in every way. One of my favorites. Love the presentation picture with your great-grandmother's machine. Such a treasure. Can't wait to see the magazine.

  3. Lovely Karen! Love your quilting, especially the curliques... Love the Benartex fabric collection too. Haven't seen this on the newstands yet, I'll have to go looking this weekend...

  4. Pretty quilt! How come I'm noticing treadle machines everywhere all of a sudden??