Sew Karen-ly Created...

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Monday 30 July 2018

Princess Feather Stitch Out

Recently, I received a box of goodies from sponsors of the Island Batik Ambassador program, including a thread set of all the weights of Aurifil thread. There were seven spools of #2890 "Very Dark Grass Green", from 12 to 80 weight, as well as Lana wool and Aurifloss.  As soon as I saw it, I knew what I wanted to do with it: a stitch-out!
Six of the threads are intended for machine use, so I set the floss aside and starting working out a design.  I have long admired the quilt pattern called "Princess Feathers" so used that as a jumping off point. Real Princess Feathers feature appliquéd plumes spinning around a centre star.; mine would be stitched with thread.
I began by drawing a straight line, and then measured off 60 degree sections using the line marked on my ruler. (For the math impaired among us, a circle has 360 degrees, so dividing 360 by my 6 threads gave me 60 degree divisions. :))
On my dividing lines, I used a flexible ruler to trace a curve.  The green painter's tape was my reference for where to place the blue ruler at centre each time - very scientific. And because a REAL Princess Feather has a star at the centre, I drew in a small one of those, too.
So far, so good...but then I decided that these beautiful threads needed equally beautiful fabric, so I chose a piece of pure white dupioni silk from my stash.  Silk is a tricky fabric with which to work, one of the issues being that marks do not easily come out of the fabric.  For this reason, I plopped my paper drawing on top of the silk and stitched the lines in 80 weight thread, giving me just the barest outline to work from.
The paper removed easily, and I layered the silk with a doubled piece of Hobbs wool batting and backed it with a luscious rich green dupioni silk.  The second issue with silk is that pin marks often remain, so my pin-basting was kept at a bare minimum, with only a few silk straight pins around the perimeter of the piece.  I began with the 80 weight green thread and tentatively free-handed the first feather. I used a size 10/70 topstitch needle for this fine thread. I choose topstitch needles for all my free-motion quilting, as they have sharp points and large eyes. Not a bad first I moved on to the next with 50 weight, my go-to thread, and switched up to a size 12/80 topstitch needle.  I used this same needle for the 40 weight thread which came next, but switched to a 16/100 topstitch for the 28 and 12 weight threads. I had never used the Lana wool before, but it stitched easily.  It has a very different look than cotton thread - soft and fuzzy. I think it would be great on a child's quilt, or for texture for leaves or flowers.
For the bobbin, I reversed my colours and used 60 weight plain white against the green.  
When it came time to quilt the background, I used 50 weight white with a size 12/80 topstitch needle. Pebbles are not my favourite thing to stitch, but I do like how they look.  The Hobbs wool batting plumped up the feather lobes nicely.
In all, I used 8 different Aurifil threads: 12 weight Lana wool, and cotton in 12, 28, 40, 50, 60, and 80 weights.
From the back, you can't tell any difference in top threads.
The piece finishes 18" square, so I added triangle corners at the top for hanging instead of a full sleeve. There is room in the centre diamond sections to embroider the weight # for each plume, and I hope to do that by hand with the Aurifloss.
There is a fair bit of quilting on this piece, using almost 3 three full bobbins of thread.  Since silk doesn't toss off lint in your machine the way cotton fabric does, it was a good measure of how much lint actually came off that thread.  When I removed the throat plate after the stitching was done, all I could find was a bit of the wool batt caught between the feed dogs.  Aurifil truly is a low lint thread!
Although far from perfect, this little free-hand stitchery is a nice sample of how different threads affect the look of our quilting. 
 If you would like to join me in learning how to draft and stitch free-form feathers, there are a couple of spots in my class at this year's Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival. You can register directly on this page.  Thank you to Aurifil for supplying the thread for use in my work.

Thursday 26 July 2018

Woodland Forest Treeskirt

Skip on over to Marjorie's Busy Corner to see what she's made for the Christmas in July bloghop:…/christmas-in-july…

You can find the pattern for Woodland Forest tree skirt project at my Craftsy shop.

Monday 23 July 2018

New Shipment

Another exciting box of goodies has arrived!  This time, it's more copies of Canadian Heritage Quilting.
Diane Shink and I teamed up in 2009 to do this book, and I like it more and more each time I open the pages.  It contains information on the history of quilting in Canada, and updated instructions for making these classics. Diane is a certified quilt appraiser through AQS and has an extensive collection of antique and vintage quilts, many of which are featured in the book. She knows, and shares, the history of each quilt.
I made the cover fan quilt using 50's reproduction fabrics, and named it "Gram's Baptist Fans."  My Gram was a staunch Baptist and in the photo chosen for the cover, the quilt is draped on one of the pews from the former Baptist Church in Five Islands.  Lying open on the quilt, is a hymn book from that same church.
I chose the colour palette and design as they reminded me of a fan quilt my Gram had made many years earlier. Here is Gram's fan quilt, draped over an engagement picture of her and future husband, Austen.  I think this was taken around 1921.
Recently, my friend Debbie Ferguson gifted me with the twin of this quilt, found in a house her parents had purchased, two doors down from Gram's. I was - and am- beyond thrilled to receive this quilt. Many of the same fabrics can be found in both, and I can picture Gram and Mrs. Perry exchanging scraps at sewing circle.  
Quilt by Myrtle Davis on the left, and quilt by Linda Perry on the right.
In total, Canadian Heritage Quilting contains seventeen patterns, including my much-acclaimed"Log Canada".
This Ohio Star baby quilt pattern is also one of my favourites:

I've been sold out of this book for a bit, so am pleased to have them back in stock. There is a link for easy online ordering here.  

Friday 20 July 2018

Ambassador Box 2 Is Here!

I've been waiting - not so patiently - for this box to arrive. It's the second box this year for Island Batik Ambassadors, and is filled with goodies from Island Batik, Hobbs Batting, and Aurifil thread.  17 lbs. of goodies!!
 The box had obviously been opened and inspected at Customs, as it had been re-taped.
Regardless, our in-house inspector Polly still gave it a sniff or two, just to make sure.  She approved its contents, so on we went with the unpacking.
It's an exciting moment, to open a box filled with such potential.
As before, we are sent a packet of as yet-unreleased fabric which cannot be shown at this time;it will be used for the blog hop next January.  Having just finished sewing with the first surprise packet, I couldn't wait to see the collection, so I tore into it right away.  I was not disappointed.  I invite you to check back in January 2019 for a look-see. :)

Aurifil sent along an assortment of some of their wonderful product, including 2 colour cards, brochures, a large spool of red thread (my favourite colour), a thread pack in green, a tote bag that will see lots of use, and a sticker that says "Powered by Aurifil". where will I put that? Maybe right on the wheel of my Bernina, because it's ALWAYS powered by Aurifil!

This thread pack is going to be so much fun!  Seven spools of 2890 "Very Dark Grass Green", in all the weights :12,28,40,50,80,Aurifloss, and wool. I know exactly what I want to do with it.
The Island Batik fabric is luscious. The collections we received are shipping to stores in August, I believe, so you should be able to find them shortly. This is a "stack" of 10" squares from the Jungle Cruise collection.

 Another "stack", this one of Paisley Dot Brights.
Love it, love it, love it!

Polly's pick was this collection called Wild Things.  It features a pack of 40 pieces of 2-1/2" strips, as well as 2 yards of light and 2 yards of dark coordinates. You can see the beautiful presentation of the fabrics as they arrive to us, this one tied in a shiny silver ribbon.
 Each Ambassador received one yard cuts of solid white, grey, and black.
 We were also all sent 1 yard cuts of a line called "Check It Out".  Ambassador Sherry, who blogs at "Powered By Quilting", has used hers already in a project, to great effect.
 We were also given a very generous 5 yards of a light neutral.   Mine is called "Almond".
 A batik "Foundations" bundle contained 8 colours, in 1/2 yard measures. I didn't add up all the yardage in the box, but it's significant.  Wow, Island Batik! :)
Hobbs Batting totally pampered us with cotton, wool and wool/cotton battings from their premier "Tuscany" and "Heirloom" lines, in sizes from Throw to Queen.  The Tuscany wool is my go-to batting, and I am so pleased to receive these.
I will take a little while to admire all this, and dream about what each could become, before I begin cataloguing and washing the fabric. I keep a binder with snips of each fabric beside the name of the collection, the fabric SKU's, as well as a finished picture of what I made.
My sincerest thanks to Island Batik, Aurifil thread, and Hobbs Bonded Fibres for their generosity in providing this wonderful selection of materials.

Wednesday 11 July 2018

Outside The Box

A little bird told me that a second big box of goodies is on the way from Island Batik. ( was really a heads-up from the tracking number :)  As an Ambassador, we are each sent a supply of fabric, batting, and thread every six months or so.  Here's my first box, which arrived back in February.  There was so much in that box - thread from Aurifil, batting from Hobbs, as well as beautiful Island Batik collections - that I thought it would take ages to use up.
But use it up I did, and here's what I made: table-toppers, runners, a cushion, a baby quilt, wallhanging, and some sweet little carrot bags at Easter time.

I still can't show completely what was in the package marked "Surprise", but if you look hard in the group picture above, it's peeking out behind the rainbow trout.  I am looking forward to showing the king-sized quilt during the Island Batik Ambassador blog hop in August.
This was my favourite collection in the box, called "Morning Sunshine." Those yellows were soooo enticing.
 From this, I made a New York Beauty quilt, called Sun Salutation, which I really like:
In addition to what you see above, I also designed and made a project for Island Batik's Fall Catalogue, and it will be with them at Quilt Market in the fall when they roll out the new collections for the coming year.  It's been a busy six months of sewing, but I am really happy to say that I have used nearly every bit of fabric in that box.  No waste here!
I am impatiently checking my tracking number, watching for those magic words, "Out For Delivery".  Soon, I hope, and I will show the contents here. In the meantime, you can check out these posts for more information on this year's projects so far. A big thanks to Island Batik for their continued support.

Friday 6 July 2018

Full Of Surprises

The Island Batik Ambassador challenge for July is to use blocks that create an unexpected design - i.e., a secondary surprise - when placed side by side.  Imagine my surprise when fiddling around with my blocks to find not just a secondary but also a tertiary (third) design emerging.

I started out sketching what I knew as an "orange peel" block, only to discover that when there are four peels in a single block, EQ8 calls it Joseph's Coat. Regardless of the name, it's a great block, and one that provided great structure and movement to this very simple quilt.  This is Joseph's Coat:

 I placed it next to a plain block.
I love the rather arabesque shape it gifted to the plain block.
Pretty...but with a little tweaking of colours, this emerged.  The orange peels no longer looked like flower petals, they were now more of a curvy chain, dancing between the coloured blocks.
With a little more colour play, immediately, the tertiary design of small border stars emerged.  
I love it!
Now to find fabrics in my stash that would work in this quilt... Island Batik very generously provided a good amount of fabric in the first ambassador box which arrived in February.  I confess, I have used nearly everything in that box! It's a very good thing that a second box is on its way here now. I chose "milkshake" from the "Foundations" line for the peels;  I started to cut the pieces out with a seam allowance to piece my blocks with curved seams, only to realize I would not have enough fabric.  Plan B was to use raw edge appliqué instead, which meant I did  not have to have a seam allowance.  Gaining that extra 1/2" per peel was just enough for me to cut enough shapes (88 peels) for a 42" square quilt.  Whew!
The pieces were fused in place, and blanket stitched using Aurifil 2021, Natural White. My favourite Hobbs Tuscany wool batting was used for the fill, and a plain piece of robin's egg blue for the back.
I had a stencil from Mrs Pugsley's Emporium that was perfect, and it fit the plain spaces to a T when placed on point.
My Bohin marker is quickly becoming my go-to marker. Its fine lead is great for a stencil, the lines show up clearly, and it's easy to remove afterwards.  

One of the most enjoyable parts of this project was choosing which threads to use.  I admit to a rather extensive Aurifil stash, and it was great fun mixing and matching the colours. Variegated threads work particularly well with batiks, IMHO.

I had just enough pale mauve dot to bind the 42" square quilt.
It looks a bit dreamy;  I think this would be spectacular in a bed-sized quilt.  I will work away at sewing it again a couple of times to tweak the design before I release a pattern. Please check back later.
 It looks very summery on a table. (Thank you for the flowers, Taylor :))

Thank you to Island Batik, Hobbs Bonded Fibres, and Aurifil thread for supplying the materials used in this full-of-surprises project.