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. Pictured is "Sunset"; pattern available here.
Comments are always appreciated, simply click the word "comments" at the end of each post to leave your message. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, 3 June 2019

A Triple Crown

June's challenge for the Island Batik Ambassadors is to try a technique that's totally new to us.  Island Batik, as well as industry sponsors Aurifil, Accuquilt, and Hobbs, supply us with amazing products to use in our projects.

For someone like me who's been quilting forever, it takes some deep thinking to come up with something I haven't yet tried.  Last year, I figured out how to do an interlocking herringbone, a technique I now like very much. Thinking cap firmly in place, I started jotting down ideas.  
About this time, my friend Nellie dropped in and casually mentioned how she was making an old-fashioned scrap quilt, and stitching it on her treadle.  That sounded fun, and something I hadn't tried. Then I got to thinking...there are other machines in my house never used for my beloved Juki serger.  That would be interesting, so I added it to my list, which now read like this:
  1. Do a quilt -as -you-go
  2. Make a totally reversible quilt
  3. Make a quilt on the serger 
In a blinding lightbulb moment, I decided to combine the three techniques for a veritable quilting trifecta (or in this case...a TRY-fecta - groan...)  I hauled my serger down to the diningroom table, put in a new sharp needle, and threaded it with Aurifil 50 weight.

I had some pre-cut strips left from a previous project using the French Blue collection which would be great on one side, and chose colours for the other side from the Stashbuilder rolls. My plan was to alternate concentric rows of colour, with plain white batik.
So, if all goes as planned, one side will look like this:
 ...and the reverse side will be this:
I used my Accuquilt Go! cutter fitted with the 2-1/2" strip die to cut my pieces.  It was done in jig time, and the WOF strips were perfectly even. I SO love this cutter!!

My quilt-as-you-go/reversible plan meant I would layer strips of fabric wrong sides together, with batting strips in between, and stitch them using a log cabin courthouse steps design. Then, in another lightbulb dawned on me that I could also cut my batting strips with the Accuquilt Go!
It worked perfectly for this.The batting I chose was Hobbs Poly-Down, which is a very stable, evenly needled, polyester.  I started with a 4" centre (4-1/2" die) and cut 1 square of red batik, 1 square of yellow batik, plus one of batting.
The fabrics were layered, and the edges lined up and pinned in place;  notice my pins are not near the edge where they might knick the serger blade.
I was using the left needle only on my 4 thread serger (i.e. making it a 3 thread) and it's a perfect 1/4" seam if my fabric is hard against the blade.
All four sides of the sandwich were stitched, and then I added a strip of white on one side and a strip of yellow on the other, right sides facing. After stitching these in place, I flipped them away from the centre and added a strip of batting in between the two layers, butting it against the sewn seam allowance. Since it wasn't in the seam, my batting strip is now too wide...but the serger blade trims it even, so it wasn't necessary to use the rotary cutter at all. Easy-peasy.
Here's the first row of strips in place.

I continued building and trimming as I went.

In no time, this baby-sized quilt was cut, sewn, and quilted-as-I went.
The next challenge was to figure out how to photograph this, so Polly and I headed outside.
Polly perched herself on top of the pergola for a bird's eye view.

Here's the other side. Even though technically this is quilted, you can see how it looks a little "baggy".  Clearly it needs more quilting.

Switching back to my regular sewing machine, I chose matching colours of 50 weight Aurifil thread and did an outline stitch 1/4" from each seam with the walking foot.  On the back, where it was both blue and yellow strips, I used the pretty yellow in the bobbin.
Now it looks quilted!

The quilt ended up at 36" x 40", a good size for a baby quilt.
This was a fun and interesting project;  thank you for a great challenge, Island Batik, Hobbs, Aurifil,and Accuquilt!

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Pearls At Quilt Market

Most of the quilt world is off to Spring Quilt Market in Kansas City this weekend. I am not there, but I am thrilled to be represented by one of my quilts in the Island Batik booth!  Designing quilts for the new lines of Island Batik fabrics is not one of the requirements of being an Island Batik Ambassador, it's a separate pursuit. It's awfully hard not to be inspired by the gorgeous fabric scans of these hand-stamped fabrics from Bali when they arrive (I want to sew them all!!). I totally fell in love with this one, designed by Kathy Engle, called "Black Pearl".    
When I plugged the scans into EQ8, I played around with blocks that would show large pieces of these gorgeous batiks.  I settled on this block which is one of my favourites, decided on my layout, and sent off the proposal.  That was last August. The proposal was approved, the fabric was shipped from headquarters in California, and it arrived to me here in Nova Scotia in late October.  
October is always a time-crunch month for me because of the Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival, where I was teaching two workshops and vending at a market.  I also had an Ambassador challenge quilt to make.  As always, organization is the key, and before the fabric arrived, I contacted Denise White of West Branch Quilt Studio to see if she was on board to longarm this queen-sized quilt for me.  She was as excited to quilt it as I was to sew it!  I did a mock-up of the tessellating clamshell design in scrap fabric and mailed it off to her, so she would know what was coming and we could hit  the ground running. She came up with all kinds of quilting ideas, and we both agreed on a kind of feathery shell she sketched out.   I pieced the quilt and couriered it to her (she lives a couple of hours away.)  

Her design fit the space perfectly.  Denise quilted with Aurifil 2600 Dove Grey in a 40 weight, used in both top and bobbin. I really admire Denise's quilting, her confidence, and her passion for her art. Naturally, with a layer of Hobbs Tuscany wool batting inside, the quilting plumped up nicely.

Here's the back of the quilt; the fabric is mostly plain grey dots but I added a row of blocks from the front down one side.
Denise couriered the quilt back to me in jig time, and I cut the scalloped edge and applied the binding.  By now, it's November, and we have snow!! It's awfully hard to get a straight on picture of a large quilt.  Hubby and I invaded Beth's yard to try some outdoor shots, but wind and sun and shadow were not on our side.

As in the past for large quilts, we took it to the Purdy Crawford Centre For The Arts, on the campus of Mount Allison University. The building allows lots of natural light.
Even so, the quilt hung high to get it all in the picture, and it made for a sharp angle for my shot. Both the tessellating design of the quilt and the fabrics used give "Pearls" a very contemporary look.
Regardless, the quilt got sent off to California;  part of my angst in getting this done quickly was that, not only would this be caught in the Christmas rush, but Canada Post was entertaining rotating mail strikes, and there was no guaranteed delivery time .  Thankfully, it arrived on time and without issue.

Island Batik has the very talented photographer Jerry Khiev on staff who clearly had no problem photographing the quilt for the current catalogue.  You can see "Pearls" on page 92.  Jerry graciously shares his pictures with the designers, so with his permission this one graces the front cover of my pattern.
Photo credit:  Jerry Khiev of Island Batik
"Pearls" is available from my website as a mail-out pattern, or you can download it directly here . The patterns have been delivered to Mrs Pugsley's Emporium, so you can also purchase them there.

For shop owner, the pattern is being distributed by Island Batik, or you can contact me directly to order wholesale. Fabrics from the Black Pearl collection, along with many more, are being shown at Market this weekend, and can be ordered by shops.  I encourage you to please ask your local quilt shop to carry this beautiful collection!

As you can see, there were lots of hands involved in making this project happen. I'd like to thank Island Batik for supplying the fabric, Denise White for her quilting, hubby Jamie for help with my photo shoots, Cheryl Coville for editing my pattern, and Jerry Khiev for a great photo.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

The Apple Of My Eye

May's Island Batik Ambassador challenge is "Make It Modern".  Our industry sponsors are each singled out for one of our challenges, and this month it is Hobbs Batting.  (Last month was Accuquilt, and July is Aurifil!)  Our parameters include: "the use of...graphic areas of solid colour ...minimalism...and expansive negative space". Clearly, it also needs to include some Hobbs batting! :)
In flipping through some of my pictures for inspiration, I came across this photo taken a few years back, which I really like. It's a Royal Gala apple, with symmetrical stripes around the fruit, which showed nicely against the white background. This could be fun to make in fabric!
I decided to start with the background - a solid white Island Batik- and quilt that first.  I've never done a quilt this way before, but part of the "modern" approach is one of improvisation and deviating from the norm a bit.  Our quilt was to be crib sized.
I've been saving this special cream-of-the-crop Tuscany silk blend batting, which Hobbs sent in our first Ambassador box, for a special occasion.  I confess to being a bit of a batting snob, because a good quality batting can make a huge difference in your quilt.  This silk batting is one of my favourites...along with Tuscany wool.
I free motion quilted simple wavy lines running top to bottom on my quilt using 4 different weights of Aurifil: 80, 50, 28, and 12. Using the different thicknesses of thread creates great texture.
Once it was all quilted, it was time to add some applique.  I pulled five reds from my stash of Island Batik.
Improv curves are such fun to sew;  each piece of patchwork is unique. (I will trim off those weird shapes on the right hand side when I add the next strip; this was leftover from another project.)  My stripes for the apple will be the same plain white used in the background.
Once I got the reds pieced, I moved on to a couple of greens, for a leaf.

  I cut the whole thing into a giant apple shape, and turned under the edges.  I then used this piece as a pattern to cut a layer of Hobbs wool batting, which will add a bit of loft to make the apple stand out from the background(trapunto).
I auditioned the placement on the quilted background, and decided it needed to be nearer the bottom, rather than centred.

The appliqu├ęs were stitched in place using matching Aurifil 80 weight.  I love this thread!
You have to look really closely to see the stitches.
Last year in one of our Ambassador boxes, Aurifil sent a spool of the same colour green in all the different weights. I've gotten a lot of use out of this collection.  Again, it was the 80 weight I chose to use for applying the leaf.
With 28 weight thread, I stitched in the ditch along the curved seams through both layers of batting.  

 Hard to tell from the picture, but the apple is really quite plump.
Our apple tree would have been the perfect spot to shoot this, but sadly, it is probably a month off blooming!! You can see I added a snazzy green binding, using one of the fabrics in the leaf.

The quilt ended up at 40" x 42" which is a generous size for a crib quilt for the apple of someone's eye.

Thank you to Island Batik, Hobbs Batting, and Aurifil thread for supplying the beautiful products used in this project, and for creating a truly fun challenge.