Sew Karen-ly Created...

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Thursday, 12 December 2019


Posting this final project of 2019 as an Island Batik Ambassador is bittersweet, as it is in fact my last project as an least for now.
The theme for this month could not be more perfect for me:
Explore the world of 3D using your creative talents for this month’s challenge. Bring your inner artist out by using optical illusions, textures, trapunto or whatever else will make your quilt pop into life!
Over the years I have explored many facets of 3D and illusion, and taught workshops on isometric perspective using 60 degree angles.  If interested, you can see lots of samples here.  Three years ago, my bucket list was down to two remaining projects, both involving optical illusion.  This Global Warming quilt, with it's very clever construction technique, was the first one off that list.  It is still one of my favourites.  It was such a leap of faith to sew all that patchwork and then take scissors and cut a big circle out of the middle of the quilt!  But it worked, and brilliantly.
Finally, I tackled the mother of all optical illusion quilts,"Through The Lens", designed by Ukrainian quilter Mezhibovskaya Valery Vadimovna, who blogs under the name lerusisik. 
Polly was as boggled making that one as I was!
For this month's final challenge I decided to keep it simple and piece a very basic optical illusion, the type we first learn to draw in grade school art class. In the Island Batik box which arrived in July, there were generous cuts of solid black, white and grey batiks provided, and I knew these would be perfect.  I used the black and white (along with some blenders) for the front, and the grey for the quilt back.
Products used in this project were supplied to me by Island Batik, Hobbs, and Aurifil as part of the Ambassador program.
I taped plain freezer paper sections together to give me a 24" square, and drafted my very simple design in pencil.  (Two lessons learned here:  do NOT use scotch tape if you plan to iron the freezer paper to your fabric (it melts)...and be sure to draw with a fine, black sharpie, as those pencil lines smear and are hard to see later on.)
I located my focal point dead centre by drawing an X from corner to corner, and then ran my seam lines to this point.  The numbering makes it look complicated, but in reality it's the opposite, as it keeps things in a logical order.
And of course, Polly was there to double check my work.
Since that original X gave me 45 degree angles in each corner, I used these as dividing lines for my floor, ceiling, and walls and pieced each section separately.
It was slow, but satisfying, when the seams matched. This shows the floor section completed.
When the first wall is added, you can really start to see the 3-D effect.Notice that although the patchwork appears a bit wonky, the bottom and left side edge are straight on the cutting mat.
I confess it was a very satisfying moment to find this patchwork measured a perfect 24" square when it was sewn! :) You will see I didn't bother to take the patchwork all the way into the centre, since there a sphere to be appliquéd there later.  Doing it this way prevented a lump of seams.
Hobbs "Thermore" batting was chosen as it is thin but still provides loft.  I like it a lot for wallhangings and table mats.
A plain black border was added on all sides, and the quilting kept very plain.  Using Aurifil clear monofilament, I stitched lines radiating from the centre to the edge in both the floor and ceiling, and stippled every-other block in the walls in matching black and white Aurifil 50 weight.  Dove Grey 2600 in the bobbin was a perfect match for the grey backing.
To make the spheres, I traced circles onto coloured batiks, drew equally-spaced curved lines, and layered with scraps of Thermore. I used black Aurifil 50 weight thread to zigzag the lines. 
Because the squares of the chequerboard design were too small to appliqué, I opted instead to colour them in using Aurifil 12 weight thread, stitched free motion between the zigzag lines. (You can see I shaded in the sections before stitching so I wouldn't get off-track and colour the wrong ones.)  It worked brilliantly and was MUCH faster than doing applique.
I backed the circles with plain black batik and stitched completely around each.  I cut an X in the back and turned the circle to the right side. Any black that showed around the edges when I pressed would create a dark shadow line, perfect to reinforce the illusion.
Once the spheres were stitched, they were hand appliquéd on top of the background. 
When photographed on a very dark, snowy day, the centre and front sphere appear to be the same colour, however in real life one is brown and the other is  bright orange.
I decided to add a blue just for a bit of colour.   I may change out the centre for a brighter yellow...but for now, I am happy with this.
Even though it's a very simple piece, I am pleased with how it turned out.  The Island Batik fabric is a great choice for doing black and white patchwork as it doesn't fray so there are no stray threads of black ghosting through under the white.

My sincerest thanks to Island Batik, Aurifil thread, Hobbs batting, and Accuquilt for being such generous sponsors for this fabulous 2019 Island Batik Ambassador program. It saddens me to leave, but I have no doubt that the universe is unfolding as it should. Thank you for following along on the journey.

Please visit my fellow Ambassadors to see their final projects for the year:
Carolina Asmussen ~Carolina Asmussen
Gene Black ~ Gene Black
Pamela Boatright ~ PamelaQuilts
Connie K Campbell ~ Freemotion by the River
Anja Clyke ~ Anja Quilts
Becca Fenstermaker ~Pretty Piney
Jennifer Fulton ~ Inquiring Quilter
Barbara Gaddy ~ Bejeweled Quilts by Barb
Dione Gardner-Stephen ~ Clever Chameleon
Sarah Goer ~ Sarah Goer Quilts
Vasudha Govindan ~ Storied Quilts
Joanne Hart ~ Unicornharts
Mania (Magdalini) Hatziioannidi ~ Mania for Quilts
Carla Henton ~ Create in the Sticks
Stephanie Jacobson ~ Steph Jacobson Designs
Connie Kauffman ~ Kauffman Designs
Joan Kawano ~ Moosestash Quilting
Kim Lapacek ~ Persimon Dreams
Emily Leachman ~ The Darling Dogwood
Leanne Parsons ~ Devoted Quilter
Bea Lee ~ BeaQuilter
Toby Lischko ~ Gateway Quilts & Stuff
Bill Locke ~ Studio Bill Locke
Denise Looney ~ For the Love of Geese
Leah Malasky ~ Quilted Delights
Sally Manke ~ Sally Manke
Maryellen McAuliffe ~ Mary Mack's Blog
Kathleen McCormick ~ Kathleen McMusing
Carol Moellers ~ Carol Moellers Designs
Karen Neary ~ Sew Karen-ly Created
Jackie O’Brien ~ If These Threads Could Talk
Laura Piland ~ Slice of Pi Quilts
Michelle Roberts ~ Creative Blonde
Vicki Schlimmer ~ Vicki's Crafts and Quilting
Gail Sheppard ~ Quilting Gail
Sherry Shish ~ Powered by Quilting
Anita Skjellanger ~ Quilt in a not-Shell
Laticia "Tish" Stemple ~ Tish's Adventures in Wonderland
Jennifer Strauser ~ Dizzy Quilter
Jennifer Thomas ~ Curlicue Creations
Terri Vanden Bosch ~ Lizard Creek Quilts
Alison Vermilya ~ Little Bunny Quilts
Sandra Walker ~ mmm! quilts
(Debora) Anne Wiens ~ Seams like a Plan
Geraldine Wilkins ~ Living Water Quilter
Janet Yamamoto ~ Whispers of Yore

Sunday, 1 December 2019

December: Endings/Beginnings

Unbelievably, December Although this is always a month of excitement with much to look forward to, it's also a month of endings. It ends a very busy and stressful 2019.  For youngest son, it is the end of his first term at school. For my business, it's year end...and the monotonous taking of inventory. It's also - sadly- the end of my tenure as Ambassador for Island Batik, as I am resigning effective the end of December.  It was not an easy decision to make.  Being part of the Ambassador team at Island Batik has been a unique experience, unlike anything I've done before in my many years of quilting, and I have enjoyed it immensely.  Not only do they produce the finest batiks on the market, Island Batik is a wonderful, generous company who give back. The talent among the Ambassadors is amazing, and it's an honour to be included in their ranks.  I will miss the camaraderie, the encouragement, and the ever-present support that comes from being part of a team.  I do hope to continue on with them in a design role, submitting proposals from time to time for their new collections.  And, of course, I have a ton of Island Batik in my stash just waiting to be sewn!
The theme for the final challenge this year is to make something 3-D, either texturally or by using perspective to create an optical illusion.  What a fun farewell project, and I look forward to beginning.  The piece shown at the top of this post is one I stitched several years back as an Advent banner for First Baptist Church in Amherst.  I will dust off my thinking cap and get started with my black and white Island Batik solids, saved especially for this project. (hmmm...and maybe a pop of red will be there, too!)

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Christmas Thread Special!

The elves and I have been working on a little Aurifil thread kit, perfect for Christmas stitching and gifting.  Each kit contains 3 small spools of Aurifil 12 weight thread, one Schmetz size 16 topstitch needle, and a pattern sheet for this poinsettia design. The 12 weight cotton thread can also be used for hand embroidery.
 This is the same thread used in stitching "Holly Jolly".
These pieces have all been stitched on my regular domestic sewing machine, set up for free motion.  This is NOT done on an embroidery machine.
Just trace the design onto your chosen fabric and stitch on the lines.  It's like colouring with thread instead of a crayon.
I've used the design both on cushions and small stitcheries which can be used as wall hangings or table mats.

The kits are packaged in Christmas gift boxes (no need to wrap!) and contain everything you see here. Selling for $19.99 and in limited quantities, I do not expect these to last very long so they will not be added to the website.  I will have them with me this coming Friday and Saturday at Mrs Pugsley's Emporium, along with my full complete pop-up shop of beautiful Aurifil threads.  If you would like to purchase one in advance for pick-up at Mrs Pugsley's store, please email me and we can arrange e-transfer.
This is a great gift for a teacher, or a Secret Santa exchange in your guild.  I invite you to come visit me at Mrs Pugsley's Emporium on Friday, Nov 29 from 10 am to 4 pm, and again on Saturday from 10 am to 1 pm.  I'll be bringing along some Christmas quilts as well!

Monday, 25 November 2019

Tool Time: Amherst Point

This month, the Island Batik Ambassadors were divided into two camps:  one group would participate in a blog hop of quilts made from the new collections shipping to stores now, and the rest of us would make a quilt featuring our favourite tool.
Those who know me, can appreciate that this was no easy topic for this no-gadget gal.  Folks are shocked when I announce that I have, and use, just one ruler for all my work.  (It's a 6-1/2" x 24" Omnigrid ruler with markings for 30, 45, and 60 degree angles. If I need an angle different from these, I use the protractor from my high school days.  Seriously.)
After much thought, I singled out what has been the biggest help to me in my lengthy quilting career, and a tool I absolutely would not be without:  Electric Quilt. I have each and every version lovingly saved on a shelf by my computer.
Way back when the software was first developed, I was writing a monthly column for the now defunct Quick &Easy Quilting magazine;  my instructions were typed on my Royal typewriter and the piecing diagrams sketched with coloured pencils on graph paper.  I always marveled how editor Sandra Hatch worked her computer magic on my submissions to make them so professional looking.  When I learned that Electric Quilt existed, I mailed a cheque to the company in North Carolina and waited impatiently for over a month for the postman to arrive with the parcel. This was in 1992. It arrived on a floppy disk, which you can see on the top of this pile.  So high tech!  Shortly thereafter, I received a printer upgrade on another disk which would allow me to add an inkjet printer instead of  the then standard dot matrix.  Electric Quilt sent out newsletters periodically, featuring a little mouse and  I read them over and over to glean as much as I could.  As Electric Quilt released each new version, I would upgrade my software, to take advantage of all the new features.  I upgraded to EQ8 the day it was released. By this time, of course, it's an instant download so I no longer have to wait for the postman!  Undoubtedly, one of the highlights of my career is having a block I designed for Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks included in an EQ add-on.
Electric Quilt allows me to either draw pieced blocks, or use pre-drawn blocks from their extensive database.  So, for this month's challenge, I decided to use some of my bright colours, splashed on a pure white background. I envisioned a modified, modern take on the iconic Hudson's Bay Point blanket.
The fabrics I chose were from some of the Island Batik "Foundations" lines, which they are so generous in supplying.
Normally I work with blocks, but decided to try and do something different this time. I settled on alternating coloured triangles with white, cut across the full width of the fabric. Some of Island Batik's fabrics are built into the program, Basics, Blenders, Foundations, so I was able to find most of my fabrics there.
The yellow/gold used for the centre and binding is from the Garden Party collection, so I imported images of those fabrics from the Island Batik website.  Alternately, I could have scanned my fabric and imported it to the program.  Using the actual fabric images gives me a clear idea of how my finished quilt will look.
I fussed a bit about the size of this quilt...8 complete sections looked out of proportion - too long and skinny- and 7 made it a wee bit short.  It's no fun to have ones toes cold :) I settled on removing the top and bottom white sections,leaving an angled edge, which I quite like. EQ does not print piecing instructions, but it does give you options for different construction techniques, such as rotary cutting, foundation piecing, or printing templates.  I ruled out foundation piecing right away due to the size of the pieces, and decided to try rotary cutting.  I followed the measurements it gave.

It worked fine, but was a bit slow.
I tried printing a template to see if that made things go more quickly.  It did, so that's the method I used.
This is a quilt for snuggling on the couch, so it's backed with soft, cuddly, flannel.  The pointy sections have straight line quilting, and the plain white sections have orange peel free-motioned.
It was fun to choose the thread colours from my stash, both 50 and 40 weight.
The batting is Hobbs Poly-Down, which is a soft and lofty batting.
Here's the sketch from EQ8, which you can see is very similar to the finished quilt.

After snapping the picture above, I was called away for a minute.  When I returned, there was a pronounced bump in the centre of the quilt...which meowed when I went to smooth it down.
Thank you to Island Batik, Hobbs Batting, Aurifil thread and especially to EQ8 for developing a must-have tool for quilters. In tribute to the Hudson's Bay Point, I have named this colourful quilt Amherst Point.