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.
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Tuesday 31 December 2019

Looking Back On 2019, And Ahead To 2020.

Another over-busy, super-productive year is drawing to a close, and with it ends my 2 year tenure as an Island Batik Ambassador.  I have enjoyed my experience with Island Batik *SO* much, and am very thankful for this amazing experience, but it was time for a change.  Polly will miss receiving the bulging boxes of goodies, filled with products from sponsors Island Batik, Aurifil, Hobbs Batting, and Accuquilt. We remain ever grateful for the support of these very generous companies.
All of the projects shown below were stitched with product supplied by the above sponsors, and there is still lots on hand for many more quilts to come... 

Over the Christmas break last year, I worked like crazy to get my quilt finished up in time for January's blog hop.  I was sent the most gorgeous collection ever to work with, one called "Blossom".  The result was Grandmother's Flower Blossom.  Of all the quilts I've made, this is one of my favourites.

After the above pictures were taken in the park, I added tassels to each of the hexagon points, for the ultimate finishing touch. I love how this looks on the bed, like an old-fashioned coverlet.
Our monthly challenges began in February, where we were asked to make a miniature.  This is a mini "X and O" from my book Quilting Beauties, quilted with Aurifil 80 weight thread.
The March challenge was Vintage Re-imagined, so I imagined a traditional string quilt forming diamonds, in wild jungle prints. It made a perfect Christmas present for my (wild, jungle) brother.
 It was in April that I fell in love with the Accuquilt Go! cutter, when we were asked to use it for the challenge. "Into The Blue" was made with many, many half square triangles that were cut and sewn in record time.  The Go! cutter has changed the way I design, as from now on all my HST's will be sized to match my dies.  No more trimming for me!
May was our Modern challenge, and I did free hand rotary cutting and curved piecing to make an apple.
June took a lot of thinking, as it was to try something we haven't done before.  I combined three techniques I had yet to try into one project and produced a quilt-as-you-go, reversible quilt, sewn and quilted on my serger.
In July, we had the pleasure of doing a thread challenge, to showcase the gorgeous threads we were sent by Aurifil.  I opted to stitch out a faux New York Beauty using 80, 50, 40, 28, and 12 weight threads.  The empty spools became finials for the hanging rod.
August was the "Beat The Heat" blog hop, and I was fortunate to get the very colourful Garden Party collection, designed by Colourwerx. Victoria Square in downtown Amherst was a great spot to photograph this full-size beauty.
For September, we were sent another die from Accuquilt.  Mine was Cleopatra's Fan, and from this I made a Knight's Templar Cross, reminiscent of King Arthur. It's a generous lap size, but could probably also find duty as a cape, or hoisted as a flag. The quilt was photographed at the remains of the French Fort Beausejour in New Brunswick.
October was all about appliqué and although I am not a big fan, it did push me to make this Holly Jolly tabletopper which has adorned my kitchen table over this holiday season.  I like it a lot. The quilting in the open space around the centre allows the Hobbs wool batting to really stand out. Using good quality batting makes all the difference in the finished appearance of your project, and Hobbs is tops in the field.
For November, we were challenged to make a quilt using our favourite tool.  For me, that's EQ8.  I came up with this modernized version of a Hudson's Bay Point blanket, which I have named Amherst Point.  The bright colours on white, and angled ends, make this very appealing to my eye.
December was a 3-D challenge, and this optical illusion ended the year off on a high point for me.  I am pondering a simplified version for an upcoming workshop, so please watch this page if you are interested in learning how to draft this.  More later, as I take the time to think this through.
In addition to the required challenges, I made a few extra projects using Island Batik.  Mrs Pugsley's Emporium started carrying the line, and I made this quilt called "Welcome Aboard", which the shop kitted, and quickly sold out.
This "10 Carrot" runner popped into my head late one night, and I couldn't wait to get making!  Island Batik makes the most gorgeous orange shades.
This scrappy red and white string quilt was another Christmas gift, this time for my nephew. It used up a lot of little ends of  red and white.  I have a few more of these scrappy ones started which will get finished in the new year.
 I also designed quilts for the new Island Batik collections introduced at spring and fall quilt market.  "Pearls" was in the spring catalogue, displayed in the booth at Kansas City, and is still travelling in trunk shows to shops carrying the "Black Pearl"collection.  The pattern is available here.
This piece, called Sweet Dreams, was shown at Fall Market in Houston and is now travelling with Island Batik reps. You can find ordering information for this "Forget Me Not" fabric in the current catalogue.  The pattern is available for purchase here.
This stitchery was made using the solid white Island Batik and featured 12 weight Aurifil thread.The pattern/thread kit was the Christmas special sold exclusively in my thread store.
There were a few non-Island Batik projects also completed last year, as well as the presentation of a couple of workshops, a trunk show or two, and various vendor events with my thread.  Again, my thanks to my sponsors for product, and to customers of my threads and patterns for your continued support.  2020 promises to be a year of change, and hopefully one which will include some much-needed time away from the machine. Hubby and I have taken a giant step and purchased a summer home near the shore where I grew up. It has a barn! It is an older house and needs some TLC, so that's the big project for next summer...and beyond.  Already I am matching quilts to the rooms, and having fun with that, but there is real work ahead. (I think the Grandmother's Blossom quilt will will look awesome here!)
I've accepted the commission of another liturgical hanging, to be made of red and white silk (I'm excited just writing that...).  It's due in November, but I hope to get started on it mid-January, so please check back and follow along in the making.  Your presence will keep me on track!  And I have thread, thread, and MORE THREAD on order to arrive early in the new year.  I need to get cracking and update the website to accommodate the new stock.
The new Ambassadors for Island Batik will be announced soon, and I can't wait to see what everyone will be up to this year. I will share the list here.  Wishing you and yours a healthy and happy 2020!

Wednesday 18 December 2019

Hooked on an Illusion

Kate Seely

Inspiration comes from everywhere, and rug hooker Kate Seely was inspired by a picture of a quilt she saw on my blog.  The optical illusion achieved in the Through The Lens quilt intrigued her, so she came up with her own interpretation in wool.  
She writes, "The dark green is a kilt from the thrift shop and the light grey is a purchased piece of felted wool fabric. I chose not to do all the centres red, but whenever I was hooking in a group and saw a colour that I liked, I asked if I could have a strip, So not all the centres are from my stash, I shudder to think what that would entail.I had a very good teacher when I was setting it up who explained to me that not all the squares outside the circle were the same size. She had me mark the diagonals from the centre of the rug and then hook each corner square first in the lines. Looks good , doesn’t it?"  It does indeed, Kate! 
Kate included the name of the designer of the original quilt, Mezhibovskaya Valery Vadimovna, aka "lerusisik" on the label for her mat.  It measures 22” X 31”.
This is the second time Kate has made a mat inspired by a quilt shown on this blog.  Check out her Roundabout Again here!
Well done, Kate! 

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!