Sew Karen-ly Created...

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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.