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.
Comments are always appreciated, simply click the word "comments" at the end of each post to leave your message. Thanks for stopping by!

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


  1. Wow! You totally nailed this project Karen. Amazing!

  2. This is mind blowing, absolutely fantastic!

  3. For the finale as an ambassador, this is the best. Such detail, and the spheres are a perfect addition.I hope this is a keeper and on the wall for you and others to see every day.

  4. WOW!!!!! That is just awesome! I have "Through the lens" on my bucket list of projects to piece some day also. It gets me excited to see it again! Beautiful job on your spectacular Desiderata.

  5. Oh my gosh, you too went out this year with a BANG.....Ilove this, I love your process but my brain would go crazy trying to do it. I wish I lived close to you because I would love a class

  6. What a project to finish up your time with Island Batik......well done, Karen! Of course it has been approved by Polly.

  7. Oh, Karen, it’s beautiful! Simple, you say? Ha! You are truly an artist of the highest order.

  8. This is so amazing and exactly what I think of when I think of 3-D.

  9. You nailed it! I love this I had to read how you did the spheres twice because it is so simple and elegant a solution that I didn't understand it. Ha ha.
    I am still lost about how you did the background. I never had that class in perspective drawing.

  10. This is one amazing quilt! I love the way you constructed it and the spheres are just the thing! I love that you colored them so you wouldn't mis-sew....such an easy error! Really just so gorgeous and perfect!