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!

Friday 4 December 2020

Christmas Thread Set Gifties

 Last year, looking for quick and unique gifts, I stitched up this cute little poinsettia mat using Aurifil 12 weight thread. It was fun to do, and I ended up making several of them.

I printed the pattern and instructions, and put together little Aurifil thread kits, perfect for Christmas stitching and gifting. Last year these were the Christmas special at the various pop-up shops and venues where I was vending, but this year being what it is, they are now available from the website.  
These pieces have all been stitched on my regular domestic sewing machine, set up for free motion,  NOT on an embroidery machine.
You just trace the design onto your chosen fabric, layer the top on batting and backing,  and stitch on the lines. Regular 50 weight thread is used in the bobbin.  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 sets come in two sizes:  the smaller contains 3 spools of 12 weight thread, a size 16 machine topstitch needle, as well as the printed pattern.  It's packaged in a gift box, all for the special price of $18.99. 
The larger set contains 3 big spools of Aurifil 12 weight, a size 16 topstitch needle, and the printed pattern, all for the special price of $39.99. 

You can order from the website for delivery across Canada, or pick up your order locally in one of these nifty reusable bags, sporting the Amherst logo (while quantities last.)

Thursday 26 November 2020

Last Call For Early Bird Pricing


It’s not “last call” for the 2021 Aurifil Color Builders program, but it *IS* last call for the early bird pricing. To take advantage of guaranteed 2020 prices, orders must be in no later than 8 am (AT) on November 30th.  This fabulous thread-of-the-month program includes 12 curated boxes of 3 large spools of Aurifil 40 weight Mako cotton thread, a foundation piecing pattern, and an embroidery design all to benefit endangered species world wide.

Contactless pickup is available for the threads, or you can have them delivered to your door.

I will be participating in the program, and sewing along each month.  If you'd like to join in, please email me for more details. karen at

Tuesday 17 November 2020

Aurifil Colour Builders 2021


As you may have read on the Aurifil blog, the Colour Builders program for 2021 has been announced, and sign-ups are now being accepted.  The Colour Builders program is a no-fuss monthly subscription service hosted by your favorite Aurifil thread dealer – that's me! – whereby you receive a curated selection of threads each month, paper-piecing and embroidery patterns using the theme and colours, AND help  out a worthy cause while building your thread stash.  It’s a win all around!

Last year the very successful program highlighted different areas of Italy;  this year will focus on a cause that falls in line with the goal to increase Aurifil's sustainability and positive environmental impact: endangered species. The program highlights the very first thread weight produced by Aurifil: 40wt. Wound on a bold green spool, Aurifil's 40wt/2ply thread is every bit as versatile as the 50wt but with just a bit more strength. 40wt is tremendous for sewing bags and garments, or for when a more defined topstitching or quilting pattern is desired. It is also the number one recommended weight for quilting and machine embroidery. 

Featured animals are the Sumatran Elephant, the Red Panda, the Sea Turtle, the Iberian Lynx, the Pink Land Iguana, the Whale Shark (I can’t wait to stitch him!), the Sumatran Tiger, the Blue-throated Macaw, the African Wild Dog, the Cross River Gorilla, the Pangolin, and the African Penguin.

The Colour Builders program is modeled on a BOM concept, except you receive thread and a pattern each month instead of fabric.  

Each block or pattern serves as a tribute to an endangered species.
Our list of subscribers is steadily growing, and we would love to have you join us. I plan to participate as well and will be sewing the blocks along with you each month.  I don't have an embroidery machine, but look forward to stitching the designs free hand on my sewing machine.  It sounds like a fun program, and a great way to kick off 2021. Cost of the program is $46.99/month plus tax (and shipping if needed)  if you register by December 1.  Registration is through email  (

You can check out these links on the Aurifil blog to see the threads and read more about the program:

If you are interested, kindly let me know asap so I can add your name to my list. We would love to have you join in! 

Friday 13 November 2020

Christmas Candy Mug Rugs

Christmas gifting is as much about the present-ation as it is the present, and with this quick and easy scrap-busting project, you get both.  Who doesn't need a mug rug, especially when they come as sweetly packaged as these?! You can turn your mug rugs into lollipops...

...or candy treats!
As quilters, we have lots of cotton scrap fabrics lying around, and these only take 4" x WOF each of 3 different colours. Cotton strips are easy to braid, and may be joined by either the machine or by hand.  Naturally, I do mine by machine. 
The instructions below are for one coaster approximately 6-1/2" across. You need:
  • 2 strips each of 3 colours, each 2" x WOF (a total of 6, 2" strips.) A light,  medium, and a dark work well. (If you don't have WOF strips, just seam together enough shorter pieces to measure around 42".  The joins don't show in the finished project.)
  • neutral 50 weight sewing thread (Aurifil of course!) 2600 Dove Grey is perfect.
  • if stitching by machine, a size 16/100 JEANS needle.
  • 1 piece of clear cellophane 16" x 18".
  • 1 large safety pin.
  • 1 small clip (a clothespin works).
  • scrap of fabric for ties (or pretty satin ribbon). 20" per tie is a good length.
If you are making the lollipop version you will also require a straw for the stick.  These came from the $ store.  You could also use a small piece of dowel, approximately 9" long.
I dug into my Island Batik stash and chose bright colours for my candies.  I have 2, 2" strips of yellow, green, and cream.
Using 1 strip of each colour, fold in half lengthwise and layer the fabrics one on top of the other; stitch them together on one short end. (We will add the second strip to the length later.)
To hold the end steady for braiding, put a safety pin through the end and clip it to your great-grandmother's treadle sewing machine. (You can see the braided mat I am still making on the floor.) Firmly braid your strips together.
When you get to the end of  your strips, place your clip or clothespin on the braid to hold it together. Add the second strip in a diagonal seam, as you would for joining binding.  Finger press the seam open. Remove the clip, and continue braiding as before. (The reason you don't join the strips together at the beginning is because it makes it slow and awkward, as the ends get all tangled together as you braid.  Using one strip of each colour at a time and joining as needed is actually quicker in the long run.)  
When all the fabric is braided, simply straight stich across the end. Your braid will measure around 64" long.
Now the fun starts! You want to coil your braids into a circle with the edges butted against each other - not overlapping.  To do this, turn the end of the strip so it forms a "U" and zigzag the edges together.   I set my machine to the widest possible zigzag (5.5 mm), and about 2.5 mm long. Keep turning and stitching your braid into a circle, making sure that the braid is added to the right of the needle.  This way, it grows to the left side leaving you room to stitch.
When you run out of braid, simply tuck the end underneath and stitch off the end, locking your stitches.
It will look like this:
Depending on how tightly you have braided your strips, your mug rug will be around 6-1/2" across.
Place the mug rug in the middle of the cellophane and wrap the 16" sides to the middle, securing with a small piece of tape.  You should have about 6" of cellophane extending past each end.  Gather the ends close to your mug rug and tie with a bow.
Ta Da!
The cellophane is removed before use.
To make the lollipops, secure the straw  to the back with a piece of tape, Wrap in cellophane, and add a bow.
This is cute used instead of a bow to jazz up a parcel or gift bag.
And there you have it - simple as that!
You can keep going with your braiding, making matching trivets, or placemats.  Or even a mat :)
I hope you have enjoyed this, and will share pictures of what you make. 

Monday 9 November 2020

Lest We Forget

Last December, I was asked to make a Remembrance Day parament for First Baptist Church in Amherst. This beautiful church is located downtown right next to the cenotaph and hosts the indoor part of the Remembrance Day service each year, right after the wreath laying.

I accepted the commission without hesitation as, having done hangings for this church previously, I felt comfortable with the task, plus I had almost a whole year in which to work.  I started work on the project right after the new year began to ensure it would be done in lots of time.  Ha!

The pulpit is not very large; the banner needs to be precisely 20-1/4" wide to fit between the posts.  The length can vary a bit, with a maximum of 28".  It's a really big church, with a beautiful horseshoe balcony on the upper level, so for a piece this small to be seen from the back of the church it needs to be simple in design with the various elements presented in high contrasting colours so they stand out. The centrepiece of the design is a big, red poppy and since that conveys the message of the day clearly, that's really all that needs to be seen. My palette for the occasion was red and white, with maybe a bit of green, or blue, for detail.  I began with a pure white bridal satin for the background and several shades of dupioni silk for the poppy and letters. The poppy is a simple shape, no leaves or pods, just what you see on a veteran's lapel.
 After cutting all the letters and making the poppy from silk, it was totally lacking punch as I couldn't get enough different shades of I switched to my stash of vibrant Island Batik cottons to use for the applique. I stitched the poppy seeds free hand on my Bernina using Aurifil 12 weight thread.  Notice that the centre of the poppy is a dark steel blue, as is the thread. This is because black is not displayed in a church on any day other than Good Friday. 
My idea for the bottom of the banner was to feature crosses lined up like we see in pictures from Normandy.
I began appliqueing multiple, tiny crosses but ran into difficulties with the satin puckering - even with a size 9 needle and multiple layers of stabilizers underneath.  Once you stitch on satin, you cannot remove it without leaving a hole, so...start over: new poppy, new letters, new satin.  This time my plan was to quilt the crosses in, but that was not a feasible idea since I was unable to mark lines on the satin.  I tried stitching them through tissue paper, but the results looked messy...and I accidentally picked the fabric with a needle.
My next great idea was to add the crosses with patchwork, and it did work fine except...the squares were 1/2" wide which meant a lot of seams to try and applique a poppy and letters satin does not hold a press well. It was lumpy.  I threw this out without taking pictures so have none to share, but this is the chart used.
By now, we are up to March. The next incarnation used plain white cotton for the background - easy to piece, applique, quilt, etc. I used a thin silk batting under the top. This one turned out great, and I even quilted maple leaves in the background.  Except...I didn't like how the cotton looked.  It was so dull and "unspecial" after that beautiful satin background.  I set it aside to convince myself that plain old cotton was totally appropriate to honour our soldiers. 
I dug this out again in September, when the church reopened after the Covid lockdown, and was horrified with how it looked.  There was no way that was going to hang in a church.  Now out of satin, I luckily found a place in Montreal which shipped quickly, so I started from scratch again.  More puckers.  Another order to Montreal for satin...
THIS TIME, I satin stitched the edges of the poppy on water soluble stabilizer instead of on the satin, soaked the edges to remove, and then straight stitched it onto the satin.  It worked great, so the letters were done the same way, as were the crosses cut in descending size from white dupioni silk.  FINALLY!
White fringe was added to the bottom.
I was very happy when the final stitches went in that hanging sleeve to finish up what should have been a simple project.
I took it outside to get some pictures.  You will notice that the crosses do not show up very well, and that was intentional.  They are meant to ghost up along the edge of the banner.  There is just enough difference in texture and shade between the white silk and the white satin to make this work. You won't see those crosses from the back of the church, but you don't need to.
This is taken in front of our bright red burning bush.
It has this much stitching - poppy, letters, and crosses are outlined and that's it! I was not chancing picking the fabric at this late date.  The filler is Bosal InRForm. 
I delivered it to the church right before Thanksgiving (you can see all the pumpkins!), and held my breath as I hung it in place.  It finished exactly 20-1/4" wide and fit perfectly. Whew!
Since our Remembrance Day service is cancelled this year due to the pandemic, the parament was dedicated yesterday in a lovely service at First Baptist Church.
It will be used to honour the veterans in future years when our world returns to normal. 
I will remember.