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. Shown here is a traditional 36-patch, made using Island Batik "fabrics.
Comments are always appreciated, simply click the word "comments" at the end of each post to leave your message. Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Holiday Shopping??

 I am happy to say that the commissioned banner has been delivered to its forever home, (pictures to follow) so new projects can now be begun.

With that off my plate, the first task was to clean up my sewing room, a dreaded ordeal which has not been attended to in some months.  While purging, I listened to music and newscasts, one of which was a news release from Canada Post, urging folks to start their Christmas shopping - and shipping - early, as it is anticipated most folks will be ordering online this Covid season.  The only thing worse than a Covid Christmas would be one without anything under the tree, so it is good advice I am taking to heart.
Our Aurifil thread shop is currently well stocked and the prices will never be better than they are now.  We've received word from the supplier that there will be an increase with the next order...and frankly, I fully expect postage to increase soon as well.  Currently, shop policy is a flat shipping rate of $13. anywhere in Canada for a thread order.  Actual postage cost is always more than that, but I pay the remainder.  It's a great deal!
We have all kinds of gift sets in stock, ranging from small to large, basics to designer colours, and all weights from 80 to 12.  Mostly the thread is all cotton, but we also have clear and smoke monofilament, and a bit of wool.

You can see all the in-stock threads here, and order directly from the website.  If you are local to Amherst, Nova Scotia, and would like to pick up your order, there is an option for that as well.  If you prefer to use etransfer, kindly email your order to me, and I will send along an invoice. 
Back to tidying.  I know as soon as that's done, I will pull all the boxes out again to start a new project.  The circle of life for a quilter. :)

Monday, 19 October 2020

Change of Scenery, Change of Seasons

Last weekend we had a beautiful drive through Nova Scotia's Wentworth Valley.  The colours were spectacular, as they always are at this time of year.
Yesterday we enjoyed more of the same on our dirt road travels over Lynn Mountain.
Known for blueberry production, the red fields on Lynn stretch in every direction as far as the eye can see.  We took a short drive down this side road to the quarry. Although we traditionally associate yellows, golds, and browns with our fall/Thanksgiving palette,  clearly red is part of the mix as well.
I have been sewing red for another seasonal project as well.  I actually began this commissioned piece last January hoping to have it finished well before the deadline, but that hasn't happened.
Fingers crossed, it will all come together by week's end, and delivered to its new home on time.

Friday, 16 October 2020

Catch up

It does seem ages since I have blogged on a regular basis.  It isn't because there is nothing to share, it's just finding and taking the time to do so. I do miss blogging and, as I was reminded recently (Cheryl), it's a great way to archive and keep notes on past projects.

What has kept us so busy?  Well, although many this past year seemed to have extra time on their hands, my family and I had less. Way less.  Last fall, we purchased an older home (with a barn!) in the seaside community where I grew up. It will function as a weekend/summer home only.

The house needed (needs) a bit of TLC, which we have been providing these past few the best of our abilities. My contribution has mostly been painting, both outside and in, although Mother Nature will soon put an end to the outside work.  I am determined to restore the corbels which adorn the front of the house to their original dark green glory  That may have to wait until spring now. We have been running back and forth between here and there, while also juggling thread and pattern sales and a quilt commission. The commission deadline is almost here and with luck, the piece will be finished on time. Very soon, life will slow down again as our winter months approach and I do hope to spend more time here on the blog, and in my sewing room.  Even though the house has demanded a lot of our time and we frequently wondered why we bought it... it is quite growing in our hearts, and we are enjoying being there more and more each time we go. It is cosy and charming (and did I mention it has a barn?!?) The best part is that it is two doors away from my sister. :)

Old houses, of course, need quilts...and we certainly have lots of those.  It has been fun to choose which ones to go on the beds (as we acquire beds).  Polly and I have started braiding a mat from our cotton scraps for the downstairs bedroom, with big plans of doing a long runner for the wide boards of the wood floor in the upstairs hall over the winter.  

There have not been many moments to devote to this mat so far, but gosh it has been awesome fun to see it grow, and I have loved every second braiding the strips.  It may be my new thing :) Polly adores laying on it each time we add a braid to two to the outside edge.  She will be kept very busy all winter trying out the new strips on the hall runner!

As many in our area will agree, it has been a rather hollow feeling week here in Amherst with the cancellation of our Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival.  Normally I begin loading up the dining room with workshop boxes as soon as our Thanksgiving dinner is cleared from the table.  Not so this year.
Soon, I will share the piece I am working on (It really isn't fair to show it off before it is delivered).  I expect by then the snow will be falling, and life will return to a more relaxed pace.  I look forward to sharing lots of quilts here again soon.  Thanks for reading, and for keeping me on your blog list.

Saturday, 29 August 2020


 This is Encompassing:

Nautical patterns, especially compasses, hold a special place in my heart.  Far from being difficult to sew,  "Encompassing" has simplified lines of all straight seams, sewn using foundation piecing (no curves). 

Careful colour placement creates a secondary design of stars encircling the compasses. 

The quilt is photographed on the steps of the lighthouse in Five Islands, N.S. 

The pattern for Encompassing has been re-formatted as a pdf download and is available here.

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Braiding A Mat

 These past few months I have had two mandates in my sewing life:  use up stash, and experiment with different weights of Aurifil thread to see what each can do.  One thread in particular I've enjoyed is 28 weight, so when I decided to dig into my scraps to make a rag rug, it was my first choice to use.  My mat is not yet complete (the end is tucked under for the picture) as I am still unsure how large I'd like it to be, but I've got a good handle on the process now.

Polly and I had a great time going through boxes and boxes of fabric scraps (all cotton) to pull colours to include.  The mat will go in a room which has a red and blue quilt on the bed so in addition to those colours, we included grey, black, and a bit of off-white.  We were not too picky about what we used, and you can see some of the prints have yellow and orange.  Having never braided a mat before, I read lots and lots online about how to proceed.  Naturally, there were many different - and sometimes contradictory -suggestions.  Nothing to do but jump in and see what works and what doesn't.  

We decided to tear our strips, and had a ball doing that.  There is something so satisfying about that sharp RIIIIPPPPPP!   Polly loved playing with the braided strips.  

We braided and braided and kept rolling it together to see how big it was getting.  I had no clue how long the braid needed to be.

Finally we decided to start joining.  The online instructions I had read all recommended sewing the braids together by hand.  Ha!  Not this gal.  I was hoping for the mat to be oval so I didn't curl the centre into a circle.  Next time I will make the centre longer before turning the corner, as my mat is only slightly ovate.

The thread I chose for the job is Aurifil 28 weight, heavy enough to be strong yet not too thick that it will show.  The colour is # 2775 Steel Blue. which is now my favourite shade.  It blends so well.
Joining with the machine was no problem at all.  I set the machine to the widest zigzag possible - in this case only 5.5 mm.  If I could have set it wider I would have, as I had to watch carefully to ensure the needle grabbed each side evenly. A 9mm width stitch would be perfect.  The key to joining the strips is to make sure you add the braid in a counter-clockwise direction so that the mat grows to the left side.You also need a totally flat surface so the mat doesn't curl up into a big bowl.
We have used almost a full small spool to join 29 m of braid.
The mat measures 26 "x 28", and will no doubt go at least a big larger.  After this is finished, I will figure out how much yardage was used.  I marked the braids in 3 m increments with a piece of masking tape (you can see the one on the right says 26) and measured the mat after each addition.  A bit of math will be involved
I do know it made a noticeable dent in my scrap pile (yay!) and I can't wait to make another.  With the raw edges and many threads from ripping, this has a rustic look for sure, but it will be perfect in the intended room. 
You can find Aurifil 28 weight - and many other weights - in my online thread store.

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Contact-less Pickup Available


If you are a local, or passing through Amherst while taking advantage of our "Atlantic Bubble", don't forget that we offer contact-less pick-up on Aurifil thread orders. Simply choose "pick-up" at the checkout, and in the comment section let me know when you would like to pick up your thread.I will be in touch with directions. If you prefer to use e-transfer instead of going through the online checkout, kindly email your order and I will send you an invoice. You can see and order all the gorgeous threads here:

We deliver across Canada! 🇨🇦🇨🇦
(Pictured is machine quilting on cotton batiste using very fine 80 weight thread.)

Sunday, 19 July 2020

Adventures in Mask Making: First Draft

Yesterday my friend Cheryl (aka Grandma Coco's Designs) posted these incredibly beautiful, embroidered masks which she makes as a fundraiser for the Lyndhurst Feral Cat Project. Her two-tone masks in particular spoke to me, as I had not considered fancy piecing as mask covers.  When she first shared her progress photos with me a week or so ago, I jokingly told her I should do a New York Beauty one, and she of course said, "great idea - I think you should do it!" That sounded a bit like a challenge...or a I decided to give it a go.

Where to start? In drafting the pattern, I started with the thinking that 4 New York Beauty blocks set together form a circle;  the rounded edge of that quarter circle centre section could form the curve up the nose.  I began by drawing a circle and worked back from there.
Normally, I draw my patterns in EQ8 but I figured flying blind would mean lots of erasing, and easier to do that by hand. It came out looking a bit like a basketball at first...
Once I had the shape, my easy method for adding seam allowances on curved edges is to unthread the machine and stitch with my 1/4" foot.  I did that all the way around my template.
Using my curved ruler, I marked equal divisions on the outer ring and staggered divisions on the inner ring.  With a ruler, I connected the dots to make the NYB spikes. 
Once I had my pattern, I made 3 copies to cut up into a template and a foundation.
With only three spikes, the foundation piecing was quick.  I reached in and pulled Island Batik scraps from a basket as I went, paying no attention to colour at all.
After the foundations were trimmed, I added the curved bottom section. I used my pieced sections as a pattern to cut two pieces of lining from batik, and also one layer of nonwoven interfacing.   In total my mask has 3 layers, two with no needle punctures.
I added a casing to each end to insert the elastic, which made it easy to adjust the length for my mask model. I call her Louise.  Her ears are not in the same place as mine. :)
Granted, you don't really get the effect of a NYB block;  it's more of a diamond pattern across the centre which stands out.
It's really not a bad fit, for either me or Louise, and perhaps a good jumping off point to try again.  Having spent most of my summer with monotonous mask sewing, it made for a nice change of pace.
The nay-sayers will be quick to point out that there are perforations in the mask because of the seams,  and thus not safe to wear.  I will say again that the pieced layer is simply a cover, and that there are two layers underneath this, one of which is non-woven. It was a fun project to challenge my brain.  Thank you, Cheryl, for your continued inspiration! :)

Monday, 25 May 2020

Wholecloth Quilting

A couple of weeks' back I started machine quilting a whole cloth quilt as part of my "self-threaducation" during lockdown.  I have set myself the task of trying out different weights of Aurifil threads in various applications to see how they look. As a dealer for this wonderful product I feel I should not just offer the thread for sale, but actually know how it performs in various applications.
The stitching was a breeze, but getting a good picture has been tricky!
This is a pre-printed kit from Benartex;  on their website it is entitled simply Nautical Wallhanging, but it is labelled as Anchors Aweigh #783 on the package.

I chose to use a 28 weight thread on top, and a 40 weight on the bottom. For the 28 weight (wound on the grey spool) I chose a shade darker than the fabric 2314 Beige, just to give a bit of contrast.  The thread in the bobbin is 40 weight in 2021 Natural White. It was a perfect match to the muslin.

Cross-hatching those straight lines seemed to take forever.  In hind-sight, I should simply have used those lines as grid-marks for a quicker free motion filler.
The anchors and rope borders moved along very quickly.  I had reservations about those lines coming out in the wash, but they did, all in one go.  I hung it on the line to dry.
Since it has a nautical theme, I thought photographing it on the steps of the light house in Five Islands would be smashing.  However, the tide was coming in when we were there and the high tides along this Bay of Fundy coast blow in with great enthusiasm. This small quilt didn't stand a chance of staying flat in those winds!
I tried it in various places, at various times of the day, with variable cloud and sunshine. Here it is in front of our new old barn.

In the end, soft natural light through the window seemed to show the stitching the best.
I am quite enamored with this 28 weight thread and how easily it stitches. You can purchase the thread here.  More colours will be added soon.
 The package calls this a wallhanging, but I think it would make a beautiful, heirloom baby quilt.