Sew Karen-ly Created...

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Tuesday 22 November 2022

Poinsettia Stitchery Kits

With snow on the ground and the neighbourhood decorations going up, it's starting to feel like it's time we get serious with our gift lists.  If you are like me, you want to include something hand made... or hand-makeable.  These small stitcheries work up very quickly, by hand or machine. (Mine are all done on the sewing machine).

A simple poinsettia shape is outline stitched in 12 weight Aurifil thread. You trace the design onto your fabric and layer with batting and backing as you would a quilt.  

Set your regular sewing machine up as for free motion quilting, and use either 40 or 50 weight thread in your bobbin.  For the needle, choose a size 100/16 TOPSTITCH needle, and thread your machine with the 12 weight thread.  It's always good to do a tension test before beginning;  you may need to lower your top tension just a smidge to accommodate the thicker thread. Then just colour on the lines with your thread. It's that simple!

This piece uses 3 colours of 12 weight - yellow, red, and green.  The background stitching is done with regular 50 weight thread.
I've made many of these, some for small candle mats and wall hangings, and some became cushions for Christmas décor.  This would look lovely as well stitched on a Christmas stocking.  Use your imagination!

I am happy to share the pattern, which I am including free of charge in a small kit which includes the three spools of thread and one size 16 needle, packaged in a Christmas  box ready for gifting.

You can find the kits on my website, at this link.  

Thursday 29 September 2022

Quilter's World: Poinsettia Centrepiece

 Sometimes life circles back on itself...

When I started designing quilts professionally, my first submission (back in...cough...1989) was to Quick & Easy Quilting magazine. The pattern was for a set of placemats using Seminole piecing.  Then editor Sandra Hatch accepted the design for publication and contacted me again to ask would I be interested in doing a regular column on that technique? Writing that column (pre-internet, and on my typewriter with hand-drawn piecing diagrams) spanned the next 12 years, and was a wonderful, wonderful learning experience. Eventually, three sister publications merged into a new and revised format, called Quilter's World. One of my designs appeared in the very first issue of Quilter's World, and made the cover for the second issue of the magazine, in Feb 2003.  

I went on to design for Quilter's World for a couple of years (issues shown below) ...leaving only to work on my first book.  And then my second.  And so on, and so on.  

Over Christmas last year, deciding that some of my Christmas linens needed updating, I sketched out a design for a somewhat modern table centrepiece.  It may not be a traditional representation of a poinsettia, but to my eye it's like looking down into the centre of one, with red leaves and a touch of green swirling around.
I knew those reds needed to be vibrant Island Batik, and they graciously sent me lots of these beauties to work with. Thank you, Island Batik. ♥♥♥ These are all from their Basics and Foundations, which are always available. 
With foundation piecing, it went together quickly.

"Birthing" the centrepiece  means there is no binding to deal with, making the finishing super quick.
They are quilted simply, with a leaf outline and pebbling in the centre.
The size makes it usable as a table centrepiece...
...or as placemats. As you can see, I've made several of these now, and they take no time!

I am delighted that Quilter's World still welcomes my designs, and have showcased this one in a newly released special edition called "Merry Quilted Christmas".  
The issue is filled with lots of full sized quilts, as well as smaller gifty projects you can work up in time for the holidays. The magazine is on newstands now (locally I've seen it at Pharmasave and Walmart) or you can purchase it online from Annie's.

Monday 26 September 2022

Hurricane Fiona

Hurricane Fiona made a whirlwind visit to the Maritimes on the weekend, and has certainly left an impression wherever she visited.  Here in Amherst, N.S. we got off rather lucky, our area of town in particular.  
We lost power during the night as the storm raged; the winds were wicked.  Before stepping outside to assess damage in the morning, we were greeted with this odd view from a kitchen window.  There were leaves covering everything!
 Even the house was plastered!

There were several large trees down on our street, including this one which fell across the road.

We spent the day getting the new invertor generator connected to the essentials in the house.  I am happy to say it worked wonderfully, and by the end of the day - miraculously! - Nova Scotia Power had our electricity restored. Yay! It took another day to get internet but we are far from complaining, as most of our town and province are still without power, and will be for several days yet.
Yesterday we took a drive along the Parrsboro shore, all the way to Truro.  The damage is widespread, with many trees on power lines, roof shingles and siding missing, and some sheds overturned.  This scene in Great Village, of the former United Church, is particularly sad.
This huge picturesque church stands at the centre of the village.  We understand that crews are working now to safely remove the steeple.

The closer we got to Truro, the more pronounced the damage.  Many streets were blocked by trees. (This is Smith Avenue).
Arlington Place
If you look closely at the below Victoria Street scene, you can just make out a car buried under this tree.
Roosevelt Avenue

Back in Amherst, the damage to large, older trees is significant.
We understand power crews from New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, and Maine are helping with the restoration of power to our province.  Warming stations have opened up in most communities to offer hot tea and a place to charge devices.  We witnessed long, long line-ups at the few gas stations that are open. This picture was taken this morning.
We feel so very blessed to have not suffered any damage from the storm, and our fingers are crossed that "normal" will be restored quickly.  

Monday 29 August 2022

Carol's Endangered Species


Drumroll, please! If you follow my page, you know that Sew Karenly Created has participated as a dealer for the Aurifil Color Builder program for the past 2 years. Last year, the BOM patterns which accompanied the thread were designed by Cassandra Beaver of "The Not so Dramatic Life.". One of my subscribers was Carol Jackson from Pictou Co., N.S. I know that Carol really enjoyed the program, especially the quilting videos by Holly Anne Knight of String and Story, so much so in fact that she was one of the first to sign up again this year. Carol is loving building her awesome aurifilthread stash!
Carol shared this picture of her finished quilt, and wrote: “Here I am with my quilt. I think you can tell I’m pretty happy. It is my first free motion quilt, as well as quilt as you go. A lot of new things experienced during this time. Lots of beautiful Aurifil thread used. Lots of enjoyable back and forth with you. It has been an amazing experience. I am going to enter it in our local exhibition. Maybe I’ll win a prize."
I think you've already won, Carol! 😊 Sincere congratulations on this accomplishment. Can't wait to see your Flora quilt from this year's program!!

Saturday 6 August 2022


 For the final day of this year's Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival I've filled the line with socks!

There is nothing that feels better on your feet than a pair of homemade wool socks! Here are some beauties made mostly by others, but some by me (I've given away most of the ones I've made!). On the left, these fancy colourful socks were knitted by Beth Munroe of Mrs Pugsley's Emporium Inc, a woman of many talents! The next two pairs were made by Lou Harrington, who is seldom without a pair of needles in her hands. The red ones with the tulip embroidered on the heels are the best socks I've ever worn, and sadly they are showing how much I've enjoyed them. Next to Lou's teal pair are a trio made for hubby by family members. His sister Fay did the variegated spiral socks, and his Mom made him (and everyone!) a pair of fine wool cable socks every Christmas. If you zoom in you can see where he has darned the heels and toes on one pair. (Imagine: a man who darns his own socks!!) The next 4 pairs were knitted by my Mom, the smaller ones for the boys and the red toed ones for me. When she finally had to hang up her needles, I knit her the natural coloured ones to wear in bed to keep her feet warm. The final 3 pairs on the right are also made by me, the heavy wool socks for hubby's curling shoes. And yes...there are needles sticking out of the pair on the right as they are NOT QUITE finished yet! (Second sock syndrome is real.)
I hope you have enjoyed the clothesline fibre art show this week, and have been posting your own projects!

Friday 5 August 2022

Miniature Quilts

 It was fun to hang out these miniature quilts as part of the Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival "Hang Out" days.

L-R, a mini heart log cabin, and a daffodil stitched as a test block for a larger quilt. Third from the left is a miniature version of Maritime Beauty, the class I am teaching today. I think the blocks are 2". The colourful one is made from silk shirts purchased at Frenchy's, and the red and white is a mini version of X and O. The Amish nine-patch is from my early days, as it's hand quilted. The beauty on the right is an exquisite piece made by my exchange partner Terry McCloskey in 2018. We took part in an International Miniature Quilt Exchange organized by The Quilt Show. Terry's quilt is all hand-pieced and quilted with tiny stitches, and features the most perfect mitred corners I've seen. I admire Terry's workmanship a great deal.

Thursday 4 August 2022


Today the clothesline is filled with hand made mittens. Frankly, I've never quite gotten the hang of gloves, so we have lots of mittens in the bin to choose from on cold winter mornings. These are from an assortment of makers. On the far left are a pair of stranded Lopi mittens I knitted for my now-hubby when we were courting. (He says that's why he married me.) The white ones next to those are also made from Lopi yarn, but I made those for myself so there is no fancy pattern to them! The three pairs of honeycomb mittens were made by my Mom, as were the plain green and beige pair. The green trigger mitts were knit by my mother-in-law Myrna for my hubby. The trigger he used was the shutter on his camera. The bright red mittens are felted wool, made by my SIL Fay, and the pale blue are "tube mittens" by my friend Jill in Fredericton Junction. The yellow and gold thrum mittens were made by our Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival coordinator Lynn Bourgeois many winters ago. Lynn, you can see how much I have worn those mittens - they are my first choice on the coldest mornings. I believe these mittens were the result of a course taught by Sally Austin that Lynn took at a Fibre Arts Festival several years back. And the mitts on the right...well, good golly Miss Polly, those are an original by Cheryl of Grandma Coco Designs. I confess I saved them for "good" the first couple of winters I had them, but I soon discovered how comfy they are , and how well they wash.

I love how makers share their special talents and there's always a story connected to each piece.

Wednesday 3 August 2022

I Hung Out My Aprons For The Festival!

 My clothesline today features hand made aprons...which you can see are all well loved and well used!

From left to right in the top picture is one given to me by Diane Shink .It was made in Ghana, and is lined with a flour sack.

The blue and pink aprons were both gifted to me on my first Christmas as a married woman (the blue one was made by Mom, who preferred a half-apron, and the pink over-the-head one by my mother-in-law Myrna. I guess both of them figured (correctly, as it turns out) that I would be a messy cook.) The next two were made by my sons in their Grade 7 Home Economics classes. Peter's features a Sponge Bob Square Pants print, and Patrick's plain green one has his name written boldly with marker across the pocket. I don't know how either of them passed this class!

The white apron on the far right is a real treasure which my Mom entrusted to me. It was made by my great-grandmother (Mrs Davie (Christina) Patterson) in her church sewing circle and the fine threads and fabric mean it was her "dress" apron.

The apron was passed to my Gram, and I remember Gram showing it to me when I was little, along with the picture of the Ladies Aid. She said that her mother was wearing the apron at the time of the picture, but the photographer made the women in the front row remove their aprons. You can see some in the back row still wearing theirs.

As much as I would have loved her to be wearing the apron in this photo, at least it gives the date of 1912 so I know it's at least that old.

Tuesday 2 August 2022

The First Day of the Festival!

It's the first day of the Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival and we are "hanging out" with the rest of the town to show off our fibre arts. This Global Warming quilt is so big it had a bit of a conflict clearing hubby's tomatoes (!). You can see my helper Polly supervising from the deck.

My clothesline isn't really visible from the street, so I decided to add a few quilts out front as well.

Because there is rain expected, I've hung a few small ones in the front windows.

There's even a miniature on the mailbox!

The Festival is encouraging everyone in Amherst to get involved and show off their fibre art - mittens, socks, tea towels - anything hand made.