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. The picture above shows Red Work Strippy from the book Canadian Heritage Quilting. It is available on my website. Comments are always appreciated, simply click the word "comments" at the end of each post to leave your message. Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Sew Many Santas!

Pictures of the Simply Santa Table Runner have been arriving and I've been slow to get them posted, so here's a whole bunch at once for you to enjoy.
The first 3 are by Beth (aka Mrs. P) and all reflect her thinking-outside-the-box approach to...well, everything!  This first one is stitched from a new Moda collection named Atelier.  It gives Santa a much dressier garb than plain old red and black.  Very classy. 

Next she used jazzy Christmas prints for Santa's attire.  Love it!

And then she gave up on piecing the belt and just used a plain strip in the centre. Bah, Humbug...err, I mean BEAUTIFUL! :)
Elizabeth O'Donoghue followed suit and came up with 3 beautiful plain ones of her own.  This one is on its way to Sweden to enjoy Christmas with friends there.
Because she is a musician, Elizabeth refers to this one as, "Variation On A Theme in G Major".
 Fabulous work, Elizabeth! (try adding a buckle next time :)
Shari Guitard of Amherst chose a fabulous group of fabrics for her runner.  I love the plaid she used in the buckle.

Marie Withrow, from the U.S., stitched a couple of traditional red, black and white runners.  She was happy with how quickly these stitched up.
As for me...I found these kitschy salt and pepper shakers shaped like Santa's boots at Super Store so I am including a set with each runner I gift.  
Thanks Beth, Marie,Shari, and Elizabeth for sharing these pictures.  The Simply Santa Table Runner pattern is available as an instant download here.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Santa Baby: Ornament Tutorial

I think I may have mentioned a time or two my love for all things Santa. A few years ago when my boys were young, I made these Santa ornaments as a bit of nonsense to hang on the tree.  Pictures of the boys were printed on inkjet fabric sheets and a little sheep's wool was added for the beard.They were a big hit and I ended up making quite a few as gifts for friends (with pictures of their own kids I mean, not mine!) All good fun.
I haven't made any for some years, but now my sister has a grand baby and I figured she would love one. (Nancy, if you are reading this:  stop now and come back after Christmas!)  In this post I will share directions for the ornament, the full sized foundation, and instructions on how you can personalize it for a special child.

The original block had been drawn in EQ2 I think, and those files are long gone from my archives so I redrew it in EQ7, eliminating several patches to simplify the piecing.  It's pretty close to the original...even improved, as it allows a  bit more space for the face. It's simple to foundation piece.

Santa Baby Ornament
Finished Size:  8" high x 4" wide                             1/4" seam allowance used throughout
Materials Required
Close up digital picture of a cute baby (about 1-1/2" square) 
Scraps of red, white and black fabric 
Backing fabric 8-1/2" x 5"
An inkjet printer sheet (and a printer!)
A small amount of fibrefill for stuffing
Small amount of wool for beard (you could even use a bit of the fibrefill stuffing)
Sewing thread
8" piece of floss (or narrow ribbon) for hanging
hand needle (for sewing the opening closed).
Rotary cutter and mat
Sewing machine
Hot melt glue gun

First, download the foundation. Please note that when you go to print the pdf, you must have the box checked which says ACTUAL SIZE, 100%,  otherwise your templates will not print correctly.

Find an appropriate picture to use for Santa Baby's face.Wanting to keep this a surprise and not tip my hand, I nonchalantly asked for a close-up picture of  Taylor.  Here's what I got...adorable, but not exactly my idea of a close up!
I cropped in close to her face in Photoshop so that the image was more-or-less square.  (Oh, this is going to be so cute with those chubby cheeks and that little tongue sticking out!)
I inserted the photo into a word processing program.  Unsure of which size would look best in the design, I formatted it in 3 sizes.  In the end, the 3.75 cm x 3.75 cm  (1-1/2") size in the middle row below worked best.
The images were printed on inkjet printable fabric sheets (available at Mrs. Pugsley's) and trimmed 1/4" past the edge of the photo on all sides.
 The photo goes in the #1 spot in the foundation, with the wrong side of the photo facing the wrong side of the paper. (i.e. the printed size is facing you and the picture is facing away from you on the back of the paper.)
 It helps to hold it up to the window to get it properly placed;  you want at least 1/4" extending past all the lines.  When you are happy with the placement, secure with a pin. (Note:  I moved it up 1/4" after this picture was taken before sewing;  it was hard to get the fabric in the right spot while taking this picture.)
From here on in, follow the numbers until your foundation is complete. If you are not familiar with foundation piecing, a Google search should bring you lots of help.  Trim with your rotary cutter on the outside lines.
 Place your pieced foundation right sides together with your backing fabric and stitch around the outside lines, leaving an opening to turn along one side.  You can see I didn't cut my backing to size,I stitched and trimmed in one step.  At this point, carefully remove your paper foundation. Clip your corners and turn right side out through the opening.
Just try to stop smiling as you stuff your Santa Baby with fibre fill, and stitch the opening closed with hand stitches.
 They look like a line of Rockettes :)
I debated about this next part, since this is a little girl, but in the end...Santa Baby really needed a beard.  I washed some wool which came from a nearby farm in Nappan, heated up the glue gun, and put on a dab to hold the wool in place.
I used red embroidery floss as a hanger, just stitching a loop to the back.

There is one for Taylor's Mom, and one for each set of grandparents: a fun keepsake for baby's first Christmas.
 Enjoy! If you make some, I sure hope you'll share a picture with us.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Fruit Smoothie

I've added another pattern to the line-up of instant downloads through Craftsy.  It happens to be one of my all time favourites:  Fruit Smoothie  If you are a batik lover - like me - you'll appreciate the movement these fabrics bring to the table.  It makes a stunning centrepiece as shown here on a 42" round table... but honestly that's not how I use my quilt. (Don't you love that pitcher - it was a birthday gift from my Mom one year.)

Mine is hung on the wall and I love the pop of colour it adds to the room.  The pattern includes simple directions on how to hang this odd-shaped quilt - easier than you think.
 (Just to prove it is actually hanging, here it is shown on the wall next to the china cabinet!)

The quilt is easier than you suspect, using just one block and a very gentle curve.  You can download the pattern for Fruit Smoothie here at Craftsy, or order a print copy the old-fashioned way through my website.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Subtle Changes

Change is inevitable.
This month will see the end of my website being hosted by Sympatico, who have decided to discontinue the service.  To me, this has meant a bit of scrambling to find a new host and get my files uploaded there, but to you all it means is that my address is now:  Please update your bookmarks. Nothing else has changed, email remains the same.

My website has been up since 1993 and I honestly believe it makes me the longest running quilt website in Canada. There were others at the time of course, but they have long since gone. Building that first website continues to be a favourite memory; while very pregnant, I purchased a book entitled "How To Build A Website" and tackled basic html coding.  What a rush when I uploaded the first page for the whole world to see!  The background looked like crinkled paper and I thought it was the bomb. It took about 3 months for me to figure out why my pictures showed up fine in Internet Explorer but appeared as those dreaded red "X's" in Netscape (remember Netscape?) I finally clued in that the browser could not read capital letters, and of course as a former English teacher...I always began things with a capital letter!  Once all my files were renamed in lower case letters and uploaded to the server the issue was resolved.  That was another huge feeling of accomplishment.

Moving over to the new host was fairly straightforward, although it did require figuring out how to park a domain as I also purchased  I love the challenge of learning to do these things for myself. It's the same sense of "I did it!" that comes from finishing a quilt.

Sincere thanks to Kate from Arts and Socks for her recommendation of a new trustworthy host.
(Oh...and the picture was taken on a very, very icy Lynn Road on Saturday!)

Friday, 28 November 2014

Filling the Santa Sack

Yesterday the reindeer picked up the parcel to deliver to the boys. (Those icy, snow-covered roads were no deterrent to Santa's magical flying creatures!)
The bags were filled with an assortment of tasty/useful/useless items including these rice bag hand warmers.  This idea came to me last Saturday while waiting in the cold for our Christmas parade - wish I'd had some then!  To make the hand warmers, I cut 2 pairs of 3-1/2" squares of cotton...
 ...and filled them with 1/4 cup of long grain white rice. 15-20 seconds in the microwave is all it takes to make these toasty hot.

The Avery site has lots of label templates and I chose some festive ones to jazz up the presentation.  
To accompany these, I also stitched full-sized rice bags from a scrap of flannelette from the stash.  I cut the fabric into 8-1/2" x 11" rectangles.
To make them all the same but different- so they could tell them apart- I stitched their initial on each. To do this, I enlarged Curl font  in WORD to size 200 and traced the letters onto the fabric.  With a piece of tear-away stabilizer under the fabric, the letters were free motion stitched using cotton thread.  It only took a few minutes to do each one.
They were filled with 4-1/2 cups of rice each. Not fancy by any means, but quick and easy - and very useful.  There are full directions for patchwork rice bags here if you'd like to try one.
The bags also contained microwave popcorn, silly putty, fruit snacks,toiletries, gold-fish crackers, cans of silly string and, of course, chocolate.
I found these perfect print-ready tags online, and used a "Saint Nicholas" font to add their names, and a few details about that naughty or nice business.
The pattern for the Santa Bags may be found  here and the tags are at  Brooklyn Limestone.
The parcel also went with an advent calendar, containers of Christmas baking, and adorable Baby Bel cheeses with Christmas motifs. It arrived around suppertime and to say the boys had fun is an understatement;  a text message and a dozen or so happy emails is testament to that. Exams start next week and hopefully there will be a cookie or two left to nibble on during late nights of studying. In the end, it wouldn't matter what was sent because ultimately those bags were simply filled with love and a reminder of home -whether it be Amherst, Inverness or Ottawa- and family...which is what Christmas is all about.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Sew A Santa Sack

Have you looked at your calendar?  A month from today will be Christmas!!  I love doing fun, silly things to celebrate the holidays.
You may recall that last year I made 5 Christmas stockings for my university son and his room mates and had a great time stuffing them with goodies for them to enjoy during exam time.
The boys absolutely loved the stockings, and having their name free motion embroidered was a special treat.
This year that son is in a smaller apartment, with fewer roommates. I didn't want to repeat the stocking idea so decided instead to make Santa sacks. These bags are a good size - 12" x 16" -and made to last many Christmases. They are fully lined, and have an easy drawstring casing (no buttonholes to make!) I made three in an afternoon and liked them so much that I decided to write up a pattern. My good friend Cheryl, aka Grandma CoCo, worked her magic quickly in checking the instructions for clarity and errors.   If you'd like to make your own, you can download the pattern here on Craftsy.

I think these would be a fun idea for a grandparent who doesn't get to spend Christmas morning with their grandchild. They could place a special gift from Santa for the child, left under their tree. 

For sure I will be making one of these for my sister and brother-in-law for their new grand baby.
In a post soon I will share some of the things I put in these Santa sacks for the boys. (Hmmm...maybe I should have named them Mrs Santa sacks!)
EDIT:Not two hours after she downloaded the pattern, Jeanne Kay Speight has hers all made!!
It's fabulous, Jeanne Kaye...but I have to wonder...what's in your coffee?!?  Wow, you are fast! Thanks so much for sharing the picture.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

An Update On The New Book

Many of you have been asking when the book will be arriving and believe me, no one wants it more than me!  It's like the last few weeks of a pregnancy where you just want that baby in your hands. Patience isn't always easy.  The original release date was October 7 and obviously that didn't happen...but for a very good reason.  The editors at AQS decided that it would be a wonderful thing to include a CD of templates with the book so that you can print your own at home full-sized, instead of trucking out to get things photocopied and enlarged.  Honestly, I love the idea...but it has added a bit of time to the project.
It is imperative that these templates are perfect - it is patchwork after all, and the pieces HAVE to fit together with exact precision.  It takes checking, rechecking, and RECHECKING by many individuals before we get the go ahead.  I am part of the checking process, and I am really happy that AQS is being so diligent in their work. This is not a place to make mistakes.
The book part is done - and beautifully done I must say.  The piecing diagrams are incredibly well drawn, I could not be more pleased, and I want this CD of templates to be perfect too.  It will take a bit longer, but the wait will be worth it.  Thank you for your patience (I am working on mine :))