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 "Meadow Song"; you can download the pattern here.
Comments are always appreciated, simply click the word "comments" at the end of each post to leave your message. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

I Like My Eggs Over Easy

As a firm, no-nonsense believer in the seriousness of having fun, I do not think that everything we make as quilters needs to be an heirloom, nor cause us stress in our endless quest for perfection. Our projects do not need always to be eggstravagant or eggsotic…or leave us eggshausted, trying to get things finished on time. With Good Friday only three days away, I suddenly decided I wanted some colourful placemats to help eggspress my inner child at Easter. In the wink of an eye, these super quick and ineggspensive eggs can become an eggsquisite part of your Easter décor – as placemats, a centerpiece, or even as a hanging on your front door. The"ran out of time" eggscuse will not work here. Being such a good egg, I will share the process with you.

Overeasy Eggs

Finished Size: 12-1/2” x 16”
Materials Required:
Background (yellow) 14” x 17”
Strips of assorted widths of pink, mauve, blue and purple at least 13-1/2” long
Freezer paper 14” x 17”
Fusible Batting 14” x 17”
Backing 14” x 17”
Approximately 8” Paper backed fusible webbing (like Steam A Seam or Wonder Under)
Decorative embroidery threads
Sewing and quilting threads to match
1/4” seam allowance used throughout

Directions: An oval is not the easiest shape to draw and in the spirit of keeping this easy, look around your house for a shape to trace. I eggspect you will find a platter in your kitchen which will be an eggceptable shape. Trace around your platter on freezer paper. I decided my oval was not large enough, so I borrowed hubby’s compass and used a trick I learned from my woodworking assistant days. This is known as scribing a line with a set of points and is an easy way to install a set of kitchen cupboards…or enlarge an odd shape such as we have here. Basically, you put the point of the compass on the line you are duplicating, set your pencil the desired distance from it, and follow the point along your original drawn line. I ended up with an oval measuring 13” x 16-1/2”. Yours does not have to be cut to this eggsact size. Immediately take the compass back to the basement and put it in the eggsact spot you found it – otherwise, there will be shell to pay...
Iron your freezer paper pattern to the wrong side of your background fabric; cut out with scissors.
Gather your strips (assorted widths, 1” to 4”) and iron fusible paper-backed web to the wrong side of the strips. This is the spot where I ran into trouble, having cleaned out my large supply of scraps only a few weeks ago. The yolk was on me when I went to find Easter pastels...
If you have decorative edge blades for your rotary cutter, this is a great time to try them out. I used both the Wave, and the Scallop and Peak. If you don't have such blades, pink the edges of your strips using pinking shears or cut a free hand curved edge with your scissors. If the thought of that eggsassperates you, cut straight strips and sew rickrack along the edge. The quilt police are not watching; as you read further along in this post you'll see how I know they are not at your house today.
Fuse strips in place on your background. Remove freezer paper from the back of your egg. The freezer paper shape may be re-used for additional placemats. Iron fusible fleece to the wrong side of your egg. Trim off any eggstra around the edges. If you are not using fusible batting, pin baste regular batting underneath your project. The batting is added at this point to act as a stabilizer for the stitching you are about to add. This saves the additional work (and eggsspence) of tear-away stabilizer.
This is the really fun part. Choose some pretty decorative threads and select some built-in stitches on your machine. I chose designs with flowers and leaves. Eggsperiment with stitches you've never used before. I stitched along the edges of the strips as well as down the middle.
The guide bar comes in handy to keep your rows of stitching eggsactly straight.
Layer stitched top on the backing, right sides together. Note that this project is “birthed” rather than bound. I do not cut the backing to fit at this point, but leave it as is to be trimmed after stitching. Stitch around outside edge, leaving a 6" opening for turning. Here's a little tip to make the turning process a little neater on the opening edge: when you begin stitching this seam, sew from the outside edge in 1/4" then turn to sew the seam. At the end of your stitching, stop, turn your work, and sew to the edge of the piece. This will make the edges on the opening turn in more easily. This shows the end of the seam:
Here you can see the beginning and the end, both stitched off the edge of the seam allowance.
Trim backing fabric on your egg to shape. Turn to right side through opening. Use a blunt instrument to run along the inside seam line to make it lie flat, such as a letter opener or a chopstick. Press well from the front. Pin open edges together and close with hand stitches.
Pin baste your egg and quilt as desired. I used a serpentine stitch and the walking foot to quilt wavy lines across the egg.
If your egg will be used as a placemat, you can eggshale - you're done. If you are going to hang it on a wall or door, embellishments such as buttons or yo-yo's as in the eggsample below may be added.
Need a quick hanger for the back of your project and no time to sew a sleeve? A large safety pin is an easy solution to hang on a nail (that's how I know the quilt police are not at your house - their sirens are blaring outside mine :)
This project, start to finish, took about an hour - no eggsaggeration. Isn't this eggsciting?
This is my grandmother's egg cup, and the eggs were lovingly decorated by small hands many years ago. If you make some of these Over Easy Eggs, please send pictures to share with us. It's all part of the fun.

Friday, 26 March 2010

There was GSR on my BSR...

You will only get that very clever (!) title if you are a fan of murder mysteries or crime shows, and sew on a Bernina. Any hands up in the air besides mine? No? Well, in layman terms...I quilted today, and it was s-m-o-k-i-n'... What fun!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

FanSea FantaSea

It is a real honour for me to post the picture of this beautiful quilt stitched by Patricia Saklas of New Jersey. This is Patricia’s nautical interpretation of my Beauty of Christmas design. Entitled FanSea FantaSea, it has been juried into the AQS show in Lancaster, PA which opens today. If you click the picture to enlarge, you can see Pat’s extensive- and exquisite - quilting. The show in Lancaster runs from March 24th to 27th.
It is no small accomplishment to have a piece accepted into an AQS show, and Pat is a semifinalist in this contest. Congratulations and well wishes may be left here for Patricia to receive by clicking “comments” at the bottom of this posting; I will make sure they are forwarded to her. Best of luck, Patricia!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Swollen Hives

Because of the mild spring weather, we decided yesterday to begin to remove some of the winter wrappings from the bee hives. This is much earlier than we've done in past years. When we arrived in the beeyard, we were greeted with the sight of many bees flying around, which is a very good sign. Can you see them in front of the hives? There is an opening near the bottom where they can enter and exit.When we removed the insulation covering the top of the first hive, we were pleasantly surprised to see how active they have been. This is burr comb, a wax comb that the bees build willy-nilly when there is space available to do so.
The bees have wintered extremely well; it was wonderful to see such numbers this early in the season.
They seem to be enjoying crawling through the tunnels in the burr comb:
Here I am holding up the hive cover so you can see the bees "bridging" (hanging in a line) which is a sign of a happy colony. There were also no agressive bees dive bombing us (and thus no stings) which is also a sign of contentment.
Our mild Nova Scotia winter has been kind on the bee colony; now we need to keep careful watch that they have enough food to sustain them until the first blossoms appear.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

National Quilt Day

Today is a special day for quilters, one especially set aside in our honour! I've even heard rumours that husbands pitch in to cook...do you suppose?!
I am working on a couple of very different projects and enjoying both. I am at the appliqué stage on "With Glowing Hearts", adding bias stems to the maple leaves:


This is mock hand appliqué by machine, using invisible thread and a blind stitch. It moves along quickly, and looks like hand work when done.I also am finishing up the New York Beauty blocks in Fossil Fern. Using the Benartex fabric foundations has made piecing these blocks very quick and easy. As I am stitching them together, I am dreaming about how to quilt them - I already have the block layout determined.
What's on your sewing table today?

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Blessings, Irish and Otherwise

May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.
Amid St. Patrick's Day corned beef and cabbage and the fun recitation of traditional Irish Blessings, I paused to take stock of other blessings in my everyday life as a quilter. Certainly the Bernina 440 QE is one - a HUGE one - which I appreciate more each day as my admiration for this machine grows and grows. I also appreciate how available the Bernina Lady is to answer all of my many questions. As I sew, I email pictures of my work to my sister Nancy who often writes back, "very nice...but did you know you have a block upside down?" I, of course, write back defensively: "I meant to do it that way - it's the design"...then quickly right the offending block. Thanks, Nan. Another blessing is Lynn Bourgeois whom I have come to depend upon for clear, honest and thorough checking of my patterns before they go to print. If you have ever tried to write instructions for something you've made from scratch you will know how easy it is write down the wrong measurement while your head is elsewhere (as mine often is...), or even simply type it incorrectly while hurrying to meet a deadline. Just think of the difference the omission of one character can make in cutting your squares if one were to write "12" instead of "1/2" ! Because of Lynn, readers making the Meadow Song quilt from Quilter's Connection know to make the correct number of HST's to complete their quilt top.

Thank you Lynn for all the behind-the-scenes help you provide. I appreciate your unsung assistance and support a great deal.

Are you up for checking two more? :)

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Benartex Art Kit

The UPS man has just left this gorgeous box of fabrics at my door, generously supplied by Benartex Fabrics.
Remember being back in elementary school and each September we would get an amazing new box of crayons? They were so perfect looking in their box. I always admired them for the longest time just as they were before disturbing that perfect display of colour. Then I would carefully reach in and remove one, examine it thoroughly, and just as carefully replace it in its original position of honour. It felt just like that today, only with a crayon box full of glorious fabric.
Along with these 100 Fossil Fern Fat Quarters, came printed fabric New York Beauty foundations. My favourite block, my favourite method to piece the spikes - and no messy removal of paper afterwards.
Not only do I have new crayons...I have colouring book pages too. What fun!

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Dark Beauties

Gail over at Quilt, Knit, Run, Sew is working on my Maritime Beauty pattern in gorgeous batiks. She has chosen a black background for under the spikes and I dug out the above picture as a bit of inspiration. While looking through the picture files, I found several other "Beauties" pieced on dark backgrounds and decided I would post a few of these also. This one is done mostly on purples and uses a variety of New York Beauty blocks.
Here's a section of one using the same block as in Maritime Beauty. "Calliope" made use of lots of scraps; the only thing kept constant was the same background colour carried through each spike section:
Here's the whole quilt; you can see where that black block fits at the bottom right. "Calliope" was a lot of fun to make and is equally fun to display. If you have the Maritime Beauty pattern, you can easily turn it into one like this.
Today is a snowstorm here in Cumberland County, N.S. and all schools are closed. I am working away on the project from my previous post. The 136, 1-1/2" HST's are pieced and in the process of being joined into rows. I used the same method for making these HST's as in the Meadow Song quilt so they stitched up quickly. With luck (and no interruptions!) I should be ready to start adding the border tomorrow.
Skip over to Gail's blog and check out her progress. Make sure you tell her that Karen sent you :)

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Visions of Quilt Plums...

Did you ever see a completely finished quilt flash before your eyes...right down to the border design...sewn from fabrics you happen to have tucked away in your stash? It does happen. I couldn't get to my sewing room fast enough yesterday.
Trust me on the colours - they all work...at least in my head.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Gold!

It doesn't get any more exciting than this for an Olympic Gold medal: an overtime goal scored by Nova Scotia's own Sidney Crosby. Canada earned a total of 14 Gold medals at this game, a world record for most gold at a winter Olympics.