September 29, 2018

Friendship Galaxy Skinny Mini - September Island Batik Challenge

Note, the fabrics for this project were given to me by Island Batik as part of their ambassador program.

It's time to share my September Island Batik challenge project and it's definitely a favourite of mine 😊 It all started with the challenge theme - "Star Struck." Oh, there are so many possibilities with that theme, aren't there? I've always loved star blocks of all sorts, so coming up with a quilt to make that included stars would not be difficult.

I decided to make the skinny mini size from my Friendship Galaxy pattern. Of all my patterns, this is the one I've used most. I've made two of the baby quilt size (here and here) and another of the skinny mini quilts. Here's my Island Batik version.
Friendship Galaxy mini quilt |

Friendship Galaxy mini quilt |
I enjoyed taking this mini quilt for a walk on the trail this afternoon and seeing the beautiful fall colours that are just starting to appear.
Friendship Galaxy mini quilt |
This time around I chose to use only one fabric for the background, a beautiful mottled cream. For the stars, I used a deep marbled teal for the smallest friendship stars and a leafy print for the larger stars.

The shapes in the leafy print inspired this leafy quilting design, done in Aurifil 2311. It was very meditative filling all the negative space with different sized leaves, facing all directions.
Friendship Galaxy mini quilt |
Usually when I'm quilting the negative space with one design, I try to fill tiny areas of negative space with the same design, but sometimes it's hard to make it work on such a small scale. So, in the spaces around the small stars, I decided to just echo around the stars, which filled the space nicely and was much simpler to quilt, too. Win, win!
Friendship Galaxy mini quilt |
The small stars got some quick elongated swirls, which I love. Aurifil 5006 is a fair bit lighter than the teal batik, but it was the best match I had on hand. Plus, I like the contrast.

The larger stars got this quick point-to-point design, which is one of my go-to designs for triangles (and sometimes squares).
Friendship Galaxy mini quilt |

Friendship Galaxy mini quilt |
Once all of that quilting was done, I realized I didn't have enough thread left for the alternating back and forth lines I had been planning in the border rectangles. Turns out, I did those back and forth lines on the first skinny mini quilt, too. I decided to try some organic wavy lines instead, letting them cross willy-nilly.
Friendship Galaxy mini quilt |
I quilted three wavy, criss-crossing, lines and then put on the binding, but it didn't look like quite enough quilting in the border, so I went back and added one more wavy line. I didn't have enough of the 5006 to wind another bobbin, though, so I used 2311 in the bobbin for the last line.

Truth be told, I'm not 100% happy with the wavy lines. They're more messy looking than I really wanted them to be, which I guess comes from their organic nature. Maybe if there were more of them, in a larger space, I'd be happier with them, so I'll have to give them another try sometime where I have room for more lines.

As always, I love how the quilting looks on the back, where I used another pretty cream batik.
Friendship Galaxy mini quilt |
Friendship Galaxy mini quilt |
Playing with these Island Batik fabrics and challenges each month is a lot of fun! I have my October quilt top finished, so now I just need to decide how I'm going to quilt it. I'm already planning things for November and December, too, though I haven't fully settled on those projects yet. The planning is all part of the fun 😊
Friendship Galaxy mini quilt |
If you want to make your own skinny mini Friendship Galaxy quilt (or one of the other three sizes), you can get your copy of the pattern in my Etsy shop.
Friendship Galaxy mini quilt |

September 24, 2018

Prep Work

Devotion for the Week...

Whenever I start a new quilt I'm anxious to get to the part where I'm sewing the blocks together, but there's a certain amount of prep work that needs to be done first. I prewash my fabrics, so that's the first step, followed by ironing all of those freshly washed fabrics and then I can start cutting. Taking those larger pieces and cutting them into the necessary units is an fun step, too, but it's nothing compared to the magic of assembling the first block.

Of course, if the quilt I'm starting is one of my own designs, then the prep work starts even sooner, when I finalize the block sizes and the finished quilt size. I also have to figure out what pieces need to be cut and make sure that I have all of the measurements right, making notes as I go. That usually means making one test block before cutting everything out for the whole quilt, just to be sure I didn't make a mistake somewhere along the line.

Lots of projects involve prep work. Painting a room requires taping around the mouldings, etc. Cooking a meal involves making sure we have all the ingredients and cutting them up as needed. Sometimes we get impatient with the prep work that needs to be done before we can tackle the thing we want to be doing, but the end results are always better if we do the work that needs to be done first.

Sometimes we get impatient with God, too, but you can be sure there is prep work involved in His projects on this earth. I'll never forget the time I heard Chuck Swindoll, of Insight for Living, giving a message about the birth of Jesus and he said something like, "God made it so the emperor of Rome was having financial difficulties and ordered a census so he could properly tax his people, which meant Mary and Joseph had to go to Bethlehem." I had never thought before about why Augustus needed to take the census mentioned in Luke 2, or even that God had a hand in making the census happen. God was working there, getting everything in place for Jesus to be born in the way that would fulfill all of the prophecies about Him.

And look at Priscilla and Aquila, a couple of believers Paul met in Corinth, who hosted him in their home. The couple "had left Italy when Claudius Caesar deported all Jews from Rome" (Acts 18:2). Priscilla and Aquila opened their home for church meetings (1 Corinthians 16:19) and who knows how many people they taught about Jesus, all because the emperor forced them to leave their home and move elsewhere. How many others also left Rome and taught about Jesus in their new homes? How much slower would the gospel have spread around the region if those believers had all stayed in Rome rather than spreading out? It's another example of God using the emperor of Rome to make things ready for His work.

Peter wrote, "I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, 'What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.'"(2 Peter 3:3,4). But Peter also said, "The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent" (v. 9). We can't know what prep work He is doing to get ready for when Jesus will come back, but we can be sure He hasn't forgotten about His promise. We can be sure that the day will come and that when Jesus does return, everything will be exactly as it needs to be for God's plan.
Weekly devotions on Christian living |
Are there things you're waiting on God for? Prayers you've been praying for what feels like forever and there's no answer yet? Maybe there's some prep work that needs to be done first and the answer will only come after that work is done. We may not recognize His prep work for what it is while we're waiting. It's only when we can look back that we see what God has done to make things ready, both in our situations and in us, for what He wants to do for us and through us.

But whether we see it or not, we can rest assured that God is always working, doing everything that needs to be done to put His perfect plans into motion.

September 21, 2018

Love Birds pattern updated

I'm working on getting my patterns printed so they can be stocked by quilt shops, which has been such a big learning curve for me. Of course, when I don't know how to do something, I tend to procrastinate on it for ages, so I've been wanting to do this for a loooong time, but I'm finally getting it done. We'll just focus on that, okay?
Love Birds quilt pattern |
Love Birds is the first pattern I'll be having printed and to get it ready I expanded the pattern to add baby (48" x 48") and throw size (60" x 72") instructions. Options are wonderful, right?

Then Yvonne, of Quilting Jetgirl, worked her technical editing magic on the pattern, making it better than it was before. If your patterns need tech editing, I definitely recommend working with Yvonne 😊
Love Birds quilt pattern |

I've also updated the PDF pattern file available in my Payhip and Etsy shops, so if you want the PDF pattern, click on one of the shops to get yours today.

If you'd like to see my printed patterns in your LQS, I'd love to have the shop's contact info so I can reach out to them once I have those patterns in hand.  I've been getting quotes from printers the last few days, so I'll soon be ready to place that first order.

Have you tackled anything new lately? Or have you been procrastinating on trying something? Please tell me I'm not alone in doing that, lol!

September 18, 2018

Appliqued Stars

I've started appliquing my EPP stars to their backgrounds, now that I've figured out how to make them into something I will enjoy making, and I'm loving the process!

So far I have 6 stars finished.
Appliqued EPP stars |
When I last posted about these stars, I wasn't sure what I would use for the backgrounds and I speculated that maybe I'd use solids. As you can see, that's not what I decided on.  These low volume backgrounds make me think of a vintage scrappy quilt and every one of them makes me smile.
Appliqued EPP stars |
I'll probably mix in some darker backgrounds, especially for some of the white, cream and light yellow stars, though I also like the idea of having lower contrast between the stars and the backgrounds in some of the blocks. I feel like that makes people look a little closer to see those stars.
Appliqued EPP stars |
I'm using threads that match the stars and stitching them on with ladder stitch, which is pretty much invisible.
Appliqued EPP stars |

Appliqued EPP stars |
This definitely won't be a driving project. Our roads are much too pot-holed and bumpy for the precision that ladder stitch requires. It is great for working on while I sit and watch baseball with Paul, though. I also took it with me when I went away with my MIL and two SIL this past weekend and finished three stars while we were sitting around chatting.
Appliqued EPP stars |
I've cut the backgrounds at 6 ½", so they'll finish at 6". That leaves me room for the curves that are part of the floor that inspired this quilt, if I do decide that I want to include them. I'm thinking right now that the sashing and the curves (bias tape?) would be the same so that the variety of fabrics won't be overwhelming. Using the same fabric for both would probably have a calming effect, unifying the craziness of all the other fabrics.
Appliqued EPP stars |
I have three more stars pinned to backgrounds and then it's time to prep some more. I really enjoying picking through my container of stars to choose which one to put on each background. I also half expect that at least once I'll stitch a star on with the papers still inside the diamonds since I've already tried to pin two in place without removing the papers. The sound of the paper rustling was the only thing that made me realize what I was forgetting 😏

So, right now, I stand at 6 stars finished and 100+ left to go, which makes me quite happy. I love a good work in slow progress, as Jasmine of Quilt Kisses calls them 😊

September 17, 2018

Calling Out

Devotion for the Week...

My husband likes to change the channel to the news network whenever the show he's watching is commercialing and, over the past year or two, I've been amazed by how often the discussion on the news is about the same thing for hours on end, just with different announcers and different guests. It's the same on all of the news networks, not just the one Paul watches. It's not the fault of the networks or the announcers, necessarily, just the fact that they have 24 hours to fill and only so many news stories to share.

I thought of those news announcers, and their guests, filling the hours when I read the beginning of Proverbs 8 recently. Here are verses 1-6:

Listen as Wisdom calls out!
    Hear as understanding raises her voice!
On the hilltop along the road,
    she takes her stand at the crossroads.
By the gates at the entrance to the town,
    on the road leading in, she cries aloud,
“I call to you, to all of you!
    I raise my voice to all people.
You simple people, use good judgment.
    You foolish people, show some understanding.
Listen to me! For I have important things to tell you.

Wisdom is personified in Proverbs as a woman who is calling out to humanity, encouraging us to listen to her. Not only is she calling out, but she is going out to the crossroads and to the gates of the town, the most crowded places around. She's trying hard to be seen and heard by the people so they will stop and pay attention to her words.

Wisdom isn't just filling the hours, sharing the same story over and over again. She has life changing insight to share with us. Insight that could change the way we live and how we relate to God and to other people. But she has to get our attention before she can share it with us.

Then, of course, she also has to keep our attention.

When the news programs are going to commercials, the announcers will offer some hint of what will be coming on after the break, something to make viewers want to keep watching rather than switching to something else. They are aware that they are fighting against a lot of other things calling out for our attention, like other news networks, all the other TV shows, movies, social media and Youtube videos of funny cats or adorable babies. 

Wisdom also has to fight all of those distractions as she calls out for our attention.

"Listen to me! For I have important things to tell you," she says in verse 6. That sounds to me like when I'm trying to tell Nathan something and I know he's not really paying attention and he's going to miss what I have to say. I often tell him to look at me so I can be sure I have his full attention before I say it again. Wisdom is practically waving her arms on the side of the road, trying to get us to look at her so we are really paying attention to what she has to teach us.
Weekly devotions on Christian living |
I wonder how much wisdom we miss out on because we're so focused on those other things that are calling out to us that we never even hear her voice.

September 13, 2018

TGIFF - Drawstring Bag

Hello and welcome to TGIFF! Today I'm sharing a finish that was actually made over the summer, but I never got around to sharing it until now 😊

A few years ago, I made a drawstring bag for one of the boys I was then babysitting to carry the paraphernalia for his cochlear implants. Over the summer his mom (who is also my friend) asked if I could make him a replacement since the old one was starting to look worn after years of constant use.

I knew I had nothing in my stash that was school age boy appropriate, so off I went fabric shopping. Oh, darn, right? I picked out these planes, which I love, and the coordinating Northcott red solid for the inside of the bag.
airplane fabric |
I used Jeni B.'s lined drawstring bag tutorial and I think the whole thing only took me a morning to make. I chose to make the outside of the bag using only the planes fabric so the planes could really shine. I think the bright red drawstrings are fun, too.
Drawstring bag |

Drawstring bag |
I love the red lining the bag, too.
drawstring bag |
I'm thinking he won't outgrow the planes before the bag starts looking worn like the old one did. Of course, if he does, I could always make him another one!

Now it's your turn! What have you finished lately? Link it up so we can all celebrate with you and don't forget to visit some of the others links, too. The party is always better when there's some socializing happening 😊

I'll be away this weekend, but I'll be sure to check out all of your finishes early next week. Have a great weekend!

September 12, 2018

An Essex Linen Everyday Skirt

The Everyday Skirt I made back in March got a lot a use over the summer. With the elastic waist, the pockets and the perfect length, it was so easy to wear and there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to make more. So, when I ordered the knit fabric for my maxi skirt, I ordered some Essex linen to make a second Everyday Skirt too.

I picked the indigo colour linen, aiming for it to go with everything, just like a great pair of jeans. The colour ended up being a little more grey and less blue than I expected, but it still looks to me like it will go with everything.
Essex linen Everyday Skirt |

Essex linen Everyday Skirt |
The linen creases a bit, but it's not too bad. This is after I wore it at church, at lunch and on the drive to the beach.
Essex linen Everyday Skirt |
This was my first experience with Essex linen and I really like the substantial feel of it. It holds the shape of the skirt differently than the rayon does, making it look a little like an A-line skirt whereas the rayon hangs straight down.

I can also see why some people like to use Essex linen in their quilts. It has a fabulous texture and the yarn-dyed has great variation in the colour.

I think I'll still want to make more of these skirts. They're not called the Everyday Skirt for nothing...I could seriously wear it everyday if it weren't kind of impractical to wear a skirt while wrangling toddlers for a living 😊 And as a bonus, it only takes an evening or so to make, except when you keep losing the ends of the elastic while trying to feed it through the casing and then, after finally getting the elastic secured, break a needle on the first stitch of the hem. For my sanity, I had to abandon the skirt that night and finish the hem the next day, lol.

I love the wild rose bushes at this beach and I couldn't resist a few pictures of the roses when Aiden and I went to get the pictures of the skirt. I love how there's every stage from bud to rosehip all at the one time.
Roses |

Roses |

Roses |

Roses |
What pattern (garment or quilt) do you love to make over and over?

September 10, 2018

Distracting Thoughts

Devotion for the Week...

Have you ever been talking with a friend, only to stop and wonder how you ended up talking about a particular topic? It's so easy to flow from one thing to another, and then another, that sometimes it's hard to trace how the conversation went from where you started to where you were by the end.

Prayer can be like that, too, if we let it.

Sometimes when I pray I have a particular thought in mind when I start and I try so hard to keep myself focused on that one thing, but my mind keeps wandering in all sorts of different directions. It gets frustrating because I feel like I should be praying only about this one thing, whatever it is, but other thoughts keep getting in the way.

Or maybe I'm trying to pray according to a particular 'formula' - first praise, then thankfulness, then requests for others and so on. But those random, distracting, thoughts keep coming and taking me out of whatever I'm trying to pray.

I'm guessing you know what I'm talking about. So why not just lose ourselves in those distracting thoughts, allowing ourselves time to talk to God about each one of them? Obviously they have some measure of importance in our minds or we wouldn't be thinking about them at all. Rather than forcing them away, why not include them in our prayers, asking God for help in those situations, if needed, or praising Him for them if that's what is required. If it's worry that is coming to mind, then that's all the more reason to bring it to God rather than trying to banish it.

Peter tells us to "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you" (1 Peter 5:7). All of our worries and cares are important to Him, even the ones that may seem trivial to us. If it keeps coming up in your mind, then talk to Him about it and let Him help carry the burden.

Paul wrote, "Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6,7). I love the notion of telling God what we need and thanking Him for what He has already done. That encompasses everything, doesn't it?

Lastly, Jesus Himself asked, "Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?" (Matthew 6:27). Obviously, the answer to that is a resounding no, so it makes sense to do whatever we can to stem the tide of worries rolling through our minds. Talking to God about what worries us may not immediately change the situation, but it can easily relieve our minds, which is often just as good.
Weekly devotions on Christian living |
Prayer is not supposed to be intimidating or difficult. It's a conversation with Someone who loves us and is interested in our every thought and feeling. So let's share all of them with Him.

September 07, 2018

Night Sky in Make Modern

My Night Sky quilt is in the newest issue of Make Modern magazine (affiliate link), which has just been released 😊 It finishes at 60" x 72", which is my favourite size for throw quilts.
Night Sky quilt |
Night Sky quilt |
Night Sky quilt |
 Night Sky quilt |
I used Michael Miller's Cotton Couture solid in a lovely deep blue for the background. This was my first time using the Cotton Couture fabric and I loved the feel of it. It's so soft and drapey.

The stars are made of another Michael Miller fabric, from the Glam Girls line by American Dream House. Aren't the sequins just perfect for sparkly stars?
Night Sky quilt |
Night Sky quilt |
I quilted Night Sky using the 'baubles' design from Christina Camelli's book, Step-by-Step Free Motion Quilting. The baubles look rather star like, themselves, don't you think? I used Aurifil black, #2692, for the quilting. It stands out nicely on the blue, but not so much that it's distracting.
Night Sky quilt |
This issue of Make Modern is now available and if you start a new 6 month or 12 month subscription it will start with the current issue (all affiliate links). I love the instant gratification of Make Modern's digital soon as they hit 'publish' on their end, it shows up in my inbox! I've already had a quick skim through the new issue and there are so many great projects in it, including a cute pouch that I'd love to make and an adorable hot air balloon 😊

Head on over to Make Modern (affiliate link) to pick up your copy, or to start your new subscription!

Note, this post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and then make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. This does not affect the price you pay.

September 05, 2018

A New Skirt (in Knit Fabric!!)

I've wanted to start using knit fabric to make myself clothes for a few years now, but I kept putting it off. There was a good bit of fear involved in the procrastinating - fear I'd waste money by ordering the wrong fabric, fear of fabric that stretches and therefore could end up distorted, fear that I wouldn't use the right stitches/techniques and would end up with an unwearable mess.

Then, about 3 weeks ago, this happened.
broken extension table |
I don't think it's easy to break a Sew Steady table, but my husband didn't know that mine was stored under our bed and when we bought a new mattress he slid the old box spring off of the bed frame right onto the extension table, where it landed with a crack 😢

Since I always use my extension table when I'm doing free motion quilting, this means I'm in piecing-only mode until a replacement arrives, which will hopefully be very soon. It didn't take long to piece the tops for my September and October Island Batik challenge projects. I don't know what I'm going to do for the November challenge yet, so I couldn't move on to that. What to work on next? Well, I had a gift certificate to Mad About Patchwork calling my name, so I went shopping, lol.

One of my biggest hold-ups when it comes to buying knit fabric is the fact that I have nowhere local to buy it, so I can only order online...where I can't touch it. I've always been afraid that what I ordered would arrive and be so thin that it would be too sheer to wear, like the Walmart tshirts I've tried on and put back because you could see right through them. But Mad About Patchwork stocks this beautiful blue Cotton and Steel knit and I felt pretty safe with a fabric that bears the Cotton and Steel name, even if I couldn't touch it before ordering.
Cotton and Steel Moody Bouquet fabric |
Even so, I was relieved to pull it out of the package and confirm that it was not sheer, lol.

About 11 or 12 years ago, a friend gave me this serger, which someone had given to her and she had never used.
serger |
It has been sitting in a closet all these years. I was more than a little intimidated by it. Everything I've ever read about using a serger emphasized how hard it is to thread and to get the tension right and, to make matters worse, I didn't even have the manual. But I figured if I was going to learn to sew with knits and I already owned the serger, I might as well learn to use that at the same time.

Thanks to Google, I found the manual online and it only took a few tries to get it threaded. I was more than a little excited when I created a nice serged edge on a scrap of fabric!
serged edge |
Even getting the tension right was only a matter of turning a couple of dials a bit. Getting up and running wasn't nearly worth all those years of avoidance, lol.

For my first foray into sewing with knits, I went for the simplest of simple garments...a maxi skirt, using this tutorial. Here it is!
knit maxi skirt |
I don't think I'll trade my day job for a new career in modeling, lol. Could I look any more self-conscious and awkward? 

knit maxi skirt |

knit maxi skirt |
I wore it on Sunday and it is so incredibly comfortable!

Here's what the hem looks like, inside and out...
knit maxi skirt |
 And this is the inside and outside of the waistband.
knit maxi skirt |
I made a couple of changes as I followed the tutorial. First of all, she cut her skirt in two pieces, but I just cut mine on the fold so I only needed a seam down one side instead of both sides. Her waistband is just folded down, but I felt like that was too likely to shift around, so I stitched it down.

I can definitely see me making more of these, but there are a couple of changes I'd make. The instructions call for cutting the waist the same as your actual waist measurement, so that's what I did. It does get a little smaller because of the seam allowances, but I still think I'll cut it about an inch smaller next time just because of the stretch in the knit fabric. And the bottom is about 13" wider than the waist, but that's just barely wide enough for comfortable walking. Next time I'll either cut it a couple of inches wider (if I have enough fabric) or figure out how to add a side slit. And lastly, I think the next version might need pockets!

Jess, at Quilty Habit, has shared a couple of times this year when she was surprised to realize how much her skills have progressed (here and here) and I thought of that as I made this skirt. Though I hadn't sewn with knit fabric before this, I was somewhat surprised by how easily my basic sewing skills adapted to this new fabric. I think I could have tackled knit fabrics comfortably a long time ago, but at least I've finally done it! And now I can't wait to pick out my next knit fabric and a project to make with it. I've been wanting to make a Lady Skater Dress, but a tshirt might be more practical. I love wearing skirts and dresses, but I don't find them very practical for sitting around playing with toddlers all day. There are a couple of tshirt variations included in this Craftsy class, which I bought last year, so I might go with one of them.

That's my something new learned for this week 😊 Have you learned anything new lately? Sewing related or not, please share!