September 29, 2023

My First Quilt with Amanda Brown

It's time for another My First Quilt interview today! I love reading these stories about how our fellow quilters got started as quilters. This month we get to learn about how Amanda Brown made her first quilt. I had to steal Amanda's own words from her website, Fabric Heart, to introduce her, because they're just so good: "Colour enthusiast, Quilting Pro, Floral lover, Pattern Designer, Creative Speaker, Sewing Educator and Expert Snacker. Amanda is all that and a bag of chips." (Side note, is "all that and a bag of chips" a Canadian thing? Or do people say that in other places, too?) 
My First Quilt with Amanda Brown |
You can connect with Amanda at her website, on Instagram, and on TikTok

Now, without further ado, here is Amanda's first quilt. Isn't it pretty???
My First Quilt with Amanda Brown |

What year did you make your first quilt? What prompted you to make it?

2010. I went to a local quilt shop (Algonquin Sewing, Petawawa Ontario) looking for fabric to make some sort of blanket for my baby who was going to arrive in 2011.  I knew how to sew but not anything too fancy. I don't remember what I was planning to make at all but it certainly was not a quilt. 

When I walked into the shop they had quilts hanging all over the place. I saw a quilt and instantly fell in love. I commented to the employee that I love the quilt and they said they could make a quilt kit for me. I laughed and said I had no clue how to make a quilt. I was in luck! They could teach me how to make a quilt.

 They had a drop in sew time where you would come with your machine and work on any project you wanted. The staff were available to help anyone with questions. It was great because I got to see so many different projects being worked on. All the people sewing were quick to jump in and help. It was a really supportive way to learn all about quilting. 

To be clear, this first quilt was for me. Forget the baby, I wanted that quilt for myself. The second quilt was theirs. 
My First Quilt with Amanda Brown |
Here's Amanda's first quilt being used by her first born 😊

What techniques were used in that first quilt? Did you quilt it yourself?

This quilt was pretty straight forward which was great. To me it looked super complicated but it really wasn't. A lot of repetition which allowed me to really practice. 

When it came time to quilt it the store employees said the timing was perfect! They were having a free motion quilting class the next weekend and I should definitely join in. I was sewing on my grandma's vintage singer and it certainly did not come with a free motion foot. We found a foot that would work with it and they showed me how to remove my feed dogs. This class was so much fun! We were all laughing at our beginner attempts. By the end of the class I felt ready to tackle quilting my own quilt. 

Side note: I had watched someone quilting their quilt and I laughed and said (in my head, I'm nice like that) "what a waste of time" . Why would anyone spend time just sewing over the top of this pretty quilt. I soon found out that there was a reason we did this and that it can really add so much more to the quilt design. 

My teachers told me all about the basting process but kicked me out of the store while they did it for me. They told me its suppose to be safe but they weren't taking any chances with my unborn baby. I then went all in and did some stitch in the ditch and some free motion quilting. I was so pleased with how it turned out. 

Weeks later I was showing it off at the shop and someone commented at how hard the free motion technique is and they have never been brave enough. Many years later I realized just how much of a gift this wise women have given me. Everything we do for the first time is strange and will probably be imperfect. Free motion quilting isn't hard but it does require a lot of practice. These women were so wise and presented this technique without whispering a word about how some people fear this technique. They taught me to jump in and just have fun! 
My First Quilt with Amanda Brown |

Who taught you to make the quilt?

I was taught by the owner and the staff members of Algonquin Sewing. However, I wish I had discovered my love for quilting earlier in my life. My grandma made quilts and I love the ones she made. I like to think she would be so proud of my quilts. It's surprising how bright and colourful her quilts are compared to other quilts made in the same era. I think she was a modern quilter before her time. Making my first quilts on her machine did make me feel very connected to her. 
My First Quilt with Amanda Brown |

Are the colours you chose for your first quilt ones you would still choose today?

I may choose similar colours but I would probably choose fabrics with a different design on them. The shop I was in was more traditional and after this quilt I ended up shopping for fabric online to get the colours and patterns I was drawn too. I'm so thankful that quilt shop was fully supportive of me bringing in fabric from other places. They still got tons of my business on machines, tools, batting etc. 

At this point I didn't even know there were different types of quilting but I did know I needed to follow my heart on colours and fabric choices. 
My First Quilt with Amanda Brown |

Did you fall in love with quilting right away? Or was there a gap between making the first quilt and the next one?

I fell so hard in love with quilting. It was a moment where I felt like I had finally found my thing. By the time I my baby was one I was designing my own quilts and selling them. Baby would sleep and I would sew! She's grown up surrounded by fabric and her first steps were when she picked up some fabric and started throwing it around in excitement. 
My First Quilt with Amanda Brown |

Where is the quilt now?

My first quilt is in our living room, ready to be used at any moment. We have carted it to parks and beaches. It's been part of many blanket forts and has comforted many during summer storms. It has magic safety protection from lightening and thunder. It's so precious in my heart but with every mark and stain we know more love has been added to it.

Is there anything you wish you could go back and tell yourself as you made that first quilt?

I don't think so. The whole experience really gave me a great start in quilting. I'm not the type of person who worries about things being perfect and I've always embraced all parts of the journey. 
My First Quilt with Amanda Brown |

Anything else you want to share about your first quilt?

When I'm making a quilt from a pattern I often challenge myself to make it my own. I change up the layout or the colour scheme. Since I'm a creative person I feel like it is cheating to make the quilt as written with the fabrics as presented. 

Then I remind myself, there is a time to spread your wings and there is a time to just settle in and enjoy the journey someone else created for you. I'm not even sure why this quilt caught my eye but it sparked something in my heart. I wonder sometimes if I would have loved it as much if I had changed up the fabrics. Would I still be quilting today if I did?

So if you are a person who identifies with the idea of cheating if you make a quilt as presented please use this as permission to let yourself follow someone else's lead every so often. 

Thank you, Amanda, for sharing your beautiful first quilt with us! I love that it is always ready for use ❤

September 25, 2023

A Different Kind of Yeast

Devotion for the week...

After I started writing the 2-part series about Matthew 13:33, which compares the Kingdom of Heaven to the yeast a woman uses to make bread, I also read Matthew 16:6, which says, "Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Of course, the word yeast practically jumped off the page at me, asking to be added as an accompanying devotion.

For a bit of context, Jesus and His disciples had just crossed a lake, and then the disciples discovered they didn't have any bread. Jesus issued His warning about the yeast of the Pharisees, and the disciples thought He was disappointed in them for forgetting the bread, so they started arguing among themselves about who should have remembered the bread.

(Side note - do you ever feel like the disciples? Missing the point entirely even though they were spending their days right there walking and talking with Jesus? If anything could prove that God wants to use ordinary, unremarkable people for His work, it's the men Jesus chose as His disciples!)

Jesus may have been tempted to roll His eyes at them as they argued (is rolling your eyes at people who just don't get it sinful? If not, maybe He actually did roll His eyes). He reminded them about the times he fed huge crowds of people with just a little food, and even had leftovers, then said, "Why can’t you understand that I’m not talking about bread? So again I say, 'Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.'

"Then at last they understood that he wasn’t speaking about the yeast in bread, but about the deceptive teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees" (vv. 11-12).

Jesus had harsh words for these groups of religious leaders. In Matthew 23 alone, He said they "crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden" (v. 4); they wouldn't go into the Kingdom of Heaven (v. 13); they "ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith (v. 23); that they were "filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence" (v. 25); and that they were like "whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly [they] look like righteous people, but inwardly [their] hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness" (vv/ 27-28). Yikes! That doesn't sound like anything I want to be!

If they were so awful, why did Jesus even have to warn the disciples about their teaching? Shouldn't it have been obvious how wrong they were? Not necessarily! Remember, it was deceptive, which is another word for misleading. In other words, their teaching sounded like truth, but wasn't.

For example, Jesus quoted one thing the Pharisees taught: "You say it is all right for people to say to their parents, 'Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you'" (Matthew 15: 5). Giving to God sounds like the right thing to do, doesn't it? Yet Jesus reprimanded them, saying, "In this way, you say they don’t need to honor their parents. And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God'" (vv. 6-9).

Do you see the deception in that last verse? They teach man-made ideas as commands from God. 

The Pharisees were a strict religious group. This wasn't a group of people denying God or trying to get as far from Him as they could. Unfortunately, instead of their focus being on God, it was on their own rules for doing everything the 'proper' way. They had taken their eyes off Him and put the focus on themselves, meaning they completely missed the mark. Then they taught others to follow their rules, leading them astray, too.

Jesus told the disciples (and, by extension, us) to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees, to be wary of their teaching. How do we do that?
the best defense we have against deceptive teaching is to know the Bible |
As always, the best defense we have against deceptive teaching is to know the Bible. If we regularly read the Bible ourselves then we'll be able to spot the differences when someone starts teaching man-made ideas that don't quite line up with God's word. If we don't know His word, we won't be able to separate fact from fiction, and we'll be susceptible to whatever man-made ideas people teach.

September 18, 2023

Yeast - Part 2

Devotion for the week...

Today I'm sharing the second part of a two-part series inspired by a familiar verse from Matthew. You can read the first part here. The verse that inspired this series is Matthew 13:33: "Jesus also used this illustration: 'The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.'" Last week I wrote about how the verse applies to our individual lives; today I want to look at how it applies to the world around us.

Do you ever feel small? Insignificant? Like your efforts could never be enough to make a difference? This verse says it's not our size or our importance in the world that matters. Yeast is tiny, but we only need a tiny amount of it to make bread. To make a loaf of the bread I make most often, I use a little more than 4 cups of flour and 1 tbsp of yeast. The amount of yeast isn't even noticeable compared to the amount of flour, and yet it's enough to make the bread dough rise into a beautiful, round loaf.

We are small and insignificant, compared to the world at large. We aren't world leaders or celebrities, with news outlets sharing our every action or people wanting to interview us to share our thoughts with millions of people. That doesn't mean we have no influence.

Our influence happens with the people we interact with everyday; the ones who share our homes, our workplaces, our communities, and, yes, our online communities. When the fruit of the Spirit is evident in our lives, it's noticeable in these arenas. It makes a difference when we respond to difficult situations with love and patience. It makes a difference when we treat people with kindness. It makes a difference when we encourage someone. All of these things have a positive influence on the people around us, making the world a little kinder, a little more forgiving, a little more joyful.
When I try to live as God wants me to live, that makes the world a little better |
When I try to live as God wants me to live, that makes the world a little better. When you do, it makes the world a little better, too. And when Christians the world over do it, too, the Kingdom of Heaven permeates every part of the world.

September 16, 2023


Do you want to end 2023 with some long-awaited finishes? Me, too! That's why I'm hosting the WIPS-B-GONE challenge again this year 😊 I have been earmarking projects for this year's challenge ever since last year's challenge ended (we won't talk about how many of the projects on last year's lists are still waiting to be finished...).
WIPS-B-GONE 2023 |

WIPS-B-GONE is my annual challenge to help us finish up lingering works in progress so we can free up space (physical and mental) for new things. Those newly finished projects can then be used, displayed, gifted, donated, or sold - any of which is better than sitting unfinished in a cupboard or closet.

The challenge runs for two months, from October 1st to November 30th, giving us 61 days to make progress on our WIPs. What that looks like is entirely up to you. Will you work on one project until it's finished before moving on to the next one, or will you switch between projects whenever you want? Will you set a minimum amount of time you want to spend working on WIPs each day, or will one stitch a day be enough to count? Will you choose to work on your oldest WIP, or the one that interests you the most (even if you only started it last week)? You decide!

My intention is for this to be a fun, motivating time to finish projects you really want to finish, but have set aside for one reason or another, and it's hard to get going on them again. There's no right or wrong way to participate in the challenge. 

To help keep us motivated, I have designed some fun daily trackers. I still can't explain it, but there's something so compelling about colouring in each day's icon to show that I worked on my projects! I love seeing the tracker get filled in as the challenge goes on just as much as I love seeing the progress I'm making on my quilts. This year there are 4 different trackers for you to choose from: there are sewing machines, yarn and knitting needles, embroidery floss, and flowers. You may be thinking, "Flowers? That doesn't seem to fit the theme!" I'll grant you that, but I wanted to create a tracker that wasn't specific to a craft for people who don't fit the crafts I chose, or for anyone who may be switching between mediums. Or anyone who just really likes flowers! To be honest, I haven't decided yet if I'll be using the flowers myself 😄
WIPS-B-GONE daily trackers |

For another dose of motivation, I'll be sending Monday Motivation emails again this year, too. These weekly emails will include suggestions for getting past common points where we get stuck with our projects, to help you move even more projects to the finish line, and maybe keep future projects from getting stuck at all.

How many projects could you finish in two months? Join WIPS-B-GONE 2023 below to find out!

September 12, 2023

Grateful Quilt

I love making small quilts. Actually, I love making quilts of all sizes, but there's something especially fun about making small quilts. Maybe it's because I get to the finished stage so quickly. Or it might be that each step goes by so quickly that I never get bored doing a task for too long (pressing units, I'm looking at you). Whatever it is, making this Grateful table runner was a joy the whole way through.
Grateful quilt pattern |
Grateful is the September pattern for Stash Artists members, and it's perfect for this season of the year. With harvest time and Thanksgiving holidays coming up, what could be better than a reminder to be grateful? Of course, that reminder is good anytime of year, so there's no need to limit ourselves to the fall-inspired palette I used for the cover version of the quilt. I may or may not have designed it with blues first! 

If you're not a Stash Artists member yet, join the waitlist to be notified when the doors open again!

When planning the design of the quilt, I thought it would be fun to add extra interest by crumb piecing some of the flying geese. I ended up crumb piecing 12 of them, and I love that they're a little surprise for anyone who looks closely.
crumb pieced flying geese |

crumb pieced flying geese |
Texty quilts are a lot of fun, but normally the options for text are to piece it (which can be pretty bulky and involves a lot of pieces) or applique it (which gets fiddly unless the font is thick). Embroidery would work, too, but it's a totally different look, and would either look more delicate than I wanted, or would involve a crazy amount of satin stitching or some other kind of fill stitching. Colouring the text with crayons means I didn't have to worry about it being too fiddly to applique, and I could use a nice script font, which would have been tough to piece. 
Grateful quilt pattern |
I used Crayola crayons in green, yellow-green, yellow, yellow-orange, orange, red-orange, red, and scarlet to colour my letters. Some of the variations between colours is pretty subtle, but it does make for a nice gradient overall. If you want to try colouring on your quilts, too, I have a tutorial for the process.

Finishing at 40" x 22", Grateful was perfect for using up another of my scrap pieces of Warm and Natural batting. For the backing, I used this mottled green that used to be curtains I made years ago for Aiden's and Zachary's room. When their room became the sewing room, I washed the curtains and added them to my stash. One panel was perfect for backing Grateful.
Grateful quilt pattern |
I started the quilting by using Auriful 2311 to quilt around the letters. I went all the way around once, then debated whether or not to echo that. I'm so glad I chose to do the echo quilting! Here's a look at how it looked without the echo quilting and then with it. The letters stand out so much more with the extra quilting around them.
echo quilting |
I quilted around the flying geese, and then echo quilted around them, too. I had been thinking about how to quilt them, but I really liked how they looked puffed up, so I decided to leave them unquilted.
Grateful quilt pattern |
The loopy meander was relaxing (and fast) to stitch in the background. It always reminds me of eyelet fabric!

I had planned to use a scrappy binding, but at the last minute I changed my mind and used this fabric from Island Batik instead. I like that it has some greens and some oranges/reds, so it ties the colours together without being as busy as a scrappy binding would have been.
Grateful quilt pattern |
I was working on the table runner over the summer, while Paul was doing renovations in our dining room. As part of the renovation, he took our old built-in hutch off the wall, got rid of the top portion of it, and painted the bottom portion as a free-standing unit. I didn't design Grateful with the plan to display it there, but it ended up being perfect!
Grateful quilt pattern |
Now I want to make seasonal table runners to fit the hutch. Maybe that will be incentive to keep the top of the hutch clutter free. Why does every horizontal surface seem like a magnet for clutter??? I don't have plans for what the other runners will be yet, but I'm having fun thinking about it! I also need to find a small something to put under the vintage machine. Right now it's on one of our placemats, but I want something closer to the size of the base of the machine, so it's not as noticeable. I just want to prevent the machine marking the painted surface.
Grateful quilt pattern |
I'm looking forward to seeing this little quilt on the hutch for the next few months!

September 11, 2023

Yeast - Part 1

Devotion for the week...

Today I'm sharing the first part of a two-part series inspired by a familiar verse from Matthew: "Jesus also used this illustration: 'The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough'" (Matthew 13:33). 

Reading that verse over the summer made me think of two different, but related, ways to consider its application in our lives. We'll look at one of them today and the other next week.

First, how is the Kingdom of Heaven like yeast in our individual lives? There are two parts of what Jesus said that seem important to me. 

One, He said the woman used 'only a little yeast.' That makes me think we don't have to devoted hours upon hours to Bible study or prayer in order for it to be effective. A little time with God can make a big difference! Fitting in a little Bible reading or a little prayer is better than feeling like there's no point in doing it at all if we don't have hours for it.

There are Bibles designed to be read in a year, with a daily commitment of only 15 minutes. That's only a little each day, but in a year's time you could read every book of the Bible for yourself. Who knows what impact that could have? 

Or consider spending just 15 minutes in prayer each day. Or choose a time when you're already doing something else, like driving to work, and spend that time in prayer (with your eyes open, if you're driving, please!). 15 minutes may not be much, but neither is a spoonful of yeast, and yet it's incredibly effective. How effective could 15 minutes of prayer be in our lives and the lives of those we care about?

And second, Jesus said the little bit of yeast permeated every part of the dough. What would it look like for the Kingdom of Heaven to permeate every part of our lives? For that little bit of time we spend in worship, Bible reading or prayer to affect all the rest of our day? It might look like a little more patience for the difficult person in our life, or it might look like a little more grace for ourselves after we make a mistake. It might look like a changed relationship, or turning away from questionable activities, or embracing a more generous frame of mind. Almost certainly, it would look like "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23), and who among us doesn't need more of those?
What would it look like for the Kingdom of Heaven to permeate every part of our lives? |

I can't think of anything better than having the Kingdom of Heaven permeate my life as thoroughly as yeast permeates bread dough!

September 05, 2023

Back to Work Sale

My summer break has come to an end and today is my first day back to work at my regular job as a child care provider. My husband, Paul, is a teacher, so we decided years ago that I would only look after kids with teacher parents, giving us the summers off together. We love our summer breaks, and this first day back is always a bit of a shock to the system. Waking up to the alarm again is one of the hardest parts of going back to work!

Since I can't spend the days in my sewing room this week, I'm having my annual Back to Work pattern sale instead. Now through Friday, visit my shop to save 25% off all PDF patterns, no coupon code required.
Back to Work sale |
Which patterns will you choose?

September 04, 2023

His Name

When Aiden was in grade 1, he was asked to be the narrator for the kindergarten class during the school's Christmas concert. The class was acting out the biblical Christmas story, and everything was going great in practices except that the student chosen to be the narrator insisted he couldn't say 'Jesus' because it was a bad word. No matter how much his teacher and his mother tried to explain that it was okay in this case because he was saying someone's name, not swearing, the little guy was adamant that it was a bad word. At the time, it both amused me (for his insistence on following the rules he had been taught) and made me sad (because he associated the name of Jesus with cursing).

I remembered that long ago Christmas concert the other day when I read Matthew 12:21, which says, "And his name will be the hope of all the world." We've all heard people use the name of Jesus as a swear word or as an exclamation when surprised or amazed. It's everywhere. For a lot of people, His name is just another word, one whose meaning they never stop to consider. Yet the Bible tells us His name isn't just another ordinary word, it's the hope of all the world.

As believers, we know why. His name is hope because by calling on Him in faith we are redeemed, saved from our sins, and restored to relationship with God. His name rescues us from eternal death and moves us into the kingdom of God. His name is precious and powerful, which explains why Satan has put it into the mouths of unbelievers as a swear word. If he can get people used to saying it as either a bad word or just a regular, everyday word, they'll never recognize the power it could have in their lives and they'll stay stuck where they are.
His name is precious and powerful |
How can we teach the world to recognize the power in His name, to see the hope in what they think is a bad word? The only answers I can think of are to live well for Him, demonstrating the hope and the life He gives us, and to share the truth we know whenever we can, all while using His name in reverence and love.