spray basting

free quilted table runner tutorial at moda bakeshop

christmas table runner

Would you like to feel like you’ve got a jump on Christmas this year? Christmas fabric is just starting to come out and I whipped up a scrappy table runner over at the Moda Bakeshop using a jelly roll from Sweetwater’s upcoming line Hometown Christmas.

Super fast and easy and a jelly roll is enough to make a few of them (one for you and a couple to give away–see, it even gives you a head start on gifts!).

(Hint: It’s also perfect for any leftover jelly roll strips you have for an any-time-of-year addition to your table.)

sunday supper by sweetwater

spray basting

made for baby :: cute sewn gifts :: book tour

made for baby cute sewn gifts

Welcome to my stop on the Made for Baby, Cute Sewn Gifts blog tour! I’m so excited to show you what I made from this sweet book!

But first let me take you back in time to when I first came across Adya’s work. It was actually my friend Minki, who mentioned to me one day over tea that she had found this person on Instagram that took the most amazing photos of the most amazing projects. I pulled my phone out right then and there and it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship! The word “impeccable” comes to mind every time I look at Ayda’s projects. Her taste is exquisite and her workmanship is just perfection. So much so that I was thrilled when she took part on our own Sew Illustrated blog tour. I still go back and look at those pictures!

made for baby cute sewn gifts

I was excited and not at all surprised to find out that she was writing her own book–and the result is just as sweet and charming as can be. After pouring myself a cup of tea, I spent a delicious afternoon just paging through the book. First of all, Ayda took all the photos and they are gorgeous! I think that a craft book needs beautiful, inspirational photography–don’t you?

The book is filled with absolutely adorable quick things to sew for baby. And that is often when the sewing bug bites us, isn’t it? When there is a new baby arriving to sew for? I wish I could go back in time and sew up many of these charming pillows, toys, bibs, and quilts for my own children. But, now that I think of it–maybe it’s better to enjoy my teenage children and just sew these projects for other new mamas. The best of both worlds!

So, which project did I choose? The baby quilt of course! Oh, my what a fun make this was! It’s a simple patchwork quilt–but in true Ayda-style, she added many lovely little details that make it special.

baby quilt
Photo credit for all quilt pictures: Minki Kim

First of all–that elephant! How cute is he?! A handful of blocks with raw-edge applique (or sewing illustration, as I like to call it)  are the first detail that make this quilt so darling. Each motif is large enough that sewing them was easy-peasy.

baby quilt

raw edge applique baby quilt

Another detail is this sweet little pocket that you can tuck little toys (or binkies) into. And there are a smattering of little tags here and there for added charm and most importantly–for baby to find and play with.

baby quilt

I put my own spin on this project in a few small ways. First, as much as I adore the muted palette of the quilt shown in the book–I  used a layer cake of  the very bright and cheerful Wistful Winds by Doohikey Designs. I purchased this stack a few months ago–just because it was so adorable, with no plan in mind. I was happy to find the project that it was meant to be! I also left the borders off the quilt, which, of course, made it a bit smaller. But I think it is a perfect size for a car seat or stroller quilt–or as a playmat. Lastly, I machine quilted it with a combination of free motion loopy meanders in the larger center blocks and what is becoming my signature wavy line quilting along the outer squares. I love they way the wavy lines criss-cross in the corners.

This little quilt was lucky enough to go on a playdate over to Minki’s house and visit the adorable bunnies she made for her stop on the tour. Don’t they look sweet together? As a matter of fact–her daughter Claire is waiting ever so patiently for my turn on the tour to finish–since I promised this little quilt to her.  Though she’s not actually a baby–I know that she will make good use of it playing with her collection of handmade dolls. So, actually it’s not just for babies!

baby quilt

This quilt was such a fun and quick project–perfect when you need that last minute gift to bless a new mama. I’m so glad to have this book on my shelf. I know that I will reach for it often.

baby quilt

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway! Comment over on Ayda’s blog to enter. One winner (worldwide) will be chosen at the end of the tour. It could be you!

made for baby cute sewn gifts

And make sure that you pop by each of the stops on the tour–so many talented makers have created beautiful projects to share.

May.03 Ayda ALGIN www.cafenohut.blogspot.com @cafenohut
May.04 Jemima Flendt www.blog.tiedwitharibbon.com @tiedwitharibbon
May.05 Sarah Edgar www.alittlehappyplace.blogspot.co.uk @sarahedgarprettyfabrics
May.08 Lisa Cox www.aspoonfulofsugardesigns.com @aspoonfulsugar
May.09 Ange Hamilton www.alittlepatchwork.wordpress.com @alittlepatchwork
May.10 Lauren Wright www.mollyandmama.com.au @mollyandmama
May.11 Melissa LeRay www.ohhowsweet.com @ohhowsweetco
May.12 Minki Kim www.minkikim.com @zeriano
May.15 Faith Essenburg www.SaranaAve.wordpress.com @faithessenburg
May.16 Kristin Esser www.kristinesser.com/ @kristin_esser
May.17 Lauren Guthrie www.guthrie-ghani.co.uk/blog @guthrieghani
May.18 Bridgette McNay www.thefamilyhearth.com @thefamilyhearth
May.19 Torie Jayne www.toriejayne.com @toriejayne
May.22 Constanca Cabral www.constancacabral.com/blog @constancacabral
May.23 Stacy Olson www.stacyolsondesign.com @stacyolsondesign
May.24 Caroline Husle www.SewCaroline.com @SewCaroline
May.29 Nadra Ridgeway www.ellisandhiggs.com @ellisandhiggs
May.30 Wynn Tan www.zakkaArt.blogspot.com @zakkaArt
May.31 Sedef Imer www.downgrapevinelane.com @downgrapevinelane
JUNE 01 Lauren Nash www.transientart.com @transientart
JUNE 02 Jennie Pickett www.cloverandviolet.com @cloverandviolet
JUNE 05 Amy Sinibaldi www.nanaCompany.typepad.com @amysinibaldi
JUNE 07 Kim Kruzich www.retro-mama.blotspot.com @retro_mama
JUNE 08 Elea Lutz www.elealutzdesign.com @elealutz
JUNE 09 Samantha Dorn www.aquapaisleystudio.com/blog @aqua_paisley
JUNE 12 Ayda ALGIN www.cafenohut.blogspot.com @cafenohut
spray basting

machine quilting blog hop {week 3}

Welcome to the Machine Quilting Blog Hop Week 3! Or, as I like to call it “Quilting with Friends”. It’s so good to hear from people in the comments, on Instagram, or on my Facebook page that are following along both in practice and in spirit. And I have loved reading about Jen, Vicki, and HollyAnne’s experiences along the way.

This week was fun! It started with some straight line quilting–which I was doing on a quilt anyway–so “check!” I really enjoy straight line quilting, or as I like to say, “straightish line” quilting. This design is one that I find myself cringing when I see the wobbles as I’m quilting–but when I stand back and look–those wobbles pretty much disappear. It is so easy to be critical when you are close-up, so stand back and give yourself a break.  I was truly in my happy place quilting line after line, listening to the soundtrack from Les Miserable.

domestic machine quilting

Then it was on to a similar design, but using a decorative stitch. This is one that I do all the time right now: the elongated wavy stitch.

domestic machine quilting

I had never done it in a triangle shape before, so that was a bit challenging. You want to switch from the wavy stitch to a straight stitch to travel to the next starting point, so that you don’t have to keep breaking thread. I found it very inconvenient to keep switching stitches like that–especially because I need to modify the wavy stitch on my machine. I make it longer and wider than the default setting. This was a lot to mess with every time I switched back to the straight stitch to travel. So I actually dug out my sewing machine manual and looked up how to save stitches in memory. I saved the wavy stitch with the settings that I like, and I also saved the straight stitch. Then it was just a couple button clicks to move back and forth between the stitches. I felt like a genius!

domestic machine quilting

Next was irregular zig zags and then came irregular chevron shapes. The chevrons were so fun and easy to do! I love the way they came out. This is going to be a very useful design, I can already tell. I switched over to a bending thread, but I actually like the one with the high contrast thread better. The stitch length is all over the place–but I’m finding my rhythm. I could really use one of those Bernina stitch regulators–and the Bernina to go with it 🙂

domestic machine quilting

I am so glad that my new free motion foot finally come in from my dealer! (Queue angels singing!) I Iove this thing! I can see! I can finally see! Having this foot really made a difference in being able to see where I am, where I have been, and most importantly, where I am going.  (I talked about my issues with my other darning foot last week. ) I practiced those darn pebbles again–and it is a lot easier–but they still need work.

open toe darning foot

Then on to small scale stippling. Stippling is the one free motion design that I feel I have the most experience with. When I was a new quilter I joined a guild that has a huge charity group. I used to take home 2-3 quilts each month just to practice stippling. But, I had never done it on such a small scale before. The stipples may not actually be micro-stipples, but they are pretty small for me.

domestic machine quilting

Lastly, was a fun triangle spiral–which I did once across the practice piece and then when back and filled in all the remaining spaces with more triangle spirals. I’m still working on keeping my stitch length consistent, but this was a fun design.

domestic machine quilting

After last week’s pebbling challenge, I felt that this week was pretty fun and easy–a good confidence booster. And it is a mix of both walking foot and free motion designs, which is a nice change up. I’m still practicing those pebbles though…

Don’t forget–The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting is on sale all month long over on the Martingale website. It’s a great time to grab a copy!

Are you seeing progress with your own stitches? We’d love to see! Don’t forget to share on Instagram: #machinequiltingbloghop

Check out what the others are doing:

Jen at Quiltin’Jenny

Vicki at My Creative Corner3

HollyAnne at String and Story

Or just click the image below to get all the links.


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a new story on quilt fiction + a giveaway

Frances posted another quilt fiction story on her website Quiltfiction.com! If you haven’t read the last one, it’s called The Off-Kilter Quilt–I encourage you to pop over to read that one as well. This new story is called A Quilt for Dr. Wallace and I loved it from the first sentence. It’s a quick read and after you are done, leave a comment on her blog post to be entered in a sweet giveaway for this fabric bundle:

What are you waiting for? 🙂

spray basting

machine quilting blog hop {week 2}

Here we are again for Week 2 of the Machine Quilting Blog Hop. To recap–a few blogging friends and I are quilting our way through The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting in an effort to improve our machine quilting skills. It’s been a lot of fun so far and I’m already seeing progress! Click here to start at the beginning.

I made about a million more quilt sandwiches to practice on this week.. No piece of ugly fabric is safe from me anymore! I’m actually regretting donating a bunch of fabric that I didn’t love to charity last fall. I could really use it now.

This week the focus was on two new designs–pebbles and a wood grain motif. Now, I know a lot of people do pebbles, and they act like it’s no big deal–but (ahem) I beg to differ. Pebbles are hard! I’ve been training for this for months, doodling pebbles while in boring meetings. But still . The struggle is real.

the ultimate guide to machine quilting

The first night, I filled up a full fat quarter with pebbles. And I have to say–I actually saw progress from the beginning of the night to the end. The part that I find the hardest is traveling back over the original line to start the next pebble. I’m often all over the place and it just looks…sloppy. I learned pretty quickly that I just need to Slow. Down. This is the story of my life–trying to do things too fast. Going slower gives you more control–when will I learn this?  I also started making the pebbles a little bigger, which helped. I found this interesting, because last week I found that making spirals smaller made it easier for me. Go figure.

So, after practicing them for a while, I decided to try them on a practice piece with more of a blending thread–which is a lot more forgiving. Not forgiving enough, I’m afraid. They still need work, but that’s what this challenge is all about! In fact, I plan to continue practicing each motif each week–and I’m excited to see what my pebbles look like at Week 10.

pebble quilting

Next, onto the wood grain motif. I’ll admit–I was intimidated by this one. So much so, that I also watched Christa’s Craftsy class, where she demonstrates this motif (actually most of the motifs in the book are covered in her class–it is a treasured resource for me!). The first thing I did was practice on paper to start to figure the design out and start to establish the muscle memory. Here’s what that looked like:

domestic machine quilting

Then I hit the machine. I found this motif so much fun! I actually tried quilting the design horizontally at first, but eventually found that it was much easier for me to quilt it vertically. So much of machine quilting is finding what works for you–so I was pleased to figure that out. I can totally picture myself using this motif in the future! It looks much harder than it is and creates such a cool look.

the ultimate guide to machine quilting

Here is the other thing that that I found out this week–I want to try an open toe free-motion foot. I feel that the foot I have makes it hard to see what is happening (pictured below). Leah Day has a video on how to modify a foot like this for better visibility. But I was a bit hesitate to do that in case I actually broke the whole foot. Instead, I have a metal, open-toe free motion foot on order at my local sewing machine dealer. I suspect I will like that one better, and I will then try the modification that Leah suggests on my existing foot. I will let you know what I think of the new foot once I have a chance to play with it.

darning foot

Some good news if you would like to follow along–The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting is on sale all month long over on the Martingale website. It’s a great time to grab a copy!

So, how did you do this week? Did pebbles kick your butt too? Let me know and don’t for get to share your work in Instagram #machinequiltingbloghop.

Don’t forget to visit the other bloggers who are quilting along!

Vicki at My Creative Corner3

Jen at Quiltin’Jenny

HollyAnne at String and Story

spray basting

machine quilting blog hop {week 1}

I’m so excited to get this Machine Quilting Blog Hop started! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read this. I’ll wait 🙂

The first thing I did was to assemble the basics: The book The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting, a Supreme Slider (optional, but oh so helpful), Machingers quilting gloves (sorry they are so dirty!), the darning foot for my machine, and my favorite thread–Aurifil 2311.

Ultimate guide to machine quilting book

I should confess right now that I don’t have an ideal quilting set up. Like many of you, I’m sure, I sew at the dining room table. I have a Sew Steady extension table for my Baby Lock sewing machine and I actually sit on a yoga bolster to get to a comfortable height when I quilt. So, there is no high-end sewing machine sunk into a custom-fit cabinet for this girl (maybe someday?).

This first week is all about filling horizontal or vertical spaces with quilting. I created a couple of practice pieces with some stash fabric and just spray basted them. I used black fabric because 1. I have a lot of it and 2. the stitching would show up well on it. I probably won’t do that again because boy, it does not photograph well! So please excuse all the lint on these pieces that I did not actually see in real life. Also–one last tip: wind a whole bunch of bobbins!

Ultimate guide to machine quilting book

I drew some long lines with a chalk pencil on the fabric to create different sized channels to quilt in.

Ultimate guide to machine quilting book

First up was a simple, curved switchback motif–not too hard, even for me.

Ultimate guide to machine quilting book

We then moved onto a freehand zig zag. I’m still holding my own, in my opinion. I’m thinking, “I can do this–I’m not actually that bad.”

Ultimate guide to machine quilting book

Ultimate guide to machine quilting book

Then I moved onto square chains. Hmmmm. These were not as hard as I expected–and if I had done this with a blending thread, it could still be passable.  I practiced these for a while using two different techniques. But you will have to get the book to find out what they are 🙂 You can see them a bit in the photo below.

Onto the spirals! Hold the phone. These are not as easy as they look. I learned quite a few things with this design. First, I was doing them in a channel that was too big to start with. Smaller was definitely easier. Also, I realized that I was focused on the edge of the darning foot and not the needle as I was creating the spiral. This resulted in me not filling the entire space at first. Once I started focusing on where the needle was, I was able to fill the entire channel with quilting. I also realized that I wasn’t filling in the spiral enough at first. They started to look better when I filled them a little more densely. I still won’t win any quilting awards with this design, but I see definite improvement and again, if it had been done with a blending thread, I think it would create a lot of nice texture.

 machine quilting
my first attempt
domestic machine quilting
starting to improve–smaller and denser

I will admit, that putting my amateurish quilting out there is a bit out of my comfort zone–but I’m encouraged with my progress.  I really need to spend an evening creating a big pile of practice pieces so that I can spend just 10-15 minutes a day improving my skills.

So, how about you? Are you following along? If so, don’t forget to share on Instagram: #machinequiltingbloghop

Also–any advice? I’d love to hear it! Just leave it in the comments.

Lastly, don’t forget to visit the other bloggers who are quilting along!

HollyAnne at String and Story

Vicki at My Creative Corner3

Jen at Quiltin’Jenny

Or just click the image below to get all the links.


spray basting

my colorwave quilt in quilts and more magazine

I am thrilled to share my Colorwave quilt, which is featured in the Summer issue of Quilts and More magazine! I was happy enough about that–but then, a couple of weeks ago I found out that it made the cover! What?!

colorwave quilt kristin esser
Used with permission from Quilts and More™ magazine. ©2017 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

The full pattern is inside–don’t they do absolutely beautiful photography?

half square triangle quilt

There is also a wonderful little surprise inside this issue–a feature article on my friend, neighbor, and Sew Illustrated co-author Minki Kim! I feel compelled to tell you that those are my hands doing the hand sewing in that picture on the bottom. 🙂

So, feel free to pick up a copy–it hits the stands today!

Lastly, in case you don’t follow me on Instagram (and you should!)–here is a fun picture that @allpeoplequilt, the publishers of Q&M, posted on their Instagram stories yesterday. Wow! This quilt is more well-traveled than I am!


Thanks for indulging me today–I’ll stop the navel-gazing now 🙂

spray basting

announcing the machine quilting blog hop!

Would you like to join me and some other bloggers as we  quilt our way through The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–piecing is my favorite part of the quilting process. And over the last couple of years, I’ve put in the effort and practice to become quite a bit more accurate. I smile every single time that I get some perfect points on my blocks. But the quilting part. That’s a different story.

machine quilting

walking foot quilting

I’ve simply just never practiced enough free motion quilting to feel confident and proficient at it. I’m sure I’m capable of it–I just need to put in the time. In the last year or so, I’ve kind of fallen in love with straight line/walking foot quilting. And I’ve finished at least a half a dozen quilts with various forms of walking foot quilting. But I want to have the skills to free motion decently when I think the quilt calls for it.

Enter the book The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting by Angela Walters and Christa Watson–two of the reigning queens of machine quilting. As a sort of challenge to myself, I hatched this plan of working my way through the book practicing the free motions designs. In the book, Angela does longarm designs and Christa’s designs are for a sit-down domestic machine. So I will be following along with Christa. There are actual quilts in each chapter that are specifically designed to practice the motifs–but I will just be putting together practice pieces to work on. The real point of this is just to practice. I have a couple baby quilt tops sitting on a shelf, and I may try a couple of the designs to those to finish them up.

I fully expect the first few weeks to show how unskilled I actually am at free motion quilting–but at the end of ten weeks (ten chapters=ten weeks), I hope to see some significant progress in my skills.

And to add to the fun–three of my blogger friends are joinging in as well! Each Monday, we will each post our thoughts and adventures as we work our way through this wonderful resource.

HollyAnne at String and Story

Vicki at My Creative Corner3

Jen at Quiltin’Jenny

We are kicking off on May 1 and would love it if you would like to pick up a copy of the book and join us! If you do–be sure to show us your work on Instagram with this hastag: #machinequiltingbloghop.


spray basting

beef stir fry


beef stir fry recipe

I think that every home cook should have a few meals up their sleeve that they can put together without a recipe. I am a very recipe-driven cook–I sometimes still check the recipe for meals that I have made for years, but when I sit back and think about it, I actually do cook without a recipe fairly often.

Stir fry is one of those meals that I have done enough times that I know the format of it–the road map, if you will. Basically, you cut up everything first. Then you cook the meat, and when it’s done, take it out and set it aside. Then cook the vegetables, adding the hardest ones like carrots and peppers first, and softer ones like mushrooms later, and the most delicate, like spinach and green onions last. Put the meat back in, add a sauce and simmer until it thickens. Stir it up and it’s done! Change up the meat and the veggies and it can be a completely different meal. I love to make stirfy on Fridays, because it is a great way to use up the veggies in the crisper before I shop on the weekend. And it’s a crowd pleaser around here. Here is the basic recipe for the most common version I make. Use the meat and veggies here as merely suggestions–it is such a flexible dish.


beef stir fry recipe

Beef Stir Fry

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6
Author Kristin


  • 3/4 lb flank steak cut into strips
  • 1 Tb cornstarch
  • 1 Tb black bean sauce (found in the Asian section of the grocery store)
  • 2 carrots sliced thin
  • 2 peppers chopped (I like to use red, yellow, or orange)
  • 8 oz mushrooms sliced
  • 1 8 oz can water chestnuts
  • 2 cups snow peas
  • 1 head of bok choy or napa cabbage thinly sliced
  • 4 green onions sliced on an angle
  • 5 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 Tb grated ginger


  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 T dry sherry (optional)
  • 3 T oyster sauce or soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 1,2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 T cornstarch


  1. Prep all ingredients first. Mix together sauce and stir with a whisk. Sprinkle meat with 1 T. of cornstarch and mix together.

  2. In a wok or large frying pan, add oil (peanut or canola work best). Add half of garlic and ginger, stir and cook for about 20 seconds and then add meat. Stir fry the meat until it is no longer pink. You can add a little soy sauce while it is cooking as well. Remove from pan and set aside.

  3. Add a bit more oil to the pan, then add the black bean sauce and the rest of the garlic and ginger. Cook and stir for about 20 seconds, and then add the carrots and peppers. Stir fry those until they start getting tender (3-4 minutes), and then add the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms soften (again, 3 or so minutes), then add the can of water chestnuts, snow peas, and the greens (bok choy, cabbage, or even spinach). Cook for a couple minutes and add the meat back in.

  4. Make a well in the center of the pan, by pushing the mixture toward the sides of the pan. Give the sauce a quick stir and pour it into the well. Let it cook and bubble until it starts to thicken, stirring often, and then mix it into the stir fry. Cook for a couple more minutes to make sure everything is heated through. Add the green onions and give it one last stir.

  5. Serve it over rice, or if you are low-carb, try it over cauliflower rice or even by itself. Enjoy!


spray basting

30-day challenge check-in

greek yogurt topped with strawberries and granola

Have you joined me in a 30-day challenge? I’ve heard from a few of you–taking on challenges of your own. I still have my streak going of tracking my food with My Fitness Pal everyday. It hasn’t been easy though. More than once I’ve had to “backtrack” the previous day –and we all know that is never going to be as accurate or effective as tracking your food as you go. But that was a lesson in itself.

My own challenge has brought to light several interesting insights. The first is, as expected, my portion sizes have gotten out of control. This always seems to be the case, no matter how long I’ve been at this. At some point I start deluding myself about what a reasonable portion size looks like. Weigh, measuring, and counting have brought this in high relief and it’s no wonder I’ve been gaining weight.

salad for lunch

The second is that on days where I would have said, “I had a good day. I ate very reasonably”, turn out to sometimes be my highest calorie days. For example, the day I drove down to San Diego to pick up Chloe for spring break I ended up eating two meals on the road. The first was a very calorically responsible breakfast sandwich from Starbucks and the second was a less responsible pita sandwich–but no fries or anything else with it. When we made it home, I had a (well-deserved) glass of wine and pasta and salad for dinner (no bread). This day clocked in at over 2100 calories! I had no snacks and what I thought were reasonable portions. Yet, it was one of my highest calorie days.

In contrast, the day we celebrated Chloe’s birthday at Cheesecake Factory, I did some decent planning. I ordered Chicken Tacos from the Skinnylicious menu and we all shared a few pieces of cheesecake. I tracked that I ate 1/3 of a piece of cheesecake and this day came in at several hundred calories lower that the day I picked up Chloe. It just shows that a bit of planning really goes a long way to staying on track.

roasted veggies

I haven’t dropped a bunch of weight (or really any) yet, but it is getting easier to spot the areas that I need to focus on to get some success in this area. One area that I am going to focus on is tracking in the moment (not leaving it to the end of the day) and being more accurate in my tracking. When things are hard to track I sometimes do a mental tally and then throw a big number at it–like 500 calories for a lunch out. At least I’m paying attention enough to do a mental tally, but this is happening to often and I need to get more diligent with tracking the actual foods.

So, how about you? Have you kept your 30-day streak going? What have you learned? Let me know in the comments.