Girt By Me: Growing With Girty

I don’t know when I knew my Girt By Sea quilt was female, but it was very early on.  Even when I was choosing fabrics, I was already calling her “her”, and named her “Flirty Girty”.  I remember talking about Girty with some friends while walking around the Australasian Quilt Convention in April and saying how headstrong she was. How Girty takes you on her journey, not the other way around.


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Making the medallion was like watching Girty grow from a tiny baby into a child with a personality all of her own, trusting me every step of the way to make the right decisions for her.

But Girty found her voice when I tried to add some of the neon pink spot fabric (that put the ‘flirt’ into ‘girt’) to the medallion border.  “Ugh. No way.” she said, tossing it aside in disgust. What tweenager doesn’t love pink? Girty, that’s who.


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By the time we got to the windmills round, Girty was a full-blown teenager, complete with raging hormones, body image and IG comparison angst.  And we had our first row.

“Stop dressing me all fussy and frilly! You’re making me look frumpy! It’s not who I am!”

I made many, many more windmills than required so I could audition lots of different layouts – all sorts of new ‘outfits’ for her – but with each one she fell to the floor in the despair that only a teenager can display and cried about how she hated herself.

“You’re trying to make me fit into this pattern that doesn’t suit me!  I can’t help it if I have lots of negative space!” At which point she slammed the door of her room and I left her to sulk.




The next day I crept quietly into my sewing room and looked again at the fabrics I’d chosen for Girty. The problem was they were selected way before I knew her. Before she even had a personality. And even though they were all great fabrics, I realised that I was trying to fit Girty into my vision of what she should be, rather than letting her be the personality she was slowly becoming of her own accord. If Girty wanted to celebrate her beautiful, fleshy, negative space then I was damn well going to give her room to do that.

So I loosened the corsets of the pattern, taking away some of the windmills to give Girty space to breathe. And breathe she did. She sighed blissfully as she relaxed, and smiled, finally feeling comfortable with the woman she was becoming.




Alison (and Girty) xx


Girt by Me: Dark and broody windmills

Wow that first month went quickly. I always intended to be a little ahead of everyone but here I am in month two and I’m not finished. I’ve come unstuck with not quite enough background fabric – I’ll be finished soon!

BUT, I have progressed enough to have some helpful hints for you!

I wanted a link from the previous round so have carried some of the colours across. The background grey is slightly lighter too. Round one was Kona Steel which is quite dark. This round I’ve used Kona Titanium and then I will use Kona Shadow (very pale grey) for the next two rounds and finally Kona White.

So scrappy windmills or all one fabric – I quickly decided that I preferred matching.

This round of the pattern includes two skills – Half Square Triangles (HSTs) and Easy Corner Triangles (ECTs) which create the rounded corner of the windmills.

Girt by Sea_Jane_Second Round_trimming


My tips for HSTs and ECTs:

  • Be careful with your 1/4 inch seam allowance, I’ve heard using a fine thread is good and using a ‘scant’ seam. I put some Washi tape on my sewing machine and also my 1/4 inch foot
  • You’ll be working is a bias cut so starch is your friend. Don’t pull the fabric too much.
  • Press don’t iron … press down rather than back and forth which can distort that seam line. I also finger pressed a little first and then used the iron.
  • Biggest tip – get your hands on a 2.5″ Bloc Loc ruler (you’ll use in the final round too). Combined with a rotating cutting mat, it makes trimming a breeze.
  • Nest your seams. When you sew your first two squares together, you’ll see that the seams naturally ‘nest’ together so they perfectly align. I sew the first two squares and without cutting the thread, sew the second two. Then open and sew the four together.

There is plenty of info and videos out there on Half Square Triangles but let me know if you want another Facebook Live Video and I can do one.

Guess what, I did get it finished at the Retreat. But I’m not happy. I need to unpick. My windmills were a bit bigger than the centre medallion. I made it fit but it doesn’t sit flat. So I’m going to unpick, make my ‘scant’ 1/4″ seams a little more like 1/4″ and re-sew.

I was going to try to do that before sharing this with you but you know what … I’m being open and honest and hopefully you will learn too!

So my tip here is measure your strip before attaching to check you are ok. I was rushing this on the last day of the Retreat and thought I could fudge it!

Girt by Sea_Jane_Second Round_complete

Enjoy your HSTs


Girt by Me: After the Storm…

If you asked me to name my favourite colour, I would immediately answer that it’s teal. I got married in a teal wedding dress and I find myself drawn to anything teal or aqua or blue-y greeny.

Funny thing is that whenever I make a quilt, I pretty much always choose a rainbow of colours. In fact, I’ve become known for my rainbow sensibilities. Some of my friends even call me Rainbow Bright.

And so, it was probably no surprise that chose to use a saturated Alison Glass rainbow for my Girt by Sea quilt. Most of my crafty peeps would have been surprised if I didn’t!

Fabric Pull

Perhaps what would surprise them though would be to learn why I chose a rainbow this time and what it really means to me.

This Girt quilt was a real labour of love,  coming at one of the lowest times of my life. You see, I have been going through the most crippling anxiety and depression I have ever experienced.

Anxiety and I are old friends. I have lived most of my life on the edge – a high-functioning, always-with-me companion, driving me to do more, be more, have more.

I studied law, travelled the world, came home to practice law and then walked away from that path. I met my husband, got married, started a new career in recruitment, served on the board of a not-for-profit, had two children and then decided that I should start a business – or three.  So I started an Executive Search business, founded a charity that makes quilts for women in domestic violence refuges and become a 1/3 founder of Modern Makers Retreat.

I had everything I could want. I was achieving in my career, in my personal life, being creative and involved in service to others.

In social situations, I’m the life of the party. I’m most comfortable around people, hidden in plain sight.

Storm clouds had been brewing for the longest time though… my fundamental belief in myself – that I was not enough – pushed me to stay busy, to keep achieving, to fill my brain with noise so I didn’t have to be alone with my thoughts and the pain I was feeling.

EPP Medallion

Living with high functioning anxiety looks to the world like confidence, energy and achievement.

In reality, it feels like you are raw. Like every nerve ending is exposed and every emotion could set you on fire. It leaves you completely vulnerable – like you’re naked, flaws and all, in front of the people who mean the most to you. And you’re ashamed and don’t want anyone to know how bad it really is.

It sounds like “you’re not enough. You’re a bad person. You’re a terrible mum. No one likes you. They know you’re a fake. You’re fat and undisciplined. What sort of an example are you for your kids? – you’re a mess. You can’t run a company. Why can’t you get your shit together?”.

So I got busy as a way to drown out the voice in my head.  My life became a finely choreographed dance designed to exhaust me and that voice. And suddenly, I was hustling for my worthiness.

Then… well… then I broke.

Close up

So I did the only thing I had been running from for the longest time. I stopped.

I stopped and stepped back from nearly everything, but especially from the busy. I started seeing a psychologist and I asked my friends and family for help. I exposed myself and was more vulnerable than ever before. I sat and just listened to what my body and my mind was trying to say.

I challenged the mean girl in my head and I let the storm rage inside of me.

Then… I looked for the rainbow.

The rainbow in new friends who stood by me, in a husband who loves me no matter what, in the beautiful children that adore me and the creative process that became this beautiful quilt.

I am Girt by love and storms and rainbows. I am learning to believe in my worthiness.

Some days it’s seems like an impossible task. Nevertheless, I persist. And I’ve discovered that vulnerability (just like Brene Brown says in her TEDx talk) is the birthplace of creativity and belonging.

My life looks a lot slower and more intentional now.

They say the greater your storm, the brighter your rainbow – my rainbow is practically radiant.

Full Centre Medallion

Mental health issues effect everyone and in different ways. I’ve learnt that it is ok not to be ok. If you are reading this and struggling, know that you’re not alone, that there is help and that in time things will get better.

If you need to – reach out and get the help you need:

Lifeline Australia 131114

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800

Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636

Much love

Jackie xx

Cutting Time

Have you seen that our major prize for the Girt By Sea sew-along is a Go! Cutter Starter Kit from Accuquilt Australia?

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Once you’ve used one of these brilliantly simple machines, you’re guaranteed to want one: I know because we all ended up buying one after we’d tried it out!

If you already have access to an Accuquilt cutter and are taking part in the Girt By Sea sew-along, you’ll definitely want to know which dies you can use to save time and energy cutting, so here goes…


Centre Medallion

  • You can use the 1.5” Strip Ruler (AQ55052) for the third border of the centre medallion.




  • The 2.5” HST (AQ55018 or AQ55063) can be used to create the windmills.
  • Or use 4.5” square (AQ55018 or AQ 55060) and 3.5” square (AQ55006) for HST two-at-a-time and four-at-a-time methods.
  • The 1.5” Strip Ruler (AQ55052) can be used to cross-cut the 1.5″ squares and also for the outer border.

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Fruits of the Land

  • The 2” Applique Circle (AQ55012) can be used to cut the circles.

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Ragged Ranges

  • You can use the 1.5” Strip Ruler (AQ55052) and then cross-cut into the various strip lengths.

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Multicultural Friendship Braid

  • You can use the 1.5” Strip Ruler (AQ55052) to cut the border strips, and also cross-cut some of the background fabric.
  • The 4.5” square (AQ55018 or AQ 55060) will cut the border corners.

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If you’ve never used an Accuquilt Go! Cutter, now you know how useful they are.  So get Girting to be in the running to win one!


Girt By Me: No Woman Is An Island

The Girt By Sea quilt was designed especially so that we could all sew along together and learn/master some of the skills involved, sharing tips and tricks and encouraging each other to give it a go.  We want to harness the wonderful support that quilters have for each other: helping to work out which colour should go where; reminding the over-thinkers when to step away from the design wall; being honest when the unpicker needs to come into play; calling for the smelling salts when someone posts something so incredibly beautiful that we go a bit lightheaded….

It’s such a thrill to see quilters from all around the world joining in and making new friends through the sew-along.  Katya Wolfram of @madeatturnpikecottage is relatively new to the wonderful world of quilting and decided the Girt By Sea sew-along was the perfect place to learn new skills under the gentle guidance and encouragement of a global tribe of likeminded makers.

Here’s Katya’s Girt By Me story.

Always running behind the times (by a decade or so) I finally joined Facebook in September 2016 and Instagram a month later.  At that time I had made a grand total of two quilts ever – one even had binding!

You see I have always been a stitcher: I design my own cross stitch patterns and enjoy creating hand embroidered pieces.  However, I was instantly in love with Instagram and the quilting community within it.  What a wonderful, giving and friendly bunch you all are!  No more sewing alone for me, or boring non-sewists with tales of mismatched seems!



Shortly after I discovered Modern Makers, the buzz was all on Girt By Sea and I knew I was hooked.  It was just what I was looking for: something big, you know, throw myself in at the deep end.

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Now to choose the fabric.  Never having been to Australia, but having lived my whole life on another island (Britain), I decided to use islands as my theme.  I am loving my island centre with its turtles and circling sharks.

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But the best bit is joining in with everyone else and seeing how one pattern can look so different so many times over. And of course feeling like you are sewing with friends.

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Of course this centre round being EPP is well within my hand-stitching comfort zone. But in round one watch me literally come apart at the seams and loose all the points on my pin wheels!

But I’m sure some of you will be there to guide me through.

Katya x

Does your Girt have a story to tell? Drop us a line and let us know what Girt means to you.

It seems to us that Girt has a life of her own: she’s taken many of us on an unexpected journey. It’s never too late to join in the sew-along: click here to buy the pattern. Where will Girt take you?

Girt By Me: Angel in there somewhere

It’s become clear to us that the Girt By Sea quilt isn’t just another quilt pattern. As people post photos of their fabric choices on Instagram (#girtbyseaquilt) and explain why they’ve chosen that particular palette, we realise that a lot of people are sewing a story into their Girt.

Here Sue Clarke tells us the beautiful story behind her Girt quilt.


I needed another project like, well you know – you’ve been there.

I resisted the temptation to join in the Girt By Sea sew along for a while but then I read something on the Modern Makers Retreat blog that really resonated with me and from that moment I was in. Let me set the scene by sharing a little history…

The person I most admire and the person l am most proud of in this world is my mum. She went through some very difficult times and when my dad walked out he left her with three small children and a mortgage on the house they had just purchased. At the time she was a stay at home mum but instead of crumbling she found a job, worked her tail off, put herself through night school and eventually qualified as a hospital administrator and auditor. Through sheer hard work she managed to keep the house and raise three children with little assistance from my father. Life wasn’t always a box of chocolates, but my sisters and I never went without. She was an incredible woman, never judgmental and always supportive of the decisions my sisters and l made (whether they were good or bad). She showed us by example how to be strong, resilient women.

Now, how is this all relevant to the Girt By Sea sew along? Well sadly mum passed away early on in my quilting journey so I never had the opportunity to make a quilt for her. In all honesty, it hasn’t really been something l have dwelled on but when I read this post something changed. I can’t say why but my mum popped into my head as I read the words “there’s no place like home”. Girt means to surround, and at that moment I felt my mum’s presence surrounding me and I knew that I had to make this quilt for her.


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With the decision made it was time to settle on what colour scheme to use. Normally I would revert to my favourite scrappy ‘throw everything but the kitchen sink in’ kind of style but I wanted this quilt to be different, it had to be done in mum colours. She loved autumn tones of browns, mustards and burnt oranges – all colours I rarely use so it took me some time to settle on a colour palette. I wanted to honour the autumn tones mum loved but needed to add a little punch.


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As much as l love the vibrancy of this palette I must admit that I am also terrified by it. It is so far out of my comfort zone but I think that is quite fitting. My mum is proof personified that you can work through adversary and succeed. Knowing she is on this journey with me, guiding me, I am embracing the challenge and excited to finally be making a quilt for her.


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I’m still working on a name for this quilt but I am sure it will have the word “Angel” in there somewhere.


IG: @curlyquesue
Blog: Curlyque Sue

Does your Girt have a story to tell? Drop us a line and let us know what Girt means to you.

It seems to us that Girt has a life of her own: she’s taken many of us on an unexpected journey. It’s never too late to join in the sew-along: click here to buy the pattern. Where will Girt take you?

Girt By Me: Exploring the Dark Centre


I think this centre medallion was the most exciting part for me. I love EPP! I actually have three projects on the go right now. Wait … four! I love hand stitching and will happily go home at the end of the work day and stitch a little while watching Netflix!

I think the most difficult thing for me was deciding how it would look. My interpretation is very different to the pattern. But that’s the beauty of it right? It’s my interpretation. Making it my own.

I knew I wanted it to be dark and moody but have light and shade so you could see the defined star. The darkest fabrics are used in the middle and then surrounded by the greys.



My tips for EPP:

  • I use Sewline glue pen though I’m told that a regular glue stick works just as well.
  • A rotating mat works well when you are cutting these templates. I also have a mirror but I didn’t fussy cut or pattern match with this EPP.
  • A fine needle will be so much better. I use these number 11 Milliners needles. I pick up just two threads on each side of the papers so the fine needle is perfect!
  • I know everyone loves the new Aurifil 80 weight but I use Bottom Line Thread 60 weight. I’ve just bought some Aurifil to try. First attempts I kept breaking it as it is so lovely and soft. I guess I’m tough when I’m hand stitching.
  • I just bought a rubber thimble on the weekend and getting used to it. Not convinced yet. Might need some of those dots?
  • Highly recommend taking a look at some videos before you start. You really need to be careful the direction you glue the fabric down (I did well with the centre papers but a little iffy on the outside pieces).

I talk about these tips and answer a few other questions in the Facebook Live video I did last week, which you can find here.

I’m by no means an expert but having done this for around 4 years now, probably more advanced than a newbie. Hope I’ve helped and if you have any questions – let me know!


Happy EPP’ing


PS. In the interest of being honest and transparent … and trying to help others, here is my ‘behind’!


Girt By Me: Flirty Girty’s Imperfect Heart

Day 1 of the Girt By Sea sew-along and I’m already facing a technique I haven’t done before!  But as I learned previously with foundation paper piecing, English Paper Piecing (EPP) is one of those things that you think is really hard until you actually try it.



What’s with the squirrel? He’s my makeshift needle-holder!


The first thing I did was read Jodi’s excellent EPP Basics post on her website, and asked some friends for any tips they may have for a beginner.  “Don’t pull the fabric too tight around the shapes. You need a smidgen of room to stitch them together” said one. “Glue slightly in, rather than right on the edge of the paper, as this helps give the fabric some breathing space” said another.  And finally “Glue the fabric down in same direction on all your pieces”.  Soooo glad I asked, as I would have instinctively wrapped that fabric so tightly around the paper pieces and no doubt cursed in three different languages as I tried to sew them together later!  But other than a brief read through of Jodi’s article and the advice from my friends, I decided to jump right in at the deep end and be prepared to learn from any mistakes I may make as I go along.  What I actually learned is that EPP is easy, something totally different, and so perfectly portable, and now I want to MAKE ALL THE EPP THINGS!



I deliberately made one of my little tails go the wrong way just to illustrate what happens when you don’t follow the “glue the fabric down in the same direction on all your pieces” advice.  Honest.


Yes EPP is easy, but my stitches were pretty visible… and very messy! So I popped around to Jane’s house for some further tips from one of the neatest EPPers I have ever seen. Firstly, she told me that needle size is important – size 10 or 11 milliners needles are perfect for EPP.  Then you also need to use a very fine thread – as everyone is raving about Aurifil 80wt right now I needed no further enticement to give it a go!  Now that I have the right tools the temptation to start that star over again is strong, but I’ve decided to embrace Flirty Girty warts and all.  I want to be able to look back on every visible, messy stitch in that star and know that this quilt was the one that taught me how to EPP.

aka The Baroness



There’s no place like home

Have you ever met a person who doesn’t have “The Wizard Of Oz” in their list of top 10 favourite movies?  We haven’t either!  And it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve seen it, you can’t help but watch it again and again and again…

That’s kind of how we feel about Jackie’s “Over The Rainbow” quilt, made with the Girt By Sea pattern.  It’s so incredibly beautiful, we can’t stop looking at it over and over again.  It makes our hearts fly like happy little bluebirds!  Simply seeing it has our troubles melting like lemon drops!

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“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Australia anymore”

The Girt By Sea pattern was inspired by our homeland.  For us and the designers, the concept was all about the merry old land of Oz, but for you Girt can be something entirely different.

“Girt” means “surrounded”, so think for a moment of your own homeland, and the colours that surround you.

You may be in Canada, surrounded by dark green forests, never-ending blue skies, grey rocky mountains and white snow…


Or your home may be in San Francisco, with the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset to inspire you…


Perhaps the heart of your home is the kitchen…


Or simply a place where you can truly relax and be yourself…


Wherever in the world you may be, close your eyes, click your heels together and say “there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home”.  Now tell us, what colours do you see?

Buy your copy of Girt by Sea now:

Click here to buy Girt By Sea


Girt By Three: a fabric odys-sea

Part of the vision of Girt by Sea was for the three of us to create our own versions to inspire you and sew-along with you. Here is our choices and the stories behind them.

Find out more about Girt by Sea and buy your copy of the pattern:

Click here to buy Girt By Sea

There was a point a little way back where I considered several different options for Girt. I’m sure it was at least a micro second… aaaaaannnnnd then I thought “who am I kidding? Of course I’m doing a rainbow!”

It may have also been that I was staring at a gorgeous Alison Glass Sunprint 2017 rainbow recently arrived from Clair of Clair’s Fabrics!

Alison Glass

Seriously, how do you go past a saturated rainbow? Plus, no-one does them better than Alison Glass. I knew that I wanted my rainbow to be split into 8 colours (because teal is a colour of the rainbow, right?) and that I wanted the rainbow to radiate around the quilt rather than from the centre out. So, I worked out that I would need 4 print fabrics for each of the 8 colour sections.

Fortunately for me I have an extensive Alison Glass collection… sigh… and could dip into my stash for the complementary colours.


I calculated that I would need 32 fat eighths to make the quilt. In some colours there are more than 4 prints – I wanted to use some scraps and some other favourite prints that weren’t quite fat eighth size.

Then it was time to decide on a name. Rainbow fart was tossed around for a while, but ultimately discarded. I started thinking about how a rainbow relates to the Aussie theme that Girt by Sea evokes and (with some help from our resident wordsmith Alison) realised that we live in Oz!

Rainbow Bundle

From there it was a hop, skip and jump down the yellow brick road before I came up with the name – “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”


My quilt has been an evolution. I knew a certain someone would go full on rainbow so wanted something different to that, something that was also me, what I wanted to create.

It started with a conversation with Clair of Clair’s Fabrics. My original brief to Clair was for a lovely soft, quiet, neutral style bundle. I had already bought some soft teals so was going to include them as well.

This was Clair’s first suggestion. I loved it but the bright blues didn’t appeal to me. Take them out (on the right) and I was loving where this was headed. I wasn’t sure at that stage how much fabric I would need but was thinking around 12-15 fat quarters (it’s all detailed in the pattern now!).

I’m terrible at describing colours and tones, I just know what I like when I see it. So I went to Design Seeds on Instagram and found this image. I know it isn’t the quiet, low volume look that I was going for but it really appealed to me.


So these were the resulting fabric pulls. LOVE! but still not quite right. I needed more variation, more depth. Rather than fat quarters, could I look at fat eighths and have more fabric – YES! Thanks Clair.

Girt by Sea_Jane_Into the deep

And this is how Clair and I (cause I couldn’t have done it without lots of input from her), arrived at – “Into the deep”.


Being able to call Clair from Clair’s Fabrics a friend is not only a joy because she’s one fascinating lady, but also because I can go to her house, walk through the rooms full of fabric and pick out treasures!

Even so, I found it incredibly hard to put together my bundle for Girt By Sea.  Not only was there simply too much choice, but I realised that I don’t normally choose fabrics for a project in this way at all.  I’ve either already got my fabrics and choose a project to suit them, or, particularly with a medallion quilt like this, kind of make it up as I go along, when I can see what looks right where.  This would be the first time I’d had the pattern first and then chosen all the fabrics before even starting.

“Just find one or two things that you love.  Don’t worry about how they go together at this stage” Clair advised.   So I browsed the shelves, picking out various bolts of gorgeousness, but kept gravitating back to Cotton and Steel and finally settled on a selection of Print Shop by Alexia Abegg.  “Now,” my guru said “find anything and everything that coordinates with those prints.  Don’t think about whether or not you like them.”  Wow, was that a game-changer!  I’m not sure I would have picked out this spiky print normally, but look how it coordinates beautifully with the rusts and also pulls that neon pink into play!


The final step was for Clair to work her magic in helping me cull all the coordinating fabrics I’d picked out so that we were left with the ones that really work as a complete package.  I can’t describe quite how this happens, but even if you love a particular fabric, if it doesn’t play nicely with the others you have to let it go.  That said, a little quirk is what makes your quilt uniquely yours, so even though the neon pink sits pretty much all on its own in this bundle, we both agreed I should keep it!


The bundle of fabric I left Clair’s house with took me totally by surprise!  Although I loved it, it was a complete departure from how I had anticipated making this quilt.  But when I showed the bundle to Jane, she said “It’s the colours of Australia!” and it all fell beautifully into place.  I hadn’t intended to do a literal interpretation of Girt By Sea, but here was the blue of the sky, the aqua of the oceans, the green of the mountains, and the red of the earth.  And that neon pink?  Well, that’s what makes my quilt “Flirty Girty“!


Our bundles are available through Clair’s Fabrics now – just search ‘Girt by Sea’.