March 30, 2016

Flow Quilting

I have been playing around with flow quilting these past few days.
Flow Quilting |
I have previously called this type of quilting 'graffiti quilting', but have since switched to using the term 'flow quilting' because 'graffiti quilting' was coined by Karlee Porter, who has a very distinctive style completely unlike my own. Cristina Cameli calls it 'wild quilting' and I think Angela Walters calls it 'improv quilting', so there's really no set name for it. I like flow quilting, though, because it feels like the designs just flow together.

Whatever you call it, quilting like this is fun!

I'm quilting the mini quilt I made with the denim epp flowers I made for one of my Denim Days posts and my machine doesn't really like quilting close to the denim. I'm guessing it's because the denim is raised off the background fabric so much and the presser foot is half-on the denim and half-off it when I'm close to it. I started out by outlining the middle flower and then flow quilted my way over to the one on the left. I quilted around that one and then tried doing pebbles around it, but that's when my machine started making funny noises and breaking the thread. So, after debating what to do for a while, I ripped out everything close to the flowers so that I can echo quilt around them. You can see where I ripped out stitches between the two flowers in this picture.
Flow Quilting |
Echoing around the flowers gives me a little space so that my presser foot isn't on top of the denim as I'm flow quilting and that seems to be working much better. As a bonus, I really like that edge of white between the flower and the flow quilting!
Flow Quilting |
Last night I added some back-and-forth lines in one section and I really like how that makes the motifs seem to float above the background. I'll be using more of those.

I also really like these long swirls. They're quite a bit bigger than everything else I've quilted so far, so I want to scatter them around to make the quilting look balanced.
Flow Quilting |
We're on our Easter break this week, so there's no school and no babysitting for me. I'm hoping to have a lot of time for quilting before regular routine starts up again on Monday.

I'll be linking up with Let's Bee Social and NTT this week.

March 28, 2016

Not Innocent

Devotion for the Week...

We had a lovely communion service at our church Friday morning to mark Good Friday. During the service our pastor read from Matthew 27, starting at verse 11. As he read, one part really caught my attention.

Jesus stands before Pilate, who sees no reason to keep him prisoner, but the crowd is demanding that Pilate release a notorious criminal rather than Jesus. What caught my attention was this one verse:

"When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” "(Matthew 27:24).

"I am innocent of this man's blood," Pilate claimed. Well, that's not true, is it? If we look only at the events that were happening, Pilate claimed he was innocent because the crowd demanded Jesus' death. Really, though, Pilate chose to give in to those demands. He chose to allow an innocent man to be crucified merely to satisfy the demands of a mob and prevent "an uproar". A ceremonial washing of his hands could not wash away his guilt.

But beyond the events of the story, Pilate cannot claim to be innocent of Jesus' blood. None of us can. The simple truth is that every person ever born, except Jesus Himself, is guilty of sin.  "The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one" (Psalm 14:2,3). All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

None of us can claim to have never done wrong. No matter how much we try to be good people, there are still times when we think or do things that are wrong. Pilate didn't understand what was really happening in Jerusalem that day. He thought he could claim innocence because the crowd was demanding Jesus' death. Really, though, he was just as guilty as the religious leaders who were inciting the crowd to hate Jesus. And we are just as guilty as all of them. Jesus died for all the sins of everyone, everywhere, which means we are all guilty.

The good news is that the story doesn't leave us stuck at guilty. Jesus died because of our sins, yes, but that's not the end. Adam's sin brought sin to all of mankind and made all of us sinners. There was no escaping that death sentence...until Jesus. We are all guilty of causing His death, and yet His death is what gives us forgiveness. "For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous" (Romans 5:19). When we believe that Jesus died for us, our sins are forgiven and our relationship with God is restored.

Only when we acknowledge our guilt can we accept Jesus as Savior. And only when we accept Jesus as Savior can our guilt be removed.             

March 23, 2016

Stitching Path

When I posted about my Denim Log Cabin placemats I had 8 tops pieced, but only two of them were quilted and bound. I finally got the rest of them quilted, and last weekend I finished binding them. This stack of placemats makes me so happy!
I quilted them using the swirl hook design, which I learned from Angela Walters' video tutorial. For the first few placemats, I quilted it randomly, but then as I went along I realized that I could quilt it in a spiral so I did that for two. I couldn't believe the difference in the look of the finished quilting!

Here is one quilted randomly...
 ...and one quilted in a spiral.
See how when I quilted in a spiral the motifs end up looking like they're in rows? I also find they ended up more uniform in size and all facing the same direction.

Personally, I like the random look better, but quilting in a spiral was certainly easier. When quilting random I had more of a tendency to quilt myself into predicaments, mostly because I left spaces between the motifs that were either awkward to get into or that I couldn't get into at all. Following a spiral path eliminated those problems because I was just building on the last row quilted.

Have you ever tried quilting the same design in different paths? Did you find it made a difference in the look of the finished quilting?

I'll be linking up with Let's Bee Social, NTT, TGIFF, Can I Get a Whoop Whoop and Finish it up Friday.

March 21, 2016

No Matter How Big

Devotion for the Week...

What is your first inclination when you screw up big time when no one you know is around? Do you immediately rush to tell people, or are you secretly grateful no one saw and vow to keep it to yourself?

If you're like most people, you tend to keep those things quiet, unless it's one of those 'so stupid it's funny' stories that you're able to laugh about later. We don't really like letting others know how many mistakes we make, do we?

Before He was arrested, Jesus told His disciples, "This very night you will all fall away on account of me," (Matthew 26:31) meaning that they would all scatter and abandon Him. 

But "Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will” (v. 33). Oh, the confidence! It's easy to be confident you'll stick around through the hard times when everything looks perfect, isn't it?

But Jesus knew the truth. "Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times" (v. 34). How that must have stung Peter, hearing that Jesus didn't believe Peter's declaration.

So then "Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you" (v. 35).

Well, that's not what happened, is it? Jesus did get arrested and all the disciples scattered, Peter included. When Jesus was taken away, though, Peter followed.

"Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.

But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.

Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”

After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”

Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”
Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly" (vv. 69-75).

Talk about screwing up big time! Where hours before Peter had been sure he'd be willing to die with Jesus, when the threat came, he found himself denying that he even knew Jesus. Once he realized what he had done, of course Peter wept bitterly. Wouldn't you have?

I once heard a preacher ask, "How do we know Peter denied Jesus?" When you stop to think about it, the only possible way we know this story is because Peter must have told the others what happened. I doubt Peter ever forgot the shame he felt after denying Jesus, but I think he probably told the story hundreds of times in his life. Not because he was proud of himself, or liked telling about his worst mistake, but because once he shared that story, he could then tell the rest of the story.

The first people to learn of the resurrection were some women who went to the tomb to prepare Jesus' body for burial. They arrived at the tomb to find Jesus' body gone and an angel sitting outside the tomb. The angel said to them, "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you" (Mark 16:6,7). Tell his disciples and Peter! In other words, don't leave Peter out. Make sure he knows what is happening. Give him hope.

Peter screwed up big time, but that just meant Jesus could show him the depth of His grace. Paul wrote in Romans 5:20, 21 "where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." The bigger the sin, the bigger the grace that covers it...and the sin can never be so big that there isn't sufficient grace to cover it. Just ask Peter.

I picture Peter all through his life, talking with people who think their sins are too much for God, that God would never want them because they've screwed up their lives too much. I see Peter smiling as he shakes his head. "You think you've screwed up?" he says to them. "Just listen to what I did, and Jesus forgave me. If His grace is big enough for me, it's big enough for you."

The truth is, there are people today who think they've screwed up their lives too much for God to ever forgive them. Maybe you're one of them. But no matter how big your sins, or how many, God's grace is always big enough to cover them. 

John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Whoever believes...not only those people who have tiny sins, or those people who hardly ever sin...whoever believes! That means anyone and everyone who believes. Even if your sins are as big as Peter's.

March 16, 2016

A Seat for Judah

This is Judah.
Adorable, right? Every quilting blog should have a dose of baby cuteness now and then! Judah belongs to our friends Greg and Crystal, and he's 5 months old (I think). A few weeks ago Crystal said something along the lines of, "I have a pattern for something and I was wondering if you could make it for me."

Now, I can confidently acknowledge that my quilting skills are pretty good, but my sewing-anything-else skills can be a little questionable. For example, if the finished item has to fit a person properly, I'm not making it for anyone other than myself just yet! Once I had a look at the pattern, though, I agreed to give it a go because it seemed both pretty simple and more than a little genius. And, having now finished the project, I can say I was right on both counts.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of it not in use, so we'll have to go with my description of what isn't clear in the picture.

This is a portable baby seat that folds up really small, but holds the baby securely in any dining room style chair. Isn't that brilliant?? I mean, how many times do parents go out to visit friends or family and they want to have baby with them, but not actually in their arms? You can't lug a high chair with you everywhere you go, but this little thing could easily fit in a diaper bag (or suitcase, if needed), then you just pop it over the back of the chair and suddenly your arms are free! How I wish I had had one of these when our boys were small!
How does it work, you ask? Well, there's an opening in the back part that slides down over the back of the chair, and then the front part comes up between baby's legs. What you can't see in the picture is that the red bias tape that goes around the edges extends past the fabric to become long ties. Those ties get threaded through loops on the sides of the back piece. Pull the ties as tight as needed to hold baby in place, then tie a knot at the back of the chair. As you can see, Judah was quite content to test it out for us!

I used this pattern** from Canadian Living, which instructs you to buy pre-quilted fabric. That wasn't available, so Crystal picked out these two cute prints and I just quilted it myself with a quick stipple. I had a serious moment of confusion over the width of the fabric needed, though, since the pattern said it required 1.2 m of 115 cm-wide fabric. Now, the 1.2 meter part I had no problem with because all the fabric stores in Canada sell fabric by the meter, so whenever I go to the store I buy in meters. The 115 cm threw me off, though, because my brain automatically went to extra-wide quilt backing, which is typically 108" wide. It wasn't until Crystal and I had our second or third text exchange about what to buy, and I checked the pattern again (for the third time), that I realized she didn't need to buy extra-wide fabric. Regular quilting fabric, the 45" stuff I've been buying for years and years, is 115 cm! I don't think I've ever seen the width of the fabric measured in metric before. Crystal told me afterwards that every time she said something about the fabric being 115 cm to the lady at the fabric store, the lady would respond with, "yeah, 45 inches." I guess I'm not the only Canadian who thinks of the fabric width in inches!

This little seat would make a great gift for new parents and I'm thinking I'll be making many more of them in the future, especially now that I know what size fabric to buy!

I'll be linking up this week with Let's Bee Social, NTT, TGIFF, Can I Get a Whoop Whoop and Finish it up Friday.

** Edited September 1, 2016...Aack, it seems the pattern has disappeared from the Canadian Living website! I'm so sorry that link is no longer valid.

***Edited April 10, 2017...okay, here's a new link that is working (for now!).

March 14, 2016

It's the Finishing that Really Matters

Devotion for the Week...

I try to finish all the quilts I start. Really, I do. Even with the best of intentions, though, I have a growing pile of UFOs (UnFinished Objects). The thing about those UFOs is that they're really doing me no good at all. I can't gift them to anyone, or use them as decorations, or cuddle up under them with a book.

This is true of so many things, isn't it? So many people set out to write books or lose weight or train for a marathon and never meet their goals. Those UFOs aren't doing anyone any good either. It's exciting to start something new. There's so much promise and so much potential in a new beginning, but it's the finishing that really matters.

Jesus came to earth with a mission - to save mankind from their sins and restore our relationship with God. The start of that mission (Christmas) gets a lot of attention, which is understandable. Newborn babies and presents are fun and exciting, certainly more so than the torture and death that are the main elements of the Easter story. And yet, if it's the finishing that really matters, then Easter deserves the greater attention.

I will be the first to admit that I don't really understand how Jesus could have been both fully man and fully God, but I believe there was always the possibility that Jesus wouldn't complete the mission. As I see it, there were two weak points, where Jesus' humanity could have caused Him to turn away from God's plan.

First of all, He was fully man, which means He could have given in to the temptation to sin. You can read in Matthew 4:1-11 how Jesus was tempted by Satan at the start of His ministry, but I don't think those were the only attempts Satan made. He knew who Jesus was and I doubt he would have given up so easily. Those may have been the most blatant attempts he made, but I would imagine Satan tempted Jesus with common sins like anger and lust and idolatry just as often as he tempts us, maybe even more. In Hebrews we read, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin" (Hebrews 4:15). He was tempted in every way, just as we are, but Jesus never gave in! If He had, even if He had sinned only once, there would have been no perfect sacrifice to make atonement for all of us who are so far from perfect. He finished His 33 years of living on earth without giving in to the temptation to sin.

Second, since He was fully man, He had a body just like ours. Undoubtedly He fell as a child and scraped His knees, or hit His thumb with a hammer while learning carpentry from Joseph. He knew what pain was. He also knew what was coming. In Luke 9:22 Jesus told His disciples, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life." The disciples didn't understand, of course, but Jesus knew. Just think for a moment how you would feel if you knew that in a couple of days you would be handed over to corrupt authorities who would beat you, whip you and kill you. Think about the pain you would feel as that whip landed on your back. Wouldn't you run from that pain? Wouldn't you try to get as far away as you could, to hide in a place where they would never find you? I know I would. But Jesus didn't. In fact, "Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem" (v. 51). I like the word resolutely. It means He didn't head for Jerusalem lightly, but He also didn't go against His will. He knew what was coming, and He chose to go anyway. He went to Jerusalem on purpose.

Not that He didn't check in with God to see if it was possible to avoid all that pain. He did ask, after all. Shortly before He was arrested, Jesus prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me" (Matthew 26:39). Essentially, He was asking, 'Can we do this some other way?' Now, I don't know why it had to be done the way it was. I don't know why there had to be beating and excruciating pain. I understand that He had to die to pay the price for our sins, but I don't know why it couldn't have been a quick and painless death. But whatever the reason, it was not possible for that cup to be taken from Him and, in the end, Jesus chose to continue with the plan. The full verse reads, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (v. 39).

Through it all, He endured. Though the pain must have been intense, He never wavered in His dedication to God's plan. And when He cried out on the cross, "It is finished," (John 19:30), it was a cry of victory, a celebration of a mission completed.

It was, and is, a finish worth celebrating!

March 07, 2016

Lights in the Dark

Devotion for the Week...

My parents left this morning after a two week visit. While they were here, Paul and I went away for a weekend. It's a win for everyone - we had a break, the boys had time with just their grandparents and the grandparents had time with just the boys. We left late in the afternoon on Friday, as soon as the little guy I babysit was picked up, and drove 7 hours to our destination, which meant most of the driving was done in the dark.

Driving across Newfoundland means driving through mostly uninhabited land. During daylight hours, it's a beautiful drive full of ponds, brooks, fields and gorgeous ocean views. In the dark, though, it's not quite so interesting. Beyond the scope of the headlights, it's just darkness, darkness and more darkness. There's nothing to see, even when I know there are gorgeous views right beside us. I said at one point, "It's a shame to drive through this section in the dark!"

That night I found that whenever a light appeared in the distance, I immediately turned to see what it was. Most of the time it was just a communication tower with a light on top, but sometimes it was a town in the distance or a spot where I could see a car coming towards us on the road far ahead. Whatever the source, the light drew my attention because it stood out in the darkness.

Jesus said to His disciples, "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:14-16).

There is so much to think about in these three verses! First of all, we are the light of the world, because we have Jesus, who said of Himself, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." Because He is the light of the world, we have the light of life, and so we are now the light of the world. The lights in the distance grabbed my attention when we were driving in the dark. In the same way, our lives should grab the attention of people living in spiritual darkness.

Unfortunately, most people don't really like standing out. We'd rather be like everyone else and not draw attention to ourselves. That's not God's plan, though. The lights on those communication towers make the towers visible to aircraft flying at night. They wouldn't serve their purpose if they were covered over. God has given us this light to draw attention to us, not because we are so great, but because He is. Because He offers salvation to everyone who believes, and because He wants "everyone to come to repentance," (2 Peter 3:9), His plan is for believers to grab the attention of those who don't yet believe. But we can't do that if we're covering over our light by living the same as everyone else.

Obviously, people in Jesus' day didn't light their lamps and then put them under bowls, for the same reason we don't turn on our lamps and cover them up. But, as believers, we do tend to cover up our spiritual light. When we try to blend in with everyone around us, living as selfishly as the rest of the world, then our light is covered up and we don't attract the attention of others.

God wants our lights to shine bright for others to see. Again, it's not because we are worthy of that attention, but because our light draws attention to Him, the source of our light. When our focus is on serving Him, rather than on serving ourselves, people see that we are different. Some will probably just think we're weird, but some will see that our differences, our light, come from our connection to God, and Jesus said that letting people see our light would cause them to glorify God.

Shining our lights isn't always easy, but isn't bringing glory to God worth it?

March 02, 2016

Just the Basics Mystery - Introduction and Gather Your Fabrics

Devoted Quilter is three years old today! I have so loved being a part of this online quilting community. It is amazing to me that I now have so many quilting friends, even if I've never actually met most of you! Maybe someday, right?

Starting the Just the Basics mystery quilt-a-long on my blogaversary seemed like a great way to celebrate three years of blogging. I really love the quilt I've made with this pattern, and I am excited to finally start sharing the instructions!


Running from March to August 2016, the Just the Basics mystery quilt-a-long will require no special rulers and no scary techniques. The design is confident beginner level and there will be no paper piecing, no applique, no improv piecing and no y-seams! Not that there's anything wrong with any of those techniques, but sometimes it's fun to see what you can make out of basic blocks.

I promise, the basics are anything but boring!

Instructions for each part of the mystery will be posted here on my blog, with new instructions posted the first Wednesday of each month. You can follow my blog with Bloglovin, Feedly, or by email so you never miss a post. The links for all three methods are on my sidebar.

I debated what size to make the mystery quilt as the original that I designed finished at approximately 48" x 48". That's a great size for a baby quilt or a wall quilt, but not everyone wants to make baby or wall quilts, right? Then again, not everyone wants to make a big quilt every time, either. So, I decided that I would offer two size options - the 48" x 48" size and a throw size that will finish at approximately 60" x 72". The pieces will be cut the same size for both, the only differences will be that anyone making the throw size will need more fabric and will make more units each month.

I'm looking forward to seeing your quilts come together, so, if you're on Instagram, please share your progress pictures using #JustTheBasicsMysteryQuilt.

Let's get started!

Gather Your Fabrics

The Just the Basics mystery quilt requires 5 fabrics, which I will be calling Fabrics 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. I recommend small to medium scale prints. Most of the finished pieces will be on the smaller side, so a larger print would likely be lost in the piecing. Don't be scared off by the prospect of small pieces, though! We'll be making units larger than needed, then trimming to size to increase our accuracy. I'll have extra tips for trimming accurately as we make each of the units, as well.

To help you with your fabric selection, here is a picture of the fabrics I have used for my quilt.

There are several possible focal points in the design, so I'm very interested in seeing how different fabric selections will affect the look of the finished quilts.

Here's what you need:

For the 48" x 48" baby quilt size

Fabric 1 - 1 3/4 yards (My grey fabric)
Fabric 2 - 1 3/4 yards (My blue fabric)
Fabric 3 - 3/4 yard (My black fabric)
Fabric 4 - 3/8 yard (My orange fabric)
Fabric 5 - 3/4 yard (My red fabric)

For the 60" x 72" throw size

Fabric 1 - 2 3/4 yards (My grey fabric)
Fabric 2 - 2 3/4 yards (My blue fabric)
Fabric 3 - 1 1/8 yards (My black fabric)
Fabric 4 - 1/2 yard (My orange fabric)
Fabric 5 - 1 yard (My red fabric)

Your quilt-a-long homework for this month is pretty simple - decide what size you want to make and gather your fabrics. I can't wait to see what fabrics you choose! Remember to share your fabric pull pictures using #JustTheBasicsMysteryQuilt.

In April, we'll start cutting and sewing units together!