June 30, 2018

Reach for the Stars - June Island Batik Challenge

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

Edited October 11, 2018 to say, the pattern for this quilt is now available! Get your copy in my Payhip or Etsy shop.

I'm sneaking in under the wire with this quilt, which has actually been finished for a full week. Getting pictures was nearly impossible though. It was the last week of school, so there were events 3 evenings, I was sick most of the week and the weather was not at all cooperating. I finally got the pictures this morning, despite the wind (thank you beach rocks for weighing down the edges!).

The June Island Batik ambassador challenge was to create a modern batik quilt, which "must incorporate one of the characteristics of modern quilts as defined by the Modern Quilt Guild (the use of bold colors and prints, high contrast and graphic areas of solid color, improvisational piecing, Minimalism, expansive negative space, alternate grid work)."

Here's my quilt, which I'm calling Reach for the Stars. There's lots of negative space and bold colours in there 😊
Reach for the Stars quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Reach for the Stars quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Reach for the Stars quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I designed this quilt during the most recent 30 Quilt Designs challenge with Sandra at Musings of a Menopausal Melon and I knew right away it had to go on the "make it soon" list. This is the second of my 30 designs from that challenge that I've made (the first one was my April IB challenge project) and I have a third well underway.

The background fabric is called Buttermilk and it's from Island Batik's Foundation Neutrals. I seriously wish I could have a whole bolt of it. It's such a gorgeous cream colour, just right for setting off the bright fabrics of the stars. The fabrics for the stars are all from the Elementz line. The Elementz fabrics have geometric prints in bright colours, giving them a fun, modern vibe.
Reach for the Stars quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I used Warm and Natural batting and Aurifil thread. I wasn't sure I'd have the right colours in my Aurifil stash, which still isn't very big, but I was pleasantly surprised to find exactly what I needed. I used 2311 for the background and 1231, 2530, 5006 and 4140 for the stars.

This quilt is a gift for my mother in law, who has often commented on how much she likes the detailed quilting I do, so I definitely wanted to do lots of fun quilting. All while I pieced the quilt, I kept thinking about how I'd quilt the negative space. I wanted it to be something pretty, but not too time consuming (so no flow quilting, lol) and I didn't want the quilt to end up really stiff (so not a lot of traveling back over the same lines). I finally settled on swirl hooks and tried to make myself stitch them big, with varying levels of success.
Reach for the Stars quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
They ended up being consistently inconsistent in size, but at least some of them are big, lol. I still seem to default to tiny stitching if I'm not paying attention. I really love this design and I'm not sure why I don't think to use it more often.

In the Ohio stars, I quilted arcs from corner to corner, with the swirl hooks in the center.
Reach for the Stars quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
In the friendship stars, I quilted these swirly flowers. I've only used these flowers once before, in my Happy Birthday banner quilt, and it was nice to use them again.
Reach for the Stars quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
For the binding, I used this fabulous aqua from the Foundation Basics, and I really wish I had a bolt of this one too! Isn't it pretty? I love the way it frames the Buttermilk background of the quilt.
Island Batik aqua | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
My in-laws are celebrating their 50th anniversary tomorrow, so we're giving them His and Hers quilts. This one is hers and my April IB challenge quilt will be his. I hope they both enjoy their new quilts.

As my contribution to the anniversary celebration, I made this cake using the topper from their wedding cake. I don't usually make fancy cakes like this, so I was a little nervous about how it would turn out.
Anniversary cake | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Just ignore the mess in the background, lol 😊
My grandmother used to do wedding cakes and I remember sitting beside her while she made dozens of roses, sometimes plopping a newly formed one straight into my mouth. I still eat a little of the icing whenever I make a cake...old habits die hard! And yes, I did eat a rose, too 😊

I am working on the pattern for Reach for the Stars, which will be available sometimes over the summer. I'd love to have a couple of pattern testers, so if you're interested, just let me know!

Edited October 11, 2018 to say, the pattern is now available! Get your copy from my Payhip or Etsy shop.

I'm linking up with Sarah's Show Me Something with Stars party.

June 25, 2018

Being Ready

Devotion for the Week...

I love to bake. Breads, brownies, muffins, cakes and cookies are all fair game. Even the occaisional pie makes its way into my oven. Because the urge to bake can hit at any moment, there are some things I make sure to always have in the house. There's always at least one unopened bag of sugar so I can be sure I'll never run out. I buy the biggest bag of flour I can. Chocolate chips and vanilla are always in the cupboard and I make sure to keep baking soda, baking powder and brown sugar stocked. There's nothing worse than starting to bake something, only to realize I don't have enough of an ingredient.

Likewise, I love to be able to sew something from my stash, even if it's something I don't usually sew, like the tag blankets and fidget blankets I've made recently. That's why I keep random bits of ribbons, old buttons and other bits and pieces. You never know what will come in handy for some new project.

Whether baking or sewing, it feels good to be ready for whatever I want to make.

Isn't it interesting that even the Bible talks about being ready? "If someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way" (1 Peter 3:15, 16).

Always be ready.

First of all, I love that Peter assumes people will be curious about this hope we have. That means he's also assuming that we will seem different enough from other people that they will notice we have something they don't.

Then, when they do notice that we're a bit different, we should be ready to explain why. That means we should be able to explain what we believe. I believe that God loves His people. I believe that Jesus really lived, that He died on a cross to take away my sins and that He rose again. I believe that because of His death and resurrection, I have the hope of spending eternity with God in heaven. 

Sometimes, there will be more questions. Maybe people will ask why we believe. Maybe they'll ask if even their sins could be taken away. Or maybe they'll ask if God could still love them even after what they've done. Or they might ask why God allowed some awful thing to happen.

Whatever the questions, we should be ready to answer. Sometimes, unfortunately, the answer will simply be "I don't know," because sometimes we just can't know why things happen. But the more we know our Bibles, the more ready we'll be and the more questions we'll be able to answer.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
It's not that we have to be experts or have advanced degrees in theology or anything. But if people are genuinely curious, wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to answer their questions and maybe help them understand how much God loves them?

June 24, 2018

Comment Problem Fix!

As many of you probably know, those of us who blog on Blogger have been experiencing a problem with comment notifications no longer being emailed, which has made it incredibly difficult to respond to comments. But there is finally a fix!!

On your blog dashboard, go to Settings and select Email.

Delete the email address you have listed in the Comment Notifications Email box and then click Save Settings. It's very important to remember to click Save Settings!

Then re-enter the email address into the Comment Notifications Email box and click Save Settings again. You'll get a confirmation email asking you to subscribe to get the comment notifications by email. Just click subscribe and you should be good to go.

I sent myself a test email right away and it worked! Insert happy dance!!

And just so we don't have a whole post with no pretty picture, here's a shot of some of the quilting I've been working on. It's finished now, so I just need to get the quilt washed and take pictures so I can finally share it 😊
Swirl Hook quilting | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I hope you're enjoying your weekend!

June 19, 2018

Tag Blankets

Over the past couple of weeks I needed 3 baby gifts, two for girls and one for a boy, so I decided to make some tag blankets. I already had one for a boy, which you can see here, so I only needed to make the two girl ones.

I had a charm pack of beautiful, feminine fabrics that I won from Sandra at Musings of a Menopausal Melon during the most recent 30 Quilt Designs challenge, so this seemed like the perfect time to use some of them. I love that they're very girly, without being pink or purple. I do love both pink and purple, but sometimes you want something a little different, especially since almost everything available for baby girls is one or both of those colours.
Tag blankets | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Tag blankets | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I used 16 of the charm squares for each of the blankets, sewn in a simple 4 x 4 layout.

Then I went digging through my assorted ribbons to see what I have on hand that would coordinate. It wasn't a lot, to be honest, but I made it work by adding one to every other square, rather than every square like I did before. I may have to stock up on ribbons, just for those times I need to make a quick gift from my stash 😉

I stitched back and forth over each ribbon a bunch of times to make sure they'll hold up to being tugged on repeatedly.
Tag blankets | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
It was fun to add my label as one of the ribbons!
Tag blankets | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I had this fabulous blue and yellow floral in my stash that worked perfectly for the backing. It was just barely enough. I even had to piece one of the backings and it ended up taking three seams to make it big enough.
Tag blankets | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Tag blankets | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Tag blankets | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I used some of the Hobbs Thermore batting I got in my Island Batik box. It's super thin, which I wouldn't want for a normal quilt, but it was nice for these.

I don't think I shared the story of this spool of blue thread here before. Nathan insisted he wanted to buy me something for Mother's Day, even though I told him he didn't need to (we don't do gifts usually). He went after school on the Tuesday or Wednesday before Mother's Day to pick it out and then wrapped it immediately after he got home. He was practically dancing around, he was so excited about what he had picked out and he could hardly wait to give it to me. When I opened it, I got the biggest kick out of what he had picked out! That spool of blue thread is definitely one of the sweetest gifts I've been given 😊
Tag blankets | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Now he loves to hear when I'm using the thread he gave me, so it was nice that it works perfectly with these fabrics. I stitched around the edge of the blanket to close up the hole I used to turn it right side out, then stitched on either side of each of the seams. Quick, simple and pretty!

All three blankets have been gifted now. The mom who will soon be having the boy told me that when she had her daughter she bought her a similar blanket, but it had different materials for the tags. One of them was rubber-like and when she washed  and dried the blanket, she melted it! That won't happen with this one 😊

These are a nice, quick baby gift, perfect for when I don't have time for a full baby quilt. What's your go-to handmade baby gift that's not a quilt?

June 18, 2018


Devotion for the Week...

Saturday was my husband's birthday and his family came to visit and celebrate with us. It was a great day with lots of laughter. And chocolate cake with chocolate orange icing 😋

The kids I babysit are obsessed with birthdays. When they play play dough they love to stick things upright in a lump of the play dough as candles and then sing 'Happy Birthday' (usually at the top of their lungs) before blowing their candles out.

The four year old, Fiona, also likes to get regular updates on how old the others are. Last week, when she asked how old the youngest is, I told her he's one and she asked, "Why?" "Because he has had one birthday," I told her.

A Pharisee who came to visit Jesus one night was shocked when Jesus told him that he needed another birthday if he wanted to enter the Kingdom of God.

Jesus told him, "'I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.'

'What do you mean?' exclaimed Nicodemus. 'How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?'" (John 3:3, 4).

Before we go any farther, can we just pause to acknowledge that the snarky, sarcastic response was already alive and well in Jesus' day? Of course, you could read Nicodemus' question as a perfectly straight question, if you want to, but there's so much more personality in it if you allow him to be sarcastic. With that one change in tone Nicodemus just springs to life.

Obviously, Jesus didn't mean for us to go back into our mothers' wombs and be born again, so what did He mean? Jesus gave Nicodemus a rather long answer that boils down to, "the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life" (v. 6), which maybe doesn't help a whole lot. Even Nicodemus didn't understand and had to ask in verse 9, "How are these things possible?"

And then Jesus gives this wonderfully simple answer:

"For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him" (v. 16).

We are born again, through the Holy Spirit, when we believe in Jesus as God's Son, sent to save everyone who believes in Him. That's it. There's no special ceremony, no specific words we need to use, nothing, in fact, for us to do besides believe. Jesus has done everything else that needed to be done.

In so doing, "he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins" (Colossians 1:13). And that is our second birthday.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I'm not sure how well Fiona would understand having two birthdays, though...

June 13, 2018

Cross Stitch Quilt Pattern Release

I get to release another pattern today! This time it's my Cross Stitch pattern, which was inspired by (you guessed it!) all of the x's that are used to make a cross stitch 😊 The pattern is available through either my Payhip or Etsy shops.
Cross Stitch quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Cross Stitch is a graphic design that plays with the size of the blocks to make a striking quilt. The blocks are made using the slice and insert technique and the quilt comes together quickly.

At 64" x 64", it makes a nice big baby quilt, throw quilt or a great wall quilt. You could even make a mini quilt using only the center blocks.
Cross Stitch quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
To celebrate the pattern's release, it is available for 25% off through Wednesday, June 20th, so be sure to get your copy today.

Get Cross Stitch from my Payhip shop

Get Cross Stitch from my Etsy shop

As always, if you make Cross Stitch, I'd love to see your version, so be sure to tag me on IG (@devotedquilter) or FB (@devotedquilterdesigns) or send a picture to devotedquilter at gmail dot com 😊

June 11, 2018

Past the Surface

Devotion for the Week...

I opened the fridge to put something in one day and was confronted by a space packed full of food with nowhere to add anything else. Or so I thought at first. Then I realized that it was only the front half of the space that was full and there was almost nothing in the back. I moved the containers around a bit and freed up plenty of room for whatever it was I was trying to put away.

There are times when things on the surface conceal what is really going on. Not only in the fridge, of course, but in all areas of life. For example, have you heard the phrase 'skinny fat'? It refers to people who are slim, but whose lifestyle and eating habits are unhealthy, resulting in them having almost the same health risks as a person who is overweight.

And with the news recently of the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, I have to acknowledge that mental illness is often hidden. We may not know what is going on in the lives of others, maybe even people we think we know well. People suffering from depression may be able to carry out their normal activities so it looks from the outside like everything is fine, when in reality it is not. The stigma that prevents people from talking about mental illness is a dangerous thing.

Jesus talked about a time when His followers need to be careful to look past the surface: "Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves" (Matthew 7:15). When faced with a new pastor or teacher or writer we need to look carefully at what they say. Does what they teach line up with Scripture? If not, then we need to reject their teaching as harmful, as something that could pull us away from God and His will for us.

We need to be especially careful when what they say appeals to us. Paul said to Timothy, "For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear" (2 Timothy 4:3). I think of those who teach the 'prosperity gospel' whenever I read this verse. If ever a message appeals to 'itching ears', this would be it. Prosperity gospel claims that as Christians we can have everything we want - money, happiness, health, you name it. But that's not what the Bible teaches. Jesus Himself said, "I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). That doesn't mean that the Christian life is nothing but misery, but it does mean we won't get everything we want just by praying for it. Not everything we want is what God has planned for us.

This is not to say that every message that appeals to us is wrong! If the message lines up with what we read in the Bible, then we can embrace it wholeheartedly. The message of salvation through faith, not through the work I've done, for example, is a wonderful message that is supported by Scripture. "God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago" (Ephesians 2:8-10).
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Whatever the source and whatever the message, we have to look past the attractive surface and dig deeper, making sure that what we believe is actually the truth.

June 05, 2018

Batik Stars and Bonus HSTs

Note, some of the fabrics in this post were given to me by Island Batik as part of their ambassador program.

I've been working on my project for the June Island Batik ambassador program. The challenge this month is to create a modern batik quilt, so I'm making a throw quilt with lots of negative space and 20 9" blocks.

The top is actually finished now, but I don't have a good picture or it, so I'll save that for another day. I'm hoping to get it basted soon because I can't wait to get to the quilting, as usual 😊

I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again...I love star blocks! For this quilt, I've chosen two stars, the friendship star and the Ohio star. I've made them with fabrics from Island Batik's Elementz line and the background is one of their foundation neutrals. It's called Buttermilk and I love it.

Here are the Ohio stars.
Batik Ohio stars | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Batik Ohio stars | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
And the friendship stars.
Batik friendship star blocks | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Batik friendship star blocks | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Batik friendship star blocks | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Batik friendship star blocks | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
This palette feels so summery to me, which was quite funny as I was putting the quilt top together on Sunday while it SNOWED. It was crazy! It snowed all day, but thankfully the snow all melted again on Monday.

While sewing the stars and assembling the quilt top, I used the bonus HSTs from my Murrina quilt as leaders and enders. By the time the quilt top was finished, I had a 12" block put together.

I was very amused by how much the rows shrank when I pieced the blocks together. It's hard to imagine that sewing the rows together will turn this back into a square, isn't it?
Scrappy HSTs | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
But it did!
Scrappy HSTs | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
 Here's a close up of the center of the block. What's the smallest scrappy bit you can see? Keep in mind, each HST finishes at only 1" square, so those small bits are really, really small!
Scrappy HSTs | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I'm pretty sure I'm going to finish the block as a mini quilt to add to my mini wall, but for now it's waiting its turn while I work on other things. I hope to get back to it over our summer break, which is thankfully only 3 1/2 weeks away. Of course, I have a whole list of other things I'd like to get to over the break too, so hopefully the summer lull won't keep me from sewing this year!

I'm still waiting for Blogger to fix the comment notification problem (they're working on it, I hear, so that's a start), so if you comment on this post please know that I am reading all of the comments, even if I'm not able to reply to them easily right now. I'm really hoping Blogger gets it resolved soon!

June 04, 2018


Devotion for the Week...

Last week I looked at the Pharisees and why Jesus warned His disciples to beware of them. Today I want to take another look at the them and how their spirit is alive and well even today.

There are two stories in the Bible of Jesus healing on the Sabbath. Once, which I mentioned last week, it was a woman who hadn't been able to stand up straight for 18 years (Luke 13:10-17) and the other time it was a man with a deformed hand (Mark 3:1-6). The Pharisees reacted with anger both times.

After He healed the woman: "But the leader in charge of the synagogue was indignant that Jesus had healed her on the Sabbath day. 'There are six days of the week for working,” he said to the crowd. “Come on those days to be healed, not on the Sabbath'" (Luke 3:14).

And after He healed the man: "At once the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to plot how to kill Jesus" (Mark 3:6).

In fact, the Pharisees were watching precisely to see if He would heal the man with the deformed hand. "Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand. Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath" (Mark 3:1,2).

In both of these instances, the thing that strikes me as most interesting is how the Pharisees were completely blinded by the rules. All they could see was the rule against doing work on the Sabbath. They couldn't see the miracles that were taking place before them and they certainly couldn't see the people who were being set free. They weren't interested in the people at all. It was only whether or not the rules were being kept that interested them.

Picture this for a moment...you've gone to church just as usual on a Sunday morning and there's a woman there who has been sick for so long hardly anyone can remember a time when she was well. Someone new comes into the church, sees the sick woman and completely heals her. Picture the moment of astonishment that would follow, and then the pandemonium of celebration that would break out. Then picture your pastor standing up, picking up the mic and saying, "Don't come here looking for healing on a Sunday. This is a day of rest. Get your healing some other day."

Crazy, right?

But what about if someone new visits a church, someone who has been living a life so far away from God you can see it in their clothing or smell it on their breath? Would that person be welcomed in, allowed to sit through the service and maybe hear about the spiritual healing that Jesus offers to all of those who believe in Him? Or would our rules of acceptable behavior keep us from seeing the miracle of that person even being in a church to begin with?

Or what if it's a person who maybe isn't so obviously in need of God, but who just doesn't conform to how we think a person should act when they're in church? How would we treat them?

I once heard a retired pastor say that if a man came into his church wearing a baseball hat and didn't remove it, he would ask that man to leave. "It's a sign of disrespect," he said. I argued that a hat doesn't show the state of a person's heart. We can be respectful or disrespectful regardless of what we have on our heads. He disagreed and said again that it is a sign of disrespect for a man to leave his hat on, and he would ask any man who wouldn't take off his hat to leave the church.

In society in general and in the church, we have rules that govern how we dress, how we talk and how we act. That's good. There's nothing wrong with rules and standards. What's wrong is when we become so fixated on making sure people follow those rules that we forget to look at the people themselves. We can become so blinded by the rules that we miss the miracles.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
The Pharisees missed the miracles of the people healed in their midst because they were so upset about the rules Jesus broke. They missed the miracle of Jesus, the Son of God Himself in their midst, because they were so upset about the rules He broke.

Are we being blinded by the rules? And if we are, what miracles might we be missing?