July 30, 2018

Connections Mini - July Island Batik Challenge

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

The July Island Batik ambassador challenge is to use a block that creates a secondary pattern, which was right up my alley. I love blocks that create secondary patterns! I decided to use my Connections block, which is a free tutorial from my fourth blogiversary last year.

I chose these fabulous blues, blacks and oranges along with this equally fabulous cream and decided to make 9 blocks for a 36" square mini quilt.
Connections mini quilt fabric pull | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I cut my pieces before we went on our trip and even managed to piece some of the units and then left everything sitting on the kitchen table for when we got home. After we got back, I wasn't sewing long before I realized I had only cut half as many cream pieces as I needed...and I didn't have enough to cut the rest. Oops!

I pulled out my remaining Buttermilk fabric and decided it was close enough. Not a close match, really, but with all the variety in the other colours, it hopefully wouldn't matter that the background is two different fabrics.

Crisis averted, I pieced my 9 blocks and laid them out, only to find myself with another crisis!
Connections mini quilt fail | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
My blocks were decidedly lacking in secondary pattern, which, you may remember, was the entire point of this month's challenge! GAH! I had forgotten that I needed to flip some blocks, not just rotate them. Insert forehead smacking emoji here.

I had the blocks all laid out on the floor as I stared at them, trying to figure out what to do, when my husband walked into the room. "Looks good," he said. Gotta love that support!

I thanked him, of course, and then explained the problem, flipping over a couple of blocks to demonstrate how they were supposed to connect to create the secondary pattern. He looked at them for a few minutes and then asked if it matters which side of the fabric is up. Since these are batiks, there is no wrong side, so he pointed out that I could take the blocks apart and sew them with the seams going the other way. I'd only need to do it to 4 blocks and I wouldn't have to take everything apart, just enough to switch the direction of the blue/orange connector units.

Note to self, next time you make a quilt using the Connections block, remember to flip half of the blocks so they actually connect!

After an evening spent ripping seams and then re-sewing them, I eventually had 9 finished blocks that did create a secondary pattern 😊
Connections mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I used Warm and Natural batting and Aurifil thread in 2692, 4140, 2210 and 2311 and got started on the quilting.

I had fun quilting each section differently, starting with the blue rings. They got simple back and forth lines, with these flourishes in the corners. I read a post recently where a quilter (I can't remember who) said that her solution to being unable to neatly continue a motif around a corner is to do something different in the corners. Brilliant! I usually struggle to turn those corners neatly too, so this is such a great idea and it worked well here. I'll definitely use that trick again.
Connections mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
The orange connector units got wishbone quilting. It's one of my favourite designs to quilt and it's fast, so that's a bonus.
Connections mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I debated for a while what to do in the black hourglass units and finally settled on this design that I found on Pinterest. It was fun and quick to stitch.
Connections mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
That left the background sections. Everything else I had quilted was rather curvy, so I wanted to stick with that, but I didn't want anything too time consuming since the end of the month was quickly approaching. I flipped through Step by Step Free Motion Quilting, by Christina Cameli and found this design, which I loved.
Connections mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Just like in a field of real flowers, these quilted ones are all different sizes and their petals are all different too. And those meandering loops make me think of bumble bee trails 😊 This would make a great all-over design too, though it would have to be done at a larger scale, assuming I could make myself stitch bigger flowers. I'm thinking I might use it on my August IB challenge quilt when I get to that point, but it'll be a while since I'm only just getting started on that.

As always, I love the quilting on the back! I used the orange dot batik and I love how vibrant it looks.
Connections mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Connections mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Over the last year or two, I've been drawn more and more to the combination of orange and blue, so the back of the quilt with the blue binding just sings for me. All the texture from the quilting doesn't hurt, either. Did you notice that the binding is two different blues? I didn't have enough of either one to do the whole thing, but they work perfectly together.
Connections mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Connections mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I took the quilt for a walk along the trail for pictures. Sometimes the quilt blogger's life is rough, don't you think? 😄
Connections mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Connections mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
This one is for my mom, who loves daisies!
Connections mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
On the trail there are old logs, leftover from when the river was used to float logs to the bay back in the day. They made the perfect backdrop for some of these pictures. And they're beautiful in their own right, all covered in moss.
Old logs on the trail | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
In the process of making the 9 Connections blocks, I also made an abundance of extra HSTs. The blue/orange ones were made as bonus HSTs while I made the connector units and the random coloured ones were my leaders and enders.
HSTs | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
It was fun revisiting an old block (screw ups and all!) and I love how this little quilt turned out. Thanks once again to Island Batik for allowing me to play with these gorgeous fabrics and fun challenges each month. I am love being an Island Batik ambassador!
Connections mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to work on my August project 😊

Do Not Stand Up

Devotion for the Week...

As I mentioned last week, we rode a lot of roller coasters on our trip. One thing that amused all of us was a sign posted at the top of the big hill at the start of almost every coaster. Stretched right across the track was a sign that read, "Do Not Stand Up." What??

Who in their right mind gets to the highest point of a roller coaster, hundreds of feet in the air, supported by only a narrow track, in a moving vehicle that is poised to fly down the hill any second and decides they want to stand up?

We speculated that maybe no one has ever stood up and the signs are simply the park's way of protecting itself against lawsuits should someone ever try. Then again, maybe some people actually are that crazy and have stood up while riding.

Either way, the mere presence of the signs had me thinking about how we sometimes need help to know what is good for us. Sometimes we need advice from other people who are looking at situations from a different angle and who can see things we can't.

Take Moses, for example. He had led the Isrealites out of Egypt and the people were looking up to him as the authority among them. That meant, in part, that they brought all of their disputes to him so he could settle them. As he explained it, "When a dispute arises, they come to me, and I am the one who settles the case between the quarreling parties. I inform the people of God’s decrees and give them his instructions" (Exodus 18:16). All well and good, right? Not quite.

Moses' father-in-law, Jethro, observed the process for one day and immediately recognized a problem with the situation. He said to Moses, "What are you really accomplishing here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?...This is not good!... You’re going to wear yourself out—and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself" (vv. 14, 17-18).

He went on to tell Moses to appoint others to hear the lesser disputes, freeing himself up to hear only those major disputes that truly needed his attention. After Moses took the advice, the process was better for everyone. The people weren't waiting so long to have their issues resolved and Moses wasn't wearing himself out trying to deal with everything all by himself.

Do we heed the advice of others? When someone tells us that we need to do something differently, do we consider whether or not they might be right? Or do we continue on as we have been, convinced that our way is the only way?

And if someone tells us that what we're doing is dangerous in some way, do we immediately think they're trying to take away all our fun or do we stop and think that maybe they are trying to protect us?

Not every piece of advice we receive will be helpful, but if we don't stop to consider it, we'll never know. Sometimes we're so close to a situation we can't see the problems in what we're doing. Or maybe we're so excited that we don't slow down long enough to see the potential dangers.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
In both situations, it's good to heed the warning signs or listen to the wise advice of the people around us. Much as we like to think we always know what is best for us, sometimes we need help.

July 25, 2018

Island Batik Ambassador Box 2

Note, everything in this post was given to me by Island Batik as part of their ambassador program.

My second Island Batik ambassador box was waiting for me at the post office when we got home from holidays and what a great welcome home gift it was!

There were so many gorgeous things in the box and I know I'm going to have a lot of fun making with them over the next few months. Let's have a look, shall we?

First, I had a surprise bundle, which I can't share yet. It was all wrapped up in pretty butterfly paper, but I tore that off before I started taking pictures, so you'll just have to take my word for it 😊 I'm dying to share it with you because the colours and the prints are all gorgeous, but we'll just have to wait for a few more months. If it's any consolation, I'll soon be sharing the surprise bundle from my first ambassador box, so that will be one less secret for me to be keeping!

Aurifil is partnering with Island Batik this year, so we had a lovely Aurifil bag with some 12 wt thread in 6728 (cinnabar) and a sampler of 2890 (dark grass green) in all of the possible weights. I'm looking forward to testing some of the new-to-me ones out.
Island Batik ambassador box | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Remember how I raved about the Buttermilk fabric? Well, this time they sent my a 5 yard cut of the same print in a different colour, called Rice. Instead of a cream, Rice is white with hints of grey and blue and I love it just as much as Buttermilk 😊
Island Batik ambassador box | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
There were three precut bundles in the box this time, starting with a 2 1/2" strip pack of Spirit Rythym, along with yardage of a light and a dark to coordinate. What is your favourite pattern for using 2 1/2" strips?
Next is a 10" stack of Victoria and Albert. I love the lush blues and greens in this bundle. And those Island Batik ribbons around the stack? The ones that were in my first ambassador box found their way into the fidget blanket I made a couple of months ago (turned upside down so the writing wasn't visible). You can be sure these ones will be stashed away until I find a use for them.
There was also a 10" stack of bright Paisley Dots. Aren't they gorgeous? I see a very cheerful quilt in my near future 😊 This seems to be saying 'flowers' to me, but I'm not sure yet if that's what it will become.
Island Batik also sent some solids this time, which will be wonderful for setting off some of those bright colours. There's white, black and grey.
They also sent these fun checkered fabrics. I love the colours, but I have to admit I'm not quite sure how I'll use them yet. How would you use them?
Continuing on with the bright, beautiful colours, I had this bundle of Foundations fabrics. These prints and colours are always available, unlike the lines that are only available for a short time. I love them all!
Last, but not least, Hobbs batting is also partnering with Island Batik this year and they sent three battings. There are throw size battings in 100% wool and a cotton/wool blend along with a queen size cotton batting. I've never tried wool batting, so I'm curious to see how that works for me.
Island Batik sure knows how to spoil us ambassadors! I've had to pet these bundles of fabric a few times since I opened the box, just admiring the beautiful colours and pondering how I'll use them. A box full of possibilites is a wonderful thing, don't you agree?

And now I'm off to work on the mini quilt I'm making as my project for the July Island Batik challenge. It's about half quilted and I'm so happy with how it's turning out. I'll be back to share it soon 😊

July 22, 2018

Vacation and EPP Progress

We got home from our trip at around 3 am this morning and it felt so nice to sleep in our own beds again. We had a fabulous trip and I have so much to share with you. Fair warning, this is a long post, with lots of pictures, but at least most of it is sewing related 😊

We went to Toronto with plans to spend a lot of time at the amusement park Canada's Wonderland, which ranks third in the world for number of roller coasters. We all love the coasters, so that was a big draw for us! Nathan was a bit nervous on his first couple of rides, since he wasn't old enough for the big rides when we went to Disney 5 years ago, but once he tried a couple he was the most fearless of us all. He went with his hands up on all of the roller coasters after that, which is something I can't do at all. I love the rides, but I always hold on!

Leviathan is the biggest coaster there (and the biggest in Canada) and it was my favourite, though I admit to being nervous the first time we rode it. It does go 148 km/hr (92 mph) and the first drop is from 306 ft high after all! Of course, my love for it was only increased by the fabulous dragon at the entrance to the ride.
Leviathan | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I was amazed by the variation in women's clothing at the park, where it was more pronounced than even on the city streets. We saw everything from Islamic dress where only the women's eyes were visible (I don't know the proper name for it) to bikinis (there's a water slide section in the park, but women in bikinis were walking around other parts of the park as well) to women in long dresses with prayer coverings on their hair to women in shorts so short their bum cheeks were clearly visible. It was definitely different from living in a small town where the women all dress more or less alike.

Our last day in the park, which was also my birthday, there was thunder and lightning and crazy heavy rain around supper time. We hung around, since the forecast said it would clear away and it did. Even better, most people had left so we practically had the park to ourselves for the last few hours. It was great! There were no lines so we were able to have a last ride or two on all of our favourite rides before we had to leave.

We visited the Royal Ontario Museum, which had a fascinating spider exhibit. I didn't take pictures of the black widow or the tarantulas (you're welcome, lol), but I had to take pictures of this gorgeous cape made from spider silk. Who ever thought such a thing was even possible?!
Spider silk cape | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Spider silk cape | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Spider silk cape | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Spider silk cape | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Toronto's Union Station has this beautiful roof in one of its halls. Unfortunately, my picture is a bit blurry, but wouldn't it be a fun EPP design?
Union Station roof | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I got to meet up with Elisa (@elisasgallery on IG) for an afternoon to visit the Canadian Textile Museum, which had a quilt exhibit, but for some reason we didn't take any pictures. It was my first time actually getting to meet an online quilting friend and afterwards Paul asked me if it was awkward, but it wasn't at all. It was lovely and I'm so glad Elisa suggested it.

We visited the CN Tower and an aquarium where we could touch the stingrays (so cool!) and we went to a Blue Jays baseball game. One ball was hit right towards where Nathan and I were standing in the shade, caught by a fan only a few seats away from us. It's quite something to experience the power of a ball hit by a major league batter coming almost straight at you!

After we were finished in Toronto, we went to Ottawa. The Canadian Museum of Nature had a brain exhibit, which included a section on the five senses. Amid the information on vision was this Mona Lisa made of spools of thread. Yes, it was upside down, but when viewed through lenses it appeared properly right side up and smaller, allowing the image to be more easily recognized. It's rather like a pixelated quilt, don't you think?
Mona Lisa in thread spools | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I found more quilt inspiration while walking Ottawa's streets. There was this bridge over the Rideau Canal...
quilt inspiration | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
and this grate in a wall. Design ideas are everywhere and there's no chance I'll ever have time to make everything that is clamoring for my attention. No chance I'll ever be bored, either!
quilt inspiration | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
While in Ottawa we toured the Parliament buildings (you have to line up around 8 am to get tickets!), the Supreme Court building, the Royal Canadian Mint and the Canadian War Museum. They were all so interesting, but by the end we were finding it hard to take in more information. I didn't even visit all of the War Museum because it was so big and there was so much to see. It would be worth another visit if I'm ever in Ottawa again. And if you're in Ottawa, I recommend all of the things we visited, just maybe not all in a 3 day span.

We also went to a football game. Now, football is not my thing at all and I usually watch only one game a year, which is the Super Bowl. Aiden is a big football fan, though, so this was the highlight of the trip for him, even though his team lost. Of course, he wasn't cheering for the home team, so he took a bit of good natured ribbing from the people sitting around us, who made a point of high fiving him when Ottawa scored a touchdown, lol.

In between all of the roller coasters, museums and sporting events, I did a fair bit of work on my hexie rainbow quilt. Before we left I asked a friend if she had any yellow scraps she'd be willing to share because I was about 20 hexies short of the 102 I needed. She generously gave me more than enough, so when we left home I had some yellow hexies left to baste and then I could start joining them together to make the two yellow rounds.

And here's where the rainbow stands now. It measures approximately 31" wide and 27" high.
Hexie rainbow | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Hexie rainbow | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
The rest of the yellow hexies are joined into rows and here's what it will look like when they're all sewn on.
Hexie rainbow | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
It's getting so big that it covers my legs while I sew! This was at the airport yesterday, waiting to fly home.
Hexie rainbow | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
It was great to get away and have a family adventure, especially since the boys are now 16, 14 and 10 and our years of travelling all together are winding down. It was nice to come back home too. I started sewing not long after I woke up this morning and Aiden was playing guitar a good portion of the day.

Just before we left home, I had an email from Island Batik with the tracking information for my second box of goodies, so I know that it's waiting for me at the post office. You can be sure I will be checking the mail bright and early tomorrow morning 😊 I'll share everything in it on IG tomorrow and I'll have pictures here later in the week.

I'll be back to my regular Monday devotions next week with one prompted by all of the roller coasters we rode. In the meantime, I hope you're finding time for adventures too!

July 06, 2018

Cross Stitch Heart in Make Modern Magazine

It's time to share another of the secret sewing projects I was working on earlier this year! This is Cross Stitch Heart, which is now available in the new issue of Make Modern magazine (affiliate link).
Cross Stitch Heart quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Cross Stitch Heart quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
It was fun to design a heart that looks like it was cross stitched. If that sounds familiar, that's probably because I designed this quilt and Cross Stitch during the same 30 Quilt Designs challenge, using the same basic block. The two quilts look nothing alike, though!

I used two colours of Northcott's beautiful Essence fabric for this quilt. The funny thing is, when I took the fabric out to start the quilt I happened to place it next to fabric Paul bought me for Christmas, only to realize that he bought me the same fabric in green. He knows my taste well 😊
Cross Stitch Heart quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I used Warm and Natural batting, as usual, and Aurifil 5006 and quilted hundreds and hundreds of echoed hearts all over the background. I bought Aurifil 2270 to quilt the red strips, but when it came time to do it, I decided to leave them unquilted. I like how they pop up from the background.
Cross Stitch Heart quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
This quilt was a birthday gift for my grandmother as soon as I finished it back in May. I've done a lot of Christmas ornaments for her and one big cross stitch quite a few years ago, but this is the first quilt I've given her. I mailed it without saying a word about it, so it was a big surprise and I came home from a walk one morning to a tearful sounding voicemail from her after she received it 😊 Giving handmade gifts really is the best!

Pick up your copy of Make Modern, issue 23 (affiliate link) to get Cross Stitch Heart along with many other gorgeous designs. Use coupon code 23for6 before July 8th to get it for $6 Australian.

As always, if you make this quilt, I'd love to see your version, so be sure to tag me on IG (devotedquilter) or FB (devotedquilterdesigns) or send an email to devotedquilter at gmail dot com 😊

We are leaving today for a family holiday, so it's going to be quiet here on the blog for a couple of weeks. I'll be back near the end of the month to share whatever progress I make on my EPP hexie rainbow quilt between riding roller coasters, watching a baseball and a football game, visiting museums and whatever else we find to do on our adventure 😊

Note, this post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click the link and make a purchase I may receive a small commission. This does not affect the price you pay and it helps to support my quilting business. Thank you for your support!

July 02, 2018

But if Not

Devotion for the Week...

Have you ever heard of the Miracle of Dunkirk? In May, 1940 Allied troops had been driven onto the beaches of Dunkirk by the Nazis and they were trapped. Essentially, they were waiting to be either destroyed or rescued. Thankfully, British civilians hurried to their aid, protected by fog and and calm conditions on the English Channel, which allowed hundreds of boats to cross to the beaches, pick up the trapped soldiers and bring them safely back across. It's an amazing story.

There's another, less known, element to the story. While trapped on the beach, one British naval officer sent a three word message to London: "But if not." To many of us today, that message might not make much sense, but in 1940 people would have understood the reference. They would have understood an entire message from those three little words.

The reference is to Daniel, chapter 3, when King Nebuchadnezzar decided to build himself a huge golden statue and then make everyone bow down and worship it. Anyone who refused to do so would be thrown into a fiery furnace. Three Hebrew young men did refuse and were brought to Nebuchadnezzar, who said (in Leanne paraphrase), "Is it true you're refusing my orders? I'll give you one more chance and if you don't obey you're going straight into the furnace" (vv. 14, 15a). And then, in the actual King James Version (which the British would have been using in 1940), "who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?" (v. 15b).

The young men, named Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego answered, "If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up" (vv. 17,18).

Did you see the three little words in there?

 But if not.

"O King", they said, "we know that our God can save us from you and everything you're threatening to do to us, but even if he doesn't rescue us, we still won't worship this statue."

Like anyone else, these three young men probably wanted to live. They wanted God to rescue them. But even if they didn't get what they wanted, they were determined to continue serving Him right to the end.

The British naval officer who sent the message to London was conveying that same determination to his superiors. "We want to be rescued, but if God doesn't send rescue, we're determined to keep fighting right to the end."

What about us? There are times we want to be rescued too, or when we want someone we love to be rescued. We want rescue from sickness, especially from sickness that looks like it will soon lead to death. We want financial rescue. We want rescue in relationships.

But what happens when we don't get the rescue we want?

Well, if we're taking our cue from the Bible, from the example of those three young men, then we don't wait until the rescue doesn't come to decide our response. They decided ahead of time what their response would be. They knew God had the power to save them. There was no doubt in their minds of that. But they also knew that He might choose not to save them. That uncertainty, that possibility that rescue might not come, did not affect their response at all. Regardless of whether God saved them from Nebuchadnezzar, their faith would stay with Him.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
It is a fact of life that we will deal with situations we don't like. Whether we're looking to be rescued from someone in authority over us, from a situation where we feel trapped, from sickness or from something else entirely, we know that God has the power to rescue us. But that doesn't always mean that He will choose to rescue us. We can't know His plans or His reasons, but we can choose to trust Him whether the rescue comes or not.

We're heading on a family vacation soon, so this will be my last devotion for a few weeks. I'll have a quilting post or two before we leave and then I'll be focusing on family time. I hope you are enjoying your summer!