December 30, 2019

A Prayer for 2020

Devotion for the Week...

This week, I want to let the Apostle Paul speak for me. This was his prayer for the people of the Ephesian church and it is my prayer for all of us as we head into 2020.

"I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

"Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen" (Ephesians 3:16-21).
A prayer for 2020 |
Happy New Year to you and yours!

December 26, 2019

Ornaments for 2019

Every year I make my boys Christmas ornaments that reflect something about their year. It's one of my favourite traditions and, surprisingly, it seems to be one of theirs, too. Every year they ask what their ornament will be this year, even though I always give the same answer: "A surprise!" 😄

Here are this year's ornaments.
Ornaments |
Nathan's is the baseball gear because he declared himself to be Paul's baseball buddy this year and the two watched a lot of Toronto Blue Jays games together. He also thinks he has a shot at making it to the major leagues himself someday...never mind the fact that there's no organized baseball here so he has never played an actual game, lol.

Zachary got the airplane because he took two big trips with a school group this year. One was to Ottawa, Canada's capitol, and the other was to British Columbia, which is the opposite side of the country (and continent!). All told, I think the two trips combined involved 13 different flights.

Aiden's ornament couldn't be cross-stitched this year because all of those words would have made the ornament too big. Stormblessed is the name of the EP put out by Edgedancer in July. Edgedancer is a band made up of Aiden, Zachary and their friends Ben and Sam, who are also brothers. Aiden and Ben wrote all of the songs and Aiden fussed over getting all the different parts recorded. The EP was like his baby for a good portion of the year, so I was thrilled to be able to stitch it into an ornament for him. If you're interested in hearing their music, you can find them on Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play...and all the other streaming services I may not necessarily have heard of.

I didn't actually finish the ornaments in time this year. I had the fronts stitched and Christmas Eve morning I took the time to get the fronts and backs ready to be stitched together, but I didn't do that assembly until today. I didn't want to go away from everyone on Christmas Eve to do the secret stitching, so instead I just nestled the front pieces in the branches of the tree before I went to bed. Then I finished them up while having my tea today. I have a tutorial all about how I assemble the ornaments here.
ornament |
When I started these ornaments back in 2002, I wasn't sure I'd actually keep it up since I have a habit of starting long term projects and then abandoning them, but I now have one finished set. My plan all along was to make ornaments until they finished high school, which means this is Aiden's last one. Maybe...Paul pointed out that it doesn't seem right not to have an ornament about graduation, so there may be another one stitched and added in the spring.
Aiden's ornaments |
2002 - Noah's Ark, because we had a few Noah's Ark things for his room when he was born.
2003 - a phone because he pretended everything was a phone. This was before we even had cell phones, lol. It's not cross stitched because I couldn't find a pattern. Instead I used the phone from Sandra Boynton's book Hippos Go Berserk!, which is still one of my favourite board books to read.
2004 - a tractor because he loved all kinds of big machinery.
2005 - an elephant because that was his favourite animal.
2006 - a bike for when he first learned to ride.
2007 - a chalkboard for when he started school.
2008 - a police car for his fascination with the police.
2009 - a poppy for his interest in military history, in particular anything about WWI or WWII.
2010 - a pirate ship because he was so interested in learning about pirates.
2011 - a tent for our first summer spent camping. This was the only year all three boys got the same ornament.
2012 - a snow shovel because he has an incredible work ethic, which was really evident every time it snowed. He would often be the first one to go start shoveling the driveway and never, ever complained about getting it done, no matter how much snow there was.
2013 - drums. He had been drumming for a little while at this point, but the interest was more pronounced in 2013 and that was the year he upgraded his drum kit, by buying a used set.
2014 - a football because that is his favourite sport.
2015 - a guitar because that was the year he learned to play. Though he informed me on Christmas morning that it's a bass guitar since it only has four tuning pegs. I didn't point out that I don't think there are even four lines to represent the strings, lol. I'm pretty sure there are only three 😄 There's only so much you can do with needle and thread!
2016 - the word music, unfinished, with a pencil poised as if it's writing. This is to show that he started writing music. Paul was the one who figured out how we could represent that one.
2017 - The logo for The Gathering, a local music festival held in August. 2017 was the first year Aiden played as part of the band for Sherman Downey. It really amazed us that a professional musician would trust a bunch of young high school students to be his band, but the kids did great and Sherman has had them back each year since.
2018 - an approximation of our van, to commemorate him getting his driver's license.
2019 - the Stormblessed EP.

Phew! I really love this collection 😊 Do you have any long term handmade Christmas traditions?

December 23, 2019

Advent 2019 - Love

Devotion for the Week...

Well, here we are, at the start of the last week of Advent 😊 Are you ready for Christmas? At this point, we have a bunch of things left to wrap, some food prep to do for Christmas dinner and I'm almost finished the boys' ornaments. My in-laws will be arriving today, so the cleaning needs to be finished soon, too, lol.

So far this Advent season we've looked at the hope, peace and joy of Jesus. Today we look at His love.

Shortly before His death, Jesus said, "There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends" (John 15:13). Usually when we think of that verse, we think about His crucifixion and He did lay down His life for us then, but the whole process actually started decades earlier, when He first entered our world as a baby.

Think about it this way. Before He became a human, Jesus was not limited by our human constraints. He was omnipresent, able to be anywhere and everywhere all at once. He was outside of time, not held to the here and now like we are. He didn't have a physical body, so He didn't suffer from hunger, fatigue or pain. Then "he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being" (Philippians 2:7). Could anyone ever have laid down more than Jesus did when He left heaven to enter Mary's womb?

Why would anyone ever give up so much? For love, of course! "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" (John 3:16). Jesus came because He loved us so much that we were worth the sacrifice of not only the cross, but also of his 'divine privileges'. He traded heaven for the manger because of amazing His love for us.
Jesus traded heaven for the manger because of amazing His love for us |

Thank you for spending another Advent season with me! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with family and friends 😊

December 21, 2019

Magnetic Fishing Game - December Island Batik Challenge

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

The December Island Batik ambassador challenge is to incorporate 3D into the project in some way. That could mean creating a quilt with the illusion of 3D elements, using actual 3D elements in a quilt (like prairie points, maybe) or making a 3D item. I chose to make a school of fish 😊

I often make the Christmas gifts I give to the kids I babysit. I've done play alphabets, personalized placemats, bean bag toss games, cat pillows (also an IB challenge) and now magnetic fishing games.

Aren't the fish cute?
Magnetic fishing game |
I followed this tutorial, which includes the templates for the fish and the worm with the magnet inside. I picked out all my fabrics and cut out the fish first, then went looking for ribbon to attach the washers. I was sure I had ¼" white grosgrain ribbon somewhere, but I must have used it all because there was none to be found. I did find this ⅛" blue ribbon and thankfully the blue coordinates with most of the fish fabrics I chose.

Stuffing the fish was the most time consuming part, probably because I was making 20 of them (5 each for the 4 kids). Not all of the fish are made of Island Batik fabrics, but half of them are 😊
Magnetic fishing game |
I used a variety of things to stuff the fish. One is stuffed with the bits of fabric left after cutting out the fish, I just cut them up even smaller to turn them into stuffing. That fish ended up being almost too heavy for the magnet to pick up. Oops! A lot of the fish are stuffed with the remnant of the stuffing I bought for the cat pillows last year. When that was gone, I raided my box of batting scraps and cut those up.
Magnetic fishing game |
Is it just me, or is ladder stitch pure magic? With only a few stitches that end up being almost completely invisible, you can go from gaping wound to finished seam.
ladder stitch magic |
The worm is made of two layers of felt with the magnet inside, stitched closed with a blanket stitch. I had hoped to add a layer of batting too, to reduce the risk of injury from toddlers wielding 'fishing rods' with hard magnets on the end, but the batting made the magnets too weak to pick up the fish. Still, even with only the felt, the magnets are less likely to cause harm.
magnetic fishing game |
The fishing rod is a dowel, which my husband cut into 1' lengths. I used hot glue to attach the rope to the dowel. The tutorial says to drill a hole, but I chose a dowel that is too thin for drilling a hole big enough for the rope to pass through. Hopefully the hot glue will hold well enough.
magnetic fishing game |
I'm hoping the kids enjoy fishing...and that they don't drive their parents crazy swinging around the fishing rods, lol. I do know that Silas, the 4 year old, is fascinated by magnets, so I know he'll have fun with it. Two of my own boys, Nathan and Zachary, even had to test it all out while I was taking these pictures, so the appeal isn't limited only to toddlers 😊

Unfortunately, this is my last project as an Island Batik ambassador. Despite how much I've loved being an ambassador, I decided not to apply for 2020 because I have had to admit there just aren't enough hours for all the things I want to do. Isn't that frustrating?? I have been finding it really hard to make time for pattern writing, especially, which isn't good at all when you are trying to grow a pattern design business. This doesn't mean I won't be creating with Island Batik fabrics, though! I still have quite a bit of what they generously sent in the ambassador boxes over these two years, so they'll be popping up frequently, I'm sure.

I'm still working on the ornaments for my boys, but that's the last of my Christmas sewing to be done. The way the days are filling up, I won't be at all surprised if I'm still stitching them on Christmas Eve. How is your Christmas sewing coming along?

December 16, 2019

Advent 2019 - Joy

Devotion for the Week...

It's week three of Advent already! So far we have considered the hope and peace Jesus brought when He came to the earth to live as one of us. This week we look at the joy He gives. I have to start this week's devotion with a prologue, though.

If you've been reading these devotions long enough, you may remember that I've said before that I struggle with writing about joy because there are people in the church suffering from depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses. These illnesses rob people of the joy that should be theirs. The church, unfortunately, sometimes compounds this by claiming that 'true Christians' don't need medication or counseling to manage their depression or other mental illness, they just need more faith. Even worse, I once sat through a sermon during which the pastor claimed mental illness was caused by demonic influence, which had me practically grinding my teeth because I knew there were people sitting in the congregation that day who deal with mental illness.

Mental illness is just that - an illness. It is not caused by demonic influence or by a lack of faith. There is no cause for shame or condemnation. Please, please, if you suffer from depression or anxiety or any other mental illness, please speak to your doctor. There is help available and you deserve that help.

Having said that, let's have a look at what the Bible says about joy.

In the Old Testament, before Nehemiah's time, the people had been exiled because they had turned away from God. They had been taken captive and lived in exile for decades, but in Nehemiah's day they were allowed to return to Israel. During the restoration of the temple, the Book of the Law of God had been found and they gathered all the people together to hear it read. Hearing it was a shock to the people, as they understood how very far they had fallen from the standard God had set for them. But Nehemiah told the people of Israel, "Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!" (Nehemiah 8:10).

Now, this might sound odd. The people were crying in their distress, but Nehemiah told them to celebrate! Why? Why would they celebrate when they just learned that God wanted so much more from them and for them?

Even today, this same sadness is often how people react when they first learn about God and how He wants us to live. They feel miserable because they know how they have lived and how far that is from the holy lives God wants us to live. People feel like it's impossible for God to love them because they have been too bad.

In His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, though, Jesus prayed, "I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy" (John 17:13). Jesus taught His disciples about living the way God wants, both through the things He said and through what He modeled for them. But none of that was meant to bring them sadness. In fact, it was to bring them joy.

God is not standing over us, waiting gleefully to punish us for our sins. Rather, He is waiting expectantly, longing for us to turn to Him for forgiveness. If we now understand that "everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard" (Romans 3:23), then we are free to "repent and turn away from [our] idols, and stop all [our] detestable sins" (Ezekial 14:6). In other words, now that we know we are not right with God, we can change our direction and become right with Him, which is certainly cause for joy!

Nehemiah could tell the people that the joy of the Lord was their strength because now that they knew God's standard, they could begin to follow it and to live as He wanted His people to live. The same is true for us now. Once we trust in Jesus as our Savior, we are filled with joy that has nothing to do with our circumstances. It is the joy of knowing our relationship with God is secure and our sins have been forgiven.
Our repentance brings joy to God and to us, and it was made possible by Jesus coming to save us. That is the joy that comes from Christmas |
Jesus said, "There is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!" (Luke 15:7). Our repentance brings joy to God and to us, and it was made possible by Jesus coming to save us. That is the joy that comes from Christmas.

December 15, 2019

Planning for 2020

Can I just say that it feels a bit surreal to be thinking about the year 2020? I remember thinking, when I was a kid, that the year 2020 felt sooooo far off in the future it was hard to even imagine it. But, somehow, here we are 😊

Yvonne, of Quilting Jetgirl, is hosting her annual Planning Party again this year, which is just the push I needed to get thinking about the goals I hope to accomplish in 2020.

When I started writing this post, I read through the goals I set for this year and the mid-year review I did at the end of June. I was (only somewhat) amused to find that my progress now in December looks pretty much exactly the same as it did back in June, so I won't repeat myself. You can read that mid-year review here if you're really curious 😁 Now, on to next year!
2020 goals |
In no particular order, my goals for 2020 are:

1. Guitar quilts

My oldest, Aiden, will be graduating this spring and two of his teachers have made a huge impact on him because of their shared love for music. They have spent hours and hours above and beyond the scope of their actual job pouring into Aiden and other students with a love for music, encouraging them and helping them to learn and grow. I don't usually do teacher gifts at the end of the year, but these two deserve a huge thank you. With Aiden's input, I decided to use the Rock Concert pattern from On Williams Street to make them each a guitar quilt. This will be priority number one after Christmas because I really don't want to be rushing to have these finished in time.

2. Finish my Quilter's Planner bag

This bag has been a UFO for way too long. I have all the pieces cut out. I decided to quilt the panels for the front and back of the bag...I even have the front panel quilted.
free motion quilting on bag panel |
The back panel is partially quilted, too.
free motion quilting on bag panel |
At some point, though, I had to set the bag aside for something with a deadline (I don't remember what, exactly) and I never got back to it. I know it won't take me long to finish making the bag, I just have to actually work on it!

3. More patterns, in more shops

At the end of 2018, I had 4 printed patterns. I now have 10 which means I released 6 patterns in 2019. I'm really proud of that! Some of those were updates of older patterns and some were new. Those patterns were ordered by 14 quilt shops and one distributor (who sells to quilt shops).

For 2020, I'd like to release another 10 patterns. I have a real backlog of patterns I just haven't had a chance to get to yet, so that shouldn't be a problem, as long as I can find the time to actually write them, lol. I'd also like to have my patterns carried in more shops, but I don't want to set a number on that one. 'More' may not be very specific, but that's what I'm aiming for 😊

If you'd like to see Devoted Quilter patterns in your LQS, I'd love to have their contact information so I can reach out to them. Or you could request that they carry my patterns. Or both!

If you'd like to see my patterns, both print and PDF, head on over to my Etsy shop!

4. Teach a class

I want to teach a local class for beginners. I have a fun quilt designed for it and a venue lined up, I even have each week's lesson listed out. I just have to make the sample quilt and advertise to see if anyone signs up. Unfortunately, the advertising and waiting to see if anyone signs up is the scary part, so I've been putting it off. Imposter syndrome is hard to defeat!

5. Tame the UFO situation

I know I'm not alone in having too many projects started and abandoned, even though I still love them. Aside from the Quilter's Planner bag, I have so many other projects partially done and I'd love to get some of them moved into the finished pile. I had this on my goals list for this year, too, and it never really happened. Maybe 2020 will be the year! Some of those UFOs are patterns-to-be, so finishing them will get me closer to being able to release the patterns, too. Formal Garden, shown here, was an Island Batik ambassador project in August 2018...and it's still not quilted. The pattern isn't written, either. Both need to get done!
Formal Garden quilt |

6. Make more little quilts

I have a big box of batting scraps in various sizes that need to be used up. I do piece them together to make franken-batting, but I don't really like piecing batting big enough for throw size or larger quilts. I find it hard to keep the batting smooth when I'm piecing such big pieces. Because I've made mostly big quilts the past while, I have been adding to the box of scraps, rather than using them. The solution, obviously, is to make more small quilts 😊

7. More garment sewing

I am having a lot of fun with garment sewing and now I have so many patterns I want to try, it's hard to know what to make next! I'm definitely going to keep learning and exploring in 2020. The funny thing is, I said for years that I couldn't take up knitting (much as I would like to), because I already don't have time for all the quilts I want to make, so I don't need to add another crafty obsession. Somehow that never even entered the equation when I decided to take up garment sewing! Maybe because it's all done with the sewing machine, so it feels like an extension of what I was already doing? Who knows?! The main thing is, I'm having fun, right?

8. Make a sewing machine cover

I sew at our kitchen table. My previous machine fit into a cupboard in the hutch next to the table, but my new Janome is too tall so it sits on the top. Is it still new if I've had it almost a year? Anyway, the cover that came with it serves the purpose of keeping the dust off, but it's not very pretty. It also doesn't sit straight when I have a cone of Aurifil in place (which is most of the time).
I want to make a cover using the Create pattern by Kristy at Quiet Play. Pretty fabrics (probably blue, lol), some free motion quilting and an inspiring word would look so much nicer than this does.
2019 Planning Party  
 So those are my plans for 2020. I'm already curious to see what my mid-year review will look like 😊 What are your big goals for the year?

December 09, 2019

Advent 2019 - Peace

Devotion for the Week...

The month of December is just galloping along, isn't it? It's already the second week of Advent, which focuses on peace.

Not that long ago I read these verses: "Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful" (Colossians 3:12-15).

Living in peace with others requires forgiveness and a willingness to overlook faults, that's for certain, and doesn't that sound like exactly the prescription our world needs? I definitely feel that the world needs more people willing to try to live at peace with others.

I find it interesting that not once does Paul say that in order to live in peace with others we need to change their behavior. Instead, it's all about changing our own behavior and our reactions to the behavior of others. We are to clothe ourselves with mercy, kindness, gentleness and patience, he wrote. We are to forgive others and make allowances for them.

Amazingly, this is exactly how God created peace between Himself and us. "But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners" (Romans 5:8). Jesus wasn't born because humanity was perfect and at peace with God. He was born because we were lost and in need of a shepherd. He was born because we needed redemption, which only He could provide.
Mercy and forgiveness go a long way towards creating peace |
Now, because of the redemption Jesus provides, we have peace with God. Also because of Jesus and the Holy Spirit living within us, we can extend mercy and forgiveness to those around us. As God has shown us, mercy and forgiveness go a long way towards creating peace.

December 08, 2019

A Quick Tip for Storing Thread

I'm popping in with a quick tip today. Do you ever need to fill a bobbin with a new thread colour, but you don't have any empty bobbins? It happens to me all the matter how many new bobbins I buy!

I've read that loading a new colour on top of thread already in a bobbin can cause machine trouble, so I don't do that. For years I've looked for the bobbin with the least thread, unwound it and put the thread into the garbage. I hated doing it...what a waste...but I needed the bobbin.

The other day I realized that I could use an embroidery floss holder from my cross stitch supplies to hold the thread I took off the bobbin. If you don't have floss holders lying around, a piece of thin cardboard would do the trick, just cut a little slice into one end to hold the end of the thread so it doesn't come undone.
thread stored on embroidery floss holder |
Now that it's neatly wrapped around a floss holder, the thread is perfect for basting EPP shapes. I can load a bunch of different colours onto one floss holder, then toss it into my EPP kit for whenever I'm ready to baste. I feel much better not wasting perfectly good thread just so I can have an empty bobbin!

December 03, 2019

Multiplication Pattern Release

It's pattern release day! To be honest, it could have been pattern release day a couple of weeks ago, but trying to get a picture of a queen size quilt in November in Newfoundland is no easy feat. It's especially hard if you work during all of the daylight hours, lol. However, we had a scheduled water shut-off on Thursday for repairs to the lines, which meant school had to be closed, which in turn meant that all my babysitting littles stayed home with their teacher parents, my boys were all home AND the weather was good, so we high-tailed it out to do some picture taking.

This picture of my Multiplication quilt was worth the wait, I think! All three boys are standing on a picnic table behind the quilt to get it up off the ground. Nathan is in the middle with his arms stretched straight up to keep the middle from sagging back while the other two hold the corners. Future me needs to remember that 8' square quilts are hard to hold up 😄
Multiplication quilt pattern |
Multiplication is a fun, bold, one block design that gives an optical illusion feel to the quilt. Do your eyes focus on the black Xs, the blue Xs or the colourful squares first? To me it feels like the various parts are layered on top of one another and focusing on one component makes the others recede into the background.

My Multiplication quilt is made with Island Batik fabrics, all from their Foundations line (probably my favourite Island Batik fabrics). It's a great quilt for showcasing a couple of your most-loved fabrics in the Xs. I don't really use fabric with large scale designs, but I imagine they would work nicely in the Xs, giving them plenty of space to shine.

Multiplication was originally published in Make Modern magazine back in the spring. I have expanded the pattern to include baby (48" x 48") and throw (64" x 80") size options, along with the 96" x 96" queen size shown. Whether you need a gift for a baby shower, something special for a friend who needs a quilty hug or a new quilt for your own bed, Multiplication has you covered.

To celebrate the pattern release, Multiplication is available at its introductory price now through December 9th, so get your copy today!

Buy your Multiplication quilt pattern now

I would really appreciate it if you'd pin this image to help other quilters find the Multiplication pattern, too. Thank you for your support of my pattern business!
Multiplication quilt pattern |
What colours will you use for your Multiplication quilt?

I'm linking up with Needle and Thread Thursday, TGIFF, Beauties Pageant and Can I Get a Whoop Whoop

December 02, 2019

Advent 2019 - Hope

Devotion for the Week...

It's the first week of Advent! Is your tree up yet? We decorated ours yesterday and the house feels wonderfully festive now 😊 I've been looking forward to writing these Advent devotions for weeks now, so let's dive right into it!

Traditionally, the first week of Advent focuses on the hope Jesus brings us and what a hope it is! Because of Jesus, we have the hope of an eternity spent in heaven, where we will be in the presence of God forever. We usually take the word hope to mean little more than a wish or a desire for something. I hope it doesn't rain or I hope I get some fabric for Christmas. But the biblical meaning of hope is a confident expectation that what God has promised will come to pass. It is deeply rooted in our belief that He is faithful and that His promises are true. Our hope of eternity with Jesus is not wishful thinking, but rather an expression of confidence in a promise given by One who "never changes or casts a shifting shadow" (James 1:17).

There is so much good contained in the promise He has given us! Recording his vision of the future, John wrote, "Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever" (Revelation 21:3, 4).

First of all, our home will be with God. He will be among us, walking with us as He did before sin entered the world. What an amazing thought!

Then just think about an eternity with no death, sorrow, crying or pain. It's hard to imagine, isn't it? Those things are such a constant in our world that trying to imagine life without the fear of disease or tragedy is pretty much impossible. There will be no heart attacks, no car accidents and no cancer. There will also be no abuse, no addiction and no mental illness. It sounds too good to be true, but it is absolutely true.
Advent - Hope |
Background quilt is my Christmas Knots and Crosses quilt
This is the hope we have because of Jesus. He came to the world as the baby we celebrate at Christmas, lived a sinless life and died on the cross, all to restore our relationship with God. He did all of it so that we can have the hope, the confident expectation, of eternity with Him in a world released from the curse of sin. This is why Matthew declared, "his name will be the hope of all the world" (Matthew 12:21).

November 27, 2019

Hollow Jewels - November Island Batik Quilt

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

For November, the Island Batik ambassadors were asked to find a tool to use in the creation of their quilts and after a lot of time spent considering different tools, I chose freezer paper. I've had a roll of it for ages, but hardly ever use it. You can read my post about the magic that is paper piecing with freezer paper here. Spoiler alert...I loved it 😊 I have a feeling I'll be going through the roll of freezer paper a lot faster from now on.

Here is the quilt I made with those paper pieced blocks. Unfortunately, it's still only a quilt top, though I did get it basted after I took this picture. I really thought I'd be on track to have a finished quilt before the end of the month, but that's not going to happen. Where do the days go???
Dragon Eyes quilt |
I had a crazy hard time coming up with a name for this quilt. Thankfully, the quilt pattern designers group on FB has some wonderfully creative people who suggested a lot of fun names. Dragon Eyes was one of my favourites, mostly because I've always loved dragons, but in the end I decided to go with Hollow Jewels instead. I love that it references both the coloured jewel shape and the black diamond in the center of the jewels. I hadn't really considered how that diamond makes the jewel look hollow, but now it really stands out to me.

The colours I chose were inspired by a sweater Silas, the 4 year old I babysit, wore one day. His parents went to Peru over the summer and brought back this sweater for him. I loved the colours and couldn't wait to translate them into a quilt.
Sweater inspiration |
I think this teal is my favourite Island Batik fabric. I've used it in at least three quilts now and I'm very happy to still have some left.
Dragon Eyes quilt |
I love all of the other fabrics, too!
Dragon Eyes quilt |
Dragon Eyes quilt |
Dragon Eyes quilt |
Dragon Eyes quilt |
While assembling the quilt top, I was also thinking about what I would use for the backing. I honestly tried to convince myself to use the leftover yardage to piece a back, but I couldn't muster much enthusiasm for the idea. I didn't want to do the math to figure out if I had enough of these fabrics to make a back that would be big enough. Plus I didn't want to put in the work to sew that many seams. Now, this makes no sense whatsoever because I'm perfectly happy to sew quilt tops with a bazillion seams, but anything more than two seams for a backing feels like too much work. Go figure! I've decided that, as much as I admire pieced backs when other quilters make them, they're not my style. I had enough Island Batik solid grey to make a backing with only one seam, so that's what I did. As a bonus, the quilting, which will be in thread to match the fabrics on the front, will really show up on the solid grey 😊

This quilt will be a wedding gift for Paul's nephew Brandan next summer. Brandan was born in 1998, when I was just learning to quilt and my second ever quilt was a baby quilt for him. Strangely enough, that quilt also had bright colours on a black background. I messaged my sister-in-law a while back to see if she still had the quilt and she sent me this picture. Obviously, bright colours on a black background works with very different styles!
Brandan's baby quilt |
I am working on the pattern for Hollow Jewels and I hope to have it ready to release by the time I have the quilt finished. We'll see which one I end up finishing first!

Have you ever made a quilt with a black (or really dark) background? On another note, what's the strangest thing you've used as inspiration for a quilt design or colour scheme?

November 25, 2019

Faith Endurance

Devotion for the Week...

I have written about endurance before, based on Paul's words in Romans 5:3, but today I want to look at it again, in a slightly different way. James wrote "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing" (James 1:2-4).

I tend to think of endurance as being either a physical thing, like when we do some kind of hard activity and our bodies are able to continue doing it, or an emotional thing, like when we have the patience to get through some hard circumstances. James' words, though, seem to be addressing a different kind of endurance. He writes about our faith being tested and endurance growing, which sounds to me like it is the endurance of our faith that needs to grow. Our faith in God is our firm belief that God not only exists, but that He cares for us and is in control of everything, which certainly sounds like something we should have in abundance.

The hard-to-face truth is that endurance only grows when it is used and practiced. We can't will or wish it into being and no one can gift it to us. My running endurance grows the more I run. Our patience grows the more we deal patiently with difficult people or situations. Our faith grows when we trust God through hard things.

As I said last week, we all want the hard things to happen to other people - preferably ones we don't know. We don't want to have to deal with anything that will test our faith, but those things will happen whether we want them or not. James tells us that when hard things do happen, we should consider it 'an opportunity for great joy' because they will make our faith endurance grow. Not because the circumstances themselves are cause for joy, but because the growth of our endurance is cause for joy.
Our faith grows when we trust God through hard things |
Background quilt is Divided
Jesus said, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20). When things are going well we can forget to look for Him, to notice the evidence of His provision for us and to rely on Him. When things aren't going well we are reminded that our own strength is not enough and that He is always there.

Is your faith being tested by hard things right now? If it is, take comfort in knowing that, whatever you're dealing with, God is with you through it all. One day (hopefully soon!) the trouble you face will be over and your faith will be stronger because of it.

November 23, 2019

Tiny Shirts

Is there anything cuter than baby clothes?
handmade baby shirts |
It turns out that baby clothes you've made yourself are even cuter than clothes you might buy at a store. Or maybe they're just more satisfying 😊

I used the free Wee Lap Tee pattern from Patterns for Pirates for these shirts that are a shower gift for a friend. There's also a free pattern for pants and a beanie hat, so you could make a complete outfit for baby if you wanted. I made the three month size and loved the adorable-ness of all the small pieces even before they were sewn together.

The bonus in making baby clothes is that they're so small you don't need much fabric. These two shirts are actually made from three old shirts of mine. The shirts had a couple of small stains, but most of the fabric was still perfectly good and I hated the thought of just throwing them out. A little careful cutting later and the fabric can become something new.

Just look, the board book is almost as big as the shirt! As a side note, Hippos Go Berserk is still my favourite baby book to read. This is my third copy after we wore one out and the replacement vanished after a couple of years 😊 Nathan was very amused to discover I can recite it from memory. We won't discuss how many baby books I could recite...or how quickly I forget things I'm supposed to do if I don't write them down.
handmade baby shirts |
I used my serger for these, even though it still kind of scares me. I sewed the seams on my regular sewing machine, then finished the seams on the serger, being careful to keep the seam allowance just to the left of the cutting blade so none of it was actually cut off, since that's the part that scares me, lol. What if I make a mistake and the seam allowance has already been trimmed? How do I fix it then?? That being said, I think that if I make these again I will actually trim the seam allowance a little, especially the shoulder seam, since serging them made them feel a little stiffer and I think that would be less noticeable if the seam allowance were smaller. Maybe. We'll see if I'm right whenever I try it out.

The edge of the seam allowance does look nicer when it's finished, even if my serging skills could still use work.
handmade baby shirts |
The shirts aren't perfect, but I'm guessing the new baby won't mind the small imperfections. The most noticeable is the small pleats I had to make in the neck bindings because the raw edge of the binding wasn't caught in the seam. Rather then pick out the whole seam, re-pin and sew again I opted to just pick out a little right at the binding, then push it into the seam and stitch it up. Imperfect, certainly, but it worked!
handmade baby shirts |
I'm really having a lot of fun playing around with sewing clothes 😊 As a bonus, clothes are generally very fast to finish, especially when compared to quilts! Sewing these took one evening, though I had all the pieces cut out prior to that. Had I been familiar with the steps of the pattern, it would have been even faster.

If you're interested in learning to make clothes, but scared to start, check out my post Quilters Can Learn to Sew Clothes!

I have quilts I can't wait to finish (and more I haven't even started yet!), but I'll also be planning what my next garment sewing project will be. What will you be sewing next?

November 18, 2019

Why Not Me?

Devotion for the Week...

There is a woman in our church whose son had spina bifida. Shortly after we moved here, I heard her talking about when he was a baby and she was having a "why me?" moment. She said that the "why me?" was quickly followed by the thought, "why not me?" After all, she said, she had strong family support around her, to help with caring for him. Thanks to that family support, they were able to make it so her son could do things that might have seemed impossible to others, like hunting in the woods with his father and grandfather, despite being in a wheelchair. Her "why not me?" has always stayed with me because it recognizes that hard things are going to come to us all.

We desperately want the hard things in life to happen to other people, while we experience nothing but the good and easy things. That's not the way it happens, though. There is no trouble free life track. None of us are immune and we shouldn't be surprised when the hard things come at us.

Being a good person isn't insurance against trouble in life. Neither is being a Christian. In fact, the Bible shows us plenty of examples of people who were good and still suffered, people who believed in Jesus and served Him to the best of their ability and still suffered.

Think of Joseph, who was a slave in Potiphar's house, in charge of everything Potiphar owned. He refused to sleep with Potiphar's wife, leaving the house so fast "he left his cloak in her hand as he ran from the house" (Genesis 39:12). Realizing she couldn't have him, she screamed and told the servants that he tried to rape her and then ran when she screamed. This landed Joseph in jail, where he languished for years, even though he had done nothing wrong.

Then there's Paul, who traveled around teaching people about Jesus and starting churches. Locals often didn't like his teachings, whether because they were Jews who didn't want him teaching about Jesus or because their own livelihoods were threatened since people who worship Jesus wouldn't be worship the local goddess (as was the case in Ephesus). Riots happened at times because people got so stirred up in opposition to Paul's teaching. Then, when Paul returned to Jerusalem, another riot broke out, which resulted in him being taken to prison while the commander of the Roman regiment tried to figure out what was going on (beginning in Acts 21). To make a long story short, Paul spent the rest of his years in prison. Like Joseph, though, Paul had done nothing wrong!

It would likely have been easy for Joseph and Paul to wallow in self-pity, crying, "why me," but I get the feeling that they were more inclined to think, "why not me?" They chose to continue to serve God in whatever circumstances they found themselves, just as the mom in my church chose to work to give her son the best she could despite the health challenges they faced.
Jesus has overcome every trouble we will face |
Background quilt is Pinwheel Garden
Jesus told us, "Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Hard things will come, no matter how much we wish to avoid them, because they are simply part of life. We have the choice, though, to cling to an attitude of self-pity and "why me?" or to recognize and accept that trouble will come. When it does, we also have the assurance that Jesus has overcome every trouble we may face. We have His support through it all and nothing is stronger than that.

November 15, 2019

Freezer Paper Magic

The Island Batik ambassadors are divided in half for the November challenge. Half are participating in the A Piece Of blog hop, showcasing gorgeous new fabric collections that will be shipping to shops soon. Visit the Island Batik blog for the full schedule for the blog hop. There are lots of amazing projects being shared, plus great giveaways.

Those of us who aren't part of the blog hop have a different challenge - to use one of the many tools in our sewing rooms in the creation of our quilt. This is my fabric pull for my quilt.
Fabric pull of Island Batik fabrics |
After A LOT of pondering, I decided to use freezer paper as my tool. Have you ever heard of using freezer paper rather than paper for paper piecing? I had heard that it meant not having to remove all those bits of paper afterwards and, since that was always my least favourite part of paper piecing, I figured it was time to give it a try.

I followed this tutorial from Bryan House Quilts and it's like magic!! Just watch this...
I have almost all of the blocks made for this quilt now and I am amazed by how easy this version of foundation piecing is. This is definitely a game changer for me.
foundation piecing with freezer paper |
I hope to have the quilt top finished this weekend. I have less than a dozen blocks to make, so it won't take long to get them done. What are your sewing plans for the weekend?

November 13, 2019

Quilters Can Learn to Sew Clothes!

Back near the beginning of the year, Michelle of From Bolt to Beauty wrote a post explaining all the reasons why she's certain quilters can learn to sew bags, too. She started off by mentioning that she has noticed that many quilters avoid making anything 3D, even if they are accomplished quilters.

Like Michelle, I have heard/read quilters saying they they're scared of 3D sewing. And as much as I wanted to learn garment sewing, I was terrified because clothes have to not only look well made, they also have to FIT. Add in the fact that knit fabrics stretch and I was stuck for years, wanting to sew clothes, but scared to try.

Well, I know for sure that quilters can learn to sew garments, too, even garments made from knit fabric. How do I know? Because I've done it! I've sewn quite a few garments now and I love wearing my me-mades. I started out by using woven fabrics, like quilting cotton, denim and poplin (no stretch!), but I've since made the leap into using knit fabrics.
Quilters can learn to sew clothes |
Are my garments perfect? Not at all, but I can still wear them in public and I see improvement with each garment I finish 😊 To be honest, I've been surprised by just how much I've enjoyed being a beginner again.
Everyday Skirt |
An Everyday Skirt made in Island Batik rayon
Are you interested in learning to sew garments, too? You can do it! As a quilter, you've already mastered using your sewing machine, so that's one big hurdle taken care of. You don't need to invest in a serger. I have one that I was given years ago, and I have used it for some things, but not everything. I didn't use it for the Summer Basics dresses at all.  As long as you have a regular sewing machine that can sew a zig zag stitch, you're good to go.

Some of your quilting skills will transfer nicely to garment sewing, too. The one that surprised me the most was how similar attaching a sleeve is to sewing a curved block like drunkard's path. Now you just need to expand your skills!

Learn the Basics

Start by finding a good resource that explains terms and techniques. I started out with the book, Love at First Stitch, which is a beginner's guide to making clothes with woven fabrics. It walks you through a series of projects that build your skills as you go. There's now also a companion book for sewing with knit fabrics, but I haven't actually looked through that one. Your local library may have a good book or two, so check there as well.
Summer Basics dress |

Buying Fabric

Buying knit fabric online can be tough when you're starting out because it's so hard to tell what the quality of the fabric will be like. Plus, if you're anything like me, you don't want to spend a ton of money on the best quality fabric, only to make a hash of sewing the garment. On the other hand, though, using good quality fabric makes for a better experience all around. So, look for fabric that's on sale! I also find that solid fabrics tend to be cheaper than prints, so when I was making my Summer Basics dresses I started with a solid fabric to test the fit and then used the more expensive fabric for the second dress (shown above). If you're lucky enough to live near a fabric shop where you can actually touch the fabric and talk to people, use that resource! I can't do that unless we're in a city 7 hours away, so it doesn't happen often. Online is my go-to. So far I've been very happy with what I've bought from L'Oiseaux Fabrics and Black Rabbit Fabrics.

What to Make?

There are loads of independent designers who sell PDF patterns, so you should have no problem finding something you like. I highly recommend Love Notions patterns. They have a lot of different patterns, in different styles, for women, men and children and some of their patterns include up to 5X sizes. The patterns are clearly written and make it easy to sew each step even if you don't know what you're doing (yet!). They also have a big facebook group where the members are helpful and supportive and I've always had answers to my questions very quickly. I'm an affiliate for Love Notions and a very happy customer, with a growing wardrobe of LN garments 😊 So far I've made the Constellation, three Summer Basics dresses, a Laundry Day Tee dress and a Terra Tunic. I have several other patterns I just haven't had time to make yet.

I've also made two Slim Fit Raglans from Patterns for Pirates and I have plans to make more. I'm wearing one of them as I finish up this post 😊 Patterns for Pirates has patterns for the whole family, too. They even have some free patterns for sewing for baby. I've printed out the Wee Lap Tee to make for some babies that are due in the next few months.

Give it a Try!

Are you convinced to try sewing clothes yet? Give it a try and I'm sure you'll agree that quilters can learn to sew clothes, too!

Pin this so other quilters will see it and maybe be inspired to try, too 😊
Quilters can learn to sew clothes, too |

November 11, 2019


Devotion for the Week...

My husband's grandparents were devout people and, as was common in their time, were strict about observing a day of rest on Sunday. She would prepare the food for the day ahead of time, often working late on Saturday night to have everything ready. I was amused to learn that sometimes she would set the kitchen clock back a little bit so that when her husband would call out around midnight to say that it was now Sunday, she would reply, "It's still Saturday in the kitchen" and keep working. 😊 It makes me smile whenever I think of it. She followed the rule of not working on Sundays, but she could be a little flexible about it when needed, too.

Over the years there have been plenty of rules for believers, and those rules have sometimes varied wildly depending on denomination or geography. I remember hearing Chuck Swindoll of Insight for Living talk once about an international conference of pastors he attended, where the American pastors were surprised by the German pastors, all of whom drank beer with their meals. The American rules say pastors don't drink beer, but apparently that's not part of the German rules.

Paul wrote to the believers in Colosse, "You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires" (Colossians 2:20-23).

I love that he calls out the rules that are only designed to make people look religious. These man-made rules have nothing to do with the state of a person's heart, but only with how they act. The two can (and should!) be the same, but they aren't always. A person can put on a good show of following all the right rules, while at the same time their heart is far from God. The Pharisees were a perfect example of this. They had an incredibly long list of rules they followed, yet Jesus spoke most harshly to them, calling them hypocrites, white washed tombs and vipers (Matthew 23:1-36).
It's not the rules we follow that matter, it's our relationship with Jesus |
Background quilt is Flower Path
It's not the rules we follow that matter, it's our relationship with Jesus. If our relationship with Him is what it should be, then our actions will naturally reflect that. If it's not, then no adherence to man-made rules will make any difference.

November 05, 2019

Flower Path in Make Modern

Flower Path quilt |
I am excited to finally get to share another quilt with you! Flower Path is in issue 31 of Make Modern magazine, which is now available. Use code '31for6' by November 10th to get it for $6 AUD.
Flower Path quilt |
The design for this one came about through playing around with an orange peel block in EQ8. I wanted to see what I could come up with if I put the orange peel in some blocks, but not others. I can't remember how long I spent moving those blocks around, but eventually I hit upon this arrangement and I loved it, which of course meant it had to get made 😊

I used Island Batik Foundations fabrics in Cherry and Taxi for the orange peels. The background is called Storm and I love the depth in the different blues.

I used a glue stick to attach the orange peels to the background, then stitched around them with a zig zag stitch in matching Aurifil thread. I used 1135 for the yellow and 2270 for the red. I find I really like using a glue stick rather than fusible web for these simple shapes.

Warm and Natural batting and more Storm for the backing and I had a quilt sandwich ready for quilting. I've been basting all my bigger quilts on the foyer floor at our church when there's nothing going on there and it's so convenient. Lots of space and I'm not in anyone's way like when I baste on our kitchen floor. And, since I'm also the church janitor, I have inside knowledge of when the floor has been freshly mopped 😉

I had a lot of fun quilting the yellow flowers created where the orange peels cross. First, I quilted a circle at the end where they meet, going around a couple of times, before stitching arcs back and forth to the other end of the orange peel.
Flower Path quilt |
The red orange peels got wishbones, which are one of my favourite designs to stitch. Quick and simple, plus it's easy to fit them into any size shape.
Flower Path quilt |
Then it was time to quilt the background. First I went around each orange peel, then echoed around them all again. Then I quilted a meander and flower design all over. I tried to quilt big, I really did, but it never seems to work for me, lol.
Flower Path quilt |
The Aurifil 1135 really shows up on the back! You can just barely make out the 2270, too.
Flower Path quilt |
Flower Path quilt |
Pick up your Make Modern issue 31 today. Don't forget that until Sunday, November 10th, you can use code '31for6' to get the issue for only $6 AUD.