April 19, 2021

Have You Tried?

 Devotion for the Week...

One of the littles I babysit has a new favourite phrase. I can't even tell you how many times a day he says, "But I can't!" when he wants to do something or especially when I've told him to do something. My standard response is, "You don't know if you can. You haven't even tried." And then I don't help him until he has at least put in a little effort to try to do whatever it is on his own (well, unless I know he actually can't do it himself or it needs to be done quickly). Sometimes he legitimately can't do it and I have to do it for him, other times he just needs a little assistance and other times he can do it completely on his own. No matter what the result, it's important that he actually tries to do the thing so he will eventually lose the "I can't" mindset.

His whines of "I can't" really stuck in my head lately and made me think about all the times we tell God we can't do the things He is asking us to do. I wonder how often he wants to roll His eyes at our unwillingness to even try new things. How often is He looking at me, listening to my assertions that I can't do _____, and wanting to say "You don't know if you can. You haven't even tried."

Paul wrote, "In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly" (Romans 12:6-8). This list is by no means exhaustive. God has also given people gifts of organization, or feeding people, or making people feel seen and valued, gifts of writing, gifts of event planning, gifts of creating and making, and gifts of growing abundant food. All of the things we are good at come from God and He wants us to use those gifts to serve others.

Many of us love doing the things we do well and we would love to serve others with those gifts. Maybe we even secretly dream about what life would be like if only we could do ____ all the time. Unfortunately, imposter syndrome has attached itself to our perception of our gifts. Imposter syndrome makes us feel like we can't serve others with our gift because we aren't good enough. It presents in a lot of different ways (like feeling that we're a fake and people would be disappointed if they knew the truth about us, or feeling like everyone else is better than we are, so why are we even thinking about doing this thing), but the overwhelming feeling is that we can't do it.

I fully believe God is saying to each of us, "Yes, you can! I gave you this gift. Just try."

You may discover you can do more than you thought you could | DevotedQuilter.com

Are there things you want to do, but you feel like you aren't good enough? If you have a chorus of "I can't" in your mind, I encourage you to try anyway. Maybe you'll need a little help along the way, but you may discover you can do more than you thought you could.

April 14, 2021

Flower Box and Mix it Up Pattern Re-release

I love making mini quilts! They're like candy - quick and sweet and you can't do just one! They make a great change of pace when you've been working on a lot of big or complicated quilts and you just need a quick finish.

I'm excited to re-release two mini quilt patterns today. They've been updated to have the same format as my other patterns and they've undergone technical editing by Yvonne of Quilting Jetgirl to check all the math and instructions. Together, those things mean I can now offer Flower Box and Mix It Up as both PDFs and printed patterns 😊 You can find them both in my Etsy shop. The special re-release price is available through Monday, April 20th.
Flower Box and Mix It Up mini quilts | DevotedQuilter.com
I really love both of these patterns, so I'm pleased to finally be able to offer them in printed form. It would be super helpful if you'd ask your local quilt shop to carry them!

Flower Box uses traditional piecing and machine applique and finishes at 24" square. It's a scrap friendly pattern, too! You can stitch up a swirly flower garden for your wall or table super quick.
Flower Box mini quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
The background around the flowers makes a great space for fun quilting. It would look equally great with stippling, too.
Flower Box mini quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
Flower Box mini quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
The applique shapes really pop with the background heavily quilted. The swirly flower was inspired by one I saw embroidered on a Bible cover years ago.
Flower Box mini quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
Flower Box was actually my first published pattern, in Make Modern magazine back in 2015. It will always have a special place in my heart! You can get the newly updated Flower Box pattern as a PDF or preorder the printed pattern. I offer free shipping on printed patterns and they'll ship to you as soon as they arrive from the printer.
Flower Box mini quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
Mix It Up is my fabric take on the fun of mixing paint colours to create a new colour. I love a good machine applique orange peel design! Mix It Up finishes at 36" square.
Mix it Up mini quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
I chose the classic blue + yellow=green for the sample quilt. What colours would you mix up? I've always wanted to do red+white=pink or black+white=grey or maybe blue+green=teal...There are so many options! I'd like to make a print version, too, instead of all solids.
Mix It Up mini quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
The background of Mix It Up is another great space for fun quilting and I chose matchstick lines after echo quilting around all of the orange peels.
Mix It Up mini quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
Just like with Flower Box, you can get the newly updated Mix It Up pattern as a PDF or preorder the printed pattern. The printed patterns will ship to you as soon as they arrive from the printer, with free shipping anywhere in the world.
Mix It Up mini quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
Head over to my Etsy shop to pick up these patterns, just in time for a little fun weekend stitching. Be quick, though - the re-release price is only available through Monday. Get yours before the price goes up on Tuesday morning 😊

Do you love making mini quilts too?

April 12, 2021

The Only Right Way

 Devotion for the Week...

When I first learned how to properly put a binding on a quilt, it was sewn to the front by machine, then stitched to the back by hand. This, I believed, was the only right way to bind a quilt. When I taught some friends to quilt, I insisted they had to finish the binding by hand, even though one of them positively hated hand stitching. It wasn't until I had been quilting for over 15 years that I decided to try finishing the binding on my machine, for a set of placemats, and then I was converted. It's so much faster! And it looks just as good, especially with practice.

I should have known better than to insist there was only one right way to bind a quilt, since I had also at one time thought that quilting by hand was the only right way and machine quilting was cheating. Of course, then I tried machine quilting and fell in love with it, which quickly changed my tune! I have since learned to pray, "Lord, save me from ever again thinking my way is the only right way to do anything."

It seems Paul had encountered some Romans who felt their way of serving God was the only right way and he wanted to set them straight. "Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them...In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honor him. Those who eat any kind of food do so to honor the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who refuse to eat certain foods also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God" (Romans 14:1-3, 5-6).

It's all too easy to get caught in the trap of thinking our way is the only right way, isn't it? In some cases, this is true...we can't please God if we're lying to people all day long...but in most cases there are multiple right answers. Church service on Saturday night and sports on Sunday? That works. Sunday morning service, then off to work for the rest of the day? That works, too. Church every other week, and working the other week? That's good, too. None of those options is more spiritual than the others. None of them is more right than the other.

This applies to so many things! I once heard a pastor say he would ask a man to leave if he were wearing a baseball hat in church. Why? Does wearing a hat mean he doesn't love God? I realize the convention is that men remove their hats in church, but is it worth kicking him out over? To me, that feels very much like "my way is the only right way."

Notice that the things Paul gives as examples aren't the basics of theology. Those are non-negotiable. Paul isn't saying we can create our own theology. Instead, he's saying that we take what we know of God, which we learn from the Bible, and apply it to the decisions we make about how to live our lives and how to best serve Him. Ultimately, this is about how we serve Him, not about serving ourselves and our own convenience.
Is what I'm doing acceptable to God? | DevotedQuilter.com
As the test of whether or not what we are doing is right, Paul says in verse 5, "You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable." It's important to note that doesn't mean we should be fully convinced it's the easiest thing or that we just do what we want without considering God's view of it. Paul means we should be fully convinced that what we're doing is acceptable to God. If we are so convinced, then we can carry on. And then, when we encounter others who are also fully convinced that what they do is acceptable to God - even if we disagree - we allow them to carry on as well.

April 08, 2021

TGIFF - Respect the Power Tool

Welcome to Thank Goodness it's Finally Finished! For me this week, it's more a case of thank goodness it's finally photographed and blogged, since I actually finished this months ago, but the same feeling applies 😊

When Sam Hunter released her line of embroidery patterns, I was thrilled to see she had included her "Respect the Power Tool" graphic and bought it almost immediately, even though I really didn't need another hand stitching project. That didn't stop me from starting it right away, either, with the pattern increased to 150%.
Respect the Power Tool embroidery | DevotedQuilter.com
I love Jenny of Elefanz and her beautiful embroidery projects, which often feature tiny applique elements. With that inspiration in mind, I cut the sewing machine and the tiny spool of thread out of scraps of fabric. The mottled black fabric and the gold thread for the sewing machine were chosen to mimic my two Singer treadle machines.
Respect the Power Tool embroidery | DevotedQuilter.com
I used Aurifil 12 wt for all of the stitching. I chose orange for the thread spool as a nod to both Aurifil, for their orange 50 wt spools, and to Sam Hunter, since she's vocal about her love for orange. 
Respect the Power Tool embroidery | DevotedQuilter.com
I picked up a black 8x10 frame from the dollar store and I love how the embroidery looks framed! It hangs in our kitchen, right by the hutch where I keep my sewing machine 😊
Respect the Power Tool embroidery | DevotedQuilter.com
Side note, we were out of town yesterday, which meant about 4 hours total driving. I realized shortly after we left that, while I had my temperature quilt pieces to work on and my sew together bag that holds my hand stitching essentials, there were some essentials missing from the bag. Most notably, my scissors were sitting on the table by the chair in the living room, so I had no way to cut thread 😞 A stop at a fabric shop was already included in the day's plan and I figured I'd buy a cheap pair of scissors so I could at least stitch on the way home. I was thrilled to find these LDH thread snips at the fabric shop and snapped them up right away. Not only are they wonderful to use, they look great as a photography prop, too!

I have big plans to use Sam's graphic again, this time in a way I can wear an d proclaim my love of sewing everywhere I go. There are just so many projects lined up in head, I'm not sure when I'll actually get to it!

That's my finish, so now it's your turn! What have you finished recently (or at least found time to share recently, lol)? I'm looking forward to seeing and celebrating your finishes with you! As a reminder, much as we all love to see WIPs, this linky party is intended for finished projects.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

April 06, 2021

Rain Will Make the Flowers Grow - Quilt Block Mania

It's Quilt Block Mania day again! This month the theme is Rain and I have to admit that it took me quite a while to come up with an idea for a block. In the end, though, I'm thrilled with this fun block 😊
Rain will make the flowers grow quilt block | DevotedQuilter.com
When I first designed it, I thought I would embroider the letters, but then I remembered the crayon technique that I used in this mini quilt. You can find the full tutorial in that post, if you've never tried colouring your quilts with crayons.
Rain will make the flowers grow quilt block | DevotedQuilter.com
After the wax is removed, the letters have a soft look.
Rain will make the flowers grow quilt block | DevotedQuilter.com
Once the letters were finished, I dug through my scraps to choose colours for the flowers and a few different blues for the raindrops, then fused everything in place using Heat n Bond Lite. This is one of the reasons I keep even itty-bitty scraps, lol.
Rain will make the flowers grow quilt block | DevotedQuilter.com
Rain will make the flowers grow quilt block | DevotedQuilter.com
All while I was cutting the pieces, I debated if I would stitch around the flowers right away or leave it to be done with the quilting. As you can see, leaving it to be done with the quilting won, so my flowers are unstitched for now. I often do this with applique because only stitching around them once saves time compared with stitching them down and then quilting them separately. I may have infinite patience for quilting, but I don't have infinite time! Case in point, I haven't had time to quilt this yet, but I'm hoping to get it done soon. We have a space in our kitchen that fits a 12" mini quilt perfectly and this would look great hung there for the rest of the spring.
Rain will make the flowers grow quilt block | DevotedQuilter.com
If you want to make your own Rain Will Make the Flowers Grow block (or mini quilt!), you can get the free pattern download by entering your email address here. Doing so will also subscribe you to The Bulletin, which I send out twice a month. I hope you'll enjoy reading it!

As always, there's an abundance of blocks from the Quilt Block Mania designers, so hop around and gather them all up. You can also join the QBM FB group.

Rainbow of raindrops by Carolina Moore
Raindrops by Perkins Dry Goods
Rainy Day Walk Home by The Quilted Diary
Raindrop by Blockofthemodotcom
I Love Rainy Days by Heidi Pridemore
Petrichor by Althea Gyde
Gray Skies are Gonna Clear Up by Blue Bear Quilts
Rain from Heaven by Faith and Fabric
Umbrella and Gumboots by Duck Creek Mountain Quilting
April Showers by QuiltFabrication
Pouring Rain by Patti's Patchwork
Spring Crocus by PhoebeMoon Designs
Playing in the Rain by Puppy Girl Designs
Rainy Day by Studio R Quilts
Rain Showers by Slice of Pi Quilts
Rain by Oh Kaye Quilting
Doves in the rain by Sara Flynn
April Showers by Inquiring Quilter
Rain Will Make the Flowers Grow by Devoted Quilter
I've Got Sunshine on a Rainy Day
Let it Rain
Splish-Splash by Pretty Piney Quilts
April Showers by Cotton Street Commons
Rain on the Window

April 05, 2021

They Thought They Won

 Devotion for the Week...

I hope you had a wonderful Easter weekend! It is so good to celebrate the fact that Jesus is risen 😊 I don't mind the abundant chocolate, either, lol. #irunforchocolate

I spent a good portion of last week thinking about the disciples and how they must have felt between the crucifixion and the resurrection. We have the advantage of living post-resurrection. We know the full story, but they didn't. They must have felt like their world had ended at the hands of evil men who would never pay for their crimes. 

Just think about the religious leaders who condemned Jesus and incited the crowd to demand His crucifixion. They were the most respected men in the community, supposedly the most godly, but they were willing to "find witnesses who would lie about Jesus, so they could put him to death" (Matthew 26:59). When they took Jesus to Pilate, they "didn’t go inside because it would defile them, and they wouldn’t be allowed to celebrate the Passover" (John 18:28), but they had no problem with taking an innocent man to be condemned.

They succeeded, of course. Jesus was crucified and the religious leaders thought they had won. Their position as most respected in the community was intact, along with all the power and authority that gave them.

Even more so, Satan thought he had won. He thought he had destroyed God's entire plan to save humanity. How he must have celebrated when Jesus breathed His last breath on that cross.

Ah, but that wasn't the end of the story, was it? I love Phil Wickham's Living Hope, especially the verse that says: 

Then came the morning that sealed the promise
Your buried body began to breathe
Out of the silence, the roaring lion
Declared the grave has no claim on me

Satan thought he had won, but he had never been so wrong. Can you imagine the dread that replaced his jubilant celebration when Jesus began to breathe again? When Jesus' heart began to beat again? When Jesus rose from that grave and eventually ascended back into heaven? 

When the women went to anoint Jesus' body, they were met by an angel who told them, "He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen" (Matthew 28:6). That was the first inkling they had that maybe evil hadn't won after all.
it may look like evil is winning right now, but God will have the final say | DevotedQuilter.com
Today, as I said, we have the advantage of living post-resurrection, but there are still times when it feels like evil people are winning. Psalm 73 addresses this and Asaph, the author concludes, 

"So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper.
    But what a difficult task it is!
Then I went into your sanctuary, O God,
    and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.
Truly, you put them on a slippery path
    and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction.
In an instant they are destroyed,
    completely swept away by terrors" (vv. 16-19).

Just as it was with the crucifixion, it may look like evil is winning right now, but God will have the final say. 

April 02, 2021

Spring Clean Your Studio

Welcome to my stop on the Spring Clean Your Studio blog hop, hosted by Cheryl of Muppin.com! I feel like this blog hop is part motivation to clean/organize and part voyeurism since we get a peek into so many beautiful sewing rooms 😊
I am a member of team sews-at-the-kitchen-table, which means I don't have one of those beautiful rooms to share. What I do have is sewing stuff stashed here and there all around the house, so the last few years I've been trying to get more organized. I'm hoping that by the time I can have a real sewing room I'll have all the systems in place so the mess never gets out of hand. A girl can dream, right??

Last year for the Spring Clean Your Studio blog hop, I dealt with my fabric storage. I'm so happy to report that I have maintained the new, organized drawers for the whole year! Then, in November, I sorted my scraps by colour and I have them all in shoeboxes. It's not Pinterest worthy, but it works. Both of those projects have made it so much easier to find what I need for new projects. I also find it easier to put stuff away, though that doesn't always happen as quickly as it should. It's a work in progress.

There are still plenty of other pockets of stuff that need to be dealt with, so for today I tackled the stuff in the kitchen. This cupboard is next to the table. It's great to be able to keep current projects close to where I sew, but the mess was a bit much.
Sewing organization | DevotedQuilter.com
And, since the cupboard was such a mess, I often just stuck stuff on top of it rather than wedging it into the mess. Remember, this is right in our kitchen, so the mess isn't exactly hidden away. Some of the stuff on the counter isn't sewing related, but once it's a messy horizontal surface, everyone finds it's just easier to keep adding stuff to the pile.
Sewing organization | DevotedQuilter.com
I have realized that 'divide and conquer' is a key organization tactic. Having a large open space to stash stuff just invites mess. There's a reason all those home organization posts are full of bins and baskets! I bought three pretty bins for current projects. Two of them are holding my Spring Meadow quilts at the moment, the smaller one has the applique version and the larger one has the embroidery version. I really like being able to pull out the bin and have everything I need for the quilt.
Sewing organization | DevotedQuilter.com

Sewing organization | DevotedQuilter.com
The third bin has an assortment of projects that I haven't worked on in a while, but that I hope to get back to soon.
Sewing organization | DevotedQuilter.com
That was the end of my bin buying, though. While I admire shelves that are full of perfectly coordinated bins, the truth is I can't be bothered to spend that much on organization. I'd rather just use what I already have. That's why my thread is in cookie containers - one for Aurifil and another for an assortment of old threads and the Gutermann that I use for garment sewing. There's another cookie container holding fabric for a quilt-to-be. Eating the cookies to make the containers available for storage was a sacrifice the whole family was willing to make!
Sewing organization | DevotedQuilter.com
Then there are the cardboard boxes that have fabric for future projects and another box that has zip top bags of leftover binding pieces, orphan blocks, different elastics, my quilt labels, etc. With the bags all corralled in one box, at least they're much neater than when they were loose.

This is what the inside of the cupboard looks like now. It still wouldn't win any awards for beauty, but it's a lot more functional than it was. 
Sewing organization | DevotedQuilter.com
And here's the top of the cupboard. You can see the vintage Singer! The two bags behind it are for masks. I'd love to keep them somewhere else, but if I want others to put their dirty mask in a bag, it better be somewhere convenient, lol. The papers on the left are the pattern pieces for my Lotte hoodie, which I plan to make over the Easter break. Today is the first of 10 days off and I have so many plans! We'll see how many of them actually materialize 😊
Sewing organization | DevotedQuilter.com
Now the challenge will be to keep it looking like this! I make no guarantees, but I'm going to try!

There are still plenty of categories of stuff that I don't know how/where to organize. The two biggest and most challenging are garment fabric and garment pattern pieces. I have more work to do, for sure, but it's better than it was before 😊

Cheryl has gathered a bevy of others to share their studio clean ups. If you're in need of motivation or inspiration, or you just want to peek into your sewing friends' studios, hop around to visit them all.

March 29, 2021

Just the Facts

 Devotion for the Week...

While looking through old blog posts last week, I found this devotion from 2018 that I had completely forgotten about. It seemed perfect to share it again today as we approach Good Friday.

I read one morning last week about a fellow quilter who lost her grown step daughter suddenly a few weeks ago. I can't even imagine that pain. That family stayed in my mind all day as I grappled with the enormity of losing a child.

Somewhere along the way, it made me think of my grandparents, who lost their firstborn in infancy. I can just barely remember when I learned that the 13 siblings in Dad's family actually had another brother who had died as a baby, but I can't say I've ever thought about him much. I certainly never thought before that day last week about how it must have been for the young Eileen and Michael to lose their son, probably because I never heard anything about what it was like for them. By the time I learned about the child who died, both of my grandparents were gone as well.

I know I've said this before, but one of the things I find hardest about reading the Bible is that it gives us all the facts, but very few of the details. It is so easy to skim over really hard, painful stuff without taking in how hard and painful it was because there are no details to help us make that connection.

Just look at the moment when Pilate "ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified" (Matthew 27:26). That comma between ordering that Jesus be whipped and giving Him to the soldiers to be crucified, that comma is all that represents the actual whipping. If that were written in a modern-day novel, that one comma would be rendered as a full paragraph or more. Readers would be given details about the man who did the whipping, the sound of the whip through the air, the sound of it hitting Jesus' back, the sounds Jesus made as lash after lash landed.

It's not easy to think about, is it? And so, often, we don't. We read the facts as they are written in the Bible, but we don't slow down enough to consider the details that would have gone along with those facts. Along the way, we lose the emotional connection we could have with the facts.

It's not only the hard, painful things that we miss because of the lack of details. Think about the moment when the thief crucified next to Jesus said to Him, "'Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.'  And Jesus replied, 'I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise'" (Luke 23:42, 43).

What did Jesus' face look like in that moment, when He looked at this man who believed and so would spend eternity in heaven because of the agony Jesus was feeling at that exact moment? I picture a smile through the pain as He saw a glimpse of just how worth it that agony would prove to be. Did He close His eyes for a moment as a feeling of victory washed over Him? Did He choke up a little as He spoke, overwhelmed with love for this sinner who had come home?

Everything Jesus would have felt in that moment, for that thief, is what He also feels for every other sinner who believes in Him. It's what He feels for you and for me. Without the details, though, it's all too easy to read the story without ever thinking about what Jesus was feeling.
Everything Jesus felt for the thief who believed, He feels for us, too | DevotedQuilter.com
Obviously, the Bible couldn't possibly contain all the details a novel would include. If it did, the Bible would be large enough to fill a room! But there's no reason we can't slow down and imagine those details and so allow ourselves to feel that emotional connection with the facts we read.

My challenge for you this week is just that - when you read the Bible this week, read slowly. Imagine the details that aren't written and allow those details to connect you more deeply with the facts.

March 22, 2021

Old Childishness

 Devotion for the Week...

Whatever your views of President Trump were, there was no denying that he didn't like when people spoke negatively about him. He came to mind, and I actually laughed out loud, recently when I read 1 Kings 22 and 'heard' how King Ahab responded to someone who spoke negatively about him. Let's set the scene: King Ahab (king of Israel) asked King Jehosaphat (king of Judah) to go to battle with him to recover the town of Ramoth-gilead from the king of Aram. Ahab didn't follow God at all, but Jehosaphat did. So Jehosaphat said he would go to war with Ahab, but "then Jehoshaphat added, "But first let’s find out what the Lord says'" (v. 5). Ahab summoned all of his 'prophets,' who were very good at telling the king exactly what he wanted to hear, and they told him "Yes, go right ahead! The Lord will give the king victory" (v. 6). 

Jehosaphat, of course, knew Ahab's reputation and that of his prophets, so he asked, "Is there not also a prophet of the Lord here? We should ask him the same question" (v. 7).

Ahab replied, "There is one more man who could consult the Lord for us, but I hate him. He never prophesies anything but trouble for me!" (v. 8). That was where I laughed out loud. Can't you just see Ahab scrunching up his face in distaste and shaking his head? He had no interest in what this man, Micaiah, had to say because he never had anything good to say about Ahab. Never mind that Micaiah was only speaking the truth from God - the fact that it didn't make Ahab feel good about himself was the only thing that mattered. Man, that childishness is OLD!

None of us like it when people speak negatively about us. We can write them off completely, as Ahab did, declaring they are horrible people and never even considering any truth there might be in their words. Or we can pause for a moment to see if we could learn something from what has been said. Sometimes there's nothing to be gained from the negative feedback and we can then cross that person off the list of people we listen to. But sometimes there will be nuggets of truth in the negative feedback. 

No, it's not easy to listen to people talking negatively about us. No, we don't want to do it. It would be much easier to simply insist they're terrible people and we should ignore them. While that might be easier or more comfortable, it's not very helpful. 

If I'm being honest with myself, I know that I'm not always right in everything I say and do, which means that sometimes people need to correct me. I'm willing to guess you would say the same about yourself. If we just ignore the people who correct us, we'll keep repeating those same mistakes. Who knows what damage that will do to our relationships, our reputations, our finances or our health. If, instead, we choose to consider what has been said, we could grow into better people for having listened to the hard things. 
While we may hate the experience of being corrected, we can't automatically discount it | DevotedQuilter.com
Proverbs 12:1 says it pretty plainly: "To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction." Most of us like to think we're not stupid. While we may hate the experience of being corrected, we can't automatically discount it.

March 15, 2021

Stronger Together

 Devotion for the Week...

When my husband comes home from work, he generally doesn't hang out with me and the littles I babysit. He'll come and talk with me for a few minutes and then he goes for his run or goes to read somewhere quieter than where a crowd of toddlers are playing. There have been times over the years, though, when he has come home to find me at my wit's end because of behavioral issues with one of the kids, so he has stayed with me until the parents have all picked up their kids. Just having him in the room helps to get me through the last bit of the day.

Those days, and his support, were what I thought of when I read 1 Kings 19 last week. Elijah had just defeated the prophets of Baal and then, in retribution for killing her prophets, Queen Jezebel "sent this message to Elijah: 'May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them'" (v. 2). Yikes! She was a real winner of a queen, let me tell you. Understandably, "Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. 'I have had enough, Lord,' he said. 'Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died'" (vv. 3-4). Later, he also says, "I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too" (v. 10).

Elijah was done. He had nothing left. Dealing with a toddler who has been hitting the other kids all day doesn't really compare to running for your life, but I still feel that I can relate to that feeling of just being done and not able to deal with the situation anymore. Have you felt that way? Those are the times when it's good to have someone else there to support you, even if they don't do anything except stay in the room with you.

In his moment of despair, Elijah gets a visit from God, who comes to him as a still, small voice (v. 12). God tells him to go anoint a couple of men to be future kings and then to "anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from the town of Abel-meholah to replace you as my prophet" (v. 16). This wasn't a demotion for Elijah. God wasn't upset with him for feeling overwhelmed, alone and unable to cope. God knows we need other people, so he provides that support for us. In this case, He provided Elisha as an assistant who would one day take over for Elijah, which I imagine was a relief in the moment since Elijah was no longer alone, but also a mental relief since Elijah could stop worrying about who would lead the people after he was gone. The burden wasn't only his anymore.

Over the course of our lives, we'll probably have times when we are like Elijah - in despair and unable to cope. We'll need someone to come and hang out with us and help us get through the situation. Other times, we'll be like Elisha, providing that support to someone else. Whichever side of the equation we are on, we can rest assured that we are stronger together. 
We are stronger together | DevotedQuilter.com
Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, "Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken."

March 14, 2021

Grace in the Meadow QAL Progress

We are now a little past the halfway point of the Grace in the Meadow quilt along 😊 I have discovered that running a quilt along with daily emails makes for a lot of extra computer work that doesn't leave much time for writing blog posts. Today, though, I thought I'd share the blocks I've made so far during the QAL. You can also see my first version of the quilt top here.

We started out with these Clay's Choice blocks. I love these Shimmer fabrics from Northcott! The metallic accents don't show up well in the picture, but they're beautiful in person.
Clay's Choice quilt blocks | DevotedQuilter.com
Then I fell behind on the second block, the Diamond Flower block, since I was still waiting on my box of thread from Aurifil. I haven't gotten back to these blocks yet, so I'm still behind. I do have them all traced and ready for stitching, thanks to my fancy-pants lightbox 😄 
Window lightbox | DevotedQuilter.com
The box of thread was worth the wait, though! Just look at these beautiful colours! These ones are all 50 wt, to be used for both versions I'm making.
Aurifil thread | DevotedQuilter.com
And these are all 12 wt, to use for the embroidered flowers on my second version.
Aurifil thread | DevotedQuilter.com
With the thread finally in hand, I was ready to dive into embroidering the Small Snowball Flower blocks. So far I've finished 4 of the 8 blocks. I'm using Aurifil 12 wt in 2545 and  2535 for the flower petals and 2135 for the flower centers. 
Small Snowball Flower blocks | DevotedQuilter.com
I intentionally chose bold colours for all of the 12 wt threads. I didn't want the flowers to be faint and these certainly aren't! That's the same reason I chose to use chain stitch rather than backstitch, since chain stitch makes a thicker line. That helps the flowers stand out, too. I'm so pleased with how they're looking!
Embroidered flower block | DevotedQuilter.com
Next up were the Turnstile blocks. These ones come together so quickly I was able to finish them all up in one evening.
Turnstile blocks | DevotedQuilter.com
Now we're working on the 8 Teardrop Flower blocks. So far I've finished the first one. The flower center is 2535, the darker petals are 4093 and the lighter ones are 2810. 
Teardrop flower block | DevotedQuilter.com
Here are all of the blocks I've finished so far. I love how they're looking together!
Grace in the Meadow QAL blocks | DevotedQuilter.com
Along with making my own blocks, I've really enjoyed seeing the blocks made by the other participants. It's amazing to see how others use my patterns to create their own special quilts! If you want to see, there are a few blocks shared using #graceinthemeadowqal on Instagram 😊
Grace in the Meadow QAL blocks | DevotedQuilter.com

March 08, 2021

Because I Want It

 Devotion for the Week...

For the past few months, Zach has been getting up early a few mornings a week to do a strength workout before he gets ready for school. He doesn't have a coach telling him to do it or anyone checking in to make sure he's keeping to a schedule. He's doing it because he wants to, even though it's hard to drag himself out of bed most mornings. I'm impressed by his dedication. You can be sure that I was not getting up early to do a workout when I was in high school! 

Pursuing something just to make someone else happy doesn't usually result in success. But pursuing something because I want it makes all the difference. We'll worker harder and cling tighter to something when the motivation comes from within.

Consider the example of King Joash, who ruled in Jerusalem. Joash was raised by Jehoiada the priest and his wife, Jehosheba, after Joash's grandmother Athaliah went on a murderous rampage, killing her own family members so she could make herself queen. (Side note - What kind of grandmother is that??) Joash was smuggled out by Jehosheba and raised in secret in the Temple (2 Chronicles 22:10-12). Joash was about a year old when Jehosheba took him to the Temple, so the priest and his wife were really the only parents he knew.

Six years later, Jehoiada arranged a revolt against Athaliah that ended her reign and put 7 year old Joash on the throne (see 2 Chronicles 23). The next chapter tells us that "Joash did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight throughout the lifetime of Jehoiada the priest" (2 Chronicles 24:2). Unfortunately, "after Jehoiada’s death, the leaders of Judah came and bowed before King Joash and persuaded him to listen to their advice. They decided to abandon the Temple of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and they worshiped Asherah poles and idols instead! Because of this sin, divine anger fell on Judah and Jerusalem" (vv. 17-18). 

Then God sent Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada and Jehosheba (essentially Joash's adopted brother), as a prophet to condemn what Joash and the leaders were doing, so "the leaders plotted to kill Zechariah, and King Joash ordered that they stone him to death in the courtyard of the Lord’s Temple (v. 21). Talk about doing a 180° turn!

This is the story of someone who served God only because of an external motivating force. In this case, it was Jehoiada's influence that kept Joash focused on God. Joash had no relationship of his own with God, so when Jehoiada's influence was gone, so was Joash's interest in God.

I wonder if Joash realized that he was only doing things God's way to make Jehoiada happy, or if he thought he was serving God for himself. This is why it's important to look at our own motivation for serving God. Do we go to church only because people expect us to be there? Do we read the Bible only when someone will see us with it in our hands? Or are we pursuing a relationship with Him because we want it?
Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him | DevotedQuilter.com
If our motivation to serve God is rooted in making some other person happy, or making them proud of us, or not hurting their feelings, what will happen to our relationship with God when that person is no longer around? It will likely vanish just as easily as Joash's did.

What a difference it makes if, on the other hand, we pursue a relationship with Him because we want it! Then we will be strong and rooted in Him, not blown about by the winds of changing circumstances.

"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" (Ephesians 3:17).

March 05, 2021

Let's Get to Know...Bernie Kringel!

 Before we get into today's interview, just a reminder that my Anniversary Sale is going on this week. Visit my Etsy shop to save 25% off all patterns, no coupon code needed.

Now it's time for another installment of Let's Get to Know...This time we're getting to know Bernie Kringel, a quilter, blogger and online quilt shop owner with a big heart.  😊 Bernie makes quilts (and accepts donations) for Mercyful Quilts, giving quilts to people in palliative care at her local hospital, Mercy Hospital in Sacramento. She also introduced me to A Doll Like Me when she started making for the super special dolls. 

You can find Bernie at her blog, Needle & Foot and her shop is here. All of the pictures in this post are courtesy of Bernie.

Now, let's get to know Bernie a little better!
Let's Get to Know Bernie Kringel | DevotedQuilter.com

Tell us about your first quilt. Do you still have it?

I made my first quilt when I was 17 years old. It was a log cabin pattern and was queen size. This was in 1977 and I certainly didn’t have a rotary cutter! So lots of time was spent cutting strips. I didn’t have a way to quilt it (that I could figure out!) so I yarn tied it. I used that quilt for so many years until it started to fall apart. About two years ago I took it apart and now have the quilt top separated and ready for me to repair. It needs a great deal of work. Hopefully I will get to this someday!
Baby on a quilt | DevotedQuilter.com
Here is a picture of my first quilt.  This was taken in 1987 so it had been in use ten years already.  Note how my son is face down on the quilt sleeping - not allowed anymore!!!

Do you come from a family of quilters or crafters?

No one in my family quilted but my mom sewed a lot of clothes for me and my five sisters when we were younger. Mom taught me to sew when I was about 11 years old. I remember I made a baby doll
nightgown with matching panties. It was a tiny rosebud print in lavender on white. When I was a girl, my father owned a fabric shop. This meant we sisters had easy access to a lot fabric. I also had the opportunity to work in the shop on Saturdays and during the summer which was a lot of fun. Dad is also a great woodworker. He has made so many wonderful items for me and my sisters. One of the favorites is a wooden cradle that most of the grand babies have used when newborn. He also made a hutch for me and a rocking horse that the grand children passed around as well as lots of other items. One of the most popular posts on my blog is titled Four Weddings and Four Dresses and it tells the story of the wedding dresses my sisters and I made for our weddings.

Do you have any sewing related collections (other than fabric and thread, lol)?

I can’t say I have a collection per say but I do have my grandma’s wooden sewing box and I treasure it. I also have a jar of wooden spools from her sewing box.

What sewing notions could you not live without?

Of course there are a lot of notions I love - my Hera marker and Chaco-Liner are great for marking quilts. My seam ripper is used all too frequently. As for one notion I would not quilt without, that has to be the rotary cutter. It got all of us away from tracing templates and scissor cutting pieces. Using a rotary cutter and ruler piecing is so much more accurate! Recently I was given an AccuQuilt Go and have a few dies for it in various size squares. This is a huge help to me. I have stacks of squares now ready to be used. I am thrilled to have it.
Twister quilt | DevotedQuilter.com
My favorite quilt I have made thus far is my version of Twisted (a popular pattern by Dorie Javier).  I donated it to Mercyful Quilts.

Would you rather cut the pieces for a quilt or stitch a binding?

Without question, I would rather stitch a binding. Honestly, I dislike cutting all the pieces for a quilt. I can’t say for sure why this is but I it is the least favorite part of quilting for me. But binding a quilt - I love it. It is the final step so there is that satisfaction of a finish. Also, it is meditative to just sit and stitch. I think it is a very pleasant way to spend time in the evenings. So much so that I have been hand quilting a lap quilt and finding it has the same soothing qualities.

What do you wish you had known when you started quilting?

Well, that is a tough one. I feel like I started quilting twice. With the first quilts I made in the 1970’s (3 queen size quilts), I was totally self taught. I didn’t know how to bind them so I did it ‘envelope style’ - just sewing front to back and then trying to stuff batting in between the layers!! This was quite awkward and not entirely successful. But it was just me figuring things out.

The second time I began quilting was in 2011. But now there was the internet, YouTube and blogs. I learned so much with these resources. I would say for the second time I started, I didn’t truly understand how critical it was to be accurate. Accurate when cutting pieces and again when stitching the ever important 1/4” seam. If these two bits are accurate, the resulting piecing is much prettier.

What made you decide to open an online quilt shop?

In 2012, I took an early retirement from my job due to chronic migraine. After a while I felt I wanted to be able to work and it seemed that working from home was the best fit for me. Opening an on-line shop
was the perfect solution as I could work around my health issues. On the days I wasn’t feeling well I could work minimally, or not at all. I wasn’t tied to actually going in to a shop as I would have been with a brick and mortar store. Plus with an on-line shop, I don’t have the over head expenses that are involved with a brick & mortar. This makes it possible for me to work part-time. Meaning I can invest less and sell less because I don’t have to make a minimum amount to cover rent, salaries and utilities. This has been such a nice way for me to work. As I mentioned earlier, my father owned a fabric shop so I was somewhat familiar with all that was involved.
Needle & Foot quilt shop | DevotedQuilter.com
View of the Needle & Foot shop

What is your favourite part about being a quilt shop owner? And what is the hardest part?

I love choosing new fabrics to bring into the shop. Because I am a small shop, I don’t buy an entire line. Instead I pick and choose one or two focal prints and some of the coordinates. I love that process of browsing the new lines and selecting bolts. At first this was a bit tricky but I have a good feel for it now. I also love communicating with my customers. I want them to feel like they are receiving full service, as they would in a local quilt shop. So I try to be very responsive to their questions, help in matching colors (which is tricky when shopping online) and mailing swatches out if they need one.

As for the hardest part? Well, at first it was learning how to be a successful seller on the Etsy platform. There is a lot to learn about how search engines work, tagging each listing appropriately so that your items are found by people shopping online. Second to that, it was the business side of things. Learning how much fabric to buy, how often to buy, tracking open purchase orders so you know what is coming in and when and doing the bookkeeping that is needed are all important factors. There is a lot of time spent on these tasks and it is not the fun part!
Needle & Foot quilt shop | DevotedQuilter.com
Another view of the shop

Do you have any advice to anyone wanting to start their own quilt shop?

Hmmm, I will speak to opening an online shop since that I what I have the most experience with. First of all, be sure you study the way search engines work. You can have lots of wonderful fabrics to sell but the customers have to find your shop online. So the way the listings for each bolt or precut are written and put online is critical. Without the correct tag words and descriptions your shop can be lost in the myriad of other listings out there. You need Google to find your shop and push it up toward the top so the person searching for fabric finds it. There are so many blogs and articles out there explaining “search engine optimization” and I would advise studying this topic. It doesn’t sound like the fun part of opening a shop and that is because it isn’t the fun part! But without this, it is tough to be successful. Etsy has been a great platform for my business and there is an abundance of information in their seller’s manual to help a new shop owner with all of this. Also, it doesn’t happen overnight. Sales will be slow at first. It takes time to build up your customer base. So try to be patient.

This one’s not quilting related, though it could be if you listen or watch while you quilt 😊 Do you have a book, movie or show recommendation to share?

This is a fun question! I would recommend The Queen’s Gambit for a really interesting show on Netflix. My husband and I loved it and we are not chess players. It was fantastic. I also enjoy watching The Call of the Midwife. Books I have recently enjoyed are Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns and One For the Blackbird, One for the Crow by Olivia Hawker. Both of these are excellent books.

Thanks, Bernie! It was great getting to know you better!