January 31, 2022

Bit by Bit

Devotion for the Week...

Sometimes the most mundane things capture my attention. Early last week the bar of soap in the shower was down to a sliver, so I opened a new one and put it in the soap holder. It struck me then that this new soap would eventually be worn down to a sliver, too, but it would happen so gradually that the daily change would be imperceptible. Just like the renewing of our minds, I thought.

Romans 12:1, 2 says, "And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." That's the NLT, which is what I usually use, but the NIV renders the start of verse 2 as "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind," which is what I'm most used to hearing.

Renewing our minds, or changing the way we think, is a gradual process. Most of us change slowly, a little here and a little there as we get to know God better and learn how to live the way He wants us to live. We pray, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life" (Psalm 139 23, 24) and as He points out the issues in our thoughts and actions, we change.

Asking Him to point out the problems in us, then accepting His guidance and changing how we think and behave is part of offering ourselves to Him as living sacrifices. There's not much point in saying we offer ourselves and then insisting that we live just the same as we always have, or that this is the way we have always been and we can't ever change. That's not to say it is easy to do. Anything that involves the word sacrifice probably won't be easy.
Bit by bit we are becoming more like Jesus | DevotedQuilter.com
Unfortunately, those gradual changes can be hard to notice and we may feel like we're stuck always making the same mistakes or struggling with the same problem. In those times it may help to remember that, though the change may be imperceptible on a daily basis, it is still happening. Bit by bit we are becoming more like Jesus.

January 27, 2022

From Roses to a Noodles Mini

For Mother's Day last year, Paul bought me this bouquet of fabric roses from a local quilt shop. Didn't they do a fabulous job on the presentation?
fabric roses | DevotedQuilter.com
Usually when I get new fabric that I don't already have a purpose for, it goes straight into my stash for whenever I need it. With these, though, I really wanted to keep them together, for at least one project, and eventually I decided to use them to make another mini version of my Noodles pattern. You can get the Noodles pattern in my Etsy shop. The A Stitch a Day printable is listed in my shop, too!
Noodles quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
I made the blocks at the start of September, but then they just sat until earlier this month when I finally got them sewn into a top. Then, feeling like I was on a roll, I used some of the leftover fat quarters to piece together a back. Usually I can't stand the thought of piecing a back, except a single seam to make yardage wide enough if I have to, but putting four pieces together for a mini quilt back didn't seem too daunting.
pieced quilt back | DevotedQuilter.com
In usual fashion, I knew how I wanted to quilt the yellow curves, but not how I wanted to quilt the blocks, so I started with the curves. A quick outline with Aurifil 1135, then back and forth lines filled in each curve nicely. Of course, it shows up best on the back.
Noodles quilt free motion quilting detail | DevotedQuilter.com
While quilting the curves, I noticed this shape on one of the print fabrics, with all of the swirls around the edges that made me think of the Flourish quilting motif in Christina Cameli's book Step-by-step Free Motion Quilting, so that's what I decided to use for the blocks. 
print fabric inspiration for free motion quilting | DevotedQuilter.com
After some debate, and after asking for opinions on social media, I used Aurifil 4225 (Eggplant) to quilt the blocks. I wasn't really sure about it when I started quilting on one of the clamshell fabrics. The combination of the quilting design and the thread colour obscures the print when viewed up close.
Noodles quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
I was committed at that point, though, because I didn't want to rip out the quilting I had done, so I kept going and hoped I would like it when it was all finished. Thankfully, I do!

The quilting definitely changes the look of the print fabrics, especially the one with the flourish-like motif on it, but I still like the overall effect.
Noodles quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com

Noodles quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
And the quilting looks so good on the solid and textured fabrics!
Noodles quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
Can you see the mistake I made when I put the blocks together? I didn't see it until the quilting was well underway, so I wasn't going to take the quilt apart to fix it. Have I ever mentioned how much I dislike ripping out free motion quilting? The problem has to be really bad to make me take out quilting, lol. 
Noodles quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
Did you find the mistake? In case you didn't, the second and fourth blocks down on the left should be flipped over, so each set of four blocks form a kind of pinwheel, like they do on the right. I figure since it's two blocks that are wrong, we'll just call it a design feature.

This is now three mini quilts made this year, all of them using up pieces of Warm and Natural batting left over from making larger quilts. You can see the first two in this post. Three finishes already feels a great start to the year!
Devoted Quilter quilt label | DevotedQuilter.com
I'm so glad I used the fabrics from the roses to make this Noodles mini, even if I did mess up the layout on my own pattern! If you want to make your own Noodles quilt (mini, baby or throw size), get the PDF pattern or the printed pattern in my Etsy shop.
Noodles quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com

January 24, 2022

The Comment Section

 Devotion for the Week...

When you're scrolling social media and come across a potentially divisive post, do you then pause to read through the comment section? I sometimes do, then I end up shaking my head over how quickly and how harshly people attack each other. With some comments, I can't even figure out how the attacker has gone from what was written in the post or the comment they're responding to, to what they're accusing the other person of thinking, feeling or believing. It's like they're just roaming social media looking for any excuse to jump all over someone in judgement.

Those comment sections were exactly what I thought of earlier this week when I read Psalm 34:14, "Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it." All I could think was, "Well, that's not happening on social media!" People seem more drawn to drama than to peace, especially when it comes to online interactions.

If we are going to search for and maintain peace, maybe we should start by staying out of those divisive comment sections altogether. Sure, there is work to be done in the world and there are people who are wrong; no doubt about either of those things. But does wading into the comment section on someone's IG or FB post really make a difference in either case? Probably not. Staying out of it dramatically increases our own peace and also keeps us from adding fuel to the online fire. It's a win/win. 

There's not much peace to be found in the comment section | DevotedQuilter.com

One important thing to note is that God never tells us to maintain peace at the expense of justice. This isn't a 'maintain the status quo at all costs' kind of peace. Or a 'don't say anything that might upset someone' kind of peace. Jesus had plenty of criticism for the status quo of His day and the ways the religious leaders were harming the people while increasing their own comfort and status. He spoke His mind about what He saw without worrying about how it might upset them. Wrong is wrong and needs to be pointed out. Just maybe not in the comment section on FB.

January 20, 2022

Crayon-Coloured Christmas Ornaments Tutorial

I've had this ornament tutorial on my to-do list since well before Christmas, but I'm only now getting around to getting all of the pictures edited so they could be added to the post. It's funny how we can get stuck on the smallest steps sometimes, isn't it? Better late than never, though, right? I'm saying I'm helping you be well prepared for next Christmas instead of dwelling on the fact that we're a month past Christmas already.
Crayon coloured Christmas ornament tutorial | DevotedQuilter.com
The fronts of these ornaments are coloured with crayons, making them a fun project to do with the kids in your life. As a bonus, the ornaments are pretty quick to put together using scraps of fabric and batting.
Crayon coloured Christmas ornament tutorial | DevotedQuilter.com

So, let's make some ornaments!

What you'll need

The first thing you need is an image for your ornament. I wanted text for mine, so I searched online for 'simple Christmas text clipart' and also tried combining 'clipart' with the words I wanted, like 'merry and bright.' You could also try simple colouring pages. If you're more skilled at drawing than I am, you could draw your own image or you could have your kids draw something. Keep in mind that you'll be colouring the image with crayons, so be wary of images with really tiny spaces, especially if kids will be doing the colouring. I found that the lights and leaves on mine were tough to colour neatly. Once you have your image, print it out at the size you want for your ornament.

You'll also need white fabric for the front of the ornament, fabric for the back, a scrap of batting, a 6" piece of ¼" ribbon, a pencil, crayons, paper towel and your iron.

Transfer the image to your fabric

Trace your image onto your white fabric using a lightbox. My lightbox is the super-fancy version that came with the house. Only problem is, it only works during daylight hours! 
Crayon coloured Christmas ornament tutorial | DevotedQuilter.com
I use a regular pencil to trace my image and I like that the lines stays visible even after I colour it. Whatever you use to trace the image, keep in mind that you'll be ironing it later on, and the heat will make some inks permanent. You can do a test on scrap fabric to be sure you can remove it before the ironing step or that you like it enough for it to be a permanent part of the image.

Make it pretty

Then add some colour! I prefer to use Crayola crayons. I find that cheap crayons tend to leave blobs of wax behind as you use them, and I want to avoid that on my ornaments. 
Crayon coloured Christmas ornament tutorial | DevotedQuilter.com
As you're colouring, you want the colour to be fairly dark as I find it gets a little lighter when the wax is removed in the next step.
Crayon coloured Christmas ornament tutorial | DevotedQuilter.com

Remove the wax

When you're finished colouring, place the fabric on a pressing surface with the design facing up. Cover it with paper towel, then iron it with a hot, dry iron. The wax will melt and be absorbed into the paper towel. 
Crayon coloured Christmas ornament tutorial | DevotedQuilter.com
I like to press for a few seconds, then move the paper towel so a clean section is over the design and press it again. Keep going until there's no wax left on the design. If you rub a finger over the image you should be able to feel any smooth spots that indicate there is still a little wax to remove.

If you're making multiple ornaments at once, be careful not to reuse a section of paper towel that already has wax on it, to avoid the possibility of transferring coloured wax back onto an image.

Assemble the ornament

Trim the excess fabric around your design. I left ¾" on all sides of mine, so I'd have ½" margins after the ornament was sewn. Cut the batting and backing fabric the same size as the front.
Crayon coloured Christmas ornament tutorial | DevotedQuilter.com
Lay your backing fabric on top of the batting. If your backing fabric was a wrong side, place it wrong side down on the batting. Position the ribbon as shown and clip it in place. I placed each ribbon end 1" from the side. If your design is smaller than mine, make sure the middle of the ribbon won't be caught in the seam allowance along the bottom.
Crayon coloured Christmas ornament tutorial | DevotedQuilter.com
Place the ornament front on top, right sides together with the backing. Clip the layers together all the way around. I place two clips close together on the side where I'll start and stop, to remind myself to leave a gap for turning the ornament right side out. 
Crayon coloured Christmas ornament tutorial | DevotedQuilter.com
Using a ¼" seam, stitch all the way around the ornament, remembering to leave that gap for turning. Backstitch at the beginning and end of your stitching. Clip the corners as shown here, being careful not to clip into your seam.
Crayon coloured Christmas ornament tutorial | DevotedQuilter.com
Turn the ornament right side out and gently poke out the corners. 
Crayon coloured Christmas ornament tutorial | DevotedQuilter.com
Fold in the seam allowance along the gap, then press the ornament well.
Crayon coloured Christmas ornament tutorial | DevotedQuilter.com
Stitch close to the edge all around the ornament. This will close the gap and help keep the ornament nice and flat.
Crayon coloured Christmas ornament tutorial | DevotedQuilter.com
That's it! Just think of all the ornaments you could make! I'm thinking it would be really fun to give kids a piece of fabric to colour on, then surprise them with ornaments made of their art work.
Crayon coloured Christmas ornament tutorial | DevotedQuilter.com
Seeing as it's January, and you might not be making any Christmas ornaments for a few months, you can pin this tutorial to help you remember. If you're anything like me, you'll only have a vague sense of "I wanted to make some of those ornaments" when the time to actually do it arrives. 
Crayon Coloured Christmas Ornaments tutorial | DevotedQuilter.com

January 17, 2022

Cracking the Code

 Devotion for the Week...

I love to read and historical fiction is one of my go-to genres. I particularly enjoy books set during WWII, though I am forever grateful that those stories are my fiction and not my reality. One WWII book that I loved recently was The Rose Code, by Kate Quinn (really, everything I've read by her has been fantastic). The story follows three women who worked at Bletchley Park, helping to crack German codes in the utmost secrecy. It was a portion of history I knew very little about, to the point that I didn't know women were involved in cracking codes at all. It was fascinating to read how they accomplished their work; the machines that were involved, the skills they needed and the ways they had to think differently in order to crack through what the Germans thought were unbreakable codes, not to mention the anguish when they struggled for days or weeks to crack a new code. And, of course, the elation when they did break through a code and what seemed like gibberish became plain, simple German they could then translate and pass on to help defeat the enemy.

While Jesus didn't speak in codes that had to be cracked, He did teach using parables whose meanings were not easily deciphered. In Mark 4, Jesus tells the parable of the sower: "Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it. Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died. Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!" (vv. 3-8). It's not easy to understand how that relates to following God, is it?

Jesus then finished by saying, "Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand" (v. 9), which seems like an odd statement since presumably everyone listening had ears that could hear, seeing as they were listening to the story to begin with.

But here's the thing - Jesus taught using parables because He was teaching His disciples. There were plenty of curious onlookers around, but they weren't His disciples and they weren't really interested in following Him, so they weren't the intended recipients of His teachings.

The people who would understand the parables were His followers, because they were still around when He gave the explanation. The curious ones who listened to the story just because they were part of the crowd, but they didn't really care about what He was teaching, weren't around anymore when the explanation was given.

Jesus explained it by quoting Isaiah when He said, "When they see what I do, they will learn nothing. When they hear what I say, they will not understand. Otherwise, they will turn to me and be forgiven" (v. 12). It's not that Jesus didn't want the people to turn to Him and be forgiven, but that He knew their hearts and that they weren't interested enough in Him to make the effort to learn and understand, which would lead to them turning to Him. Anyone could become His follower simply by sticking around, listening and taking in the teachings He shared, so it wasn't like people were being turned away. They just couldn't be bothered to stay.

Today we have the Bible to read, with the explanations for the parables included to make it easy for us. That means everyone who reads the parable can also get the explanation, but it doesn't mean that everyone hears and understands the explanation. People today are no different from the people of Jesus' day, so even those of us who read our Bibles can be too busy to really pay attention to what we're reading. I know I've been guilty of just skimming the words or reading while distracted by the day's to-do list. When I'm reading like that, I see and understand all of the words, but I'm not really taking in the meaning of what I read. On those days, the meaning might as well be in an unbreakable code for all the good it will do me.
Do we have ears  to hear what Jesus teaches | DevotedQuilter.com
If we want to benefit from Jesus' teaching, we have to be like His disciples. They asked questions, they listened intently and, most importantly, they stuck with Him. Sure, there were a lot of times they just didn't get it, but we can relate to that, too. Our human minds have trouble understanding how God's kingdom should work, but we can crack that code if we have ears to hear Jesus' teaching.

January 11, 2022

Ticker Tape Heart

I am excited to have a guest post today on Amy Smart's Diary of a Quilter blog. The Ticker Tape Heart block is a fun, scrappy block that's perfect for Valentine's Day. Get the free Ticker Tape Heart block pattern here.
Ticker Tape Heart quilt block | DevotedQuilter.com
If you don't decorate for Valentine's Day, it would also be a great Galentine's Day gift for your favourite girl friends. Or it would make a sweet a baby quilt or wedding gift. I also think it would be fun to make a whole rainbow quilt of Ticker Tape Heart blocks. I certainly have enough scraps for it!

I couldn't decide if I wanted to make a mini quilt or a table runner, so I made four blocks and made both. Like I said, there's no shortage of scraps around here. I quilted in the ditch around all four hearts and around all of the scrap pieces with Aurifil 2430 50 wt thread. Then, for the mini, I stitched a small loopy meander with white Aurifil. The loopy meander makes me think of eyelet fabric, for some reason.
Ticker Tape Heart quilt block | DevotedQuilter.com
For the table runner, I stitched a loopy heart meander at a slightly larger scale than I used for the mini quilt. 
Ticker Tape Heart quilt block | DevotedQuilter.com
I love quilting this loopy heart meander! The texture from the loopy heart meander and from stitching around all of the scraps is so, so good.
Ticker Tape Heart quilt block | DevotedQuilter.com
Head over to Diary of a Quilter for the full tutorial to make your own Ticker Tape Heart blocks or download the free pattern here. I hope you'll tag me if you share your Ticker Tape Heart blocks on social media!

January 10, 2022

Defining Role

 Devotion for the Week...

When Betty White passed away on New Year's Eve, it was a bit of a shock to everyone. She may have been 99, but somehow it still felt like she would outlive us all. Reading about her life was fascinating; she had been a part of so many projects over the years! She seemed so down to earth and like she didn't take herself too seriously. The famous Snickers commercial is the perfect example of that!

Even with all the other things she did, she will always be best known for playing Rose Nylund on Golden Girls. She brought sweet, somewhat dim Rose to life so perfectly that everyone loved her and her St. Olaf stories. 

We all play different roles in life. Some we're proud of, others not so much. Some last only a brief time, others are decades-long. And some, like Rose Nylund, are what we become known for. Sure, most of us probably won't become world famous like Rose, but those in our circles know the role we played. This is great if we're known as the parent who was always willing to help drive members of the team to games or as the friend who was always there to offer support. It's less great if we're known for being the one who drank too much or who had an affair.

It can be hard to escape if the defining role of our life is a negative one. It can be hard to even see ourselves as anything good when the negative role seems to far outweigh whatever good we have done. It doesn't have to be others defining us by negative role, either; sometimes we define ourselves that way. We can be stuck defining ourselves by our failures long after others have changed their view of us. This is why it's so good to know that "there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).

As soon as we accept Jesus as Savior, we step into a new role as Christians. And not only is it a new role, it's a whole new identity. Peter wrote, "you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light" (1 Peter 2:9). That becomes our defining role, overwriting everything that came before it. Isn't that wonderful?

Whatever negative thing we have seen as the defining role of our lives, God tells us to change that title. Instead of 'selfish' we can write God's very own possession. Instead of 'failure', we can write royal priest. Instead of 'worthless' we can write holy nation.

Over all of it, every negative name we have ever called ourselves, we are to write chosen. That is the defining role of our lives, as given to us by God Himself.
God calls us chosen | DevotedQuilter.com

In a similar vein, I love Cory Asbury's song, The Father's House, especially for the line "Failure won't define me, cause that's what my Father does."

January 06, 2022

TGIFF - 2021 Christmas Ornaments

Welcome to the first TGIFF of 2022! Even though we're well into January and our Christmas decorations are all put away, I'm sharing a few ornaments I made and haven't had a chance to share yet.

For Aiden's first Christmas, I started a tradition of making him, and then Zachary and Nathan, an ornament that reflected their year in some way, with the intention of continuing it until they graduated from high school. Aiden has since aged out of the program and 2021 was Zachary's last Christmas for it, though he'll get a graduation ornament in June. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that I'll only need to make one ornament in December.

Most years the ornaments are finished when I hang them on the tree after the boys go to bed on Christmas Eve, but this was not one of those years. With clips as a little extra bling, I was still able to hang them, though! I swear I did finish them by the end of Boxing Day, but apparently I never bothered to take pictures of them without their bling, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

Nathan has a TikTok account where he shares his video game play. I don't see the appeal of watching someone else play a video game, but I'm guessing that is yet more proof that I am getting old, lol. Apparently there is appeal, since he has over 1,000 followers and for a while I was getting regular updates on that as it approached the 1,000 mark. Thankfully the TikTok logo was already available as a cross stitch pattern that was a good size for my purposes.
cross stitch TikTok logo  ornament | DevotedQuilter.com
Zachary has developed an interest in formula one racing and watches all the highlights of the races, interviews with the drivers and whatever else he can find. Not the actual races, though, which I find highly amusing. He can, and does, tell me all the stats about the various teams and drivers and about the different race tracks. I have also watched what probably amounts to several hours of clips of crashes, spinouts and near misses over the course of the racing season. This was one year I didn't struggle at all to decide what to stitch! Unfortunately, I did struggle to find an F1 cross stitch pattern that wasn't much too big or way too cartoony. After searching and searching, I finally decided to use a simple clipart picture and just embroider it with a simple backstitch. I used the colours of the Red Bull racing team because Zach loves that they do stunts with their cars after the season is over. And yes, I have been shown videos of those stunts, too 😄
embroidered Formula 1 car ornament | DevotedQuilter.com
Over the course of the pandemic, Paul decided to get serious about learning to play his violin, so it seemed only right that he get an ornament this year. His was wrapped with the new violin strings he wanted for Christmas, along with the extra bling, too. 
cross stitch violin ornament | DevotedQuilter.com
I have a tutorial that shows how I finish all of these into ornaments, if you'd like to make some. I'd love to stitch a bunch of little snowmen to gift. It hasn't happened yet, but it may some year!

I also send my grandmother a set of ornaments most years. This year I used the crayon technique to colour clipart Christmas greetings, then stitched them into ornaments. I love how they turned out! I have a tutorial for these half written, I just haven't had a chance to finish it yet. Would it be weird to share a Christmas ornament tutorial in the middle of January?? Weird or not, that's probably what's going to happen because if I leave it for the fall, I'll forget all about it.
Christmas greetings ornaments | DevotedQuilter.com
Those are my finishes 😊 What have you finished lately? Link them up below, then be sure to visit a few of the other links to celebrate their finishes with them. Also, TGIFF is in need of hosts for 2022, so we'd love it if you'd schedule yourself in on this spreadsheet. As the managers for TGIFF, Anja, Laura and I love our hosts!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

January 03, 2022

A Thought to Begin the New Year

 Devotion for the Week...

Happy New Year to you! I hope you've had time with family and friends these past couple of weeks and that you've enjoyed rest and good food, too. 

It's time to tackle a new year, but this is one that has a lot of us feeling mixed emotions. There's the excitement over the new start and hope that 2022 will be better than the last two years have been, but also worry that it's going to look more like its predecessors than we would like. Not to mention the weariness we're all feeling. That weariness and worry are making it hard for some to find the excitement they usually feel about the start of a new year, which is perfectly understandable. If that's where you are today, know that you are not alone and that your feelings are valid.

There's an odd adage I always think of around this time of year, that says we should start as we intend to go on. Because of that adage, I like to fill the first few days of the year with good things like exercise, family time, sewing and reading. Those are all things I hope will be priorities during the year as a whole and it feels good to start the year as I intend to go on. 

In Colossians, Paul wrote, "Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand" (Colossians 3:1). That feels like a 'begin as you intend to go on' kind of thought, doesn't it? It's as if Paul is saying that since we have started this new life in Christ, we should start right away to think differently, focusing our thoughts on the realities of heaven. 

When Jesus said, "It is finished" on the cross (John 19:30), He really meant that it is completely finished. The price of our salvation is paid in full and we don't need to do anything else to earn it. Not only that, but Jesus doesn't have to do anything else, either. This is the reality of heaven and it is symbolized by Him sitting in the place of honour. He can sit down because His work is finished. 

What a wonderful thought! How freeing it is to know that the work of our salvation is finished and we don't need to add anything to it.
The work of our salvation is finished - DevotedQuilter.com
If we want to begin 2022 as we intend to go on, then we would do well to keep that thought held in our minds, to remind ourselves every time we start to feel like we need to do something to earn our salvation.