June 05, 2023

Creativity

Devotion for the Week...

The countdown to the end of the school year is on! We have to get through three more weeks of regular schedule and then we're on summer break, and let me tell you we're all ready for the break! On top of the regular end of year exhaustion, I'm fighting a cold, so it wasn't a very productive weekend, though I did enjoy teaching a workshop on Saturday afternoon. All of that to say, I didn't have the mental capacity to finish a devotion for today, so I've pulled one from the archive. I hope you enjoy it!

___________________

Early one morning recently I woke up from a dream that had something to do with scrolling through Instagram on my phone and all I could think in that 'barely awake' state was that it's pretty amazing that someone was able to program a computer I carry around in my back pocket to recognize what I want to do based on where on the screen I touch. Not only that, but I can touch the a spot on the first page of apps and open one thing, then swipe to the second page of apps and touch the same place to open something different entirely. Who thought of that? And who figured out how to make it work?


Computers mystify me. I have no clue how they actually work or how to change what they can do and I'm grateful that other people have been able to create ways for me to work with computers without needing to know everything about their inner workings.

The same is true in a lot of other categories as well. I don't create new recipes, but I love following ones that other people create. I wouldn't know how to design a washing machine or a dishwasher, but I'm extremely grateful to the people who created them!

Throughout history, people have created so many amazing things, in so many different fields, that it's kind of mind boggling.

Genesis 1:26 says, "Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us." The 'in our image' part doesn't mean that we look like God, since He doesn't have a physical body for us to resemble. It's talking about His character. We are meant to be like Him in our character. Unfortunately, sin often gets in the way of that. We don't always express love and compassion, kindness, generosity and faithfulness as He does because our sinful nature is too selfish.

One expression of His character that we don't often think about imitating is His creativity, but it is a large part of who He is. Just think about the variety we see in flowers or in the animal kingdom, not to mention the huge variety of appearances and personalities among people. God created all of it and designed it all to work together flawlessly.
There is no limit to the creativity God has instilled in us  | DevotedQuilter.com
A lot of people protest that they're not creative at all, but I don't think that's true. Creativity doesn't have to be painting or writing books or designing quilts. One friend talks about her mother, who can go to almost bare cupboards and somehow still create a delicious meal. Other people think of ways to teach children who are having trouble understanding a lesson at school or they come up with ways to raise money to help a charity they believe in. Still others design apps and computer programs that do things never thought of before. There is no limit to the ways people can be creative, because there is no limit to the creativity God has instilled in us.

How are you creative most often?

June 04, 2023

100 Days of Scrappy Sewing Wrap-up

Thursday was the last day of this year's 100 Day Project. My plan for the Project was to spend at least 15 minutes working on any of my many scrappy projects each day, and I'm happy to say I only missed 3 days out of the 100. Here's my daily tracker as proof 😊
100 day project tracker - DevotedQuilter.com
I wrote a post about the projects I worked on over the first 50 days, which you can see here. The second half of the project was not quite what I expected when I planned it...Aiden and Zach both came home just before the end of April, which meant I moved my sewing machine back down to the kitchen so Aiden could sleep in the sewing room. We expected Aiden to only be home for two or three weeks, but he's still here over a month later, so I'm still sewing in the kitchen. That is not at all a complaint! I am so happy to have all three boys home together! It does mean less rummaging around in my scrap boxes, though, since I don't want to be invading his space all the time, and less leaving things out to be a leader/ender project, since we need the kitchen table for other things. It has also meant I've done a lot of hand stitching, since apparently I'm out of the habit of setting things up and putting things away constantly for sewing by machine, and lots of days I just worked on one of my two hand stitching projects.

With all that hand stitching, I've added a lot more stars to the design wall! When I took the picture for the halfway post, I had 51 stars stitched to their backgrounds; I now have 71. 
EPP star blocks on the design wall | DevotedQuilter.com
That gives me about 63" in length, and I've started on column 8, which will give me about 48" in width when it's finished. I definitely want at least one more column. I haven't decided yet if I want to add another square to each column, too, for a little extra length. So, I either need 18 more stars, or 27. That may be decided by how many stars I have left! Next up, I need to cut some more background squares and count the remaining stars.

I made a good bit of progress on the frame around my Hexie Rainbow, too. I stitched three rows to two sides of the hexagon, which gives me as much width as I want, I think, and now I'm working to square up one of the corners. The next chunk of three rows is almost finished and ready to be added. The nice thing about squaring up the corner is that each row is shorter than the one before!
Hexie Rainbow progress | DevotedQuilter.com
I did do some machine sewing, too. I made my Sunshine on a Cloudy Day mini.
Sunshine On A Cloudy Day mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.com
I made Berry Pi, too. Read more about it, and get the free pattern here.
Berry Pi quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
I pieced the back for Berry Pi, using some of the scraps from the front and the white pieces I cut incorrectly. I needed more than those pieces, though, so I used up even more of my 2 1/2" strips to make the back. I can't show the finished quilt yet, but I will say I've never pieced a back with so many seams before!
Pieced quilt back | DevotedQuilter.com
In the halfway post, I shared some scrappy 4 patches I had been making. Over the second half of the Project, they became a top that I absolutely love. Here's a sneak peek at how that looks, from when it was still on the design wall.
Scrappy Butterflies | DevotedQuilter.com
Scrappy butterflies! Aren't they cute? Looking at them makes me ridiculously happy. I need to get a back ready for them so I can get it quilted. And yes, the pattern will be coming soon 😊 Look for an announcement about that coming in a few weeks.

All in all, I'm calling the 100 Days of Scrappy Sewing a success. There weren't many finishes, but I made a lot of progress on a bunch of different things and I really enjoyed focusing on my scrappy projects. I found the hand stitching, especially, to be very relaxing, and I want to keep that going. Summer stitching in the backyard is calling my name!

May 31, 2023

It's Quiz Time!

How many times have you taken a "What Kind of _____ Are You" quiz? Whether it's a serious quiz (What Kind of Financial Planner Are You), or a silly one (What Kind of Animal Are You), there's something about quizzes that is just plain fun. Well, as long as they're not school quizzes, those were never fun!

Today I have a quilting quiz to share with you, just for the fun of it! Though after you take the quiz to find out what kind of scrap quilter you are, I'll also give you some free pattern suggestions, so you'll be ready to tackle your next scrap quilt 😊

Ready? Jump on into the quiz!

May 29, 2023

Small Beginnings

Devotion for the Week...

I'm getting ready to launch something new in late June. I'm really excited about it, but I have no idea what to expect in terms of how it will be received and whether or not people will be as excited about it as I am. I'm hoping at least some of you will be! As much as I dream of it being a runaway bestseller (wouldn't that be great?), I expect it to start small and then, hopefully, grow from there. For now, I'm picking away daily at all the things that need to be done before it's ready to be put out into the world. That's what I had in mind the other day when I read this: "Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand" (Zechariah 4:10).

In the preceding verse, we learn that, "Zerubbabel is the one who laid the foundation of this Temple, and he will complete it" (v. 9). This was in the time after the Israelites had returned from their exile, and the Temple was in ruins. Zerubbabel's work was to rebuild the Temple, which was no small task and probably felt insurmountable at times. It took two years to rebuild the foundation of the Temple, and then construction stopped for 17 years due to opposition. Finally, God sent Haggai and Zechariah to encourage Zerubbabel to get back to work on the Temple, which then took another 4 years to complete. So, our verse about small beginnings came 19 years after Zerubbabel first started work on the Temple, and just as he was picking up his tools to get started on round two. He probably wanted nothing more than to be finished already! Was he exhausted by the thought of 4 years worth of work? Did those first few stones moved into position feel like barely a drop in the bucket? Even one day's worth of work was probably hardly noticeable. But God said they shouldn't despise the small beginnings, and that He rejoiced just to see the plumb line (a tool for keeping walls straight) in Zerubbabel's hand. 

I absolutely love that! I love that God rejoices just to see the work begin. Can we bring that same attitude to our own work? Usually we're so focused on getting something finished, we neglect to see what a triumph it is just to get started.

Getting started means we've put aside our laziness (just me?), our insecurities, our 'I'm too busy', or our 'I'll get to it later,' and taken the leap to actually do something. Whether that's something that needs to be done (cleaning, grocery shopping), something we're excited about (a new quilt), or something we're nervous about (watch for that announcement next month!), getting started is a big deal. 

Then, once we've started, each day's work, no matter how small it seems, is another step in the right direction.
God rejoices to see us with tools in hand, making a start | DevotedQuilter.com
What could you celebrate today, just because you have started? Whatever it is, we can know that God rejoices to see us with tools in hand, making a start.

May 26, 2023

My First Quilt with Sandra Walker

It's the last Friday of the month, which means it's time for another My First Quilt interview!
My First Quilt with Sandra Walker | DevotedQuilter.com
Today's interview is with Sandra Walker of MMMQuilts. Sandra is a quilt pattern designer, and she's currently running her annual QAL, this time making her Rainbow Neighbourhood pattern. The little houses are so much fun! There's still time to join in and catch up, so check out her blog if you're interested in that.

You can connect with Sandra on her blog and on IG.

And now, here's Sandra's first quilt!
My First Quilt with Sandra Walker | DevotedQuilter.com
Sandra actually told me the stories of her first two quilts, calling this next one "the actual first quilt," so I'll share both pictures and both stories, too 😊
My First Quilt with Sandra Walker | DevotedQuilter.com

What year did you make your first quilt? What prompted you to make it?


Maybe 1970/71? I wanted a quilt for my Barbies.


What techniques were used in that first quilt? Did you quilt it yourself?


I used scraps from clothes my mum had made us kids as well as upholstery scraps she had from getting one of those discarded sample books. I just cut out squares, made little pillows, stuffing them with bits of my mum's pantyhose cut up, and then sewing the little pillows together into rows, mostly by hand, because I wasn’t allowed to use my mum’s sewing machine. The top and bottom as well as one side have rows added that are machine-stitched. I was allowed to use my mum’s machine in grade 7 when we got Home Ex classes! The squares are about 1.5" finished. I had no clue what I was doing. My mum was not a quilter, though she did sew clothes for us four kids and a few for herself, mainly as it was a lot cheaper, and they didn't have much money. She didn't like sewing at all, though her mum in England made a living as a seamstress and knitter.

The second life-sized quilt happened as a result of entering (reluctantly, pushed by my eldest daughter, Brianne) a quilt block draw at the little fabric shop in the town in which we lived. I cut that block out with scissors, didn't own a rotary cutter or mat, but they were only just then coming on the scene. I won all the blocks, and so I had to go to the shop, which had started getting away from dressmaking and into quilting, to take classes to learn what to do. Of course the quilt went to Brianne, and then I had to make another for her sister, and the dressmaking and home dΓ©cor fell to the wayside as quilting took over my life!

Are the colours you chose for your first quilt ones you would still choose today?


The first quilt was a mish-mash of pretty cheerful colours and floral prints, and I still do love scrap quilts, though with controlled scrappiness, and I still love floral fabrics. The second quilt was in soft pinks and blues, another combination I still quite like! The pattern for that one was Bear Paw. I've since designed two Bear Paw quilts, both available in my Etsy shop.

Did you fall in love with quilting right away? Or was there a gap between making the first quilt and the next one?


There was a very long gap of about 20 years between that Barbies quilt and the actual first quilt. I remember being shocked in making both quilts at the amount of labour and time involved. During that gap I never stopped sewing. I LOVED making clothes for myself, my girls, as well as home dΓ©cor.

Where is the quilt now?


The Barbies quilt is in my quilting room in a drawer. The life-sized quilt is still with Brianne, though she keeps it in a closet and doesn't use it.

Is there anything you wish you could go back and tell yourself as you made that first quilt?


There will be a much better way! 



Thanks for sharing your first two quilts with us, Sandra! They're both fabulous! I really love that you still have the Barbies quilt 😊

May 22, 2023

Did He Hear Me?

Devotion for the Week...

During church yesterday, our pastor said something that immediately made me think, 'That needs to be tomorrow's devotion.' It's a simple thought, but one that maybe you need to hear, too.

Pastor Baker said, "Sometimes I equate God's hearing me, with His response." He went on to say that sometimes his wife, Joy, will say something, but he doesn't respond right away, so then she'll say, "Wayne, did you hear me?" He did hear her, but he didn't respond, so she thought he didn't hear. "We do the same thing with God," he said.

We can sometimes feel that if God didn't give us the answer immediately, that means He didn't hear us at all. That's not true! He always hears His people. Proverbs 15:29 says, "He hears the prayers of the righteous." As believers in Jesus, we are counted among the righteous, and so we are assured that God hears our prayers, even if He doesn't respond immediately.

When the childcare littles are having lunch or snacks with me, I always wipe their hands when they're finished. So they'll say, "I'm all done!" and then I get the cloth and wipe them off. Sometimes, though, if I'm chewing something or talking to someone else, I don't say anything to them as I get the cloth, so they start chanting, "I'm all done, I'm all done, I'm all done" because they think I didn't hear them. They'll do this even if I'm walking across the kitchen to get the cloth, or if I'm walking towards them with it in my hand; because I didn't answer them verbally, they think I didn't hear. They're used to me answering them as I go to get the cloth, so the times that I don't, they think I'm not responding at all. They can't yet make the connection that my actions are in response to what they've said, even if I didn't say anything.
We can rest assured that He hears every prayer we pray | DevotedQuilter.com
Maybe you've been feeling like God hasn't heard you. Maybe you've been praying for something and there has been no response, or the response doesn't look like what you were expecting. No matter what the circumstances are, we can rest assured that He hears every prayer we pray, even if He doesn't respond right away.

May 19, 2023

Practice Makes Progress {Lessons From Quilting}

Welcome to another Lessons From Quilting post! We learn so much as we pursue this obsession with quilting, and many of those lessons apply to life away from the sewing machine, too. Let's explore this month's lesson 😊
Lessons From Quilting | DevotedQuilter.com
We've all heard the phrase 'practice makes perfect.' We've probably all said it at some point, too. Over the years, though, I've decided I disagree! Practice makes us better at whatever skill we're practicing, but it doesn't make us perfect at it.

My free motion quilting is the perfect example of this. I've been doing fmq since 2010, which means I've had over a decade of practice. My quilting skills are waaaaaay better than when I started, but there are still plenty of wobbles, weirdly shaped flowers or hearts, and places where my travel stitching travels right off the line I'm supposed to be following. Sometimes I get lost on my stitching path and go in completely the wrong direction. And yes, sometimes I have to rip out my quilting, though I try to embrace the wobbles whenever I can.

Case in point: here's a close-up of the quilting I did last night on Berry Pi. We have two smooth loops and one where I wobbled and made one that looks more like a kidney bean. Not a big deal, and I certainly didn't bother ripping it out, but it's not perfect, either.
Practice makes progress | DevotedQuilter.com
'Practice makes progress' fits any creative endeavor; learning to play an instrument, drawing, wood carving, photography, knitting...All these skills get better with practice, but I've never met a person who thought they were perfect at whichever of them they practiced. 
Practice makes progress | DevotedQuilter.com
What about outside the creative life? Does 'practice makes progress' work with non-creative skills? Yes! All you have to do is watch any major sports competition and you'll see incredible skill, the result of hours and hours of practice, but you won't see anyone who makes every single shot or never makes a misstep. 

That might seem disheartening (with all that work, even with years of practice, perfect is still out of reach?), but I think it's empowering. Pursuing perfect leaves us dissatisfied with the progress we've made, no matter how far our skills have come, because we inevitably see the gap between our results and perfection. Pursuing progress, on the other hand, helps us see the gap between where we started and where we are now, and seeing that improvement feels good!

When we change our goal from perfect to progress, a funny thing happens to practice  - suddenly it feels motivating rather than like a never-ending chore. Chasing perfect can leave us feeling frustrated after every practice session because we focus on the wobbles or the shots we missed, we beat ourselves up over the mistakes, and we dismiss any successes because they're not enough. But if our goal is to make progress, then every improvement in our skills is a win, and when we feel like we're winning, we want to keep practicing. It becomes a positive feedback loop - the more we practice, the more progress we make and the better we feel, so the more we want to practice, and on and on it goes.

Whether it's smoother lines in your free motion quilting, a higher success rate sinking 3 point shots, or drawing a realistic looking eye, where have you been making progress through practice lately? Celebrate those wins!

May 15, 2023

A Nothing Day

Devotion for the Week...

I usually write these devotions on Sundays, and schedule them to post early Monday morning. I had every intention of doing just that yesterday, but it was a long week with the littles, and with my own foolish body waking up way too early several times, plus two days of a basketball tournament. Rather than push myself to do anything productive yesterday, I spent most of the day reading and it was exactly what I needed. When I commented to Paul late in the day that I quite enjoyed my doing nothing day, it reminded me of this devotion from 2014, so I thought I'd share it again today 😊 I hope you make time for a Nothing Day of your own next time you need it.

____________________

For a while Nathan used to call Saturdays 'Nothing Days'. He figured, no school and no church, so that meant there was nothing going on. It was cute, but at the same time it drove me crazy because Saturdays were not Nothing Days for me. Saturday usually means grocery day, plus it's the day we clean our church (we're the janitors) and there's always the usual meals, dishes and laundry.

But today is a Nothing Day! Here in Canada this is Victoria Day, which means there is no school, no church, no grocery shopping and no cleaning the church. I did not have to set the alarm for this morning and I have no obligation to be anywhere at a certain time or to do any work outside this house. It's a nice feeling. In fact, I've been looking forward to today for a while just for the 'nothing.'

The Bible certainly emphasizes the importance of work (see here for a devotion about work), but God also recognizes our need for rest. After all, the fourth commandment says, "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall do no work..."(Exodus 20:8,10).

Even the land was given a scheduled rest. "The Lord said to Moses at Mount Sinai, 'Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a sabbath to the Lord. For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest'" (Leviticus 25: 1-5).

Though we don't keep a Sabbath day in our culture, and I doubt there are many farmers who skip a year of planting and harvesting, there is no doubt that God encourages us to find a balance between work and rest. Where is that balance exactly? It's hard to say, and different for every person and situation. From the biblical six days of work to one day of rest, I gather there should be more work than rest, but how we schedule ourselves will depend on our job, our family and our temperament. Sometimes a rest doesn't have to last for an entire day. Two friends of mine said they took long baths (without interruptions from their children) on Mother's Day and it was the best part of their day.
God encourages us to find a balance between work and rest | DevotedQuilter.com
How about you? Do you take Nothing Days, or even Nothing Hours? What do you like to do in those times? Me? I think I'll head out for a walk in the sunshine.

May 08, 2023

Who Am I With?

Devotion for the Week...

This week I've been thinking about how we act and talk differently when we're with different people. It's not that we're pretending to be someone else, just that we talk about different things or maybe tell different stories, depending on who we're with. For an extreme example, when I go for a walk with the littles, we talk about the colours of the cars we see, or get excited about the planes in the sky and the birds we hear. When I'm walking with my friend Dawn, we talk about trying to get kids to put down their devices, or the trials of our week at work. Dawn would think me a little strange if I started exclaiming about the red car coming toward us, or if I said, "I hear a noisy crow!"

The apostle Paul understood this well. In 1 Corinthians, he wrote:

"When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ.

"When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings" (1 Corinthians 9:20-23).

Paul knew the Jews wouldn't listen to him if he disrespected their way of life, nor would the Gentiles listen if he followed rules they thought strange. He didn't adopt sinful practices no matter who he was with, but he did adapt to the people he was with as much as possible so he could make them comfortable and receptive to what he had to say.

I love that Paul said he tried to find common ground with everyone. It sounds like he was the kind of person my mother-in-law would say never met a stranger, meaning he could talk to anyone, even people he just met, as if he'd known them for years. People with different backgrounds and traditions didn't make him uncomfortable and he didn't make them feel uncomfortable, either. They were all people in need of a Savior and Paul wanted to build a relationship with them in hopes of teaching them about Jesus.
Do we try to find common ground with the people around us | DevotedQuilter.com
Can we say the same? We all spend time around a variety of people every week. Do we try to find common ground with them, whether they share our beliefs and our background or not? And do we try to build a genuine relationship with them, so that someday we may have occasion to tell them about Jesus?

May 07, 2023

Berry Pi Baby Quilt Pattern

I'm excited today to share a post for Sarah of Confessions of a Fabric Addict, as one of her Hands 2 Help guest bloggers. If Sarah sent you, welcome! If you don't already know Sarah and the Hands 2 Help comfort quilt challenge, hop over to visit her and learn all about this challenge that sees hundreds of quilts made and donated every year. Quilters are such wonderful, generous people!

Before I get into the quilt (and pattern) for today, one quick announcement. Registration is open for my Paper Piecing with Freezer Paper workshop on June 3rd. If you love the precision of paper piecing, but hate ripping out the paper at the end, you'll love the freezer paper method! With freezer paper, we keep all the best parts of paper piecing, but skip ripping out those bits of paper when we're done. Plus, freezer paper templates are reusable, so we save on all that paper and ink! If you'd like in on this magic, register today for the workshop.

Register for the workshop


When I started thinking about what I could share for this post, I knew I wanted to create a free pattern, but I didn't know what it would be. Then I thought of the many 2 ½" strips I have stashed away. A quilt to use at least some of them sounded like a good idea! You might have a few 2 ½" strips lying around, too, so let me introduce you to Berry Pi.
Berry Pi baby quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
Download the Berry Pi pattern by filling out this form.

Yes, my Berry Pi is still just a top. I've started making the back (more on that in a minute), so it's not going to stay just a top, I promise! The to-be-quilted pile is getting a little out of hand around here, and I don't want to add another one.

I had every intention of sharing progress pictures from when I made the blocks, but I got so into the groove of making the blocks that I only took one picture. Oops! Here's the picture I did take...
Berry Pi quilt block | DevotedQuilter.com
This is what happens when you "know" what you need to cut so you don't check your notes. The result? You cut the strips too narrow, so the halves of the block don't fit together, even though you had done the math correctly and the correct strip width was written right there in your notes. And yes, I had cut all of the strips for the baby quilt. Thankfully I had enough fabric to recut the strips, and I had made just this one block to test before sewing all the others, so I only had to rip out a couple of seams. I'm right there with you, wondering why I didn't make the test block before cutting all of the strips, but obviously I "knew what I was doing" πŸ™„

My 2 ½" strips are all from Island Batik, left over from my time as an ambassador. I love the variety of prints from the different collections, and how they all still work together nicely.
Berry Pi quilt blocks | DevotedQuilter.com

Berry Pi quilt blocks | DevotedQuilter.com
I had trouble coming up with a name for this one. All I could see was the resemblance to the math symbol pi, but I couldn't turn that into a quilt name I liked. When I asked for suggestions on IG, my friend Laura (from Slice of Pi Quilts 😊) suggested Berry Pi and that was perfect! Normally I try to avoid using names that reference the colours I've used, since you may choose completely different colours for your quilt, but Berry Pi suited the quilt too well not to use it.

There's a little bit of the 2 ½" strips left over after piecing the blocks, plus I have those mis-cut white strips, so I'm using all of that to piece the back. I usually prefer to just use yardage for the back, but I don't want those mis-cut strips to languish in my scrap box, so I'll use them up right away instead. It's serving double-duty: using up those scraps, and it'll be my project for an upcoming blog hop about piecing quilt backs. Win-win! Here's what I have done for the back so far. I've added more 2 ½" strips in similar colours to the ones on the front, to extend the scraps a little farther.
fabric strips for pieced quilt back | DevotedQuilter.com
Thanks for having me as a guest blogger, Sarah! It was fun creating a new quick quilt pattern to share!

Don't forget to download your Berry Pi pattern by filling out the form above. I can't wait to see what colours you choose for your Berry Pi quilts.

May 02, 2023

Sunshine On A Cloudy Day

I have a scrappy mini quilt finish to share today!
Sunshine on a cloudy day mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.com
When Katherine of It's Only Fabric and Thread asked if anyone wanted to be part of a blog hop for her new book, Fun With Scraps, I raised my hand in a hurry 😊 If you've been here any length of time at all, you know I love a good scrap quilt.
When I looked through the book, I fell in love with Katherine's Sunny Days quilt, which she made with navy blues for the background. I debated just copying her for my one block mini, since my blue scrap bin is overflowing, but then in my head, I started hearing the Temptations singing "I've got sunshine on a cloudy day" and knew I had to use my abundant grey scraps instead. I'm so glad I did!
Sunshine on a cloudy day mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.com
Side note, are your scraps organized in a way that makes it easy for you to find what you need to make a scrappy quilt? If not, download my Escape Scrap Overwhelm guide to help you think through the best way to organize your scraps for the kinds of quilts you like to make.

Once I decided on my colours, actually putting the block/quilt top together was really quick. I almost never use my walking foot for quilting, but this mini was demanding some simple straight lines, so that's what it got. Since the mini is only 16" square, the quilting was done in less than 30 minutes. That's one big advantage to making mini quilts!
Sunshine on a cloudy day mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.com
I've had this print from Connecting Threads for years. It made the perfect backing.
Sunshine on a cloudy day mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.com
This Sunshine On A Cloudy Day quilt was perfect for our weather the past while. We've had an abundance of RDF (rain, drizzle, and fog), with very little sunshine until the past weekend. Here's a little peek at what it has been like here. Even a foggy day can be pretty sometimes.
Foggy day view | DevotedQuilter.com
And sometimes it looks like we live at the end of the world.
Foggy day view | DevotedQuilter.com
I took my mini out for some cloudy day pictures and tried to get a shot of it with the clouds. Here's the best I could do. The snow in the backyard is all melted, but we're still waiting for anything green to appear.
Sunshine on a cloudy day mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.com
When I came in from my quick photo shoot, I laid the quilt on a trunk in our entryway and the light really emphasized the quilted texture. Doesn't it make you want to run your fingers over it?
Sunshine on a cloudy day mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.com
I love quick, little projects that let me use some of my scrap fabric and scrap batting!

If you want to learn more about Katherine's Fun With Scraps book, head over to her website to check it out.

May 01, 2023

He Counts Our Steps

Devotion for the Week...

Every now and then I go looking through the devotions I've posted here over the years. I did that last week, and found this devotion from 2016 that I felt needed to be shared again. I hope you enjoy it! Side note, I'm still wearing the same Garmin Forerunner watch 😊

____________________

Last winter and into the spring, I spent a fair bit of time researching different activity trackers and trying to decide what I wanted. I needed to replace my running watch, which tracks distance, time and pace while I'm running, but I also wanted a daily step counter because I figured it would motivate me to move more. I didn't want to buy two devices, so I was looking for something that would do both well. At one point, I bought a Fitbit Surge, but promptly returned it after seeing how ridiculously huge it looked on my wrist. When I posted a picture of it on Instagram, one person compared it to wearing a 1980s television :) I finally decided on a Garmin Forerunner 235 and I love it!

It is really easy to use and to read while I'm running and the daily step counter sets goals for me based on how many steps I've been taking. If I reach my goal on one day, then the goal the next day will be a little higher. If I don't make the goal for a few days in a row then it will drop slightly. Lately I'm sure my watch thinks I'm broken because I've been watching so much Olympics that my daily goal has dropped by about 2000 steps! Now that the Olympics are over, I really need to get moving again!

Imagine my surprise a couple of weeks ago when I read in Job, "Does he not see my ways and count my every step?" (Job 31:4). I immediately looked at the watch on my arm and kind of laughed. Imagine comparing God to a watch! And yet that's exactly what I'm going to do :)

In order for my watch to count my steps, I have to be wearing it. It can't count my steps if I leave it on my dresser, or if it's sitting on the kitchen counter. The more I think about God counting my steps, the more I smile because that means He has to be right with me all the time. If He weren't with me, He'd miss the steps it takes me to walk to the post office, or the steps between my bed and the kitchen when I stumble out in the morning for breakfast. But He doesn't miss those steps because He is with me every moment, all day long. We are told several times in the Bible that God will never leave us (Hebrews 13:5, Deuteronomy 31:6 and 31:8 and Joshua 1:5). And Jesus told His disciples, "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:20).

Now, I have read or heard those verses many, many times. I have known for years that God is always with me, but I've kind of thought of it in a rather general sense. Kind of like I'm with Paul and Aiden right now because we're all in the house together, but Aiden is playing his guitar in his room and Paul is working on his computer while I'm typing on my laptop. We're all here together, but we're not really paying attention to each other, know what I mean?

But God's not just here with us in a general sense. He is paying close attention to us, so much so that He knows what we're doing - all the time.

Also, in order for my watch to count my steps, it has to be turned on. Though the Garmin does track sleep, I don't bother to wear it at night, so if I don't turn it back on in the morning it wouldn't matter at all if I had it on my wrist or not. It also wouldn't matter if I was wearing it or not if the battery were dead. Likewise, if God were asleep or dead then He wouldn't see my steps. But He's not alseep or dead! Jesus said in Revelation 1:18, "I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever!" And Psalm 121:3,4 says, "He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep." Isn't that reassuring? God doesn't miss a single step we take. 
God counts our every step | DevotedQuilter.com
Of course, God's interest in counting our steps doesn't have anything to do with our activity level. He probably doesn't care much if I take 3000 steps today or 15000. If we look at the verse from Job in context, we see what Job is talking about. Here is Job 31: 1- 8:
 
"I made a covenant with my eyes
    not to look lustfully at a young woman.
For what is our lot from God above,
    our heritage from the Almighty on high?
Is it not ruin for the wicked,
    disaster for those who do wrong?
Does he not see my ways
    and count my every step?

“If I have walked with falsehood
    or my foot has hurried after deceit—
let God weigh me in honest scales
    and he will know that I am blameless—
if my steps have turned from the path,
    if my heart has been led by my eyes,
    or if my hands have been defiled,
then may others eat what I have sown,
    and may my crops be uprooted."

Job continues on in this vein for quite a bit longer, but I think you get the idea. It is not that God counts our steps to keep us moving, or even that He keeps a running tally in His head for each of us. It's more the idea that God cares strongly about how we live...where our steps have taken us, so to speak. As always, it is our heart and attitude that matters most and both are often revealed by the steps we take.

April 28, 2023

My First Quilt with Michelle Cain

Today I'm excited to share another My First Quilt interview with you! It's so much fun reading about how our fellow quilters got started as quilters 😊
My First Quilt with Michelle Cain | DevotedQuilter.com
I don't remember when I first met Michelle Cain online, but I've been following her blog, From Bolt to Beauty, and following her on IG, for a long time. Michelle is a prolific quilter and quilt pattern designer. I love her Irish Twist and Set to Spin patterns!

You can connect with Michelle on her blog and on IG.

And now, here's Michelle's first quilt!
My First Quilt with Michelle Cain | DevotedQuilter.com

What year did you make your first quilt? What prompted you to make it?

The road to my first quilt was a long one. I grew up outside of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania -- known, in part, as a destination for quilters -- and my mom started quilting sometime after I graduated from high school and had moved out of the house. I had little interest in quilting, however -- probably because I had such a limited idea of what a quilt was "supposed" to look like.

That changed in 2002, when a chance encounter with Denyse Schmidt's What a Bunch of Squares note cards blew up my preconceived notions about quilting. I loved the graphic look of the stationery, which featured pictures of Denyse's original quilts, and quickly became fascinated with the designer and what she was doing in the quilting world. I bought her first book, "Denyse Schmidt Quilts: 30 Colorful Quilt and Patchwork Projects," and purchased yardage of the original Flea Market Fancy collection. I even had a near run-in with Denyse herself at a Crate & Barrel. (I was gawking over a new line of quilts she had designed for the store. A sales associate approached me and said, "Oh, honey. You just missed her. She was here 15 minutes ago." My near brush with quilting greatness!)

Through all of this, however, I was not quilting. I was sewing, but those projects were limited to bags and pillows and curtains. Finally, in 2013, it was time to make the leap!

The part of the quilt-making process that prevented me from starting sooner was the quilting itself. I didn't know there was such a thing as a longarm. I thought I *had* to quilt my projects myself, and although I had multiple book resources and quilt blogs as references, getting a huge quilt sandwich through my tiny sewing machine seemed impossible.

So I started with a simply pieced throw quilt of 8-inch squares, just to dip my toe in the water and to see whether I could get it quilted. (By this point, I had been sewing regularly for over a decade, so assembling the top was easy.) And although guiding the quilt sandwich through my machine was awkward, I managed to quilt it with an allover crosshatch.

Who taught you to make the quilt?


Me! And the quilt blogs and books I had at my disposal. At this point in my sewing career, I especially liked Rachel Hauser's Stitched in Color blog, and the first quilting books in my library were Denyse's first book and "Last-Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts" by Joelle Hoverson (the founder of Purl Soho). I still have both of those titles in my collection.

Are the colours you chose for your first quilt ones you would still choose today?


Yes! The quilt was made from one of Denyse's collections for chain stores. The only change I would recommend my past self would be to invest in quality fabric from a quilt shop.

Did you fall in love with quilting right away? Or was there a gap between making the first quilt and the next one?


Making this quilt quickly snowballed into a full-fledged quilting obsession. In my first year of quilting, I completed seven quilts, started to blog about quilting, and joined a guild!

Where is the quilt now?


I wasn't sure about giving away such a humble first quilt, but I did, and to the perfect recipient. A friend of mine wasn't expecting a birthday gift from me, and she was touched that I took the time to make her something. (I billed the quilt as one for her and her daughters to picnic on. She teared up, explaining that no one had ever made her anything before.) I saw her everywhere around town that first summer, quilt in tow—at the farmer's market, at the playground. She bragged about me and the quilt to just about everyone she encountered. 


Thanks for sharing your first quilt with us, Michelle! I love that your friend was so thrilled with her quilt and bragged about your work so much ❤ That's a friend who gets it!

April 24, 2023

The Days In Between

Devotion for the Week...

Thanks to the wonders of technology, we've been listening to The Joy FM, out of Florida, for more than a decade. The last couple of years they've done a beautiful job of retelling the story of Easter in a series of pre-recorded narrative messages, and this year one line really stood out to me. They were talking about the disciples on the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday and said, "They didn't know Sunday was coming." I'm sure you've heard the phrase, right? It's said in reference to Jesus' death on the cross and His burial; after describing all of that, the person talking will often say, "But Sunday was coming!" It's a reminder that His death and burial were not the end of the story, and that the best part hasn't been talked about yet. It's a reminder that God won in the end, even if it didn't look like it on the day of the crucifixion.

On that day in between, though, the disciples didn't know anything remarkable was going to happen the next morning. They didn't know God was going to win in the end. In fact, it felt to them like they were already past the end and evil had most definitely won. The greed and selfishness and self-preservation of the religious leaders had won, and the disciples had lost the Person they thought would change their world. They were hurting so much because of His death. They were lost and confused and didn't know what to do next, so they huddled together and grieved. They had no hope that things would change. How could they? Jesus was dead.

We never have to sit in that despair with them, because we do know about the Resurrection. We do know that Sunday was coming. Most importantly, we know that Jesus' death was not a victory for evil, but was instead victory over evil.

That doesn't mean we never sit in despair, though, or feel like evil in winning in some situation in our own lives. 
God is working to create something good in our lives, even on the days in between | DevotedQuilter.com
Like the disciples on that day in between, though, we don't yet know the full story of our lives. We don't know if maybe tomorrow morning will bring some remarkable change to the story, or if it will come ten years from now. Paul tells us that, "God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them" (Romans 8:28). We may not be able to imagine how, and we may not know when, but God is working to create something good in our lives, even on the days in between.

April 20, 2023

We Learn By Doing {Lessons From Quilting}

Welcome to another Lessons From Quilting post! So many of the things I've learned in my 20+ years of quilting can be applied to life away from the sewing machine, too.
Lessons from quilting | DevotedQuilter.com
I love to read about how to do different things. Some I'm interested in doing, like vegetable gardening, and others I will probably never try, like blacksmithing, but reading about how is still fascinating. I'm really good at dreaming about what it would be like to be good at _______ πŸ˜… 

I've read a lot about quilting, too, of course! More than that, I've made a lot of quilts, and along the way I've learned how to do a lot of different techniques. In my early quilting days, learning a new technique meant finding a book or magazine article about it, whereas now I look for tutorials on blogs or Youtube. No matter what source I'm using to learn, the most important step is when I pull out some fabric and actually try to do what I read or watched. Sometimes it works well the first try, but more often than not it takes a couple of tries before I really feel like I know what I'm doing. Either way, it's the doing that allows me to learn the skill.

My first attempt at binding was a bit of a mess. I bought double-fold bias tape, pinned it to the edge of the quilt and tried to stitch both sides at the same time. In the process, I missed it on the back in a lot of places. Not knowing any better, I just went back over those spots another time or two, until that binding was stitched down all the way around the quilt. Eventually I learned to stitch the binding on one side at a time, but getting the miters in the corners took a few more quilts after that. I remember it was one of Carol Doak's books that had the illustrations that finally made it click for me as I followed her instructions to fold the binding up away from the corner and then fold it back down. I just kept binding more quilts, picking up a tip here and trying something different there, until finally I could finish off my quilts as neatly as I wanted.

Reading or watching alone can't make us proficient at any new skill, no matter how many books, blog posts, or videos we consume. For all my reading (and the occasional tomato or pepper plant), I still don't know how to plan and maintain a vegetable garden. I can bind a quilt, though!

Sometimes we avoid doing something new because we think it's going to be too hard. Have you done that? I certainly have, more times than I care to admit. In fact, I'm kind of doing it now. I've done a lot of raw edge applique, by hand and by machine, but I've always been a bit intimidated by the needle turn technique. I've read a few blog posts and watched a few videos, so I kind of know how it's supposed to go, but I haven't tried it yet, even though I want to. 
We learn by doing | DevotedQuilter.com
So many times I can't wrap my mind around how to do some new technique until I have fabric in hand and I'm actually following the instructions step-by-step. I'm sure that will be the case for needle turn applique, as well. The same is true for so many other things. I learned how to cut up a pineapple by reading the instructions and then trying it for myself. As a kid learning to bake, I learned how to separate an egg by watching my mother tip the yolk back and forth between the halves of the egg shell, and then doing it myself. Aiden learned how to play drums and then guitar by watching videos and spending hours playing. My mom learned photography by reading about it, taking classes, and taking thousands of pictures.

There are so many things to learn, in quilting and in life. For all of them, the best way to learn is to get in there are start doing it! What would you like to learn next?

April 17, 2023

Glorious

Devotion for the Week...

When we were first married, Paul and I spent 6 years living in Igloolik, a small community in Canada’s high arctic. Because we were above the Arctic Circle, the sun would set at the end of November and not rise again until mid-January. It wasn’t as hard to live with as it sounds…in fact, we found the 24 hour daylight in the summer much harder! How do you settle down for bed when it looks like noon all night long?? 

When the sun did come back up in January, it just barely blipped over the horizon for a few minutes at noon, then went back down. Each day after, it would rise a few minutes earlier and set a few minutes later, so the days got gradually longer. I can remember walking mid-morning in February one year and feeling like the morning was just glorious, then realizing it was because the sun was finally up early enough that my morning walk was in the sunshine.

That glorious walk in the sunshine is what I think of when I read Colossians 1:12-14: “He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.” What a great visual that is!
Because of our faith in Jesus, God has moved us into the bright sunlight of His kingdom | DevotedQuilter.com
We’ve all been in pitch dark before and we’ve all stood in bright sunlight. We know what that contrast feels like in the physical realm. Now picture it in a spiritual context. We had been in the pitch dark spiritually, with no light at all. But now, because of our faith in Jesus, God has moved us into the bright sunlight of His kingdom and it is glorious!

April 14, 2023

100 Day Project Progress

We are just past the halfway point of the 100 Day Project and I'm having so much fun with my 100 Days of Scrappy Sewing! I only set one rule for myself for this project - at least 15 minutes a day working on any of my scrappy projects, old or new - and that has made it incredibly easy to stick with it.

My Hexie Rainbow was the first project I worked on, and it has been getting a fair bit of attention. 
100 days of scrappy sewing | DevotedQuilter.com
I have hundreds of black hexies to add to create the frame around the rainbow, so I'm joining them into short rows, then I lay everything out and arrange the short rows into the long rows I need (hopefully without repeating fabrics too close together), stitch them together, and then stitch them to the rainbow. I find a chunk three rows wide is a manageable size for adding to the rainbow.
100 days of scrappy sewing | DevotedQuilter.com
I stitched up a lot of these striped units. They're one of two new things I've started during Project.
100 days of scrappy sewing | DevotedQuilter.com
They've now been stitched into a top, but I'm not quite ready to share the whole thing yet. Here's a little sneak peek, though.
100 days of scrappy sewing | DevotedQuilter.com
I've gotten the childcare littles involved a couple of times, too. Once we used the Accuquilt Go cutter to cut some squares.
100 days of scrappy sewing | DevotedQuilter.com
And once I took them up to the sewing room to stick stars on the 'magic wall' after they had been fighting over toys for most of the morning. They thought it was amazing!
100 days of scrappy sewing | DevotedQuilter.com
Those stars are an old project that I'm really enjoying now that I've pulled it out again. The stars are all stitched, they just need to be appliqued to their backgrounds, which I'm doing by hand with a ladder stitch. Getting the littles to put them all on the wall was a great distraction, but also served a purpose, since I wanted to see what I had. Apparently I've stitched a lot of black and grey stars. Now that I know that, I'm making a point of using the bright stars. The squares are 6 ½", which means that so far I have almost enough for a baby quilt, but I want to make it a throw, so I'll happily keep stitching stars to backgrounds.
100 days of scrappy sewing | DevotedQuilter.com
My Scrappy Triangles blocks have been growing, too. I use them as leaders/enders while working on other things, so it's slow progress. I have 8 quadrants finished so far. Can you spot the oops in this picture? 
100 days of scrappy sewing | DevotedQuilter.com
I need another 8 quadrants before I sew the blocks together, to give me a better chance of reducing fabric repeats in each block. I've sewn the units for those quadrants into pairs, and now I'm sewing the pairs together into rows.
100 days of scrappy sewing | DevotedQuilter.com
Last, but certainly not least, I've sewn a bunch of scrappy 4 patches in fun, bright colours. Hmmm, there's another peek at the striped blocks from earlier πŸ˜„
100 days of scrappy sewing | DevotedQuilter.com
This isn't the final layout for these blocks, but it does show them off nicely.
100 days of scrappy sewing | DevotedQuilter.com
We've made a few additions to my sewing room, including a design wall (or as I told the littles, a magic wall). It's the first time I've ever had a design wall and I love it! I was only half joking when I told the littles it was a magic wall as there is something magical about being able to stick the blocks on the wall to look at them, rather than on the floor. Even Nathan is amazed by it and likes to stick things up. I have one more addition to make to the room, hopefully soon, and then I'll share some new pictures.

In the meantime, I'll be doing lots more scrappy sewing and enjoying every minute of it!