November 27, 2023

Gift Giving

Devotion for the week...

It's that time of year're probably either braving the mall, spending a lot of time online shopping, or sewing frantically. Or maybe you're doing all three! While my husband does a lot of our Christmas shopping (yes, I do appreciate it!), over the past few days, I have been shopping online for things for him, thinking about what to get my parents, and working on a mini quilt for my grandmother.

In the midst of all that, Matthew 7:11 popped into my head: "So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him." For a little context, this is part of the Sermon on the Mount, and Jesus was talking about prayer. The full paragraph says, "You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him" (vv. 9-11).

I love that Jesus compared God to a parent giving gifts to their kids!

As Paul has been shopping online for stocking stuffers for our boys, he keeps showing me things he has found. Even though the boys are now 21, 19, and 15, it's still a joy for him to find things he thinks they will like, whether it's something he thinks they'll use or something silly that will make us all laugh on Christmas morning. And now, thanks to Jesus' comparison, I can't help but picture God thinking joyfully of the little gifts He will give us.

Think about how many blessings have been bestowed on us, even though we haven't asked for those specific things, because He knows we will need them or enjoy them. Isn't it beautiful to think that God finds joy in giving us those things?

Then, of course, there are the gifts He gives us in response to our prayers. Maybe it's a big thing, like a new job or healing from an illness. Maybe it's a little thing, like a child finally sleeping through the night, or an encouraging phone call when you're feeling down. Regardless of what we ask for, Jesus assures us that our Father is paying attention, and that He will give us good gifts in response to our prayers. In fact, He's better at choosing gifts for His children than any human parent ever could be.
Everything good in our lives is a gift from God |

How could it be otherwise, when "whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father" (James 1:17). Everything good in our lives is a gift from God, whether it's something we asked for or not.

November 24, 2023

My First Quilt with Cheryl Brickey

Today it's my pleasure to bring you another My First Quilt interview. I hope you enjoy reading these stories as much as I do! This month Cheryl Brickey of Meadow Mist Designs is telling us all about the first quilt she made. Cheryl is a pattern designer who runs a popular mystery quilt along each year. While I've never done one of Cheryl's mystery QALs, I always love the quilts when they're revealed! Her Malted Mystery QAL is going on now, so be sure to check that out.
My First Quilt with Cheryl Brickey |
You can connect with Cheryl on her blog, visit her shop, and follow her on IG and FB.

And now, here is Cheryl's first quilt! Isn't it lovely?
My First Quilt with Cheryl Brickey |

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

I made my first quilt in 2011.  I had a toddler and infant at the time and was stuck in the endless diaper, feeding, cleaning loop.  I read a quote that said "A woman should do something everyday that can't be undone".  

My daughter was moving from a crib into a toddler bed so I decided that she needed a quilt.  I do not have any quilters in my family, but have always admired quilts so I decided to try making one.

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

The quilt pattern (Stepping Star by Sweet Jane, no longer available) called for a jelly roll, but instead of using that I used a variety of fat quarters I found at JoAnn's along with some yardage I found on clearance.  It was a simple pattern using only squares and rectangles.  I quilted it on my mother's 1980's Singer in a stipple pattern.

Who taught you to make the quilt?

I dove head first trying to learn everything about quilting that I could.  I spent hours on blogs and YouTube learning quilting techniques.  My husband bought me some basic quilting supplies including a cutting mat, ruler, and rotary cutter.  After I had made a few quilts, I joined a quilt guild and was able to take some in person quilting classes.

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

I do not normally use too much brown in my quilts, but I really like the brown and teal combination.

My First Quilt with Cheryl Brickey |

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

I bought fabric for my next quilt before my first was even finished :)  I was hooked.

Where is the quilt now?

This quilt still has a rotation on my couch and is super soft after all of the years of washing. It has a few popped seams but I still love it.

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

I would tell myself to practice my 1/4" seam allowance a little more before sewing the blocks.  Because there was a different number of seams in the horizontal versus vertical direction in the blocks, my blocks turned out more rectangular than square.  This proved to make sewing the quilt top together more challenging as the blocks were each rotated 90 degrees from their neighbor.

Anything else you want to share about your first quilt?

In addition to cutting the fabric from fat quarters instead of jelly rolls, I also added another row of blocks to the backing.  I had to rework the cutting, yardage, and piecing and I figured out that I loved doing quilt math which put me on the path to becoming a quilt pattern designer.

Thanks for sharing your first quilt with us, Cheryl! I love it, and I love that adjusting the pattern also started you on the path to designing your own patterns.

November 20, 2023

No Matter How Big

Devotion for the week...

Sometime early last week, I thought of this devotion I wrote in 2016, and all week I couldn't get it out of my mind. I'm sharing it again today in case you need to hear this message.

What is your first inclination when you screw up big time when no one you know is around? Do you immediately rush to tell people, or are you secretly grateful no one saw and vow to keep it to yourself?

If you're like most people, you tend to keep those things quiet, unless it's one of those 'so stupid it's funny' stories that you're able to laugh about later. We don't really like letting others know how many mistakes we make, do we?

Before He was arrested, Jesus told His disciples, "This very night you will all fall away on account of me," (Matthew 26:31) meaning that they would all scatter and abandon Him. 

But "Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will” (v. 33). Oh, the confidence! It's easy to be confident you'll stick around through the hard times when everything looks perfect, isn't it?

But Jesus knew the truth. "Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times" (v. 34). How that must have stung Peter, hearing that Jesus didn't believe Peter's declaration.

So then "Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you" (v. 35).

Well, that's not what happened, is it? Jesus did get arrested and all the disciples scattered, Peter included. When Jesus was taken away, though, Peter followed.

"Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.

But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.

Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”

After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”

Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”
Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly" (vv. 69-75).

Talk about screwing up big time! Where hours before Peter had been sure he'd be willing to die with Jesus, when the threat came, he found himself denying that he even knew Jesus. Once he realized what he had done, of course Peter wept bitterly. Wouldn't you have?

I once heard a preacher ask, "How do we know Peter denied Jesus?" When you stop to think about it, the only possible way we know this story is because Peter must have told the others what happened. I doubt Peter ever forgot the shame he felt after denying Jesus, but I think he probably told the story hundreds of times in his life. Not because he was proud of himself, or liked telling about his worst mistake, but because once he shared that story, he could then tell the rest of the story.

The first people to learn of the resurrection were some women who went to the tomb to prepare Jesus' body for burial. They arrived at the tomb to find Jesus' body gone and an angel sitting outside the tomb. The angel said to them, "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you" (Mark 16:6,7). Tell his disciples and Peter! In other words, don't leave Peter out. Make sure he knows what is happening. Give him hope.

Peter screwed up big time, but that just meant Jesus could show him the depth of His grace. Paul wrote in Romans 5:20-21, "where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." The bigger the sin, the bigger the grace that covers it...and the sin can never be so big that there isn't sufficient grace to cover it. Just ask Peter.

I picture Peter all through his life, talking with people who think their sins are too much for God, that God would never want them because they've screwed up their lives too much. I see Peter smiling as he shakes his head. "You think you've screwed up?" he says to them. "Just listen to what I did, and Jesus forgave me. If His grace is big enough for me, it's big enough for you."

The truth is, there are people today who think they've screwed up their lives too much for God to ever forgive them. Maybe you're one of them. But no matter how big your sins, or how many, God's grace is always big enough to cover them. 
No matter how big your sins, or how many, God's grace is always big enough to cover them |
John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Whoever believes...not only those people who have tiny sins, or those people who hardly ever sin...whoever believes! That means anyone and everyone who believes. Even if your sins are as big as Peter's.

November 14, 2023

Stash Artists Doors Now Open!

Would you call yourself an artist? Maybe you wouldn't, but I think you are - you're a stash artist, using your fabric and thread to make the world more beautiful, one quilt at a time. The Stash Artists membership is for Stash Artists (like you!) who want stash-friendly and scrap-friendly patterns, along with a community of quilty friends.

Stash Artists membership |

The membership doors are open now for new members, but only until the end of the day, Monday, November 20th. When the doors close then, they won't be open again until next spring.

Join Stash Artists now!

Here's what is included in the Stash Artists membership:
  • 6 new patterns per year, released every other month
  • 6 virtual Sew Together Sessions, in alternate months to the pattern releases
  • a skill-building Block of the Month pattern, with two size options (baby/wall hanging and throw)
  • access to the Stash Artists patterns released in the past 12 months
  • an ever-growing library of video tutorials
  • monthly devotions
  • discounts on patterns, workshops, and QALs outside the membership
The patterns and the Sew Together Sessions are the backbone of Stash Artists. So far there are 4 patterns available to Stash Artists members. They are:
1. Reverberate
Reverberate quilt pattern |
2. Scraps Take Flight
Scraps Take Flight quilt pattern |
3. Grateful
Grateful quilt pattern |
4. Framed Pinwheels.
Framed Pinwheels quilt pattern |
Since Stash Artists first opened its doors, we've had two Sew Together Sessions. It has been so fun to actually talk to people who were previously only IG or FB names! And now we have the joy of looking forward to getting to chat again in December 😊 As one member put it,

"I so enjoyed that [Sew Together Session]! That has been my favourite part, connecting with people. I really enjoyed that!” - Michelle E.

Aside from the 6 patterns released each year, there is also the Block of the Month pattern. The current BOM is already underway, and the block patterns already released are available inside the membership. The baby/wall hanging version of the BOM uses two of every block, while the throw size version uses two of some blocks and more of others. 
Stash Artists Block of the Month designs |
 Over the course of the BOM, we'll use a variety of techniques, including EPP, paper piecing, and curved piecing. As new techniques are used, I'm adding video tutorials so members can either learn the technique for the first time, or pick up some tips to help them as they make their blocks. Adding new techniques to our quilty toolbox opens up so many new possibilities for what we can do with fabric and thread!

Each month I also add a new devotion to the membership, just like the devotions I share here on the blog each week. Lately I've been focusing on the theme of 'abundance,' and I've been enjoying exploring all the Bible has to say about that theme.

If you want stash-friendly patterns, a community to sew with, monthly devotions, and more, I hope you'll join us inside the Stash Artists membership. 

Yes, I want to join Stash Artists!

Make the world more beautiful, one quilt at a time |

November 13, 2023

Big Rocks

Devotion for the week...

Have you ever heard of the demonstration where someone uses one large, empty container and four smaller containers full of big rocks, small rocks, pebbles, and sand? The person will ask the audience if they think it's possible to fit the contents of all four containers into the one empty container, which looks impossible. Though the empty container is bigger, it's not four times the size of the smaller ones. The person demonstrating dumps in the sand, which fills the container partway. They then dump in the pebbles on top of the sand, which fills the container past the halfway point. In go the small rocks, and now the container is almost full, leaving room for one or two of the big rocks, but definitely not all of them. 

The person will then bring out a new empty container, identical to the first one, along with another four smaller containers identical to the first set. They'll explain that it is actually possible to fit the big rocks, small rocks, pebbles, and sand all into the larger container at the same time, but it has to be done in the right order. In go the big rocks, one at a time, and they almost fill the larger container all by themselves. But then the person starts to put in the smaller rocks, and they fit in around the big rocks. Then the person pours in the pebbles, which fill in the gaps between the big rocks and the small rocks. The sand follows, filtering down through even the smallest spaces between the rocks to fill in all the remaining space.

This demonstration is often used to show the importance of time management. If we fill our time with the little, insignificant tasks, we often don't have big chunks of time left over to accomplish the big tasks, but if we start with the big tasks, the little ones can fill in the smaller bits of time left over. When I read Matthew 6:33 recently, though, this demonstration was what came to mind, and I realized it can also be used to describe the attitude of our hearts, too.

Jesus told us to "Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need" (Matthew 6:33). Do you see the big rock we should be fitting into our hearts first? Seeking His kingdom means giving Him priority in our hearts, which is in contrast to the previous few verses when Jesus had been cautioning the people not to store up treasures on earth (v. 19), not to be enslaved to money (v. 24), and not to worry about their daily needs (vv. 25-31). In other words, the things of this world are not meant to have first place in our hearts. If they're in first place, we've turned them into idols and they've taken the position that rightfully belongs to God. 
We can't fit God into the spaces left between all the other things of life |
We can't fit God into the spaces left between all the other things of life. Instead, we are to put Him first, and then everything else can fit in around Him.

November 09, 2023

Framed Pinwheels

The November Stash Artists pattern is available to members now, and I'm so happy to be able to introduce you to Framed Pinwheels! 
Framed Pinwheels quilt pattern |
Stash Artists members can login to their account to get the Framed Pinwheels pattern. Not a member yet? The Stash Artists doors will be open for new members starting on November 14th. Join the waitlist now so you'll be notified by email when the doors open, to be sure you don't miss it.
Framed Pinwheels quilt pattern |
I love a good scrappy quilt and I love pinwheel blocks, so this quilt makes me very happy. I also love designs with fun negative space, so the spaces between the frames make me happy, too. 
Framed Pinwheels quilt pattern |
When I designed the pattern, I intended to only make a baby quilt for the cover, but then I couldn't resist pulling enough fabric to make the throw size. I did manage to stop myself there, instead of pulling enough for a queen size, though! I snapped this picture to help me remember which fabrics were paired together. How did quilters remember things like that before they had digital cameras for these quick pictures??? Since I started quilting in 1997, I was one of those quilters, lol, but I don't remember how I kept track of things then.
Fabric pull for Framed Pinwheels quilt |
There was plenty of trimming to be done to get all the units the perfect size before assembling the blocks. Trimming isn't my favourite task, but it makes such a big difference to how the quilt comes together that it's worth the effort. I wrote a blog post a while back about how I trim HSTs without a specialty ruler.

I had an off-cut of Warm and Natural batting that was just barely wide enough for Framed Pinwheels. I had about an extra inch on the sides, at most, but I made it work! Even though it was throw size, I still count is as using up a batting scrap, since it was previously cut off from a new package after basting a different quilt.
Framed Pinwheels quilt pattern |
When it came time to start the quilting, it was a dull, grey day and I wanted to work with something fun and colourful, so rather than choosing white or grey thread, I chose Aurifil 2515, Light Orchid. I love it! I find it fascinating how the thread colour shows so clearly up close, but when you take a step back and view the quilt as a whole, it's still the fabrics and the overall design that are more visible.
Framed Pinwheels quilt pattern |
I love how it looks on the teal backing fabric, too.
Free motion quilted loops and flowers |
I find I'm doing more and more all-over quilting, especially on bigger quilts, rather than spending the time on custom quilting. I still love custom quilting, but my brain is always racing ahead to the next quilt I want to play with, and I don't want to spend as much time on the quilting step. I'm more tempted to do fancy or dense quilting on mini quilts. As an example of my brain racing ahead, since I finished Framed Pinwheels last week, I've started two new quilts and designed another one, with plans to turn that one into a series...all while I'm running (and participating in) WIPS-B-GONE! Sheesh!

Of course, a quilt this scrappy needed a scrappy binding, too. Some of these pieces I pulled from my box of binding scraps, but I had to cut some, too. I've made quite a few scrappy bindings lately, so the box of leftovers doesn't have many bright, fun colours left in it. I guess that means I need to make a bunch of quilts with bright bindings to replenish the scraps!
Framed Pinwheels quilt pattern |
I think Framed Pinwheels would be so fun in scrappy Christmas colours, or Halloween colours. I also can't wait to see it made up from Stash Artists' stashes. There's something so interesting about seeing a scrappy quilt from someone else's stash. They always have so many fabrics I don't have, or ones I wouldn't have thought to put together, and I love looking at them all.

Remember, you can join the Stash Artists waiting list now so you'll get an email letting you know as soon as the Stash Artists doors open for new members. New members will get access to the patterns that have already been featured in the membership, including Framed Pinwheels.

November 06, 2023

What to Wear

Devotion for the week...

Clothes shopping can be frustrating. The last time I went looking for dressy shirts, I found one I thought was really pretty, so I tried it on, only to discover the little cutout exposed waaay more cleavage than I was comfortable with. Others were made of a material that clings in an unflattering way. Still others were nicer on the hanger than they were on me, lol. There were plenty of clothes in the stores, but not a lot of them were ones I wanted to wear.

I've always found it interesting that Paul used the phrase 'clothe yourselves' when writing about character traits we should display. Colossians 3:12-14 says, "Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony."

Since clothing is something we choose, something we put on each day, and something that covers us, let's take a look at each of those in reference to character traits.

Something we choose: We each choose the style of clothes we like to wear from the many options that are available. There are a lot of options for character traits, too, and many of them are ones God doesn't want us wearing. Things like anger, bitterness, jealousy, and selfishness are worn by plenty of people, but He wants us to choose better.

Something we put on each day: We get dressed each morning with clothes chosen to suit the activities we'll be doing that day. Likewise, we'll have opportunities to show which character traits we're wearing by how we respond to the situations that come up. Did we respond with patience and kindness, or did we clothe ourselves with impatience and irritation instead? Each day, and each situation, is a new opportunity to put on the traits God wants for us.

Something that covers us: Oh, how I wish I could say these traits are part of our natural makeup as humans, but of course we know that's not the case. That's why Paul has to tell us to clothe ourselves with them. The traits of patience and kindness, gentleness and mercy, humility and love are all aspects of the fruit of the Spirit, which we put on over top of our human tendencies. It's not that we're trying to pretend we're better than we are, but that we are choosing to live by the Spirit rather than by the flesh. 
Patience, kindness, gentleness, mercy, humility, and love look great on everyone |
Unlike the clothes at the store, a character of patience, kindness, gentleness, mercy, humility, and love looks great on everyone. It always fit, too!

November 01, 2023

Proverbs 31:13 Mini Quilt

I have my first WIPS-B-GONE finish of the year! Actually, it was finished a few days ago, but I'm finally getting it blogged, too. It's a mini quilt featuring Proverbs 31:13. I love this verse!
Proverbs 31 mini quilt |
I created the layout of the verse and the hearts in Canva, then traced it onto fabric and coloured it with crayons. I used it for recording a tutorial of the crayon technique for the Stash Artists membership, so the template is available to members as a bonus 😊 If you're not a member yet, join the waitlist here to be notified when the Stash Artists doors open next, which will be happening in a few days.
Proverbs 31 mini quilt |
Proverbs 31 mini quilt |
The top of the mini quilt was finished back in August, and I even knew how I wanted to quilt it, but it just sat and sat. When WIPS-B-GONE started, I figured a mini quilt was a great way to get a finish quickly.
Proverbs 31 mini quilt |
I used Aurifil 2311 for the quilting, and started by outlining the words and hearts, then echoing them again. A tiny, dense stipple in the background makes the unquilted sections puff up nicely.
Proverbs 31 mini quilt |
I couldn't decide whether to use teal, pink, or purple for the binding, so I asked for opinions on social media.
Proverbs 31 mini quilt |
The results were just as undecided as I was, except for one person who suggested a flange binding with the teal and pink. That was perfect! I never think of the flange binding, but I do love the extra bling it adds to the edge of a quilt.
Proverbs 31 mini quilt - flange binding |
I'm planning to gift the mini, so I added hanging triangles on the back to make it easy for the recipient to hang it if she wants. 
Proverbs 31 mini quilt |
Also, I love looking at quilted letters from the back!
Proverbs 31 mini quilt |
 I normally match the bobbin thread to either the backing or the thread I used for quilting, but I forgot this time, so there's a bright pink (Aurifil 2530) line going all around. I (very briefly) considered ripping it out and redoing it with the right thread, but then I reminded myself the back is rarely going to be seen, so I just left it.
Proverbs 31 mini quilt |
That's one WIP down, and lots still to go! I'm hoping to have a few more finishes over the course of the challenge. There's still all of November to go, so hopefully even if there aren't a lot of finishes, there will be progress on some of my older WIPs.