July 10, 2024

2024 Mid-Year Review

We are just past the middle of 2024, which means it's time for me to pause for a few minutes and see how I'm doing with my goals this year.

Before I dive into that, though, I have some exciting life/work news to share 😊 I've been wanting to move out of childcare for a long time, but there aren't a lot of work opportunities in our small town, so I stayed with what I knew (and what gave me summers off!). Early in the spring, though, one of my childcare moms told me they would possibly be moving away over the summer, leaving me with only one little that I could count on for next school year. That wasn't going to be enough income for me, so we made the decision that when school ended, I'd be finished with childcare. Cue the angel chorus! We didn't know what I'd be doing instead, and I kept saying it was entirely possible I'd be checking in people's groceries. However, I've started working part time as a virtual assistant for another pattern designer, doing for her business the same kinds of things I do for my own Devoted Quilter business, like blog posts and creating PDF downloads. I'm only a little more than a week into it, but I'm enjoying it so far and it's a lot quieter than childcare, that's for sure.

Right now it feels like my regular summer break from childcare, but I know it will really hit me when Paul and Nathan go back to school in September and no littles are dropped off here. I'm quite looking forward to soaking in the peace and quiet that first day! I'm also looking forward to putting more time into my own business, since my 'regular job' is now less than half the number of hours each week.

So that's one big life goal achieved, even though I never actually wrote it down anywhere 😊 How am I doing with the goals I did write down?

1. Keep making small quilts


I've finished 3 small quilts so far this year, which I define as a baby quilt or smaller. One hasn't been blogged yet, but I do have pictures, so I should get to that soon. The others are Rippling and Shining Through, which are both baby quilts.
Rippling quilt | DevotedQuilter.com
I've also started 4 more small quilts recently (three Merry Minis for the QAL, plus the test version of the next Stash Artists BOM pattern), so I should have plenty of small quilts to celebrate for the second half of the year, too.

2. Sew some clothes


So far this year I've made two shirts, but I don't have pictures of them. I wear a lot of dresses in the summer and want to make a couple of new ones, but I haven't taken the time to do that yet. Maybe soon.

3. Moments with Jesus Easter QAL


I loved this year's QAL! For the past four years, this has been one of my favourite projects of the whole year. Because I love it so much, I've already started planning for next year. Not that I've quilted either of this year's two quilt tops...or any of the ones from the previous years...
These Three quilt | DevotedQuilter.com

4. All things Stash Artists


Stash Artists just passed its first birthday and I love the members! It's wonderful to get to sew with some of them every other month, and I love planning new patterns for them, like Ombre Twirl.  I'm excited to see what the second year brings 😊 If you love stash-friendly patterns and virtual sewing sessions with friends, get on the waitlist so you won't miss it when the membership doors open again.
Ombre Twirl quilt | DevotedQuilter.com

5. WIPS-B-GONE 2024


This is coming up quickly! I mentioned an abundance of unquilted tops sitting and waiting, didn't I? I need the WIPS-B-GONE challenge as much as anyone else! Sign ups will open in September.

6. Finish my Hexie Rainbow top


I'm making progress! At the start of the year I was working on squaring up the second corner, which is now finished and I'm working on the third. Here's what it looks like today.
Hexie Rainbow quilt progress | DevotedQuilter.com
Paul and I will be traveling to Jasper National Park next month for our 25th anniversary, so there will be lots of plane time and time in the Airbnb for hand stitching. I think it's entirely possible I could finish the top this year.

7. Regular workouts and 300,000 steps a month


Well, this one is a yes and a no πŸ˜… My goal for workouts is to do 2-3 yoga or strength training workouts from Youtube each week and I've only missed that target two weeks in the first half of the year. I like Yoga with Adriene and Nourish Move Love, if you're needing some recommendations. I can notice an improvement in my strength, which is great motivation to keep going.

The 300,000 steps a month on the other hand...I've only reached that goal once so far, in May. 300,000 a month averages out to be about 10,000 steps a day. In April I averaged about 9,700/day, which is pretty close. In March I averaged about 8,200, which isn't close at all. Altogether, my average for the first half of the year is 9,064/day, and I'm fairly happy about that.

One other thing I noticed was that if I did a workout, there often wasn't time/energy/interest for a walk, so I usually only did one or the other on a given day.

Overall, I'm not stressing about the 300,000 per month, but I'm going to keep trying to get more steps in. I definitely feel better when I move more, whether that's yoga, strength training, or walking.


I'm feeling pretty good about my year so far! Did you set goals for 2024? If you did, how are you doing with them after half the year?

July 08, 2024

Merry Mini QAL - Week 2 - Alternating Squares

It's week 2 of the Merry Mini QAL! How did your embroidery or colouring of your text block go? I thoroughly enjoyed working on the embroidery for my third text block. Some of it was done sitting in the backyard, and Saturday morning I lowered it after finishing a thread and found this guy on my lap.
white satin moth caterpillar | DevotedQuilter.com
Apparently he's a white satin moth caterpillar. He's also very lucky I didn't flick him off before I registered that he was just a caterpillar and not something yucky like a spider. After taking his picture, Paul coaxed him onto a leaf so he could be gently deposited back on the ground.

After finishing my embroidery, I dissolved the Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy I used to transfer the template onto my fabric. I shared a sped-up video of the process here, if you'd like to see. It was pretty impressive, though my fingers stayed sticky for quite a while, even after washing. I rinsed the embroidered fabric a couple times in bowls of clean water, then left it to dry. It was still a bit sticky feeling after it dried, though, so I soaked it in warm water for about 20 minutes, then left it to dry again. As I'm typing this (on Sunday evening), it's still drying, and I have my fingers crossed all the stickiness is gone.


Week 2 - The alternating squares borders


If you haven't already joined the QAL, there's still plenty of time to join in for some Christmas in July fun! You can pick up your pattern here. From now until the end of July, the Merry Mini pattern is 20% off with the code MERRYMINIQAL, which should already by applied if you click on the link. Once you have your pattern, enter your email address here to have the weekly emails sent to your inbox so you don't miss any of the QAL blog posts.

As a reminder, here's the weekly schedule. Click on the link to go to last week's post.

July 8 - Make the alternating squares borders
July 15 - Make the tree borders
July 22 - Quilting
July 29 - Binding


This week's sewing will involve some small scraps of red, green, and white. Do you have your scraps organized so it's easy to find what you need? If not, you might like the tips in my PDF guide Escape Scrap Overwhelm.

I love sewing with small pieces! I also love chain piecing, which makes the whole process go faster. That's maybe not much of a concern for a small project like Merry Mini, but if you're sewing dozens of squares together, then chain piecing is a real time saver. 

If I'm sewing a row of squares, I usually don't sew squares 1 and 2, stop, add square three, stop, add square 4, etc. Instead, I chain piece the squares into pairs first - 1 and 2, 3 and 4, 5 and 6, etc. Here are my pairs for one of my Merry Mini quilts.
pairs of scrappy squares | DevotedQuilter.com
Then I sew the pairs to each other - 1/2 and 3/4, etc. Chain piecing into pairs first doesn't save a huge amount of time, but it does cut down on the starting and stopping required to put a row of squares together and I'll take that as a win.

Here are my alternating squares rows sewn together. Once your alternating squares rows are finished, you can go ahead and stitch them to your text block. I'm going to sew the rest of my rows before adding them to the mini quilts, so I can make sure I'm happy with the balance of fabrics for each one.
Merry Mini QAL - week 2 - DevotedQuilter.com

Leaders and enders/spider/scrap square


I love using leaders and enders when I'm chain piecing because it lets me work on a scrap quilt kind of in the background as I work on my main project, though it does require a little prep work to have pieces ready. I first learned about leaders and enders from Bonnie Hunter, the queen of scrap quilting. I'm not super consistent with it, since I don't always keep up with having pieces ready to go, but my current leaders/enders project is flying geese to make a throw size quilt with my Flying Together block, and they're accumulating nicely.

The idea is to start chain piecing by sewing together a unit from your leaders and enders project (which is the leader), then sew your main project pieces. Here you can see my flying geese unit has been sewn and I'm ready to start the first of my pairs of squares.
sewing with leaders and enders | DevotedQuilter.com
When you get to the end of the pieces you're chain stitching, end the chain with another piece from your leaders and enders project (the ender), which you leave under the needle. You can see my last red square at the back in this picture, followed by the flying geese ender (I'm also sewing bonus HSTs with these stitch-and-flip flying geese, so I guess I'm really working on two scrap quilts with these leaders and enders). Cut the chain between the ender and the piece before it.
sewing with leaders and enders | DevotedQuilter.com
When you're ready to start your next chain, the ender from the previous chain is already under the needle, ready to be the leader for this chain. Stitch your units together as usual, then end with another ender unit.

This method is especially helpful when the units you're piecing for your main project involve starting at the point of a triangle, which can sometimes get pushed down into the throat plate of the machine (aka eaten by the machine). When there's a leader, that triangle point doesn't get eaten because the threads are being pull along by the leader. Even when I'm just working with squares, like for the Merry Mini, I still like using leaders/enders.

If you don't want to fuss with having units prepped for a leaders/enders project, you can achieve the same effect by starting and ending with small squares of fabric. This small square can be reused many times, which has earned it the nickname 'spider' for all the threads hanging off it after many uses.


If you share your Merry Mini QAL progress on social media, be sure to use the hashtag #MerryMiniQAL and tag me (devotedquilter on IG and devotedquilterdesigns on FB) so I can see. I'd love to cheer you on!

July 04, 2024

TGIFF - Rippling

Welcome to the first Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday of July! It's time to celebrate our finishes and cheer each other on. After all, no one understands the joy of a finished quilt like another quilter.

Every other month I release a new pattern for Stash Artists members, and I'm excited to get to share this month's pattern, called Rippling. You know I had fun digging into my stash of blues for this one!
Rippling quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
I had the hardest time naming this quilt. When I sent it to Yvonne for tech editing, I asked her for suggestions and she said it reminded her of "ripples formed in sand by lapping ocean waves." I can't believe I hadn't noticed that. There are already a couple of patterns named Ripples, so I went with Rippling. Thanks, Yvonne!
Rippling quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
One of my goals again this year is to make more small quilts, which I define as anything baby size or smaller. With that in mind, I made a baby size Rippling quilt (the pattern also includes instructions for a throw size). Paul's nephew and his wife are expecting their first baby (a boy) in the fall, so Rippling will be his once he arrives. It feels great to already have it ready and waiting for him!

When I cut the blues, I skipped any fabrics that had distracting amounts of another colour. I did use a few fabrics with white, which I don't find as distracting as other colours.
Rippling quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
This was the fabric that made me realize I had to limit the secondary colours. I cut it thinking the kites would be cute in a baby quilt, but really they were just distracting. The pink and yellow drew the eye, taking away from the rest of the quilt.
Kite fabric | DevotedQuilter.com
There are only two seams in each Rippling block. Yes, two! As you can imagine, the blocks came together quickly, and not long after that I had a quilt top.
Rippling quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
A few weeks ago I said I've been leaning more towards open, all-over quilting designs lately. This quilt wasn't having any of that! It demanded custom quilting in each section. Sometimes you just have to listen to the quilt! Do your quilts make demands when it comes to choosing their quilting designs? 

I started by doing a small loopy meander in the white parts, using Aurifil 2021. You can see in this picture that the white isn't solid. I love blender fabrics that read as solid from a distance, but have a little something extra when you get up close.
loopy meander free motion quilting | DevotedQuilter.com
I wasn't sure I had enough left on my spool of 2021, so I picked up a couple more spools when we were in St. John's for Aiden's graduation. Good thing, too. Look how close I was to finishing when I got to the end of the spool.
Thread chicken loss | DevotedQuilter.com
Of course, a few days later I opened the box where I keep my cones of Aurifil, only to find an almost full cone of white (2024) I had forgotten about. D'oh! At least I know I have lots of white on hand now πŸ˜‚

Next I outlined the orange triangles and filled them in with back and forth lines using Aurifil 1133. I echoed the diagonal line about 1/4" away, too. Quilting such a bold line sure feels scary and every wobble seems magnified, but then it doesn't even show up from a distance or in pictures of the full quilt. There must be a life lesson in there about doing scary things.
free motion quilting | DevotedQuilter.com
I had left the blues for last because I didn't know how I wanted to quilt them, and the quilt wasn't making any more demands now that I was committed to the custom quilting. I pinned it up on my design wall for a couple of days while I thought about it. I kept coming back to wishbones, so that's what I did. I chose Aurifil 1158, which is a dark blue-grey that I find works nicely on a wide variety of blues.
wishbone free motion quilting | DevotedQuilter.com
I love how the quilting looks on the back! I haven't been doing as much of it lately, but this quilt has reminded me just how magical custom quilting feels.
Rippling quilt back | DevotedQuilter.com
Rippling quilt back | DevotedQuilter.com
With all those blues, I had to use a scrappy blue binding, too.
Rippling quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
I took Rippling and another quilt to the beach when we went for a BBQ supper last weekend and roamed around taking pictures while Paul cooked our burgers. Someone had built this tiny inukshuk on a rock and it was too cute not to use as a photo prop.
Rippling quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
I love taking quilts to the beach! Really, I just love being at the beach. This is one of my favourite supper time views, too, and we eat here quite a few times every summer.
Rippling quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
That's my finish! What have you finished recently? Link it up below so we can celebrate the finish with you. Don't forget to visit some of the other links, too, so you can help them celebrate their finishes 😊

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

July 01, 2024

Merry Mini QAL - Week 1 - Text Block

Let's get this Christmas in July party started! It's week 1 of the Merry Mini QAL and we're starting in the middle of our mini quilts, with the text block.
Merry Mini QAL - Week 1 - Text block | DevotedQuilter.com
If you haven't already joined the QAL, we're just getting started, so you're not even behind! You can pick up your pattern here. From now until the end of July, the Merry Mini pattern is 20% off with the code MERRYMINIQAL, which should already by applied if you click on the link. Once you have your pattern, enter your email address here to have the weekly emails sent to your inbox so you don't miss any of the QAL blog posts.

As a reminder, here's the weekly schedule:

July 1 - Make the text block 
July 8 - Make the alternating squares borders
July 15 - Make the tree borders
July 22 - Quilting
July 29 - Binding

Week 1 - The text block


The Merry Mini pattern is written for that text block to be embroidered by hand, which is how I made both of mine last year. I love the bit of texture the hand embroidery adds, and how delicate the text looks. You can't achieve that with applique or piecing, that's for sure!

Not everyone wants to do hand embroidery, though, so I have a couple of other options to share, too.

Hand embroidery


First, let's talk about transferring the text for hand embroidery. When stitching on white fabric, you can simply trace the design onto the fabric using a pencil. It's easy and cheap, two of my favourite things! The stitching hides the pencil lines, so no need to worry about using a special, removeable pencil, either. Most of the time this can be done on a table, but if you can't easily see the template through your fabric, you can always use a lightbox to make it more visible. If you don't have a lightbox, tape the template to a window, tape the fabric over top and voila, you have a lightbox (I've done this more times than I can count!).

This time I'm trying a new-to-me product from Sulky called Sticky Fabri-Solvy. It's not a new product, but I haven't used it before. It's water soluble, so you stitch through it, then submerge the fabric in water and the Fabri-Solvy dissolves.
Merry Mini QAL - Week 1- text block | DevotedQuilter.com
 You can print directly onto the Fabri-Solvy, but I chose to just trace the text, since I already had the template printed out. Once the design is traced (or printed), you simply peel away the paper backing and stick the Fabri-Solvy onto the fabric. This would be the perfect method if your background fabric is too dark to see the template through.
Merry Mini QAL - Week 1- text block | DevotedQuilter.com
I've made a start on embroidering my letters, and I'm looking forward to working on the rest this week. Hopefully I'll get to do some of that stitching out in the backyard with a cup of tea.
Merry Mini QAL | DevotedQuilter.com
I'm doing chain stitch with three strands of DMC embroidery floss, number 816. I love that chain stitch gives a fairly thick line, especially with three strands of floss. I do find the Fabri-Solvy makes it harder to pull the needle through the fabric, so I've been using a thimble to make that easier. Other than that, there's no difference when using the Fabri-Solvy.

Here's a link to a chain stitch tutorial from someone more experienced than me at embroidery. Alternatively, you could also use a simple backstitch. Backstitch will give a thinner line, but it would absolutely work.

Fabric marker


Instead of hand embroidery, you could use fabric markers for your text block. I bought a set of Ohuhu fabric markers to try. The colour is wonderfully vivid, as you can see. I started off using the broad end of the marker, but quickly switched to the fine tip, which gave me a lot more control.
Merry Mini QAL - Week 1- text block | DevotedQuilter.com
There's a slight bit of colour bleeding at the edges of the letters, but it's not bad. I did have to be careful not to hold the marker in one place at all, though. These are the only fabric markers I've used, so I don't know if the bleeding would be less with another brand, or if this is pretty standard. Whatever brand you use, I recommend testing the marker on a piece of scrap fabric first.
Merry Mini QAL - Week 1- text block | DevotedQuilter.com
These markers claim to be washable, but I haven't tested that out. Since this is a Christmas wall hanging, I doubt the finished quilt will ever be washed, so I'm not worried about the washability. I did set the ink with a hair dryer, though, as recommended by the manufacturer, just in case I do ever need to wash it.

Crayon


If you don't have fabric markers, you can also use crayons. I've used this crayon technique for quite a few projects now, and I have a full tutorial for it here. This time I chose not to trace the letters with a pencil first, so they don't have the dark outline my other projects have had. 
Merry Mini QAL - Week 1- text block | DevotedQuilter.com
The colour is a little softer than with the fabric marker, but still plenty visible.
Merry Mini QAL - Week 1- text block | DevotedQuilter.com
I thought of the Merry Mini QAL as a way to help motivate me to make myself a Merry Mini quilt...and now I have three started. Ha! Here they are together. The question is, will I finish them all during the QAL? We'll have to see how the  month goes!
Merry Mini QAL | DevotedQuilter.com
Which technique will you use for your Merry Mini text block? I can't wait to see! Be sure to use the hashtag #MerryMiniQAL when you share on social media. Happy stitching (or colouring!).

June 28, 2024

My First Quilt with Cristina De Miranda

How is it the last Friday in June already? 2024 is certainly flying by! Since it is the last Friday of the month, that means it's time for a My First Quilt interview, and this month Cristina De Miranda is sharing the story of her first quilt. Cristina is a Canadian modern quilter and owner of Ships & Violins, which offers quilt patterns, workshops, lectures, and blogs for adventurous quilters.
My First Quilt with Cristina De Miranda | DevotedQuilter.com
You can connect with Cristina at her website, on Instagram, and on Facebook.

And now, here is Cristina's first quilt! It's so fun and colourful!
My First Quilt with Cristina De Miranda | DevotedQuilter.com

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


I made my first quilt in 2018 after a colleague introduced me to the craft. She showed me a picture of a quilt she had made, it was colourful and featured appliquΓ©d graphic monsters. I was so impressed that it inspired me to give quilting a try. I scoured the internet for a quilt pattern that excited me and landed on Criss Cross Apple Sauce by Vanessa & Co. I purchased some quilting tools (I already owned a sewing machine) and a bundle of her ombre fabrics. I recall the financial investment was a little daunting, but I wanted to give it my best shot and have a quilt that I would like at the end of the journey. I then binged a Craftsy workshop by Gail Kessler and set to making my first quilt.

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


The pattern is block-based. The "X" blocks use the stitch-and-flip method. It's always a little scary cutting into expensive fabric, but I talked myself through it. I kept the offcuts and made a mini quilt with them that remains a UFO (unfinished object). The method required a lot of matching between blocks, which I gave up on doing pretty early on in the process. 

I quilted the top on my Janome Fashion Mate using straight lines on the left and right of the vertical and horizontal seams. The stitching is wild - large stitches, tiny stitches, wibbly and wobbly stitches, but I finished it!
My First Quilt with Cristina De Miranda | DevotedQuilter.com

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


Like many new quilters, it's simpler to use a quilt kit when getting started. I loved using all the colours in Vanessa & Co.'s ombre bundle, and I hope to use some of the colours again in the future. 

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


Yes! I loved the motivation it ignited in me. I was often running up to my sewing room to make progress on the next step of the process, and this excitement and creativity was something I really needed at that time in my life.... and something I still need today, 6 years later.

Where is the quilt now?


On my couch!

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


Not really, but I suppose I'd like her to know that quilting would become one of the most important sources of her personal, artistic, and professional growth for years to come. 


Thanks for sharing your first quilt with us, Cristina! I'm so glad your colleague introduced you to quilting so we could 'meet' you.

June 26, 2024

Merry Mini QAL

Back in November/December, I made two Merry Mini quilts. One I gave to my grandmother for Christmas, which was the reason I designed the mini quilt to begin with. The other I used for the gift exchange with my book club. That leaves me with no Merry Mini quilt, which is just not acceptable, lol.
Merry Mini quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
Since I'm going to make another Merry Mini, I thought maybe you'd like to make one, too, and it would be even more fun if we made it a Christmas in July event. So today I'm launching the Merry Mini QAL. Each week for the month of July we'll work on another portion of the quilt so that by the end of the month we'll have a finished mini quilt ready to use to decorate or give to someone special for Christmas. Just think how good it will feel to be so far ahead when December rolls around!

Here's the QAL schedule:

July 1 - Make the text block (I'll be sharing a couple of alternate techniques if you don't want to hand embroider the text)
July 15 - Make the tree borders
July 22 - Quilting
July 29 - Binding

Merry Mini is a small quilt (you might have guessed that from the 'mini' in the name!), and it uses scraps, making it a perfect summer quilt along project. You probably already own most, if not all, of what you'll need to make it and you'll be able to accomplish each week's work pretty quickly. The hand embroidery is the most time consuming part, but even that doesn't take too long, plus it's portable, so you can work on it out on the deck, or by the pool, or at the cabin, or wherever. Or you can choose one of the alternate techniques I'll be sharing instead of the hand embroidery, making it even faster.

Want to join me? From now until the end of July, the Merry Mini pattern is 20% off with the code MERRYMINIQAL. Use the link below and the coupon code will already by applied.

Get the Merry Mini pattern


Enter your email address below to receive the weekly QAL emails with links to the blog posts, so you won't miss any of them. I can't wait to get started!

June 17, 2024

Perfectly Reasonable

Devotion for the week...

Before we get into today's devotion, just a note to let you know this will be the last devotion until after the summer. While I love writing these devotions, I have definitely reached the place where my brain is ready for a break!

On the theme of taking a break, I was thinking about Jesus' habit of resting. He had so many people clamoring for His attention, for healing, and for His teaching, and yet He always made time to rest. The most famous example of Him resting involved Him asleep in the boat while traveling from one place to another, even as a storm raged around them: "Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion" (Mark 4:38).

At one point, Jesus sent His disciples out in pairs, and they "went out, telling everyone they met to repent of their sins and turn to God. And they cast out many demons and healed many sick people, anointing them with olive oil" (Mark 6:12-13). When the disciples returned, full of stories of everything they had done, "Jesus said, 'Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.' He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat" (v. 31).

Do you see how many demands were placed on Him? He didn't have get a chance to grab something to eat! What I find amazing is that He didn't feel the need to run Himself into the ground trying to meet everyone's needs before He got to take a break. Instead, He looked at all the chaos and decided it was time to step away and rest. He didn't apologize for needing rest or for taking care of Himself. He just said, 'Let's go get some rest' as if that were a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

Because it is!

It is perfectly reasonable to take a break when we need one. It's perfectly reasonable to take a nap, or to spend a few hours reading, or to get away from all the noise to spend an afternoon at the beach. We don't have to earn the rest or make sure everyone else's needs are met before we look after ourselves.

Of course, rest isn't exactly what happened when Jesus suggested they get away. "They left by boat for a quiet place, where they could be alone. But many people recognized them and saw them leaving, and people from many towns ran ahead along the shore and got there ahead of them. Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things" (vv. 32-34).

The Bible doesn't say how long they were traveling in the boat, but I imagine it was enough time for everyone to get a little something to eat, to relax for a bit, and maybe even to get a quick nap (since Jesus obviously didn't mind sleeping in boats). It wasn't the time away in quiet Jesus had intended, but when they arrived and saw the crowd, Jesus was refreshed enough to spend the next few hours teaching. A little rest can do wonders for our ability to help others.
If Jesus made rest a priority, we can, too | DevotedQuilter.com
We might not always be able to manage hours away on our own, but it's still important to honour our need for rest. If Jesus made rest a priority, we can, too!

June 12, 2024

Stash Artists Doors Are 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 | DevotedQuilter.com
The membership doors are open now for new members, but only until the end of the day, Monday, June 17th. 

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 Block of the Month pattern - we're starting a new, Christmas themed, one in August!
  • the Reverberate baby quilt pattern
  • an ever-growing library of video tutorials
  • monthly devotions
  • discounts on patterns, workshops, and QALs outside the membership

Patterns


The patterns and the Sew Together Sessions are the backbone of Stash Artists. All new members can download the Reverberate baby quilt pattern as soon as they login to the Stash Artists membership site.
Reverberate baby quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
Here's a look at some of the patterns that have previously been released to Stash Artists members, to give you an idea what to expect.
Scraps Take Flight quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
Scraps Take Flight

Grateful quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
Grateful

Blooming Beautiful quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
Blooming Beautiful
As you can see, Stash Artists patterns are designed to allow you to shop your stash and your scraps, often with a single background to unify the scrappiness. If this kind of pattern makes you want to run straight to your sewing machine to get started, you'll love being a Stash Artists member 😊

Video Tutorials


There's a growing library of video tutorials inside the Stash Artists membership site, including:
  • How to sew Drunkard's Path blocks
  • How to do crumb piecing
  • Colouring quilt blocks with crayons
  • and more!

Devotions


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 sharing a series on the Proverbs 31 woman. When new members join, they have access to all the devotions previously shared, so you can easily go back and get caught up on the series.

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!


Making the world more beautiful, one quilt at a time | DevotedQuilter.com

June 10, 2024

Ruth - Part 2

Devotion for the week...

Today I'm sharing the second in a two-part look at Ruth that was first shared as part of the 2023 Women of Wisdom QAL. Ruth has a four-chapter book named after her in the Bible, so I’ll have to do a lot of summarizing, even though we’re not going to be following all of her story. If you do want to read the whole story for yourself, you can do that here. You can also read part one of this devotion here.

When we left her last week, Ruth was heading off to find a barley field where she could follow behind the harvesters and gather the bits of barley they left behind. God had made provision for the poor and the foreigner living among the Israelites, by commanding that the harvesters would always leave some behind to be gathered by those who had no other means of supporting themselves. Ruth, who was a poor foreigner, “found herself working in a field that belonged to Boaz, the relative of her father-in-law, Elimelech” (Ruth 2:3).

As a foreign woman, Ruth probably stood out among those who were working the field, and she was noticed by Boaz, the owner of the field, when he came to see how the harvest was going. "Boaz asked his foreman, “Who is that young woman over there? Who does she belong to?” (v. 5). The foreman not only knew who Boaz meant, but he knew what Ruth had been doing all day. "She is the young woman from Moab who came back with Naomi. She asked me this morning if she could gather grain behind the harvesters. She has been hard at work ever since, except for a few minutes’ rest in the shelter.” (vv. 6-7) The overseer had noticed that Ruth was working hard, spending hours in the field with only a short break and, since he mentioned it to Boaz, I take it he was impressed by her work ethic. Notice, too, that the foreman said she was the young woman who arrived in town with Naomi. I imagine they were the talk of the town, especially this young Moabite woman who showed such devotion to her mother-in-law.

But Ruth wasn't trying to be noticed. She didn't leave Moab with Naomi to be noticed. She did what she thought was right. She wasn't gleaning in the field in an attempt to be noticed. She just did what needed to be done to get food for their table. She probably didn't think she was doing anything special, or doing anything that others wouldn't also be doing if they were in her place.

The fact of the matter is, we are all being noticed by someone. It’s human nature to watch the people around us, to see how they go about their daily lives. Seven or eight years ago, I started babysitting a little boy from a family I hadn't met before I started babysitting him. One day I went to the grocery store and the cashier told me the boy's grandmother had asked her if she knew me, because the grandmother didn't and wondered what sort of person I was. I had never before thought about my grocery shopping being something that people would observe, but it is. Because we live in a small town, this cashier has been seeing me for years, popping into the store with my own boys or some of the other kids I've looked after, chatting with her, keeping the kids from demolishing the store displays and that sort of thing. She could assure this grandmother that the kids in my care are happy with me and that, in her words, "you have no worries with Leanne." That report brightened my day, but I wasn't doing anything while in the store to try to be noticed as a competent caregiver. I was just doing my usual thing.

All of which begs one simple question: for what are we noticed? Jesus told His followers, "You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father." (Matthew 5:14-16). 

Whenever I have heard or read this verse I have heard 'good deeds' and imagined it meaning those things we do specifically to be nice to others, but the word translated as 'deeds', ergon, actually means "anything done or to be done; a deed, work, action."

Maybe Jesus wasn't only referring to special kindnesses, but to all the good things we do in the run of our daily lives. All the things that get noticed by others and make them see us in a positive light will bring glory to God. All the things that get noticed in a negative way will not.
As we go about our daily lives, just doing what needs to be done, how do people see us? | DevotedQuilter.com
As we go about our daily lives, just doing what needs to be done, how do people see us? I'm not suggesting we should put on an act when we're out in public, trying to fool people into thinking we're something we're not (remember Sapphira?). But rather, do our actions and our attitude line up with what we say we believe? Are we exhibiting the fruit of the spirit? "The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23). Like Ruth, are we noticed for those things?

And if we aren't being noticed for these things, is that a problem?

June 03, 2024

Ruth - Part 1

Devotion for the week...

Today I'm sharing the first in a two-part look at Ruth that was first shared as part of the 2023 Women of Wisdom QAL. Ruth has a four-chapter book named after her in the Bible, so I’ll have to do a lot of summarizing, even though we’re not going to be following all of her story. If you do want to read the whole story for yourself, you can do that here

At the beginning of the book of Ruth, we’re told that a man named Elimelech moved his wife, Naomi, and their two sons from Bethlehem to Moab because of a famine. In Moab, Elimelech died and his two sons married local women named Ruth and Orpah. Then the sons died as well, leaving Naomi, Ruth and Orpah alone. Naomi got word that the famine in Bethlehem had ended, so she decided to go back home, but she urged Ruth and Orpah to return to their own families so they could find new husbands. Orpah did as Naomi suggested, but Ruth refused to leave her mother-in-law and so "they arrived in Bethlehem in late spring, at the beginning of the barley harvest" (Ruth 1:22).

With all that Ruth and Naomi had been through, it would have been understandable if they just sat and licked their wounds for a while at this point, which is what it seems like Naomi actually does. Upon their arrival, she told the women of Bethlehem, "Don’t call me Naomi…Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty. Why call me Naomi when the Lord has caused me to suffer and the Almighty has sent such tragedy upon me?" (v. 20-21). Mara means 'bitter' and Naomi sounds more than a little bitter here! 

Two women alone, without husbands, fathers or sons, were at a severe disadvantage back then, with few resources and few options for making a living. But Ruth didn’t let that stop her, nor did she let herself wallow in her grief or succumb to bitterness like Naomi. Instead, she got to work.

God had commanded the Israelites, "When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. It is the same with your grape crop—do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God" (Leviticus 19:9-10). Since the barley harvest was just beginning, Ruth "said to Naomi, 'Let me go out into the harvest fields to pick up the stalks of grain left behind by anyone who is kind enough to let me do it'" (Ruth 2: 2). Naomi agreed, so Ruth got ready and went to find a field to work in.

I’m going to stop there with the story for today, because it’s Ruth’s ability to move on that impresses me most. She and Naomi had both lost everything except each other, but Ruth didn’t join Naomi, wallowing in bitterness. Instead, she took stock of their situation and their options and got started on what she could do to make their lives better. Starting with their most pressing need, she made a plan to get them some food, so they wouldn’t have to rely on charity. This complete change in her life circumstances forced her to find a new way to provide for herself and her mother-in-law, and she rose to the occasion beautifully.
If we find ourselves in new and unexpected circumstances, we can let Ruth be our inspiration | DevotedQuilter.com

When life changes drastically, it can be hard to find our way forward. If everything is different, what comes next? If we find ourselves in new and unexpected circumstances, we can let Ruth be our inspiration and just get started by finding a way to take care of one need. Getting started is often the hardest part, but once we’re started, that forward motion will carry us through to the next thing.

Read part two of this series on Ruth here.

May 31, 2024

My First Quilt with Sarah Schneider

It's the last Friday of the month, so you know what that means 😊 For today's My First Quilt interview, Sarah Schneider of Sarah's Softies is sharing the story behind her first quilt. Sarah is an engineer turned stay at home mom turned quilter and pattern designer.
My First Quilt with Sarah Schneider | DevotedQuilter.com
You can connect with Sarah at her website, on Instagram, and on Facebook.

And now, here is Sarah's first quilt! Doesn't the crib look cozy?
My First Quilt with Sarah Schneider | DevotedQuilter.com

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


2011, I was pregnant with my first child. My grandmother was the family quilter. Everyone of my cousins had a handmade quilt from her. One cousin has two and still (30+ years later) swears our grandfather made one of them. HA! Since my grandmother had past several years earlier, I realized that if I wanted my children to have such memories and "blankets" that I was going to have to make them myself. So, off to Youtube I went!

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


Oh, it was terrible. I use a panel that was from the same line that I used for her curtains, fabric covered boxes, bumpers, sheets, etc. I did mention it was my first child, right?  The panel then had a small border, minky backing, and *sighs* pipping around the edge. I had no idea how difficult and silly that would be.
My First Quilt with Sarah Schneider | DevotedQuilter.com

Who taught you to make the quilt?


My grandmother had shown my how to use a sewing machine when I was a child, and my mother taught me to read sewing patterns. We had made both of my prom dresses in High School. I knew the basics. I did know that I need the right thread, needles, and fabrics, but that was about it. The rest I kind of pieced together from videos and my basic sewing knowledge of clothing fabrication. 

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


It was a panel, not something I do a lot. I did learn not to use minky or crazy stretchy fabrics for backing. And why on Earth did I think it needed pipping around the edge?  Who knows... 

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


I did love the idea of creating something out of random materials (that is the Engineer in me I guess). But once I created that quilt, I did create another (very badly made since I didn't do my full research) quilt a couple years later. It took me a long time to make it. A very long time. Once I discovered online teachers and my local quilt guild, my quilting got a ton better.

Where is the quilt now?


In a memory box for my daughter to have when she moves out of the home. In fact, I have made enough quilts for both of my children to cover all their beds in their future homes when they move out. Every time we move (and as a military family, it is quite often) I make sure they each have a quilt that they can keep. 
My First Quilt with Sarah Schneider | DevotedQuilter.com

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


Do more research first! Don't think you know what you are doing! 

Anything else you want to share about your first quilt?


It was a great learning experience. It isn't perfect (not even close), but it is amazing and I absolutely love everything about it.


Thanks for sharing your first quilt (and the matching curtains, cushion, covered boxes, etc) with us, Sarah! I loved this peek into your first child's room 😊