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 |
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 |

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 |

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 |

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 😊

May 27, 2024


Devotion for the week...

We have a book written by Mark Hall, the lead singer and songwriter for Casting Crowns and youth pastor. It's called The Well, and in it he talks about all the different places people go to fill up, thinking those things are wells that can satisfy, when really they're just holes. In the chapter about what he calls 'the hole of approval', Hall writes, "The approval of others is like a commodity to me. I have to take great pains to make sure I don't trade in it. My biggest struggle comes not with Casting Crowns and music but with ministry. I fight to make sure I base the direction of our ministry on God's Word and the leading of his Spirit rather than on someone else's likes or dislikes." I remember being surprised when I first read that. I would have thought a struggle against seeking approval from others would be amplified by being part of a successful band, more so than leading a youth ministry.

I hadn't thought about that book in years, but it came to mind again recently when I read 2 Corinthians 5:12, which says, "Are we commending ourselves to you again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart." People were criticizing Paul, trying to portray him as working for his own good and his own status, so Paul was reminding the Corinthians of his sincerity when he was with them, not to puff himself up in their view, but so they could have some ammunition to defend him (and their belief because of his time with them). 

The spectacular ministry part really stood out to me. I often don't think about it, but the apostles and teachers of the day would have been celebrities at the time. People would have judged them by the appearances of success - how many people followed them, how many showed up to hear them talk, how many professed to be believers after hearing them? 

We can't know if Paul's ministry was considered spectacular at the time, but Paul says here it doesn't matter. It's not the appearance of success that we should care about in a ministry, but rather the sincerity of the person leading it. It makes me think about when God told Samuel, "Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). Samuel was looking to anoint the future king, and thought physical appearance would be the determining factor, but God was more interested in the character of the king-to-be.
The appearance of success in our work for God doesn't matter any more than our physical appearance |
By pointing to the importance of a sincere heart, Paul reminds us all that the appearance of success in our work for God doesn't matter any more than our physical appearance. Whether or not we work in a formal ministry setting, we all work for God in some way, and He doesn't look at success the same as we do. We look at how many people showed up for the program, or how many people read the things we write, or how many of the people we invited to church came, or how many people have believed after we talked to them about God. We want to see spectacular results. God wants to see us following Him with sincere hearts, reaching out to others with the desire to see them following Him, too, rather than with the desire to boost whatever we're measuring as the marker of our success.

May 20, 2024

Pulling Weeds

Devotion for the week...

I use a paper planner to keep track of all the things that need to get done. It's my daily to-do list, my meal planner, my appointment diary, and my deadline tracker. I'd be lost without it! One day last week I wrote 'weed flower bed' in the box for one day, followed by 'devotion writing' right below it and the two tasks immediately connected in my mind for today's devotion. That's how most of these devotions come about; God shows me the craziest, most random connections between ordinary things and His word, and I just follow His leading.

Because Newfoundland is so far north, we're still in the very early stages of spring. Leaves aren't open yet on the trees and the plants in my flower bed are growing, but they're barely more than shoots yet. The weeds, though, are coming up like crazy! I spent a little over an hour last Monday pulling weeds from half of the bed, but didn't have time to finish the second half. The difference is amazing. On the left side, you can clearly see the daylilies, black-eyed Susans and Asiatic lilies coming up. On the right hand side, they're hidden amongst the bits of grass, clover, and who knows what else that are coming up around them.

You might think I'm going to the parable of the farmer sowing seeds, but that's not the connection God showed me. Instead, He pointed me to Philippians 2:14-15, which says, "Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you." In my mind, I saw our complaints as the weeds hiding all the good things in our lives.

I'm putting extra emphasis on our complaints, because I know just how often complaining rears its ugly head in my own life. The complaints may not always get spoken out loud, but they sure do run on repeat in my mind. Do you have that problem, too?

It doesn't matter how many good things are in my life, or how wonderful they are, the little things that bug me seem to be the things that take up the most space in my head. They crowd out thoughts of all those good things, putting my focus on the negative rather than the positive. They're weeds, for sure, and they need to go!
Complaints are like weeds, hiding all the good things in our lives |
There's no avoiding minor irritations and frustrations, but we don't need to give them extra attention and make them grow even bigger. I saw a meme once that said, "Life may give you a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it." It made me laugh out loud, but the message hit home. Complaining about the irritations of life is like sitting on the cactus; it only makes the situation worse.

Pulling weeds from a garden is a constant chore. Pulling the weeds of complaints will be, too. So how do we do it? The first step is being aware of the complaints when they pop up. Then we'll have to consciously choose to put the complaint out of our minds. Easier said than done, I know, but the effort will be worth it. 

It may help to replace the complaint with a different thought, in which case Philippians 4:9 has plenty of suggestions: "Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." Those are thoughts worth cultivating!

May 16, 2024

Ticker Tape Heart Block Challenge

You're invited to join a 3 day block challenge! From May 31-June 2, dig into your favourite scraps to make a Ticker Tape Heart block with the free pattern and daily emails to walk you through each step. These blocks are so much fun to make!
Ticker Tape Heart block challenge |

Register here for the challenge

The Ticker Tape Heart block is a combination of piecing and applique. The piecing goes together pretty quickly (that's day one!), then comes the fun of playing with your scraps to find the perfect pieces to applique to fill in the heart (day two) and stitching them down to secure them (day three).

I couldn't decide what colour heart to make while preparing for the block challenge, so I made a rainbow of them! These 9 blocks are perfect for a baby quilt, with the addition of some 2" sashing and a 4" border.
Ticker Tape Heart block challenge |
My Mother's Day flowers made good photo props!

Ticker Tape Heart block challenge |

To fussy cut, or not to fussy cut, that is the question!

Once the hearts were pieced, I started digging through my various scrap boxes to cut the applique pieces. It was fun to see what scraps I had that could be fussy cut to add an extra element of surprise to the block.

I particularly like this little snowflake.
Ticker Tape Heart block challenge |
And these flowers.
Ticker Tape Heart block challenge |

Ticker Tape Heart block challenge |
And these clouds.
Ticker Tape Heart block challenge |
Fussy cutting isn't usually my thing, but it was fun to do just a little of it for these blocks. If it's not your thing, either, you can totally skip it. Most of my pieces aren't fussy cut, as you can tell from the other pieces in these pictures.
Ticker Tape Heart block challenge |

What can you do with your Ticker Tape Heart block?

The first time I made Ticker Tape Heart blocks, in January 2022, I added a border to one block, to make a mini quilt. The instructions for this mini quilt are included in the pattern you'll receive on day one of the challenge.
Ticker Tape Heart block challenge |
I also made a table runner with three blocks, and those instructions are included in the pattern, too.
Ticker Tape Heart block challenge |
And as I've already mentioned, this time around I've made 9 blocks for a baby quilt. You decide if you want to make just one block so you can join in the fun or if you really want to play with your scraps and make enough for a throw quilt, or anything in between. Whatever you decide, I can't wait to see your Ticker Tape Heart block(s)!

Join the challenge here

Ticker Tape Heart block challenge |

May 13, 2024

To Him

Devotion for the week...

I mentioned last week that I'm reading the book of Acts during my morning devotions lately, and today's devotion comes from that book again. Last week I read about Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus, which I had also read several times while preparing the devotions for the Moments with Jesus QAL and Devotional Journey. That story led to two devotions during the QAL, and even still I hadn't noticed what I noticed when I read it again last week. Isn't it amazing that God's word always has something new for us?

We know the apostle Paul as one of the great men of the Bible, but the beginning of his conversion story paints him in a very different light. "Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains" (Acts 9:1-2). Yikes! Not only was Saul, later to be known as Paul, not a believer, he was trying to kill or imprison as many believers as he could! Eliminating the believers in Jerusalem wasn't good enough for him, either; he had to take his persecution on the road and see who he could capture in Damascus, too.

"As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, 'Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?'

"'Who are you, lord?' Saul asked.

"And the voice replied, 'I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do" (vv. 3-6).

From that moment on, Saul served Jesus and taught everyone he could that Jesus was the Messiah. His conversion isn't the focus for today, though. Instead, I want us to really see what Jesus said to Saul: 'Why are you persecuting me?' And then, 'I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting!'

Jesus didn't ask why Saul was persecuting the people who believed in Him, He asked why Saul was persecuting Him, as if it was Jesus Himself that Saul was hauling out of homes and into prison.

Whenever I've thought about that in the past, I thought about it kind of like, 'Saul is hurting believers, which makes Jesus sad.' This time, though, I thought of Matthew 25:37-40, where He says, "Then these righteous ones will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing?  When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?'

"'And the King will say, 'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'" That story about our eventual judgement says that whenever we help people, Jesus counts it as if it had been done unto Him.
Whatever harm we do to others, Jesus sees that as if it had been done unto Him |
Jesus' words to Saul on the road to Damascus show the flip side of that; whatever harm we do to others, Jesus sees that as if it had been done unto Him, too. That's a sobering thought, isn't it?

May 10, 2024

Ombre Twirl

Monday was what I call Stash Artists Day. On the first Monday of each month, I send an email to Stash Artists members about the devotion for the month, the new block for our BOM, and in alternating months the upcoming Sew Together Session or the new pattern. Stash Artists doors will be opening again next month, so join the waitlist if you want to be notified when you can join us. 

May is a pattern month in the membership, which means I can share Ombre Twirl now that the members have access to this new pattern.
Ombre Twirl quilt pattern |
I designed Ombre Twirl a year or more ago so I'm glad it made it to the top of the list so I could finally make it!
Ombre Twirl quilt pattern |
The Ombre Twirl block uses squares in light, medium, and dark values to create the ombre effect. I discovered some interesting things about my stash while choosing the fabrics for the squares, like that almost all my red fabrics are the same value! That's why there's no red block in the quilt; I couldn't get a nice light, medium, dark progression. I also found that my blues are primarily dark, though there are enough lights and mediums mixed in there that I could make some blue blocks. It was a lot of fun digging through my scraps and my stash to find the right fabrics to put together!
Ombre Twirl quilt pattern |
I used my Accuquilt Go machine to cut the scrappy squares and the background strips, which made the cutting go really fast. I don't always remember to pull out the Accuquilt, unless I'm looking for a way to occupy the childcare littles with something different, but I'm trying to use it more often. It's especially helpful for cutting up scraps, since I can't easily cut multiples at once with the rotary cutter, like I can when I'm cutting from yardage.

I kept thinking about how to quilt this one while I pieced the blocks. I figured I would probably outline the scrappy strips, then quilt something in the squares and something else in the background. I couldn't decide what to quilt, though. In fact, every time I thought about it, I felt quite a bit of resistance, like I didn't really want to quilt that much detail. When I thought about quilting a simpler, all-over design, I was much happier with that idea.

That had me thinking about how my go-to quilting style has changed over the years. I used to do a lot of really small, dense quilting, but now I find myself more interested in open, loose designs. I'm not sure there's a reason for the change, though it may be because I'm making more scrap quilts and all-over quilting seems to fit them better. It might also be that by the time I get to the quilting stage I'm usually excited about the next quilt I want to start, and all-over quilting tends to be faster. Whatever the reason for the shift, I'm still having fun with the free motion quilting, so it's all good.

I've done meander quilting with loops and flowers or loops and hearts, but this is the first time I combined all three. I mostly did two loops then a flower then two loops then a heart. I say mostly because there were a few times I got confused about what should have been next, and a few times when I needed a third or even fourth loop to work my way out of a small space before I could do a heart or flower. The beauty of this kind of quilting is that it really doesn't matter if I make a 'mistake'. No one is ever going to pay enough attention to trace a line to make sure I quilted the motifs in the right order!
Ombre Twirl quilt pattern |
I pieced together scraps of Warm and Natural batting for this throw size version of Ombre Twirl. When I'm piecing scraps of batting together, I cut the edges I'm going to join with a rotary cutter, then sew them together with a wide zig zag stitch. I tend to avoid piecing batting for anything larger than a baby quilt, since I find it hard to sew long seams of batting without getting ripples, but I only needed to join two pieces and it went fine this time. 

I wasn't at all interested in piecing the back, though, so off to my LQS I went. I found this pretty teal swirl wideback, so I didn't have to sew even one seam for the back. I love fabrics with swirls, so this was an easy choice.
Ombre Twirl quilt pattern |
How many pieces of sea glass can you spy in the picture?
While I was shopping for the backing, this grey print caught my eye. I loved the colourful x's, so I picked it up for the binding. Normally I would choose a scrappy binding for a scrappy quilt, but I really love how this print frames the quilt, especially since it's just a bit darker than the solid grey background.
Ombre Twirl quilt pattern |
I took Ombre Twirl to the beach along with Shining Through, on one of the few sunny days we've had recently. There was only a slight breeze, but it was still enough to make the quilts fly when they were clipped onto the backdrop stand. Here are a couple of the outtakes 🤣
Ombre Twirl quilt pattern |
This one is my personal favourite. I think the quilt was trying to do a magic carpet impersonation!
Ombre Twirl quilt pattern |
When the quilt actually hung straight, the sun shining through it was so pretty!
Ombre Twirl quilt pattern |
Once I finished taking quilt pictures, I wandered around on the rocks for a while, soaking up the sunshine and the sound of the waves. I found a few pieces of sea glass, including a pretty purple one! I tried my hand at stacking the sea glass for a couple of pictures before I headed home, and I liked how this one turned out.
stacked sea glass on a quilt |
I can't wait to see the Ombre Twirl quilts made by Stash Artists members now that they have the pattern! And remember, get on the waitlist if you'd like to join us when the membership doors open in June.

May 06, 2024

His Voice

Devotion for the week...

I'm currently reading through the book of Acts in my morning devotions and one day last week I read chapter 7, in which Stephen addresses the Council after they arrested him on the testimony of false witnesses. I burst out laughing when I read verse 53, which says, "You deliberately disobeyed God’s law, even though you received it from the hands of angels." It's not at all a funny verse, but for a moment that morning it sounded like James Earl Jones had suddenly appeared in my kitchen to reprise his role as King Mufasa!

There's a line in The Lion King where Mufasa says to Simba, "You deliberately disobeyed me." When I read those same three words in the Bible last week, I heard them in Mufasa's voice and cadence, even though I haven't seen The Lion King in years. The line has been on repeat in my head ever since, and I chuckle a little to myself every time I think of it.

There are other parts of the Bible that I hear in a specific voice or cadence, too. Most notable is the first part of Isaiah 53:6, which in the KJV says, "All we like sheep have gone astray." I cannot read that straight through! My mind automatically pauses a beat between words, then trills through 'astray,' just like in the song from Handel's Messiah. My husband plays Messiah almost every year around Christmas, and that particular song has embedded itself in my memory. Even rereading it multiple times while editing this devotion, I 'hear' it in my head like the song every single time 😂

This calls to mind Jesus talking about being the Good Shepherd. "I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice" (John 10:1-5). He also said, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me" (v. 27).

The expectation in Jesus' words is that we will know His voice, that we will recognize when He is speaking to us and when He's not. Obviously it's not going to be an 'out loud' voice we hear, but rather a recognition in our spirit that what we just heard, read, or thought was actually a message from God.

There are a lot of voices clamoring for attention these days - influencers and media and celebrities and politicians, not to mention our own friends and family. Can we pick out Jesus' voice amidst all the other noise? Are we paying enough attention to His word to even recognize His voice?
When was the last time you heard God's voice? |
I'd love to know, are there any parts of the Bible you 'hear' in a particular person's voice? And when was the last time you heard God's voice?

May 03, 2024

Shining Through Baby Quilt Finished

I made this Shining Through quilt top in 2022, did the quilting and binding during last year's WIPS-B-GONE challenge, and finally took pictures of it last weekend. It has been a slow process, but I can finally share the finish here! 
Shining Through quilt |
The fold lines were very stubborn, which makes sense since it has been folded and stacked with a few other quilts since it was finished back in the fall 😅 

The trip to the beach for pictures was my first visit for the year, and it was fabulous. See that beautiful blue sky? It's a good thing I enjoyed it then because we haven't seen it again since I took these pictures on Sunday. Instead, we've had nothing but RDF (rain, drizzle, and fog) all week.
Shining Through quilt |
The Shining Through pattern is available in my shop. This version of the baby quilt size is made with the Citified fabric line from Island Batik. The pattern also includes instructions for a throw size.
Shining Through quilt |
I used a pretty blue solid from Northcott for the backing, and, of course, there's an off-cut of Warm and Natural batting inside. I love baby quilts for using up smaller pieces of batting! 

This double loop quilting is quick and fun to stitch. I used Aurifil 50 wt 2311 to match the background on the front, with the bonus that it shows up really nicely on the blue backing.
Double loop free motion quilting |
I took these pictures with the quilt hanging on my photography backdrop stand and I loved how the front shone through the back in the sun.
Shining Through quilt |
I cut the fabric for the binding back when I cut everything for the quilt top (two years ago). I had to dig a little to find it when it was time to bind the quilt, since my sewing stuff had all been moved from the kitchen to the sewing room since then, but I found it safely tucked into a box on a shelf in my cutting table.
Shining Through quilt |
The baby size of Shining Through really is a quick sew, unless you're like me and leave it sitting around for months rather than working on it, lol. Get the pattern in my shop and see if you can finish it faster than I did 😂