August 26, 2014

10 Quilty Little Secrets

Amy, of 13 Spools, has started a flood of quilty confessions with her post "10 Quilty Little Secrets." Have you seen all the fun posts popping up as other bloggers share their own quilty secrets? I've decided to join in the fun too.
13 Spools

1. Like Amy, I iron my seams. I don't press them. I've tried, but I always revert back to ironing. 

2. I rarely change my sewing machine needle. I can't justify changing it more often when I never notice a difference when I do bother to change it, and leaving the old needle in never causes me problems.

3. I almost never know who designed the fabric I'm using.

4. I sew on a Kenmore machine that I love. I feel no desire to 'upgrade' to a Bernina, Janome, Juki or any other, much more expensive, machine. This machine does everything I need it to do, and probably stuff I haven't decided to try yet.

5. I can't remember the last time I changed my rotary cutter blade. I probably should do that soon, it isn't cutting as well as it used to, but I never think to buy a new blade.

6. I just finished piecing a top with a jelly roll that I didn't prewash. It makes me jittery. I always prewash my fabric so now I feel like something bad is going to happen to this quilt the first time I wash it. I'm buying colour catchers as soon as I can actually find some in a store.

7. I don't save my selvages. Some people make beautiful things using selvages, but I'm not one of them.

8. I used to desperately want a longarm, but now I think I wouldn't buy one even if it could fit in our budget and our house. Leah Day is right, you don't need a longarm to do fantastic free-motion quilting.

9. I don't like large scale prints, or prints with lots of colours. I never know how to use either of them.

10. Improv holds no appeal for me.

There you have it, all my quilty little secrets. What are yours? Share them in the comments, or write up your own post and link it to Amy at 13 Spools.

August 25, 2014

Hexagon Unity

Devotion for the Week...

I am so excited to be finished this quilt top! You can see more pictures of it in this post. There are about 1,340 hexies in this top, made out of many, many different fabrics. It was a lot of fun to pick those fabrics and plan out each of the 56 flowers.

Can you imagine me spending hours and hours, cutting and sewing those 1,340 hexies, using only one fabric? What a complete waste of time that would be! The flowers are only interesting because they are each made of two, or more, different fabrics. Even the background I chose is made of two different blue fabrics.

Amazingly, God has designed His church to be like this quilt top. Before His death, Jesus prayed for all of the people who would ever believe in Him. He prayed, "That all of them may be one, Father...May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me" (John 17:21a-23).

That verse staggers me. All the people in this world who don't know that Jesus was sent by God, and who don't know about the love God has for them - they're depending on us to function in unity to show them? That seems like a tough task.

Fortunately, being brought to complete unity doesn't mean we all become identical. Though my hexagons share a size and shape, they aren't identical in colour. Even so, when sewn together, they create one complete unit.

Jesus doesn't want to erase our personalities, or pretend our differences don't exist. God gave us all distinct personalities and abilities so we can serve Him, each in our own way. Just as fabrics can be one solid colour, or bright florals, or batik, or civil war reproduction, or any of a number of other categories, people can be introverts or extroverts, boisterous or quiet, crafty or not. Though our goal as Christians is to become Christ-like, that refers to our character, not our individuality. So, while we should all exhibit "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22,23), it's okay if you don't like listening to Mercy Me as much as I do. Unity comes as we accept one another's differences and focus on using who we are and what we can do to serve the church and one another.

Unfortunately, it isn't always easy to accept differences. The church has an awful history of dis-unity rather than unity. Denominations have disagreed for centuries, sometimes with violent and bloody consequences. On an individual level, believers have disagreed about everything from music styles to what time services should start.

When the world hears all that arguing, it's hard for them to hear the truth about the love of God. After all, Jesus said, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:34,34). When we show love for one another, we show ourselves to be disciples of Jesus, and we show the world our unity. Our unity then shows the world the love of God.

So, how should we show love to others? Paul instructs us to "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves" (Romans 12:10). Maybe you don't like the music the youth in your church prefer, but you go to the youth emphasis service anyway to honour the youth and their desire to serve God in their own way. It doesn't mean you have to start listening to their music, but it does mean you don't put them down for preferring a style different from your own.

Paul also wrote, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Philippians 2:3,4). Put bluntly, he's saying 'don't insist on getting your own way all the time. Don't always arrange things so you get the main benefit. Don't kick up a fuss if things aren't done exactly how you would like. Think about what would be good for the other person in any situation.' None of which is easy to do, of course.

But when we get it right, when we let other people serve God according to their personalities, while serving Him according to our own personality, then the church functions in unity. Then the people around us can see the love of God.

So then, here is my quilty definition of complete unity in the church: Many, many people, all of us sharing a Christ-like character (the hexagon shape) while maintaining our individual personalities (the different colours and patterns of the fabric) joined together to create His church (the quilt top).

Around the World Blog Hop

Last week Yvonne of Quilting Jet Girl tagged me in her Around the World Blog Hop post, so this week I'm 'it'. This blog hop is essentially a huge game of tag as bloggers tag other bloggers all over the world to share their answers to a few questions. Before I answer the questions myself, here are the three bloggers I'm tagging:

My Photo
Jennifer of Never Just Jennifer. Jennifer is one of the members of the Round Trip Quilts group and I can't wait to start working on her quilt. She has started a series on her blog called Mosaic Tuesday, in which she shares colour inspiration, which is especially helpful to people like me who always doubt their colour choices.

My Photo

Fiona of Celtic Thistle Stitches. Fiona's blog is so much fun. She's not afraid to try new techniques and she shares the beautiful results. Plus, she travels all over the place and shares amazing pictures of far-flung sights and quilty inspiration. She also hosts the 'New to Me in 2014' and 'Ho Ho Ho and On We Sew' linky parties.

Smiley faceErin of Sew at Home Mummy. I'm not sure how she does it, but Erin's posts are often funny even when they're about regular, not funny stuff. Her post trying to persuade readers to buy a new iron was fantastic (though I didn't buy the iron!). In the spring she did a great series called Beautify Your Blog where she shared lots and lots of tips for fixing/changing/adding things on your blog. And she's a fellow Canadian, though from the other side of the country and currently living in Chicago.

These three beautiful ladies will share their answers to the questions next week and tag another round of bloggers so we can all go meet more new friends. Sounds fun, doesn't it?

Now, on to the questions.

What am I working on?


Let's see...1,2,3... Maybe we shouldn't count them all! I love having a bunch of projects on the go all at once. I may not finish any one particular project as quickly as if I worked on things one at a time, but I enjoy being able to pick what I want to work on each day. Here are two of the current projects.

After finishing my hexie quilt top, I needed a new hand stitching project. Though I'll probably hand quilt my hexies, it's still too warm to even think about sitting under a quilt for hours, so I wanted something smaller. This little embroidery project is just right. Plus, I love the verse from Psalm 19.

A couple of nights ago, I finished making the last of the blocks for my A Walk in the Park quilt using the beautiful batiks Paul bought for me. Now I can figure out how to distribute the colours evenly and get the top put together. I'd love to have this one ready when the cool weather sets in. You know, for those evenings when I'm not sitting under the hexies, quilting!

How does my work differ from others of its genre? 


I think this is the toughest question of them all. My honest answer is, I'm not really sure. I know I like really intricate piecing, like in this Jinny Beyer design I still haven't finished.
One of the 20 blocks in Jinny Beyer's Golden Album quilt
But I like the minimal piecing look of modern quilts too, like in my version of Canvas, designed by Leanne of She Can Quilt.
My Canvas post
I also know I'm not a big fan of most of the current favourite fabric designers, mostly because I don't really like large scale prints. I prefer small scale prints and those that don't have a lot of different colours in them. I've only sewn one quilt with solids so far, but I certainly want to play with them more.
My Schnitzel and Boo Mini Quilt Swap quilt post

Why do I write/create what I do? 


This one is easy...because I love it! I love playing with fabric and creating pretty things to look at or use. I love giving gifts I've made. I love looking at patterns or blogs and dreaming of all the things I'd make if only I had a hundred hours in each day just for quilting. My favourite way to describe how I feel about quilting (and blogging) is "I am having so much fun!"

As for the writing, I've always wanted to be a writer. I love writing about living for God and I love having the self-imposed deadline of posting a new devotion every Monday morning. To see a list of the devotions I've written so far, go here.

How does my writing/creating process work?


For quilting, I don't think I have a process I follow all the time. Sometimes I see a pattern I need to make, even if I don't yet have a use for it, other times I want to make a gift for someone and I go looking for just the right thing to make. Sometimes I jump on board with something I see online, like a chance to test a pattern, or to be part of a quilt swap. More rarely, I have fabric on hand and search for a pattern to make perfect use of it. Usually it's the other way around, though, since my stash actually isn't all that big and it's mostly composed of scrap sized pieces now.

I like to switch from project to project, and I love when my projects are at different stages so I can decide if I want to be pulling fabric, piecing or quilting on a given day. When I'm close to finishing a top, or a whole quilt, I usually work on that project the most because it's so exciting to have a finish.

I don't know that I have a particular process for writing either, other than procrastination. Boy, am I good at that! Usually, I think about the devotion for a few days, writing out sentences in my mind long before I ever sit with the computer. Writing directly onto the computer first is actually a new process for me. For years I had to write everything out on looseleaf, often doing several drafts before being ready to type it in. I'm not using nearly as much paper now that I'm typing right from the start!

Well, Jennifer, Fiona and Erin, over to you. You're IT!

August 21, 2014

TGIFF - The EPP Hexagon Edition!

Welcome to Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday! I am so happy to finally be able to share this finished quilt top.

This epp quilt top has some 1,340 hexagons, each of them 7/8" on a side. The finished top measures -----------.

Not long after I started making these flowers, I won a copy of Mickey Depre's Pieced Hexies from Quiltmaker magazine. I loved Mickey's designs and quickly made 9 to add to this quilt. You can read about my experience with piecing my hexies. The pieced hexie flowers are some of my favourites.
And here are some of the many regular hexie flowers.  Altogether there are 56 flowers.

I've been pondering how to quilt this one for months now. I know I don't want to do a lot of fancy fmq on it, because I don't want to distract from the flowers or the texture of the two fabric background. Plus it seems like a shame to machine quilt it after hand stitching the whole top. I've been resisting hand quilting it because that will take so long, but then I remind myself that Winter is Coming. Yes, I know that doesn't need to be capitalized, but that statement feels like it should be a pronouncement or, at the very least, a family motto ;)

I'm thinking that over the winter it may feel quite nice to sit under a warm quilt and indulge in more hand stitching. And besides, epp isn't exactly a fast method of making a quilt top, so slow quilting will certainly fit with the theme. So, I am now almost convinced I will hand quilt it, though I haven't decided what exactly I will stitch. Any suggestions?

It feels so different now that all the papers have been removed. It's so much softer and more flexible. 1,340 papers make for a rather impressive pile, don't you think? The mug and the thread are just for scale.

Now it's your turn. What are you excited about finishing? Link it up and share! Don't forget to visit a few of the other links and offer your congratulations for their finishes too.

August 20, 2014

WIP Wednesday - Seeing Stars

Remember the New Quilt Blogger's Blog Hop, hosted by Beth of Plum and June? You can read my post here. A group of us who participated in the hop have decided to do a round robin style quilt bee together. In this style of bee we will mail the quilt from person to person, each of us adding a section or border until it arrives back home as a complete quilt top. Since the quilts will make a sloooow round trip, we've called our group Round Trip Quilts.
The awesome logo was designed by Jennifer of Never Just Jennifer
We're all working on our starting blocks now, in preparation for mailing them on September 1st. I've always loved star quilts, so that's what I've picked as the theme for my quilt. Everyone can make whatever style of star they want to add, which I figure leaves plenty of room for personal expression since there are so many different star blocks out there.

I'm starting things off with the classic Ohio star. I used this great tutorial which has cutting instructions for making the block in a bunch of different sizes. I chose the 6" block, and after posting a few different setting on Instagram, Jennifer suggested I try them on point. It's perfect!
Now I just have to decide if I want to have the star blocks go right to the edge of my starting piece, or if I want to have a small border of the background fabric so it looks like the blocks are kind of floating. What do you think?
In other news, I'll be hosting TGIFF this Friday, so be sure to come back to link up all your finishes for the week. I'm removing papers from my epp hexagon flower quilt top today and hoping the weather will cooperate for me to get lots of pictures of it so I can share it on Friday.
See you at the TGIFF party!

Linking up with WIP Wednesday, Let's Bee Social, NTT, and I Quilt

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