December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Merry Christmas to you! I hope you have a fantastic day with family and friends 😊

I'm taking this week off to enjoy time with my own family, but I'll be back in this space come January. Happy New Year!

December 20, 2016

2017 Goal Planning

It's that time of year again - time to look back at the year that has been and look ahead to the year that's coming. Yvonne, at Quilting Jetgirl, is once again hosting her Quilter's Planning Party to help get us motivated to set goals for next year. After joining in the party last year, I can say that having written my goals down and then shared them publicly certainly helped motivate me to do the things I wanted to do. Funny how we need that extra little push even to do the stuff we want to do, isn't it?

Before I can set goals for next year, I have to look back and see how I did with the goals for 2016, so here goes:

1. Host a mystery quilt along

Done! I had a lot of fun making my Just the Basics quilt and sharing the installments each month for 6 months. All the instructions are still available if you'd like to make your own...just click on the Just the Basics tab at the top of the blog.
My Just the Basics top
Seeing the finished quilts was fantastic :) My own Just the Basics quilt is actually finished, but I haven't shared it yet because I haven't had a chance to get pictures. Hopefully soon.

2. Submit designs to at least two new magazines...

Done. Both of the designs I sent to new magazines were accepted 😊 In fact, one of the quilts is already finished and sent to the magazine offices for professional photography. I'm really looking forward to seeing how the professionals style my quilt, especially considering how much I struggle with photography. I've ordered the fabric for the second quilt and will be doing another round of secret sewing soon.

...I'd also like to continue working with the ladies at Make Modern as I've found they're great to work with.

Done. I had two more quilts in Make Modern in 2016, X Marks the Spot and Love Birds. I also have another quilt scheduled with them for 2017.

3.  Release a new pattern or tutorial every other month.

Done. This year I released 6 tutorials, and 3 patterns. It's fun to meet a goal, but it's even more fun to exceed it!
 From left to right, the tutorials are (top row) Denim Heart Cushion, Denim Log Cabin Placemats, Free Motion Quilted Ornaments, (bottow row) Porthole Block, How to Machine Bind a Quilt, Make a Travel Tic Tac Toe Game
From left to right, the patterns are X Marks the Spot, Snow Friends, Rainbow Ripple.

4. Get back into a regular Bible reading habit.

Nope. I read briefly every evening with the boys before they go to bed, but I want to be reading and studying for myself. I don't know why I struggle with this one so much.

5. Have fun exploring (some) new ideas. Quilting is what I do for fun, after all!

I'm counting this one as done. I've had fun with everything I've tried this year and I have so many plans for things I want to try/make in the future. Is there ever enough time for everything we want to make???

Writing my goals down really did give me a kick in the pants to get moving sometimes. Submitting designs to magazines can be scary, but as the year was winding down I knew I had to get it done or I'd have to admit here that I hadn't done it. I'm so glad I moved past the fear and tried 😊

So, what are my goals for 2017?


1. Host another sew-a-long of some kind. I'm not sure what form I want this to take this year, though it probably won't be a mystery. I'd like to try something new 😊

2. Start hand quilting my Hexie Flowers quilt. This poor quilt top has been sitting in my cupboard for over a year. I want to hand quilt it, both because I think it would complement the hand stitched EPP and because I find I'm wanting a hand quilting project again. Obviously, this will be a long term project, but I at least want to get it started.
EPP Hexie flowers quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
3. Grow my design business. I really enjoy the whole process of designing and writing patterns, and I do a little happy dance every time someone buys one of my patterns. I'd love to do more of that happy dancing in 2017!

4. Keep seeking magazine publication. That's part of growing my design business, but I think it's an important enough part of deserve to be a goal of its own.

5. Share 10 new tutorials or patterns. Since I already have three patterns in the works, it should be completely doable to reach 10 before the end of the year. Especially considering how many ideas I have!

6. End 2017 with fewer UFOs than I have right now. I have a few projects that were set aside in favour of starting something new and it makes me sad that they're not finished and being used. Time to get them finished up! Without actually digging around in my cupboard, I think I have 7 UFOs (not counting the hexie flowers one). Of course, ending the year with fewer UFOs than I have now will mean I can't keep abandoning projects as the year goes on 😉

Well, I think that will be enough to keep me going for a year, lol.What are your goals for the new year? Be sure to pop over to the Planning Party to see what everyone else plans to accomplish in 2017.

December 19, 2016

Advent 2016 - The Shepherds

Devotion for the Week...

Less than a week now until Christmas 😊 School finishes Wednesday at lunchtime, and my parents arrive on Friday, and we are all very much looking forward to the break together.

So far this Advent season, we've looked at Elizabeth, Joseph and Mary, considering their roles in the Christmas story and what they could teach us about God's plan for us. Today we're going to look at the shepherds.

To be honest, I never really thought about the shepherds much while growing up. I knew about the angel appearing to them in the field and telling them about the Savior who had been born, but I didn't think they were very important. Now my view is entirely different and I love their part of the story. The shepherds have an incredibly important lesson to teach us, especially when we're feeling 'not good enough'.

Here's their part in the story:

"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told" (Luke 2:8-20).

I've always thought is was cool that the shepherds got a special invitation to go meet Jesus, but like I said, that was about all I thought of them. Then, a few years back, I read "In Search of...The Real Spirit of Christmas", by Dan Schaeffer and it completely changed my perspective on these simple men. I came to absolutely love the fact that God specifically invited them to visit Jesus.

According to Schaeffer, shepherds at that time "were considered unreliable, untrustworthy and not a little larcenous". In fact, they were thought to be so untrustworthy that they couldn't even testify in court.

Think about that. These men were the ones other people wouldn't socialize with. They were thought to be liars and cheats. They were essentially shunned by 'polite society'. 

And God sent them an angel to say, "Come, I want you to meet Someone."

The lowest of the low...

The least respected...

The most unworthy...

And God says, "You are welcome in His presence."

The truth is, I think God was making a point when he sent the angel to those shepherds. I think He was showing them, and us, that no one is so low that they aren't welcome in Jesus' presence. No one is so bad that they can't approach the Son of God and feel accepted. No one is excluded from the salvation that Jesus came to give us.

That is the "good news that will cause great joy for all the people" (v. 10) that the angel talked about. It is for all the people because everyone is welcome. No one will be turned away from Jesus.

No matter what you've done, no matter how many mistakes you've made or how bad those mistakes were, Jesus invites you to come to Him just as the shepherds were invited so long ago. 
Weekly Christian devotions | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Then, once you have met Jesus, you can be like the shepherds "glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen" (v. 20).

December 12, 2016

Advent 2016 - Mary

Devotion for the Week...

As Nathan is fond of reminding me, only 13 more days until Christmas! And even at 8 years old, he has said a few times, "It feels like Christmas was only last week and now here we are only (insert ever decreasing number here) days away from Christmas again!"

We are now into the third week of Advent. We started out this season of anticipation for Jesus' coming by looking at Elizabeth's part in the Christmas story, then last week we considered Joseph, whose plans were altered by God to accommodate His bigger plans. This week, we'll be looking at Mary.

Aside from Jesus, Mary gets most of the attention in the Christmas story. We imagine her, hugely pregnant, forced to travel to Bethlehem for the census. We picture her giving birth in a stable, far from the familiar women she probably expected to have assist with the birth. And we see her holding baby Jesus, cradling her child and her God at the same time. What a beautiful and simple role Mary had, right?

Well, yes and no. Being a mother is both beautiful and simple, but Mary would have faced some hard times because of her role in the Christmas story. Most of us are familiar with the angel's visit to Mary to tell her what would happen:

"In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:26-35).

Obviously, Mary had to question how this was possible since she knew she couldn't have naturally conceived a child. But once that question was answered to her satisfaction, Mary accepted the assignment with a simple, "I am the Lord’s servant...May your word to me be fulfilled" (v. 38).

If you think about it, that kind of boggles the mind. Mary lived in a culture where a woman's purity was hugely important. Without it, she wasn't worthy of marrying...or of respect. In fact, it was part of the Mosaic Law that anyone guilty of adultery was to be put to death (Leviticus 20:10). And yet, here is Mary, willing to stepping into an assignment that will brand her as guilty of sexual sin in the eyes of everyone she meets. Because, really, who was going to believe her story about an angelic visitation and a supernatural conception?

 Even if people believed Joseph to be the father, the child had still been conceived before they were officially married and so Mary's purity would have been non-existent in their minds.

And there was no hasty wedding the morning after the angel visited Mary, to make it look as if the appropriate 9 months had passed after the wedding before the child was born. In fact, after the angel left, "Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth... Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home" (vv. 39,40,56). From what I can gather, it was somewhere around that point that Joseph had his own angelic vision, understood the truth of the situation and promptly married her.

But by that point she was about three months pregnant. There would have been no hiding the early conception compared to the marriage, no hiding the fact that this baby arrived earlier than would be proper. Can you imagine the things that were said about Mary? To her?

There is no denying that people can be downright nasty when they disapprove of a person's choices or actions and a pregnant unwed girl would have been a prime target. Mary would have known that immediately when the angel presented God's plan to her. Did you notice how quick she was to point out that conception was impossible because she was a virgin? She knew how important her purity was. She would also have known how its sudden disappearance would be perceived.

But she agreed to the plan anyway.

Oftentimes, we think that if we're doing what God wants us to do, then the path will be smooth and there will be no obstacles. When things get hard, we think that maybe we misunderstood. That God doesn't really want us doing whatever it is we thought He wanted us doing, because if that was His plan then everything would be easy. And if it's not easy, then we must have been wrong.

But nothing could be farther from the truth. Just think about Mary and the insults and scorn she would have endured, all while carrying the Savior of the world.

There was no doubt Mary was doing what God wanted her to be doing. An angel had come and told her specifically...flat-out...no room for misunderstanding. And even though she was exactly where God wanted her to be, doing exactly what He asked her to do, I can't even imagine the hurt Mary must have experienced at the hands of people who didn't understand.

Mary didn't turn down God's assignment for her because of the trouble she'd endure. She didn't give up on the plan when faced with those who disapproved. We need to remember that when faced with our own problems when we believe we are doing what God wants us to do. Trouble isn't a sign that we need to give up or change plans. Trouble is just a part of life here on earth.
Weekly Christian devotions | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Trouble will always come, even when we're doing what God wants us to do, so we need Mary's attitude in our own lives. We need her willingness to accept trouble from those who didn't understand. And we need her willingness to jump into what God asked of her, regardless of personal consequences.  

Because, really, personal consequences pale in comparison to God's plan.

December 07, 2016

Giveaway Day - Mini Quilt Pattern Bundle!

It's that time of year again - Giveaway Day at Sew Mama Sew! This is your chance to win all kinds of fun handmade things or supplies so be sure to check out the main Giveaway Day post.

If this is your first time visiting Devoted Quilter, welcome! I know you have a lot of giveaway posts to visit, but I hope you'll have a look around. Or maybe sign up for my newsletter, the Bulletin, so we can keep in touch.😊 I send out new issues on the 16th of each month, including news from here, a roundup of fun things to make and one of my favourite recipes. I have it on good authority that the next issue will have a yummy peppermint candy recipe included 😋

For this year's Giveaway Day, I've chosen to give away a copy of my Mini Quilt Pattern Bundle, which includes 4 of my PDF mini quilt patterns. And one of those patterns has 4 size options, so there are really 7 possible quilts in the bundle!
Mini Quilt Pattern Bundle | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Going clockwise from the top left, the patterns are X Marks the Spot, Friendship Galaxy, Flower Box and Twirling Star.

With this bundle, there's definitely still time to make another Christmas gift (or two!) before Christmas Eve. If you want to get started right away, the pattern bundle can be purchased through either my Payhip or Etsy shops.

To enter, leave a comment on this post telling me what Christmas gifts (if any) you're making this year. I'll choose a winner on Monday, December 12 when I get up in the morning. Make sure there's an email address either attached to your account or in your comment so that I can notify you if your win and so I can send you your pattern bundle.

Thanks for stopping by and good luck in all of the giveaways!


*** This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Monica, comment #3!

December 05, 2016

Advent 2016 - Joseph

Devotion for the Week...

Christmas season is in full swing around here now. We had breakfast with Santa on Saturday morning 😊 It's an annual fundraiser for our local fire department and there's always a good turnout, with lots of little ones running around. Have you enjoyed any Christmas traditions this week?

This is now the second week of Advent. Last week we considered Elizabeth and her role in the Christmas story, as well as what her story might have to teach us about our own lives. This week we're going to look at Joseph.

Once again, the Biblical account is pretty sparse on details about Joseph. In Matthew 1:19 we are told that Joseph "was faithful to the law." In Luke 1:4 we learn that he "belonged to the house and line of David" and in Matthew 13:55 Jesus is referred to as "the carpenter’s son" so we know Joseph's occupation. That's about all we know about him as a person, but let's take a look at his part in the Christmas story.

"This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins...When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus" (Matthew 1:18-21, 24,25).

So here's Joseph, ready to get married. He's a good man, faithful to the law and expecting a wife who would also be faithful to the law. Then he finds out his betrothed in pregnant! He knows full well the child isn't his, (can't possibly be his!), so it would seem that Mary is not the woman Joseph was expecting her to be. And even though they weren't actually married yet, they were betrothed, which was a binding arrangement and would require a divorce to be undone.

Joseph decided to divorce her quietly, to spare her the public disgrace of him making a big deal about the unexpected pregnancy. It's hard to say how he felt about this change of plans. Marriages at that time were mostly arranged, not based on love and choice as our marriages are, so we don't know how Joseph felt about Mary. 

Regardless, Joseph figured out how he would handle the situation, and then, after he had come up with a solution that he was comfortable with, an angel came to him in the night and completely changed things again! The angel told him to marry her after all, that everything would be okay and that the child Mary carried was the Messiah that had been promised.

I can only imagine how that set Joseph's head spinning! I mean, any man would feel the weight of responsibility when bringing a new baby into their home, a baby they now have to clothe and feed and house...but to bring the Son of God into his home? To be responsible for raising God's son? How overwhelming must that have felt to Joseph? And yet, Joseph didn't hesitate. We're told that when he woke up, Joseph did what the angel commanded him and married Mary.

The biggest thing that strikes me in this part of the story is that God used the plans that were already in place, but He changed them slightly to accommodate His plan. Joseph and Mary planned to get married. Eventually children would follow. God just stepped in and shifted the plan a little. The marriage would still take place, but now the first Child would be God's, followed by other children who were naturally born to Mary and Joseph (see Matthew 13:55-56).

The other thing that strikes me is Joseph's willingness to accept God's changes to his plans. Joseph could have refused to marry Mary. He could have doubted the story about the baby's conception, or he could have decided it wasn't worth the scorn he probably endured from townsfolk who thought the baby was his. He could have decided he didn't want to raise a child not his own. There were any number of reasons Joseph could have turned away from the plans God had for him, but he didn't. He accepted what God wanted him to do and just went ahead with the revised plan.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Do we share Joseph's willingness to accept changes to our plans? How do we react when God steps in and alters our plans to better suit His bigger plan? Do we sulk and mope, whining about how we intended things to go? Or do we roll with it, accepting the changes and moving forward in what God has planned for us? Obviously, sulking and moping isn't the right response, though I have to admit that sometimes I'm tempted to choose that attitude. 

Hopefully from now on we'll think of Joseph whenever we're tempted to whine about changes to our plans.

December 01, 2016

TGIFF - Wind Farm Quilt Top

Welcome to Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday! I'm glad you're here and I'm looking forward to seeing all the finishes you have to share 😊

I have a quick finish to share this week...well, a finished quilt top, at least. The quilting part will have to wait until sometime in the new year. The top itself took me about a week to finish, which I'm pretty sure is a record for me.
Wind Farm quilt top | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I had a terrible time trying to get pictures of this one, for some reason. The colours are much more vibrant and pretty in real life than they seem to be here. Obviously I need to make a serious effort to learn more about photography, which is going to be one of my goals for 2017.

I'm not sure what to name this quilt. I had been calling it Strippy Pinwheels, which didn't really inspire me, but I needed to call it something. Then a friend said it reminded her of windmills and when I looked at it after that all I could see was wind turbines arranged in rows, which gave me the name Wind Farm. I'm still not sure it's right, though. Any thoughts? Let me know if you have a suggestion for a better name, or if you think I should go with Wind Farm or Strippy Pinwheels. I need all the help I can get with naming this one!

This will be a free pattern for all subscribers to my newsletter, The Bulletin, so be sure to sign up to get your copy when it's available. I've sent the pattern out to be tested, but with the Christmas season upon us, I'm not asking for a fast turnaround. The pattern will hopefully be available before the end of January. In the meantime, each issue of the Bulletin is published on the 16th of every month and has a family favourite recipe (I love to cook and bake almost as much as I love to sew 😊) and a themed roundup of fun things to make along with news from here at Devoted Quilter.

I must not have been paying close attention when I was cutting out my strips because one fat quarter was cut with the selvedges included in the length. I didn't realize it until I started piecing blocks, at which point I decided to just use those strips anyway. You can see a couple of them peeking out in this picture. It was a very pretty selvedge, so I didn't mind it sneaking into the quilt.
Four blocks together create the wind turbine effect with the gold fabric, but I also love the dark blue pinwheel.
Wind Farm Quilt top | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Now it's your turn! What have you finished this week? Link it up here, then pop over to visit some of the other links and leave some comments and encouragement.


November 28, 2016

Advent 2016 - Elizabeth

Devotion for the Week...

It's kind of amazing that it's time for Advent already, isn't it? How does a year pass so quickly?

For the past three years, I've posted Advent devotions focused on the traditional Advent words hope, love, joy and peace, but this year I want to approach the season a bit differently. For these four weeks, I want to look at the people involved in the Christmas story and look at what their part in that story can tell us about God's plan for His people, including us. We will begin this week by looking at Elizabeth.

We don't know much about Elizabeth herself. Luke tells us that "In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old" (Luke 1:5-7).

From this, we know that Elizabeth and her husband were good people, who lived according to God's law, and had for a long time, since we are told they are very old. We also know the most important thing about Elizabeth, which is that she could not conceive a child. 

At that time, and throughout all of history until recently, having a child was a woman's main goal. Being a mother was considered a woman's greatest accomplishment, while not having a child was a cause of shame. Women who can't conceive today still suffer terrible heartache, just as Elizabeth would have, longing for a child to hold in their arms. Elizabeth would have had the added burden of being considered a failure by her entire society.

Can you imagine being considered a complete failure as a person for something that was entirely out of your control? How hard it must have been for Elizabeth when she got so old it was considered impossible for her to have a baby. How heartbroken she must have been to have to give up that hope.

But God had a plan. He hadn't forgotten her.

One day, when Elizabeth's husband Zechariah was serving in the Temple, an angel came to him and said, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (vv. 13-17).

What was Elizabeth's response, after she finally became pregnant? "The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people" (v. 25). Can you feel her relief, her sense of vindication from the judgement of the people who thought her barrenness a sign of God's disapproval? 

Not only was God not disapproving of her, He had chosen her for something special. She was to carry the child who would go before Jesus, getting people ready for Him.

So, what does Elizabeth's story mean for us?

Well, when we want something really badly, we want it right away. Like, yesterday, right? But sometimes God's plan is for us to wait. And wait. And sometimes we have to wait even longer.

God didn't make Elizabeth wait until old age to have a baby to be mean to her. He had her wait until then because that was the right time for her part in His plan. That was when everything was set for Jesus to be born, which meant that Elizabeth's very special child needed to be born then too. He would get the people thinking about God again, get them ready to hear Jesus' message about the kingdom of Heaven. And being an old woman, past the age of childbearing, made it obvious that God had done exactly what the angel told Zechariah would happen. Had they been young, Zechariah and Elizabeth might have doubted that their child truly came from God. They might not have bothered to follow the rules God laid out for John, or maybe they wouldn't have taught him about the special job God had planned for him.

But because they were so old, Zechariah and Elizabeth had no doubt that their child had been given to them by God, exactly as the angel explained would happen. Only God could have made it possible for Elizabeth's body to bear a child at her age.

Weekly Devotions on Christian Living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

We don't like waiting, especially if we can't see any good reason why we can't have what we want now. Sometimes, though, God's plan requires that we wait for His timing.

November 25, 2016

Catching Up and Looking Ahead

I really love the blocks that Amy Gibson, of Stitchery Dickory Dock, shares each month for her Sugar Block Club, but I've spent almost the whole year behind by a few blocks. So, here I am posting the blocks for July and August. Maybe I'll get caught up before the year is over?? For now, let's just enjoy how gorgeous these blocks are 😊

I think July's block, Lady Liberty, may be my favourite of the entire year. I just love those crisp points and the stars.
Sugar Block Club Blocks | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
And August's block, Shenandoah, is another beautiful star. I love the simplicity of this block.
Sugar Block Club Blocks | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

So, now I'm only three months behind (for another few days, at least). I'll get caught up eventually! Then it will be time to figure out how to turn these blocks, along with the blocks from the 2013 Sugar Block club, into a quilt rather than a pile of blocks in a container under my bed 😉


In other news, I got my 2017 Quilter's Planner on Monday!
Quilter's Planner | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
 Quilter's Planner | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
 Quilter's Planner | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Isn't it beautiful?

I've enjoyed flipping through it and reading the quotes about creativity and art, looking at the gorgeous quilts and checking out the weekly blocks.

Now I feel like I can start making plans for next year, lol. If you want a copy for yourself, visit Stephanie at Late Night Quilter to get all the details.

November 23, 2016

Mini Quilt Pattern Bundle

With Christmas quickly approaching, many of us quilters are trying to fit in a couple more handmade gifts. Mini quilts make great gifts and they're much faster than making a full-size quilt 😊

I've combined 4 of my mini quilt patterns into one bundle, so if you're stuck on what to make for a couple of special people, you're sure to find the perfect patterns here.
Mini Quilt Pattern Bundle | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
The Mini Quilt Pattern Bundle includes X Marks the Spot, which finishes at 26" x 26" and features circles made with machine applique.
Mini Quilt Pattern Bundle | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Twirling Star finishes at 19 1/2" x 19 1/2" and is made with traditional piecing and foundation paper piecing.
Mini Quilt Pattern Bundle | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Flower Box finishes at 24" x 24" and uses traditional piecing and machine applique. As you can see, there's lots of room around the flowers for fun free motion quilting. The pattern also includes instructions for finishing one block as a cushion.
Mini Quilt Pattern Bundle | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
The fourth pattern in the bundle is my Friendship Galaxy baby quilt pattern, which includes four different size options. This skinny mini, which would be great as a table runner or as a wall quilt, is one of two mini quilt layouts.
Mini Quilt Pattern Bundle | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Get your Mini Quilt Pattern Bundle in my Etsy and Payhip shops for $21. That's all 4 patterns for the price of 3!

Happy Making!

November 21, 2016

Undivided

Devotion for the Week...

There are some quilters who want to paper-piece all of their projects and others who hand piece everything. There are some who only do traditional piecing...no paper piecing, no applique and no hand stitching at all. There are even people who only make quilt tops, but always send them out for others to do the quilting. Me, I want to do a little bit of everything!

I have made little forays into garment sewing in the last couple of years and I'm working hard at not allowing myself to take up knitting. I see so many gorgeous knitting projects that I really want to try, but I keep telling myself that I already don't have enough time for all the quilts I want to make and I don't need to add a whole new obsession to the list of things I'm trying to make time for!

I think I'd get bored if everything I made had to be done with the same techniques. I enjoy mixing it up...a little traditional piecing, a little hand stitching, a bit of paper piecing and embroidery here and there too, with lots of intricate machine quilting. What about you? Do you divide your sewing/crafting time between lots of different things, or do you keep it all fairly streamlined?

Dividing time between many things is fine when it comes to our hobbies, but not so much when it comes to our worship. The psalmist wrote, "Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead" (Psalm 86:11-13).

Here, the undivided heart isn't talking about our interests or our hobbies, but rather about our hearts being solely focused on God. About turning to Him alone as the object of our worship.

This has been a hard thing for people to get right.

Joshua had to deal with it while he was leader of the Israelites, finally telling them, "But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15).

Then there was Elijah, who told the people, "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him" (1 Kings 18:21). 

Of course, this was no surprise to God, who included as His first two commandments, "You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them" (Exodus 20:3-5).

And, in case we should feel that this was only an Old Testament problem, one we are not susceptible to since we are not in the habit of setting up false gods for ourselves, Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money" (Matthew 6:24).

No one sets money, or anything else, on an actual altar and proceeds to hold a worship service in honour of it. But there is no question that we often have our hearts focused on things rather than on God. Not that there is anything wrong with things. The problems come when our pursuit of those things interferes with our pursuit of God. 

Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

And it's not always physical things. Sometimes we pursue approval from people, or influence with someone or success, however we may define that in a given situation. They may not be physical things we can hold in our hands, but they are certainly things that can take precedence in our lives if we're not careful.

Jesus told us the greatest commandment is for us to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37). All your heart. All your soul. All your mind.

Undivided.

November 15, 2016

Free Motion Quilted Ornaments - a Tutorial

Most years I make special Christmas ornaments to give to some friends and family members. I've tried a couple of different versions of quilted ornaments, including these ones two years ago, but I've never been able to come up with a way to finish the ornaments that was fairly quick (so no binding!) and that left me completely pleased with how it looked. Then last year I made these play alphabets, finishing the edges with pinking shears and I thought that would be perfect for finishing ornaments. Unfortunately, I then waited a full year before trying it...

But, finally, here is a tutorial for these fantastic free motion quilted ornaments!
Tutorial for making ornaments featuring free motion quilting | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Gather Your Supplies

Tutorial for making ornaments featuring free motion quilting | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

* Fabric for the front and back of the ornaments, slightly larger than your finished ornaments will be. I recommend solid fabric to allow your quilting to shine. I'm using white yardage for my ornaments, but you could easily make them from scraps in any colour you want.

* Something to create the circle outline. I used the rim of a mug, but you can use anything you have that is the size you want. I wanted mine to be pretty big (as ornaments go), to allow for lots of quilting. Of course, your ornaments don't have to be circles, so play around and use whatever shape you want.

* A hera marker or removable fabric marker. You'll use this to draw the outline of your ornament, so you want to be sure the line will disappear. If you'll be mailing your ornaments, I don't recommend a Frixion pen as their ink tends to reappear if exposed to cold temperatures.

*Ribbon for hanging the ornament. I'm using my quilt labels, but any fabric ribbon will work.

* Scraps of batting slightly larger than your finished ornaments will be.

* Basting pins

* Thread. This is where you can have a lot of fun playing around. Use thread to match your fabric if you want only the texture of the quilting to show, or use thread that contrasts to allow the quilting to take center stage. Use red and green for a traditional Christmas look, or go wild with whatever colour appeals to you.

* pinking shears

Making the Ornaments


Layer your fabric and batting just as you would if you were basting a quilt. Use the hera marker to trace the outline of the circle onto the fabric.
Tutorial for making ornaments featuring free motion quilting | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
My camera really struggled to take pictures of all this white!
Cut your ribbon to size and place it between the top fabric and the batting, with the ends extending at least 1/4" inside the drawn circle. Pin in place.
Tutorial for making ornaments featuring free motion quilting | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Pin in a couple of places to hold all the layers together. Because I'm using yardage, I have my fabric cut into strips and circles drawn along the length of the strip.
Tutorial for making ornaments featuring free motion quilting | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Now quilt along the drawn line to outline the ornament. Try to keep the outline neat, but don't stress about little wobbles in the line. They will be much less noticeable when the whole ornament is filled in.

Yes, using the red thread on white fabric is scary, especially when there's only a bit of stitching done. Wobbles seem especially glaring when there's so much contrast! Once the whole ornament is finished, the red feels much less stark.
Tutorial for making ornaments featuring free motion quilting | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Then start quilting! I used flow quilting for this ornament, but you could do anything you want. What motifs are you comfortable with? Pebbles? Swirls? Whatever it is, you could fill your ornament with beautiful free motion quilting. Plus, since the ornaments are small, you could use them for practice.
Tutorial for making ornaments featuring free motion quilting | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
When your ornament is filled in, sit back and enjoy it for a moment :)
Tutorial for making ornaments featuring free motion quilting | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Now it's time to trim it using the pinking shears. Leave a few threads to the outside of the stitched line. When you come to the ribbon, you'll need to separate the layers so that you don't cut the ribbon. Start by pulling the top fabric away from the ribbon and trim that.
Tutorial for making ornaments featuring free motion quilting | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Then pull the ribbon to the front and trim the batting and backing. Once you are past the ribbon, continue trimming all three layers together the rest of the way around the circle.
Tutorial for making ornaments featuring free motion quilting | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Tutorial for making ornaments featuring free motion quilting | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
 And that's it! Simple, isn't it?
Tutorial for making ornaments featuring free motion quilting | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
So far I've made 6 and I'm having a lot of fun playing with different quilting motifs. I plan to make about a dozen more, if possible.
Free motion quilted Christmas ornaments tutorial | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
The light green ones were made using my first ever spool of Aurifil thread (colour 1231) and I have to say, I really like the thread 😊 (Hey, look, Blogger has emojis all of a sudden!)
Free motion quilted Christmas ornaments tutorial | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

If you make ornaments using this tutorial, I'd love to see them! Leave me a link to a blog post in the comments or email a link or a picture to devotedquilter at gmail dot com. Or you can tag me (@devotedquilter) on Instagram.

Happy stitching!

November 14, 2016

Easy

Devotion for the Week...

Nathan, in grade 3, still has spelling words each week with a test on Friday. He really prefers it when the words for the week are easy and he doesn't have to work very hard to learn them. If he knows them already, that's even better!

The weeks that he doesn't know the words already and they're not easy to learn, we sometimes have small battles over whether or not he can do it. I've tried explaining that the whole point of spelling words and tests is that it pushes students to learn something new and grow their minds, but he still doesn't like struggling through the list each evening.

Can you relate? I know I can. Maybe not with learning something new, since I kind of enjoy that, but I certainly don't like it when I'm dealing with something in life that is hard.

In the grand scheme of things, spelling words are one of the smallest hard things a person will deal with. There are so many in life that are so much bigger, from health challenges to financial trouble and family conflicts. Problems at work and children making choices contrary to what they've been taught is right...the list goes on and on and on.

Wouldn't it be better if life was always easy?

Wouldn't it be better if we already knew all the answers?

Unfortunately, no. While we may like the thought of taking the easy road through everything and never needing to struggle to overcome a challenge, the Bible teaches us that those struggles and hard times are actually good for us. Romans 5:3,4 says, "Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope."

Life might feel better in the moment if we never have to deal with hard things, but you can be sure our growth would be stunted if that were the case. Think about it...Nathan's literacy won't grow unless he works hard at learning to recognize and spell harder and harder words. We understand that it's necessary for kids to work at their schooling because we know that their knowledge and understanding need to grow. 

Well, it's the same for us adults, but it's our spiritual understanding and knowledge that need to grow. Let's look at the three things Paul says are produced in us through dealing with hard times.

 Perseverance is continuing to do something even when it's hard, or when you're not seeing results as quickly as you would like. It's not giving up, not quitting as soon as you encounter trouble. Isn't that a trait we all want in our lives? None of us intend to turn away from God at the first sign of difficult days, but that is exactly what happens to some people, because they fail to cling to Him through those hard times. They lack perseverance. And yet, the only way to grow perseverance is to deal with things that are hard, things that require you to continue on in faith despite the hardships and difficulty.

Then we come to character. In this verse, the implication is that this is approved character, tested and shown to be of worth. This character only comes through perseverance, by continuing on through tough times and not giving up at the first hint of trouble.

And lastly, the word translated as hope, elpis, means 'expectation of what is sure.' I think of it as an understanding of God's steadfastness, of his sure-ness. In the midst of a world that is changing and sometimes difficult, God is always present, always in control and always on our side. Understanding that is a sign of spiritual maturity, but, again, it only comes through dealing with things that are hard.
Weekly devotions on Christian Living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

While we may want to live lives of ease all the time, it is only through struggles and difficulties that we grow.

November 09, 2016

Rainbow Hexie Start

Remember this quilt design from a few weeks ago?

Rainbow Hexies Quilt Design | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Well, I knew as soon as I finished designing it that I would want to make it, but I waited until I had my Sew Together Bag to actually start. With the Sew Together Bag I have enough compartments that I can keep the hexies and stars separate as I work on them both. I'm still mostly working on my Scattered Stars, but I'll baste hexies whenever I'm making a star out of a fabric that will fit my Rainbow Hexies quilt.

And how many hexies do I need? 1 161. I know, crazy, right? But I'm really in no hurry and I enjoy basting the hexies, so for now I'll just keep basting them and setting them aside. To keep track of how many I need of each colour, I have a little cheat sheet in my bag along with my basting supplies.
Hexie totals | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
 And how many do I have basted so far? I'll show you, if you promise not to laugh ;)
Rainbow Hexies | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Let's see...I have 1 red, 3 orange, 2 yellow, 2 green, 4 blue, 1 purple and 4 black, for a grand total of 17. So, roughly 1/100th of the total, lol! Good thing I'm not in a hurry!

When was the last time you started a project you knew would take a looooong time, quilting or otherwise?

November 07, 2016

Set Free to Serve

Devotion for the Week...

Over the past couple of years, I've had a handful of times when I was sick over the weekend. Usually my weekends are jam-packed with things I need to do (house cleaning, groceries, etc.) and things I want to do (sewing, usually!), but on those weekends I've been sick I end up just sitting in a chair and accomplishing nothing. It drives me crazy! I feel like I have this huge list of things I should be or want to be doing and I can't do any of it. It feels like such a huge waste of time.

There's a brief story in the gospels about Jesus healing Peter's mother-in-law...well, at this point Peter was still called Simon, so that's what he's called in these verses, but I'll be referring to him as Peter :) Luke records it this way: "Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them" (Luke 4:38,39). 

That last sentence used to annoy me a bit. It felt like they only want her healed so she could get them something to eat. Isn't it funny how our minds interpret things, sometimes? Now that I'm older, though, I read that last sentence through the lens of those sick, unproductive weekends.

This poor woman had been sick with a high fever for who knows how long. She was stuck in bed, unable to do anything. Like me, she probably had a list in her head of things that needed to be done to keep her household running smoothly, and it was likely a lot longer than mine since she didn't have all the modern conveniences that I have. When I finally get over a cold, the last thing I want to do is just sit and relax. There is stuff that needs to be done and I can't wait to get at it. I imagine Peter's mother-in-law felt the same way as she got out of that bed.

Of course, when she was healed of her fever, she had company. What's the first thing we do when we have company? Offer food and a drink, right? That's exactly what she did, and I think she was relieved to be finally well enough to serve Jesus and her other visitors. She had been set free of the fever to finally get stuff done again!

So what about us? Whether or not we have been physically sick lately, we were all spiritually sick at one point and Jesus healed us by offering us forgiveness of our sins. By faith in Jesus, we have been healed and set free from sin. I think that, like Peter's mother-in-law, the best response to that healing is to get to work and serve Jesus.

Which begs the question, how do we serve Jesus? Is it only when we're doing church things? I don't think that's right at all. God made each one of us differently, with different talents and abilities. Read 1 Corinthians 12, where Paul compares the church to a body, where every part is needed because all of the parts are different. Not all of us can be preachers. Not all of us can be musicians (which you would know for sure if you ever heard me sing!). And not all of us can be children's church teachers. Some people are excellent business people, or good cooks, or good quilters! God can use all of those skills if we decide in our hearts that we are working for Him. 

Colossians 3:17 says, "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." 'Whatever'. That's a big word, isn't it? It means everything we do can be done in service to God, if we have the right attitude while we're doing it. And the right attitude is even described in the verse for us...'giving thanks to God the Father through him (Jesus)'. So, because of what Jesus has done for us (offering us spiritual healing and forgiveness of our sins), we are to be thankful to God, and we show that thankfulness by serving Him with everything that we do.
Weekly devotions on faith and Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

We have been set free to serve Him, just as Peter's mother-in-law was. She served him with food and drink. We serve him with everything we do.

November 01, 2016

Snow Friends Pattern Release!

It's finally time to release my Snow Friends pattern!
Snow Friends Quilt Pattern | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

This pattern makes a 48" x 48" wall hanging, using traditional piecing, machine applique and a little hand embroidery. All of the individual blocks could also be used separately for many other projects. Think table runner, mini quilt or bag. With 11 different snowmen and snow women, there are so many possible ways to use this pattern!

I had two generous pattern testers who made beautiful versions of Snow Friends. First up is Tish, who blogs at Tish in Wonderland. This is what her quilt looked like when she basted it, but you can see the finished quilt in this post.
Then we have Frances, who blogs at Tea Time Creations. Frances sent some great in progress pictures as well as a picture of her finished top. I love the pompom she added to the snow woman's pink hat!
Snow Friends Quilt Pattern | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Snow Friends Quilt Pattern | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
And her finished top. Don't the snow friends look adorable?
Frances's Snow Friends | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Thank you so much to both Tish and Frances! You both did such a beautiful job :)

Snow Friends is now available in my Payhip and Etsy shops. There's still time before the holidays to stitch up some new friends!


I'm linking up this week with Let's Bee Social, NTT, Can I Get a Whoop Whoop, TGIFF and Finish it up Friday.
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