January 27, 2016

My 2016 Challenge


Earlier this month I came across a blog post by Heather Lou, of Closet Case Files, called Just Make it Already! How to Boost Your Sewing Confidence. It is a brilliant post! Go ahead and click over to read it - I'll wait :) I found myself nodding and smiling as I read because what she was saying really resonated with me. The gist of the blog post can be summed up in this statement Heather Lou makes at the beginning:

Stop telling yourself you can’t do it.


Do you talk yourself out of trying something new because you're scared to fail? I do it all the time. I really want to learn how to do something, but I'm scared of it, so I put it off and then I procrastinate, and then I put it off again and in the end I accomplish nothing. I did it for years with my desire to learn to sew clothes. I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to understand the patterns, and that I'd ruin fabric and waste money, so I didn't try. Then, last year, I finally plunged in and discovered that I can do it!! With the help of the book Love at First Stitch by Tilly Walnes I made a skirt...
 
and a dress that I love.
You'd think that I'd be ready to tackle anything now, right? Instead, I find myself in the same holding pattern. I really want to try sewing with knits, but I'm scared of them. They stretch! Quilting fabrics don't stretch! What's the difference between jersey and interlock, and which one do I want to use to make a t-shirt? I've spent hours reading different articles and blog posts and I'm still not sure!

So, after nodding my way through Heather Lou's blog post and agreeing with her that it's only fabric, I am publicly stating that in 2016 I will try sewing with knits. There are so many patterns I want to try (I'm looking at you Renfrew Top and Lady Skater Dress), but I'm going to start with a Craftsy class.

I figure Craftsy worked for helping me learn free motion quilting (which also used to scare me), so I'll use their class Sewing With Knits: 5 Wardrobe Essentials to tackle this next challenge. The class includes patterns for a hoodie, two styles of t-shirts, yoga pants and a dress, so I'll have plenty to work on. The class has been sitting on my wishlist for months, but no more - I just bought it!

Wish me luck!




*This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on the link and make a purchase, I will receive a commission. This does not affect the price you pay.

January 25, 2016

The List

Devotion for the Week...


We always have a time of prayer during our church services. The pastor reads out a list of all the people who have requested prayer (most of whom have requested prayers for healing, some of whom have been on the list for months, if not years), and then we pray together as a congregation.

One thing I have noticed is that the list is never short.

We are a small congregation, but that doesn't change the fact that there are many, many needs presented each week. There are those within the congregation itself who are sick and family members who are sick. There are requests for former church members and for friends of people in the congregation. We also have prayer for pastors of other churches who are sick...the list goes on and on. Of course, even with how long it is, the list is incomplete. If asked, probably ever person sitting in the church could add the name of someone they know who is sick or hurting or needs help in some way.

Another thing I've noticed is that the list never gets shorter.

Though names are removed from the list because the person has recovered from their illness or surgery, or because they have died, there are always more names to add to the list. There are always more people in need of healing from God.

I will be honest here. I struggle a lot with the issue of healing. I believe that God has the power to heal. Jesus healed people while He was here on the earth, after all, and I know people who have been healed. God told the Isrealites, "I am the Lord, who heals you" (Exodus 15:26). I also believe that He cares for each one of us enough to heal us. But the truth of the matter is that many people are not healed in this lifetime.

People struggle with chronic illnesses and disabilities. Why?

Cancer continues to attack too many families and to take the lives of those who are too young. Why?

I read last week about the passing of little Eleni, whose 10 months of life were full of pain and difficulty. Why?

Zachary was asking questions about his Bible reading yesterday, unrelated to sickness and healing, but Paul's answer strikes me as being appropriate here too. Paul said, "We just have to trust that He's a righteous God and that he's doing what is right." He also said, "I know that's not a very good answer, but it's the best we can do."

As much as we want Him to, God doesn't have to answer our whys. "For we live by faith, not by sight," the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:7. That faith is hard, sometimes. The believing that even in sickness, pain and death God is in control, and that He is good; it's hard.
 But sometimes God does give answers. I read yesterday this letter Rachel wrote to be read at Eleni's funeral and cried over the beautiful answers she feels she has been given. How important it is for all of us to remember that any time of suffering here on earth will seem insignificant when compared with the length of eternity spent in a place where "God’s dwelling place [will be] among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” "(Revelation 21:3,4).

Sickness and death were not part of God's design for us; they were brought into the world because of sin and so long as there are people living on this earth, there will be sickness, pain and death. But there will come a day when all of that is gone, and there will never again be a need for a prayer request list.

January 20, 2016

Sugar Block Club - January

I've said before that I love Amy's Gibson's blog, StitcheryDickoryDock. I joined in with her Sugar Block Club BOM back in 2013 and made all the blocks, but I didn't get any farther with the quilt after the year ended. So, when she started up the SBC again this year, I decided I'd make this year's blocks, add them to the blocks from 2013, and make myself one big quilt. To begin with, I pulled out the old blocks and laid them out.
While I love the blue and beige/cream blocks, the collection seemed to be lacking something. They just seemed a little bland. So, I started digging around in my trunk of fabric to see what I have that might add a pop of colour. I found a bunch of nice, bright pinks so I scattered those over the blocks and I really liked how they looked. This is why I love having a stash of fabric ready and waiting!

With my new colour scheme in place (blue and beige/cream with pops of pink), I made the January block - an updated Churn Dash.

What a fun version of a classic block! 

Here are all my blocks together. That pink adds exactly the pop I wanted! I'm excited to see what blocks are added over the rest of the year.

Linking up with WIP Wedsnesday.

January 19, 2016

First Finish of 2016 - Friendship Galaxy Mini

I have my first finished quilt of 2016!
My Friendship Galaxy skinny mini quilt has been hanging around for months, waiting to be quilted. I finally got around to it a couple of weeks ago, and I had so much fun quilting it!

I shared my 5 things I learned while graffiti quilting post and then a couple of days later there was a discussion on Yvonne's blog (Quilting Jetgirl) about the name for this type of quilting. 'Graffiti quilting' was coined by Karlee Porter to describe her style of quilting which is based on actual graffiti. I used the term because Karlee's quilting also incorporates a mix of quilting designs, but there is no denying that Karlee's style is very different from mine. The discussion on Yvonne's blog involved a bunch of people in the comments, working together to come up with a term that would work for us collectively. 'Flow quilting' is the term that has come out on top, and I feel it's a much better description of my style than graffiti quilting, so that's the term I'll be using from now on.
This mini quilt measures 11" x 29" and the pattern is included in my Friendship Galaxy Baby Quilt pattern, which is available in my Etsy and Payhip shops.
I really, really love the quilting on this one!
It shows up even better on the back. You can also see the four triangles I added for hanging. I'm not sure what I'll be doing with this quilt, so I figured I'd make it easy to hang it every possible way and then all the bases are covered.

 One more shot, just because I love this one!
I'll be linking with Sew Cute Tuesday, Let's Bee Social, NTT, TGIFF, Can I Get a Whoop Whoop and Finish it up Friday.

January 18, 2016

Don't Move!

Devotion for the Week...

I've been having pain in my wrist and hand for a while. My doctor and I are trying to determine why (carpal tunnel syndrome? arthritis?), so I went for an x-ray a couple of weeks ago. The x-ray technician positioned my wrist just so, then went over to a desk to get a little sticker to place next to my arm to show that it is my right wrist. I sat comfortably, keeping my wrist just as she had positioned it. Then, after placing the sticker next to my arm, she said, "Try not to move now," as she went around the corner to take the x-ray. Suddenly I felt tension, as if I had to concentrate really hard on not moving, even though before she spoke I had been perfectly relaxed and still.

It immediately made me think of all the times I've been using my debit card at a store and the machine screen says, "Processing Do Not Remove Card." I always feel like I want to yank the card out as soon as I see that screen! Please tell me I'm not the only one!

Obviously, the apostle Paul struggled with the same tension over obeying commands. Paul wrote, "I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting" (Romans 7:7,8).

It's not that there's a problem with the law, Paul explains, just like there wasn't a problem with the x-ray technician telling me not to move. The sinful nature that lives in us is the problem. That sinful nature, which is always at war with what God wants, immediately jumps into action and brings to mind all the ways we could break the command. Suddenly, the thing we are not supposed to do becomes exactly what we want to do. 

Later in that same chapter, Paul laments his struggle with sin in what is one of my favourite parts of the Bible (seriously!). I love this passage for two reasons. The first reason is not at all spiritual - I'm a writer and I love words, so the way the first part of the passage is written amuses me to no end, even though the meaning is not amusing. A word of advice: read it slowly, pausing whenever you reach a comma or a period. You may even want to read it a couple of times to help you get past the repetition and really grasp the meaning.

"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

"So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (vv. 15-25).

The second reason I love this passage is the meaning. I love that Paul, a man we may be tempted to think was nearly as perfect as Jesus, is so honest about his struggle with sin. The very things he knew were wrong - he did them! Just as we struggle, he struggled. I don't know about you, but I find it comforting to know that God can use a person who struggles with sin.

Of course, the best part about the passage is not that Paul struggled with sin, but that he has been delivered through Jesus Christ. Though we will continue to struggle with our sinful nature, we too have been given eternal victory through our faith in Jesus as our Savior.
No matter what commands we have been given, or how we struggle to obey them, we know that, through Jesus, God "has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins" (Colossians 1: 13, 14).

January 15, 2016

How to Make a Travel Tic Tac Toe Game

I wanted to make a couple of tic tac toe games for Christmas gifts, but I didn't want to have to make a bag to keep the board and pieces together. It took a little thinking, but finally I came up with this travel version - the game pieces are stored in the back of the game board! It's a quick, scrap friendly project
The game board itself is simply a 9 patch block and the game pieces are made the same way I made the Play Alphabet letters.

Gather Your Supplies


 To make the tic tac toe game board:

*two fabrics for the 9 patch block
*fabric for the back of the game board
*1 large button
*1 hair elastic
*pins
*rotary cutter, mat and ruler
*Thread, both for piecing and for sewing on the button

Make the Game Board

Cut 

5 squares 3 1/2" x 3 1/2" from one of the fabrics for the front.
4 squares 3 1/2" x 3 1/2" from the other fabric for the front.
1 square 9 1/2" x 9 1/2" from the backing fabric.
2 rectangles 6 " x 9 1/2" from the backing fabric.
Arrange the 3 1/2" x 3 1/2" squares in three rows of three as shown. Join the squares into rows, pressing the seams toward the darker fabric. Join the rows to make the 9 patch block.
 Layer the 9 patch block with the 9 1/2" square of backing fabric, wrong sides together. Pin to secure.
To secure the layers, stitch in the ditch of each seam. Then stitch around the whole edge of the block, about 1/8" from the edge. This will create a finished back for the front of the game board so there are no raw edges exposed.

Position the button in the middle of one side, far enough from the edge that your presser foot will be able to stitch a 1/4" seam beside it. Hand stitch the button in place.
On the side opposite the button, position the hair elastic so half of it extends past the edge of the block. Machine stitch in place, going over the elastic a couple of times to secure it.
On one long side of each of the backing fabric 6" x 9 1/2" rectangles, fold 1/4" towards the wrong side and press. Then fold over 1/4" and press again. Stitch close to the folded edge.
Position the 9 patch block on your work surface, right side up. Lay one backing rectangle on top, right sides together, with the finished edge of the rectangle across the middle of the block.
Then lay the other backing rectangle on top, again right sides together with the 9 patch block and overlapping the finished edges of the two rectangles.Pin all the way around. I added an extra pin beside the button to remind myself to be careful as I stitched past it.
Stitch all the way around the perimeter and trim the corners. Turn the game board right side out through the opening in the backing and poke out the corners. Press.
To close the game board, simply fold in half and secure the elastic around the button. Voila!

To make the game pieces using my freezer paper method, see the tutorial for my Play Alphabet. To make my game piece templates, I traced around a thread spool for the O pieces and for the X pieces I drew a square, then cut a notch out of each side. Remember that your game pieces will be slightly larger than your templates because of the pinked edge.

The pieces can be stored in the pouch at the back, and they won't fall out when the board is folded and the elastic is secured around the button.

If you make a travel tic tac toe game using this tutorial, I'd love to see it! You can email a picture or a blog post link to devotedquilter at gmail dot com, or tag me on Instagram (@devotedquilter).


Linking up with Finish it up Friday, Can I Get a Whoop Whoop, NTT, TGIFF, Let's Bee Social

January 11, 2016

Enthusiasm

Devotion for the Week...

My friend Michelle got a sewing machine for Christmas and last week she brought it to my house one evening for her first sewing lesson. I had a blast! After we finished making skillet handle covers, she was asking about some of the projects I have on the go, so I pulled various things out of my sewing cupboard and we talked about what went into making each of them and what still needs to be done before they'll be finished. I know my enthusiasm for the subject came through in my voice...I love talking about quilting! Actually, I love anything to do with quilting!

If you could spend a day with me, seeing what I do and reading my thoughts, you would find quilting is a big part of my day. If I'm not actually working with fabric, I'm planning how to get everything done that has to be done so I can have time to sew, or I'm reading quilting blogs, or checking Instagram to see what other people are sewing, or dreaming up new quilt designs, or thinking about what fabric I want to use for my next project, and on and on it goes.  

I do these things because I love quilting. I don't read blogs because I feel I have to, or check IG because I worry about what people will think if I skip it for today. I don't set up to sew with a sigh, wishing I didn't have to be doing it. This is what I love and it shows in both my actions and my attitude about it.

Whether your passion is for quilting or photography or cooking or gardening or whatever, you probably feel the same way about that activity as I do about quilting. Anyone who asks you questions about your passion had better be prepared for a lengthy, enthusiastic response, right?

Thinking about my enthusiastic love for quilting made me think of the verse in Revelation, when Jesus says to the church in Ephesus, "Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first" (Revelation 2:4,5). In the verses preceding this passage, the Ephesian church was commended for their deeds, their hard work and their perseverance (vv. 2,3), and yet Jesus says they have lost the love they had at first. It sounds to me as if they were doing the right things, but they were doing them by rote, or out of a sense of duty, rather than because of love. There was no enthusiasm driving their actions. 

The question for each of us, then, is are we passionate and enthusiastic about God? Do we have that internal drive and desire for the things of God, or are we doing the right things out of a sense of duty and obligation?



It's not a question about the things we are doing. The Ephesians were doing the right things, after all. The question looks only at our attitude...at the why for our actions. Are we, like the Ephesians, doing all the right things, but in danger of having Jesus say to us that we have lost the love we used to have?

January 06, 2016

5 Things I Learned While Graffiti Quilting

Grafitti quilting is a style of free motion quilting where you take the different quilting designs you love and use them all, mixing them up and joining them together. I've admired the style for a long time, but I was intimidated by it, so I kept putting off trying it.

This project seemed like the perfect one to finally give graffiti quilting a try. 
These blocks were made as tests to be sure my cutting directions were right for the blocks in my Friendship Galaxy baby quilt, and I have no plans for this quilt, so I figured if the quilting ruins it, it's no real loss.

I don't think the quilting is ruining it, though! In fact, I really like it.
I'm not quite halfway finished this mini quilt, but I thought I'd share a few things I've already learned about graffiti quilting.

1. Use a thread that doesn't blend. 

I've always tried to use a thread that blends with the fabric as much as possible because I wanted to hide all my mistakes. A few times with previous quilts, though, I've found it hard to keep track of where I've already quilted because the thread blended so well that I couldn't see the stitches. These background fabrics are grey and I'm using a lighter grey thread and I can see what I'm doing! I can't even imagine how hard this style would be if I couldn't see what I'd already quilted. Yes, you can see the imperfections, but I'm okay with that.

2. Bigger is better.

The spaces around these double stars are pretty small, so I was trying to keep the scale of the quilting small too. I thought the whole graffiti style would be lost if I didn't squeeze a lot of designs into each space. It's hard to make the designs look neat at such a small scale, though.
Once I moved out around the single star, where there's more room, I started making each design a little bigger and it is much easier to make them look neat.

3. Pebbles are a graffiti quilter's best friend.

Pebbles fit anywhere! When I find myself in an awkwardly shaped space, I throw in a few pebbles to fill it up. When I don't know what to quilt next, I stitch a few more pebbles. When I want to move to the other side of a design I just finished...you guessed it, pebbles!

4. It's easier than it looks.

I was intimidated by graffiti quilting because it looked complicated. It's not, though. It's just a matter of stitching one design a couple of times and then switching to something else. I pause a lot, look at what I've done and think about what I should do next. I turn the quilt a bit to allow myself to work from different angles to fill in those spaces. I'm still not comfortable with a lot of different designs, so there's a lot of repetition, but I think the graffiti style still comes through.

5. It's fun!!

Need I say more? I'm sure I'll be using this style again. Have you tried graffiti quilting yet? Any lessons you've learned that you want to share?


I'm linking up with Let's Bee Social, WIP Wednesday and NTT.

January 05, 2016

2015 Ornaments

I almost forgot to share the ornaments I made for my boys this year! Every year I make each of them a new cross-stitched ornament that reflects their interests that year.

This year Nathan has discovered dinosaurs. He's never been a big reader, but suddenly he's reading books with huge words like Pachycephalosaurus and Ichthyosaurus. It has been fun to see him so fascinated by something new. I purchased this cute dino pattern from AndWabisabi on Etsy.
 
Last summer Zachary found a junior bow and arrow set when we were in a store and decided to buy it. Turns out he, Paul and I all really enjoy target shooting. Before long, Paul bought a bow for himself and I just got a bow for Christmas. Zachary will be getting a better quality bow for his birthday in February, so once spring comes we'll be able to practice together. I found this pattern on Pinterest, but unfortunately the link didn't go anywhere and there were no identifying marks on the picture so I can't give credit to the designer.
Aiden has been our drummer for a few years now, but this year he decided he wanted to learn guitar too. He has spent a lot of time in his room practicing and used the money from his once-a-week paper route to buy a used electric guitar and amp shortly before Christmas. This pattern came from the book Donna Kooler's 555 Country Cross-Stitch Patterns, which I've had for a long time. I've used a couple of the designs for ornaments, including Aiden's drum set in 2013.
I always hang the ornaments on the tree on Christmas Eve for the boys to find in the morning. This year they went to find their ornaments before their big performance to wake us up. I love how interested they are in the ornaments. I don't know if I'll be able to let them take theirs when they're old enough to move out, though...there are so many of them on our tree that the tree would look naked without them!

January 04, 2016

A Created Thing

Devotion for the Week...

Nathan was drawing recently and said to me, "It won't be perfect," to which I replied "None of my quilts are perfect, but they're still good." Aiden, who was also in the room, laughed, thinking I was being rather proud, but I explained that there's nothing wrong with being confident enough in our own abilities to recognize that we do a good job at something.

However, my confidence in my abilities aside, I am well aware of two things: my quilts are not perfect and, in the end, they are only quilts. They have no power to change anything or improve my life other than by being pretty and cuddly. As much as I love my quilts, they are in no way worthy of worship.

The prophet Isaiah wrote a whole section in which he marvels at those who make things so they will have something to worship.

"The blacksmith takes a tool
    and works with it in the coals;
he shapes an idol with hammers,
    he forges it with the might of his arm.
He gets hungry and loses his strength;
    he drinks no water and grows faint.
The carpenter measures with a line
    and makes an outline with a marker;
he roughs it out with chisels
    and marks it with compasses.
He shapes it in human form,
    human form in all its glory,
    that it may dwell in a shrine...
Such a person feeds on ashes; a deluded heart misleads him;
    he cannot save himself, or say,
    “Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?”   (Isaiah 44:12,13,20)

It seems rather laughable, doesn't it, that a person would make something with their own two hands and then claim that the thing they made is a god? I doubt that many in this day and age are tempted to worship things created from a block of wood, or a chunk of metal, or even a few yards of gorgeous fabric.

Sometimes, though, we are just as deluded as those idol-making craftsmen of old. While we may not physically bow down to anything, we are often tempted to worship things that are not worthy of our worship.

Dictionary.com defines worship as "reverent honor and homage paid to God or a sacred personage, or to any object regarded as sacred." 'Any object regarded as sacred' could mean anything. There are those who view their work as sacred, while others feel that way about their hobbies, or sports, or their children. Still others worship popularity and public opinion. Many, of course, worship money and the accumulation of wealth.

All of these things we are tempted to worship have one thing in common - they have been created by people. People, sinful and imperfect as we are, cannot create anything worthy of worship! We may laugh at the craftsman who would make, and then believe in, his own god, but we need to be aware of our own attitudes towards the things of this world. It is very easy for things to become the focus of our worship without us being aware of it, so we must constantly and consciously return our hearts to God.
 
We were created by God for relationship with Him, but if we choose not to focus on Him as the object of our worship then something else will fill that void. However, only God is worthy of our worship. If we worship anything else, we are led by deluded hearts and feeding on nothing but ashes and lies, as Isaiah put it (v. 20).

January 01, 2016

Rainbow Ripple in Make Modern

Happy New Year!! They say you should start the year as you intend to go on, so I think starting with a new quilt pattern publication is a good sign :)

It has been so hard waiting to share this quilt! I know how much many of you love rainbows and I love how this rainbow pops against those black strips. My second-ever quilt paired bright colours with black, and I've loved that combination ever since.
 This quilt finishes at 45" square, making it a great baby quilt or wall quilt size.
The backing is a lesson in the make-do nature of quilting...I really wanted to use solid black, but I didn't have enough and I didn't have time to get more since I was working on a deadline. So I used scraps from the front, along with my too-small leftover chunk of Kona black and pieced a rainbow down the center, then framed it with the black and white print from the front.

I quilted feathers in each of the coloured strips, using thread to match. Don't you love how those rainbow feathers show up on the solid black? I quilted a simple wishbone design in each of the black strips.

This was the first of my finishes for the Finish-a-Long 2015 quarter 4. It was also the first quilt to receive one of my quilt labels, which you can just see poking out at the bottom of the roll in this picture.
Make Modern Issue #9 is now available from Make Modern  (affiliate link) and is full of other great projects and articles. Go check it out!

* Edited to say Rainbow Ripple is not available for individual sale through either my Etsy or Payhip shops.


*This post contains an affiliate link, which means if you click the link and make a purchase I may receive a small commission. This does not affect the price you pay.

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