October 29, 2018

Repetitive

Devotion for the Week...

I've been working on a new quilt for our bed and the first step, after cutting, was making 40 sets of 4 flying geese with the no-waste method. 40 sets of 4! That's 160 geese, so it's a lot of line marking, a lot of chain piecing, which I don't mind at all, and then a lot of pressing, which gets mind-numbingly boring very quickly.

Once it was time to assemble the blocks, I had to start pressing all of the seams open, which I find tedious because it takes so much longer than just pressing them to the side. Chain piecing is fast and efficient, but chain pressing those seams open is just repetitive and boring. It makes me glad I don't work on an assembly line, doing one small task for hours on end, day after day after day.

Sometimes it can seem like the job God has given us to do is repetitive and boring. We're just doing the same thing over and over and it doesn't seem like we're getting anywhere. It's like being stuck in an endless chain of seams to press open, except we can't see the end of the job because we're not in control of that part of it.

Often in the Bible, sharing the word of God is compared to planting a seed, but Paul takes it a step farther in 1 Corinthians 3:5-9: "Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers."

Paul planted the seed and Apollos watered it. I wonder if one or the other of them ever got tired of always doing the same thing, whether that was telling people about God or teaching them a little more than they already knew. Did they ever feel like they weren't really getting anywhere with the people they were teaching? After all, if Paul was always planting seeds that needed to be watered by someone else, then he wouldn't necessarily see the results of his work.

God has given each of us a role to play in teaching others about Him. For some of us, that's introducing people to Jesus. For others, it's helping new believers learn more about Him. For others, their hope, joy and perseverance through suffering attracts people and makes them curious about the source of that response. Whatever our role, it can sometimes feel repetitive and boring to be always doing that same job.

But the beautiful thing is that, whatever role we play, if we are faithful to continue doing the work, we can be sure that God will make those seeds grow.

When it's finally time for me to start putting blocks together into rows, it's magic to see the quilt start to come to life. Sewing the rows together is even more exciting as the secondary pattern emerges and I get to see the result of all of my work - a finished quilt top 😊
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Whether we have been planting or watering the word of God in the hearts of others, when God makes those seeds grow it will be beautiful to see.

October 23, 2018

October Island Batik Challenge - Twirling Star

Note, the fabrics for this project were given to me by Island Batik as part of their ambassador program.

The October Island Batik challenge was to make any size project using paper piecing, either EPP or foundation paper piecing. Since I already have two hand stitching projects on the go, I chose to do foundation paper piecing, using my Twirling Star pattern. The double pinwheel blocks are paper pieced, while the hourglass blocks are not.

Twirling Star finishes at 19 ½" square and you can see the original version here. The two quilts look completely different!
Twirling Star mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
The weather has been gloomy and wet around here lately, so I had to settle for indoor pictures. Thankfully, it's much easier to take indoor pictures of a mini quilt than of a big quilt.
Twirling Star mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Twirling Star mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I modified the Twirling Star pattern slightly, choosing to have only one background fabric and to use that same fabric for the border. To be honest, this was mostly because I was working with 10" squares of the fabrics I most wanted to use, and I didn't have a good coordinate in yardage. But it worked out well, I think! I really like how the stars and twirling pinwheels stand out against the white background, which is also from Island Batik.

I was really mixing up fabric lines in this mini quilt. The star points fabric is from the Paisley Dots line and I love the gorgeous teal. This was the only fabric for which I didn't have a coordinating Aurifil thread, so the star points are quilted using Gutermann polyester thread. It was fun quilting these wishbones to fill the triangles, though as you can see I didn't always do a great job of keeping them straight.
Twirling Star mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
The smallest pinwheels are made from a fabric from the Victoria and Albert line, which was mostly pink, but there were a few spots of blue in the 10" square I had, so there are a couple of pinwheel points that kind of look like they're from a different fabric. My pink Aurifil (2530) doesn't blend in, but I like the contrast.

The larger pinwheel fabric is from the Vintage Morris line. Aren't the subtle green tones beautiful?
Twirling Star mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Both of the quilting designs I used in the pinwheels were super quick to stitch, which was really fun. I used Aurifil 40wt in 2902 to quilt the green pinwheels. It was my first time using the 40wt and I wasn't sure if I'd need to adjust tension or anything, but my machine was perfectly happy stitching with no adjustments at all. I didn't have the matching 50wt thread for the bobbin, so I used a cream 50wt. I figured it would show up nicely on the back and I  hoped it wouldn't poke through on the front at all, which it didn't.

This shot really shows the difference between the thickness of the 40wt on the green and the 50wt on the pink and white. The 40wt threads definitely sit on top of the fabric rather than sinking in, so they're much more noticeable. It's a nice effect, for sure. These elongating loops make me think of angel wings 😊
Twirling Star mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
All while I assembled the quilt top and quilted the star points and pinwheels, I tried to decide how I would quilt the white background. Feathers? Swirls? Swirl hooks? Flow quilting? Nothing felt right. Then I thought of doing tiny stippling, which I immediately discounted because I don't particularly enjoy stippling, and there's quite a bit of background, even if it is only a mini quilt. The more I thought about it, though, the more it felt like it had to be the stippling. Sigh. At least I managed to do all of the stippling in two evenings, so that wasn't too bad.

I used a pink batik from the Foundations line for the backing which was perfect for showing off all of the quilting. Sometimes I like the back of quilts just as much as the front!
Twirling Star mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Twirling Star mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Twirling Star mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
And of course, no quilt is complete without one of my labels 😊 I won these in a giveaway on Kelly's blog (My Quilt Infatuation) a couple of years ago and you'd still barely know I've used any. They are from Finer Ribbon, and there are 1000 labels on the roll, so they're going to last me a good long time, lol.
Twirling Star mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
If you'd like to make your own Twirling Star, you can get the pattern from either my Payhip or Etsy shops.

It's hard to believe there are only 3 more challenges to go in my year as an Island Batik ambassador! I'm planning to apply again next year as I have really enjoyed working with these beautiful fabrics and the monthly challenges have been great creative prompts. I hope you're enjoying these Island Batik projects, too 😊

October 22, 2018

You Feed Them

Devotion for the Week...

One day last week I reread the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 (plus women and children so it was really a lot more than 5,000). It's a familiar story to most, if not all, of us, in which Jesus feeds a huge crowd of people with one boy's lunch of 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. I'll only share the beginning of the story here. Jesus had been teaching the crowd and healing their sick, when the disciples approached Him:

"Late in the afternoon the twelve disciples came to him and said, 'Send the crowds away to the nearby villages and farms, so they can find food and lodging for the night. There is nothing to eat here in this remote place.'

But Jesus said, 'You feed them.'

'But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish,' they answered. 'Or are you expecting us to go and buy enough food for this whole crowd?' For there were about 5,000 men there" (Luke 9:12-14).

Those disciples sure could get snarky at times, couldn't they? "Are you expecting us to go and buy enough food for this whole crowd?" Lol!

As much as I love their snark, that wasn't the line the captured my attention when I read the story this time. I kept coming back to Jesus saying, "You feed them." I'd read a few lines and my eyes would drift back up to those three little words. You feed them. Read a little farther in the story, then drift back up again. You feed them.

As I thought about those words throughout the day, I also thought of a couple of other verses. In 1 Corinthians, Paul wrote, "Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger" (1 Corinthians 3:1,2).

The writer of Hebrews wrote, "There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen. You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong" (Hebrews 5:11-14).

In both cases, teaching people about God is compared to feeding their physical bodies. Teaching them about God is feeding them spiritually, beginning with the simple truth of His love and progressing on to them learning to tell right from wrong on their own.

Obviously, in the story about the loaves and fish, Jesus was telling His disciples to feed the people physical food, but I couldn't get away from the thought that God also wants us to be feeding people spiritually. To be teaching them about Him, about how much He loves them, about Jesus' death on the cross and His resurrection, about salvation through faith.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
We often feed other people physical food, whether it's our spouse, our children, extended family or friends, sometimes even strangers. Are we also feeding the people around us spiritual food? Are we teaching our children or grandchildren about how much God loves them? Do we share our faith with extended family, friends or strangers? That's food for thought, isn't it?

You feed them.

October 19, 2018

Reading Cushions

For Christmas last year, one of the moms I babysit for gave me two fat quarter bundles of adorable flannel fabrics. One was helicopter and airplane themed, the other dinosaurs and cats. There were a  couple of coordinating prints as well.
Flannel fabrics | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I don't often use flannel, so I stuck them on a shelf until a couple of weeks ago, when I finally came up with the perfect way to use them - cushions for when the littles and I are sitting on the floor reading 😊
reading cushions | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
reading cushions | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I cut out 16" squares and paired the fabrics together, then stitched around, leaving an opening for stuffing. I considered just making cushion covers, but I didn't have inserts and making separate inserts felt like too much work, lol. I'm thinking I'll just throw the cushions in the washer as needed and hope for the best.

I had some old scraps of fluffy polyester batting that I used for the stuffing, after pulling the pieces apart so the cushions wouldn't be too lumpy.
batting | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Silas was my helper for stuffing the first one. He loved pulling the pieces apart to make them extra fluffy 😊
All the pictures of the kids I babysit are shared here with permission from their mothers.
We didn't stuff them all the way full because I didn't want them too high when the littles are trying to sit on them. And as a side note, it sure does take a lot of stuffing to stuff something! It always seems to take so much more than I think it will.

I had to break my self-imposed hand stitching ban to ladder stitch the cushions closed, but sometimes you just want to get something finished. I love how ladder stitch is like magic - it's stitched, but you can't see it at all.
ladder stitching cushions | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
And the cushions are a big hit!
Gregory, here, kept laying down on the cushions, which was adorable, but every single time I crouched down with my phone to take his picture he sat straight up again. You'll just have to take my word for it that it was pretty cute 😊

It feels good to make something I've been wanting for a while and to use pretty fabric that isn't what I usually use. It's a win-win!

October 16, 2018

Hand Stitching Along

I've been enjoying a lot of hand stitching lately and now my Hexie Rainbow quilt has a round of black outside the yellow.
Rainbow hexie quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Here it is again with a spool of Aurifil thread for scale 😊 It measures 31.5" wide x 35" high at this stage and will eventually be 60" x 70". Lots more hexies to go, lol!
Rainbow hexie quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I love that you can start to get an idea of the rainbow developing now that there are three colours finished.
Rainbow hexie quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Rainbow hexie quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Rainbow hexie quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I've started joining green hexies together to create the sides for the first round of green. It's so fun to revisit fabrics from so many different projects and from a couple of different swaps and winnings. The three strips on the left are as long as they need to be and the numbers clipped to the top are so I know which order to sew them onto the quilt top.
Rainbow hexie quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I've also been working on stitching my EPP stars to their backgrounds. I now have 15 finished! I really like the addition of the blue backgrounds and I plan to incorporate some medium value fabrics in other colours too.
Appliqued EPP stars | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Appliqued EPP stars | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Appliqued EPP stars | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

I love how the finished squares look when stacked up. The extra layers in the middle sure make a difference!
Appliqued EPP stars | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Unfortunately, I've been doing so much hand stitching that I've aggravated my right wrist 😢 I've been sleeping with my brace on the last few nights, which helps, but I still have to take a break from the EPP and ladder stitch for a while to allow it to get all the way better.

I'll still be basting hexies for the 100 hexies 100 days challenge, though. We're now on day 72 and this is what my case of hexies looks like.
basted epp hexies | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I've had to move the black ones to their own bag and I'm still having trouble fitting the green, blue and purple in the container, which is why the most recent blue ones are just laying on top. This challenge has been a big help in getting the hexies basted for my hexie rainbow.

What have you been working on lately?

October 15, 2018

Backwards and Forwards - Part 2

Devotion for the Week...

Last week I shared the story of Silas, who is always looking backwards while walking forwards and often falls because of it. When I said to him, "You need to turn around and watch where you're going or you're going to fall again!" I immediately realized there was a devotion there, which actually became two devotions. Last week we looked at the danger of looking backwards and this week, for part 2, we're going to look at the necessity of looking forwards.

Our sidewalks and roads are chock full of pot holes and missing sections of pavement. There are a couple of sidewalks I don't use at all because they're in such a sorry state that I can't push a stroller along them. Picture yourself trying to walk along those uneven sidewalks while simultaneously looking backwards and you'll understand why Silas so often falls. His feet get caught up in the holes, dips and chunks of uneven pavement. As I so often have to remind him, he needs to be looking where he's going so he can see those obstacles and prevent the falls.

When I started thinking about my frequent reminders to Silas as a possible devotion, the second verse that came to mind was 1 Corinthians 10:12, where Paul warns believers, "If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall." This verse follows a section in which Paul recounted the sins of the Israelites and the punishments they had to endure for their sinfulness.

We have a tendency to look at other people's sins and think, "How could they do that? I'd never be so stupid." And maybe that's true, in regards to the particular sin they committed. Maybe we aren't tempted to have an affair or to steal from the company, which is all well and good, but that doesn't mean we are immune to sin. Though the same sin may not tempt us, we can be guaranteed that there are other sins we do find tempting.

"If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall" may sound silly, but Paul is really telling us to turn around and watch where we're going. Where are the things we're doing today leading us? Looking ahead along the path we're traveling may reveal potholes and uneven pavement that could trip us up.

We might think we're okay today, standing strong as Paul said, because we aren't doing anything wrong. But are there habits or relationships beginning to form that could lead us into sin in the future if we're not careful?

Are we starting to spend time with people who are negative, complaining all the time and who rarely have a nice word to say about anyone? Look ahead. Where will those friendships lead? Will we become negative complainers who judge everyone around us?

Are we spending less and less time with the people who are most important to us, choosing instead to spend time on social media or on our hobbies? Where will that lead? Will those important relationships suffer because of how we're spending our time today?
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
We need to be aware of where we're going so we can see those obstacles ahead and adjust our direction to avoid them. If we're spending all of our time looking back, we'll never see the potential dangers of where we're going. If we spend all our time looking at the sins of others, we'll never have the chance to make corrections to our own path and we'll find ourselves shocked when we are the ones who fall.

Carefully watching where we're going will help to keep us standing strong in the future, too.

October 11, 2018

Reach for the Stars Pattern Release

This pattern has been in my WIP pile for 4 months, so it feels good to finally be able to release Reach for the Stars. There are two size options included in the pattern - the 63" x 72" throw quilt shown and a 45" x 45" baby quilt.
Reach for the Stars quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Star blocks are so much fun to make, don't you think? With this pattern you can stitch up a galaxy quickly, then surround them with negative space for a fun, modern quilt.

Though the pattern calls for fat quarters, it would also be a great way to use up some favourite scraps. We all know scraps breed when we're not looking, so it's important to find ways to use them up 😊
Reach for the Stars quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
This version of Reach for the Stars is made with Island Batik Elementz fabrics on a Buttermilk background, which I absolutely love. I think it would look great with a dark background and low volume scraps, too, though, which might be the next way I make it. I wonder when I'll need a baby quilt next? I also think a rainbow version would be fun. Which way would you make it first?

To celebrate the release, Reach for the Stars is available for 25% off the regular price through Thursday, October 18th. You can get your copy through either my Payhip or Etsy shops.

I can't wait to see other versions of Reach for the Stars! If you make one, I'd love to see it, so tag me on IG (@devotedquilter) or FB (@devotedquilterdesigns). It always makes my day when I see what another quilter has made from one of my patterns 😊

Click to get Reach for the Stars on Payhip

or Etsy.

October 09, 2018

Churn Pattern Updated

Along with updating my Love Birds pattern, I have also updated my Churn pattern in preparation for finally having my patterns printed.

Churn was originally published in the 2018 Quilter's Planner and I have updated the pattern to include a 42" square baby quilt size with the original 60" x 70" throw size.
Churn quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Thanks go again to Yvonne, of Quilting Jetgirl, for her tech editing skills, which have greatly improved all of the patterns I have sent to her so far 😊

I have updated the PDF pattern file which is available through my Payhip and Etsy shops, so click through to either shop to get your copy of the PDF pattern.

If you'd like to see the printed Churn pattern in your LQS, I'd love to have the shop's contact information so I can contact them once I have the printed patterns in hand.

Get your PDF Churn pattern through Payhip or Etsy

October 08, 2018

Backwards and Forwards - Part 1

Devotion for the Week...

One of the boys I babysit is 3 years old and really enjoys our walks each day. Unfortunately, he also falls more than any child I have ever looked after, mostly because he is constantly turning around to look behind him while still walking (or running) forwards. I have lost count of the times I have said, "Silas, you have to turn around and watch where you're going," or ""Silas, turn around!" His mother tells me she is constantly saying it, too, but it doesn't seem to have sunk in yet.

One morning early last week, after he had already fallen twice on this particular walk, he was again looking backwards while walking forwards and I said for the umpteenth time, "You need to turn around and watch where you're going or you're going to fall again!" Immediately I thought, "There's a devotion right there."

As I kept thinking about it, though, I realized there's not just one devotion in that sentence, but two. This week we'll look at the danger of looking backwards and next week, for part 2, we'll look at the necessity of looking forwards.

Paul wrote to the Philippians, "I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us" (Philippians 3:13,14).

In the verses leading up to this, Paul had detailed all of the things that made him seem like a righteous Jew - his circumcision, his lineage, his dedication to the Law and even his persecution of the church. Sometimes we, like Paul, look back at our lives and see the good things we've done and maybe we believe that we are more worthy because of those things.

But then Paul said, "I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done" (v. 7). All of those things in his past were worthless compared to the salvation Christ offers because they could never have given him eternal life. And the good things in our past are worthless for the same reason. "God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it" (Ephesians 2:8,9).

In Philippians, Paul was saying we have to stop looking back at the good things we've done and tallying them up as if they can do us some good. They can't. It's only faith in Jesus that gives salvation, so turn around and focus on following Him.

Of course, some people don't have a past of righteousness to look back on as Paul did. They have a past littered with sin and they look back at it with shame. Their problem isn't that they're looking back at the past and thinking it does them good; they look back on their past and feel like it's dragging them down and pulling them away from God. Truth be told, no matter who we are, we all have moments like that, don't we?

But what a beautiful thing is written in Romans, "So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1)! No condemnation! None! It doesn't matter what is in our past, if we believe in Jesus as our Savior then God holds no condemnation for us for any of it. Isn't that amazing?

Those old sins hold no power over us anymore. "And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death" (Romans 8:2). We can stop looking back and feeling like those things are keeping us from God. They're not. Through faith in Jesus we are free to turn around and follow Him, leaving all of those things behind us.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Whether we've been looking back at our past with pride or with shame, God is telling us to turn around. Leave the past behind and move forward with Him, pressing on, as Paul said, towards the end of the race.

October 01, 2018

Just the Facts

Devotion for the Week...

I read one morning last week about a fellow quilter who lost her grown step daughter suddenly a few weeks ago. I can't even imagine that pain. That family stayed in my mind all day as I grappled with the enormity of losing a child.

Somewhere along the way, it made me think of my grandparents, who lost their firstborn in infancy. I can just barely remember when I learned that the 13 siblings in Dad's family actually had another brother who had died as a baby, but I can't say I've ever thought about him much. I certainly never thought before that day last week about how it must have been for the young Eileen and Michael to lose their son, probably because I never heard anything about what it was like for them. By the time I learned about the child who died, both of my grandparents were gone as well.

I know I've said this before, but one of the things I find hardest about reading the Bible is that it gives us all the facts, but very few of the details. It is so easy to skim over really hard, painful stuff without taking in how hard and painful it was because there are no details to help us make that connection.

Just look at the moment when Pilate "ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified" (Matthew 27:26). That comma between ordering that Jesus be whipped and giving Him to the soldiers to be crucified, that comma is all that represents the actual whipping. If that were written in a modern-day novel, that one comma would be rendered as a full paragraph or more. Readers would be given details about the man who did the whipping, the sound of the whip through the air, the sound of it hitting Jesus' back, the sounds Jesus made as lash after lash landed.

It's not easy to think about, is it? And so, often, we don't. We read the facts as they are written in the Bible, but we don't slow down enough to consider the details that would have gone along with those facts. Along the way, we lose the emotional connection we could have with the facts.

It's not only the hard, painful things that we miss because of the lack of details. Think about the moment when the thief crucified next to Jesus said to Him, "'Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.'  And Jesus replied, 'I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise'" (Luke 23:42, 43).

What did Jesus' face look like in that moment, when He looked at this man who believed and so would spend eternity in heaven because of the agony Jesus was feeling at that exact moment? I picture a smile through the pain as He saw a glimpse of just how worth it that agony would prove to be. Did He close His eyes for a moment as a feeling of victory washed over Him? Did He choke up a little as He spoke, overwhelmed with love for this sinner who had come home?
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Everything Jesus would have felt in that moment, for that thief, is what He also feels for every other sinner who believes in Him. It's what He feels for you and for me. Without the details, though, it's all too easy to read the story without ever thinking about what Jesus was feeling.

Obviously, the Bible couldn't possibly contain all the details a novel would include. If it did, the Bible would be large enough to fill a room! But there's no reason we can't slow down and imagine those details and so allow ourselves to feel that emotional connection with the facts we read.

My challenge for you this week is just that - when you read the Bible this week, read slowly. Imagine the details that aren't written and allow those details to connect you more deeply with the facts.
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