May 29, 2013

My turn to Say it with Flowers and a Giveaway!

Thanks to Mme Samm, and our cheerleader Carol, we are once again in the middle of a great blog hop. There have already been so many creative flower projects shown, with plenty more still to come.

I started planning this quilt back when I was making hexagon flowers but wasn't sure what to do with them. I wanted to play around a little with a more modern, minimalist design concept. This is the result:

I am really pleased with how it turned out. I freehand drew the wavy lines with chalk, then free-motion quilted them. In between I did what I like to call 'crossed stippling.' Proper stippling, of course, is supposed to be made up of lines that are evenly spaced, and therefore cannot cross over each other. This is practically impossible to do when your thread matches your background perfectly, so there are many, many cross-overs in this quilt. 
Crossed Stippling!
 I did random circles in the center of each flower, so the petals are puffier than the rest of the quilt.
This was my first time piecing the back. Again, I tried to design something a little modern. Don't know if it qualifies or not, but I like it. I also pieced the batting and was pleasantly surprised by how easy that was, and how impossible it is to tell. I will be doing it again for sure.

And now for the giveaway. Those of you who read my blog may remember when I accidentally made three thread catchers instead of one. You can read all about that here.

Since I really only need one, and they are made of floral fabric, I set them aside to give away during this hop. I'll choose 2 lucky winners on June 5th. Just leave me a comment and make sure I can reach you if you're a winner. I will ship anywhere - and actually, I'm looking forward to maybe sending them somewhere far, far away!

Here is the rest of the schedule for the day. Happy hopping!

May 29th

May 27, 2013

Unfinished Object or Work in Progress?

Devotion for the Week...

How many UFOs (unfinished objects) do you have tucked away for someday, when you have more time or skill for them? I don't have many, but I do have these two wallhangings I started more than 5 years ago.

Blast Off! Designed by Debby Kratovil
Most blocks are finished, the last one is partially done and the backing fabric is still in my stash, uncut. I started this for Aiden and Zachary, but they're now much too old for the bug fabric I chose back then. One of these days I need to get back to work on this and get it put together for someone else's young child.

I nicknamed my Noah's Ark quilt "my 6 year quilt."
Noah's Ark, designed by Margaret Rolfe


I started it while pregnant with Aiden and I may have even finished the top before he arrived. The quilting took a lot longer. At the time I quilted everything by hand. I enjoy the hand work (which is why I love my hexies) and I love the look of hand quilting, but it takes a lot of time. In this case, years and years of time.

Of course, the quilt spent most of that time sitting in a bag in a closet while I worked on other, smaller projects that I could finish quickly. The Noah's Ark quilt measures 42" x 53" so even when I spent two or three evenings quilting, it was hard to see my progress. I'd go through spurts, working on it a lot for a few weeks, then putting it aside for months while doing other things. Eventually the quilt got finished, but only after I made a promise to myself to get it done by a certain date. Since then I've had many compliments on my 6 year quilt, certainly more than I could have received if I let it languish as a UFO in the closet.

I made progress on the quilt only when I changed it from a UFO in the closet to a WIP (work-in-progress), one that I was actively working on. As Christians, we are all God's WIPs. Paul told the Philippians he was confident "that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6).

There are many areas where God is working on me. I have no problem admitting I'm not perfect, but that doesn't mean I always want to change. The ultimate goal for my life is for my character to match that of Jesus. That is more than a 6 year project! Thankfully, God doesn't get discouraged and put me in a closet while He works on other people.

I don't always like that nagging feeling of guilt when I've said or done something wrong. I don't like changing my attitudes or actions, but doing so will make me more like Jesus. Ignoring those promptings moves me out of the WIP category and into that of UFO, not because God has set me aside for someone else, but because I'm not working with Him, so no progress can be made.

How about you? Are you submitting to the Lord's molding of your character, allowing Him to show you what needs changing? It isn't easy, but following the will of God brings us closer to the 'finished product' that God has in mind when He looks at us. Though we won't be finished until 'the day of Christ Jesus,' I'd rather be a WIP, not a UFO.

May 22, 2013

WIP Wednesday - Piecing my Hexies

A couple of weeks ago, I won a copy of Mickey Depre's Pieced Hexies from Quiltmaker magazine's Quilty Pleasures blog. What with my ongoing hexie quilt, I couldn't wait for it to arrive. As soon as it did, I started in and now I've made 9 pieced hexagon flowers.

These 5 are finished
These 4 are basted. The one on the right is partially stitched together.
I had to make some adjustments to Mickey's instructions. Her patterns are for 1 1/2" hexies, but the ones I'm using are 7/8". It was definitely doable, but took a little figuring out each time I switched designs. I also altered some of the designs, creating my own riff on her originals. She's right when she says they are addicting! Of course, I feel that way about all the hexagons! I will be trying more pieced hexies, especially when I can move on to the larger size for another project.

For this quilt, I now have 23 finished flowers, including the pieced ones, which makes a nice little stack. I also have 26 basted, but not yet stitched. I need 56 full flowers, so that means I only have to cut and baste 7 more!

Since I'm so close to finishing the prep work for the flowers, I bought the blues last week. These two blues will be cut and basted into about 300 hexagons to surround all those flowers. So far I've done 30...still lots to go. I love how the hexagons cut from the floral print will all look a bit different since the scale of the print is much bigger than the hexagons.
I still have a few weeks before our trip to Florida this summer, so I have time to do lots of blue hexagons. It'll be great to take some sewing with me for downtime while we're gone.

I'm linking up with the Needle and Thread Network today.

May 20, 2013

Flipped Seams

Devotion for the week...

Nesting seams is a great way to make blocks match up nicely, so I always pay attention to direction when I'm pressing seam allowances. Sometimes patterns even specify which way to press seams so everything will nest and produce a nice, flat block.
Nesting seams in the middle of a pinwheel
View from the front - this is the center of one of the Golden Album blocks
Unfortunately, sometimes my sewing machine will flip the bottom seam allowance the wrong way as I'm feeding the pieces through. I'm usually focused on keeping my raw edges even and my seam allowances a consistent 1/4", so I'm not really paying attention to the bottom of what I'm sewing. From the top, everything looks good. Then I flip it over.

To be completely honest, I usually leave the flipped seam and just continue on, though I am more vigilant about those bottom seams allowances for a while.

As a Christian, it's not my top and bottom I need to be concerned about - it's my outside and inside. We're very conscious of the image we portray on the outside. We dress appropriately, we don't swear, we show up for church (hopefully on time), we'll help with children's or women's ministries and we'll always have something for the offering plate. All very good things but, like the seam allowances on my top pieces, all visible too.

In Matthew 23, Jesus pronounces seven woes on the teachers of the law and the Pharisees, the religious elite of His day. Among others, He says, "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside, but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous, but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness." (Matthew 23: 27 - 28).

As Christians, we are supposed to go to church, dress modestly, use clean and respectful language, give cheerfully to God and work diligently to build up the church. But those external things aren't everything. We shouldn't feel we've got it all figured out because we've mastered the appearance of a good Christian.

What about the bottom seam allowances, the inside, the stuff that's harder to see? What about our thoughts? While we're shaking hands and smiling at people at church, are we criticizing their clothing, their parenting, their church attendance record?

What about Bible reading? Do we read along with the pastor as he reads his text for his sermon and count that good for the week? Do we have to blow the dust off our Bibles on Sunday morning so we can carry them to church?

What about prayer? Do we thank God for each meal and leave it at that? Or do we pray a rote prayer with the kids as we tuck them in, but not bother to talk to God for ourselves?

Just as the seam allowances can get flipped as I'm sewing, our actions aren't always going the right way either. One of my boys once asked if I pray every night before I go to bed, like they do, and I had to admit that I don't. I pray sporadically throughout the day, but rarely take a consistent, dedicated time of prayer. I try to read my Bible more days than I don't, but there are weeks when I miss even that modest target.

We don't want to be like whitewashed tombs. We want our insides to match our outsides. In order for that to happen, we need to pay attention when the Spirit nudges us, telling us something we've said or done isn't Christ-like. We need to spend time with God, both in prayer and Bible reading to know Him more. The more we know Him, the more we can allow His character to infiltrate ours.

Because being like Jesus is better than being like a tomb.

May 15, 2013

It's for the Birds - My turn!

It's finally my day to share for the It's for the Birds blog hop (my first hop). Waiting through all the amazing creations has been so hard. Thanks to Mme Samm and Mary for organizing and cheering for this huge flock. It has been so much fun!

I had trouble deciding what to make. I wanted it to be practical, and small. At first I thought I'd make a pillow, but we're not really a throw pillow family, so that wouldn't have been very practical. Then I thought of making a zippered bag to hold all my hexie stuff for when I'm stitching on the go.

This container worked well to hold everything, but it wasn't very pretty!
I had never done a zipper before, so I was a little nervous about that. I used this tutorial from Sew Delicious, modified for size, and this tip, also from Sew Delicious, to figure out the zipper thing. I'm really pleased with how the bag turned out.

Here's a close-up of the appliqued bird. It's my version of a snow bunting. It's not quite right...the beak is much too big and the wing shouldn't be solid black, but it's close enough for me. We used to see snow buntings all summer when we lived in Igloolik, Nunavut, in the Canadian Arctic. Their song is so beautiful, and their flight path is so pretty to watch. I saw them a few years ago here in Newfoundland, while they were migrating back to the Arctic, and it was so nice to see them again.
 The bag is nice and roomy inside, and holds plenty for a day's stitching while we drive.
While I can't claim to have planned this for the hop, don't you think some tiny little mama bird would love to make her nest in my thread catcher?
Thanks for visiting today. I hope you are enjoying the hop as much as I have been. Here is the schedule for today:

 

May 14, 2013

Drumroll Please!

Here is Aiden at the drums we gave him for Christmas in 2011, after he had spent months drumming on every available surface. He used to even take the toy drums and an assortment of my mixing bowls and large pots and lay them out in his homemade version of a drum set. He has since spent many, many hours sitting on that stool and drumming away. The good news is - he can keep a beat!

Unfortunately, he kept growing. Then the snare drum developed a small tear that changed the sound. I must admit, I couldn't really hear the difference, but I'm about as musically challenged as they come so I'm not a good judge.

For a while now, Aiden has been talking about saving his money for a new set. What with his birthday this week and the money he had set aside, this is what moved into our family room this evening!

Can you see the difference?! Call us crazy, but we have one very excited boy. Well, three actually, as they all want to play drums now!

Anyone have earplugs?

May 13, 2013

Leftovers

I love sorting through the bits of fabric left over from previous projects to find what I need for a new project. There's something deeply satisfying about making even a small quilt without needing to buy more fabric (though there's something wonderful about new fabric too!).

This pile of 2 7/8" squares is all from left over pieces. I need 800+ lights and 800+ darks for this quilt, so I'll be cutting for a while!
Some quilts just seem to lend themselves to scrap-lovers. Applique quilts often need little bits of lots of different colours. Pinwheels looks great in a variety of prints and solids. Four patches, nine patches, baskets, Dresden plates, hexies...The list of possibilities goes on and on.

Cooking with leftovers can be wonderful too. I think my husband enjoys his hot turkey sandwiches as much as he does his turkey dinners. My boys and I enjoy leftover spaghetti so much I have to cook extra to be sure there will be enough for all of us for lunch.
Leftover spaghetti from Aiden's birthday supper.
Even the Bible talks about leftovers. "When they had all had enough to eat, [Jesus] said to his disciples, 'Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.' So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten." (John 6:12,13)

Reading Jesus' instructions to the disciples makes me wonder what happened to those leftovers. Twelve baskets full of bread. Did Jesus and his disciples eat it the next day? Did they drop it off somewhere to help a family in need? The Bible doesn't tell us what happened to the bread, only that it was gathered up. Though all four gospels record this story, only John tells us why Jesus told them to pick up the pieces - "Let nothing be wasted."

I used to think the detail of the twelve baskets of leftovers was included to show the amazing overabundance of God's provision. Maybe it is. After all, that was more bread than they had to begin with! But maybe there's another meaning. God provided as much as all the men, women and children could eat at that one meal, plus enough to meet other needs as well. Whether the disciples ate it later or gave it away, it didn't go to waste. With just a bit of effort by the disciples, to gather the pieces, they had food for another meal. Likewise, our leftover scraps of fabric need only be sorted and cut to be ready to be sewn into a beautiful quilt.

Is there some area of my life or yours where God is providing an overabundance? Could we use those leftover pieces to meet another need, either our own or that of someone else? The overabundance may look worthless to us, making us think we have nothing to offer, but we need to think creatively. After all, not everyone would see the value of fabric scraps.

What are your leftovers?

May 12, 2013

Mother's Day and 2013 Birthdays

Happy Mother's Day! I've been treated to our traditional breakfast in bed already this morning - cereal, yogurt and orange juice, prepared entirely by the two older boys.

All of my boys have now had their 2013 birthdays. Zachary was first, turning 9 back in February.

No, he wasn't ill at his party...he wanted a Halloween in February theme, and he dressed as a 3 eyed alien. His cake has a hairy legged spider on it. I used broken pieces of pretzels for the legs and covered them with little lines of icing.
Nathan turned 5 in March. Thanks to Grandma for finding the cake idea. We had to work a bit to convince Nathan that he couldn't start school on his birthday. After being told for a year or more that he would start school when he was 5, he can't really understand why he still has to wait until September.
Aiden turned 11 yesterday. This is his favourite cake - chocolate with chocolate-orange icing. It is every bit as good as it sounds. The glasses are new this year and they really suit him.

This mom feels very blessed to have three healthy, happy and growing boys.

I hope all you moms enjoy the day. I love you, Mom. I would have made you breakfast (though probably not in bed!) if we weren't in different provinces!

May 08, 2013

WIP Wednesday - May SBC Block and 4 patches

My May Sugar Block Club block is all stitched. This one came together nicely, except when I didn't pay attention to which way I was sewing! All seam ripping was entirely my fault, not the fault of the instructions!
I couldn't resist laying out all the blocks I've made so far. The May block kind of stands out with its darker background, but I figure I have plenty of months left to make other blocks with similar backgrounds. I really like how they look together. Not sure what I'll do for sashing and borders yet, but again, there's lots of time yet before I need to make those decisions.
I also took time to iron the four patch blocks I've been making as my leaders and enders. I'm eventually going to make Bonnie Hunter's Four Patch Revisited, from her book Adventures with Leaders & Enders. This is what I have so far. I think this is about 1/5 of what I need for the quilt.
The four patches are made in colour groups. I knew I had a lot of blues, but I didn't realize just how they dominate my scraps. This picture shows the blue four patches on the right and all the other colours on the left. The blue pile is almost as tall as the red, pink, black, brown, orange, yellow and green pile!
In my defense, I do have quite a few twosies that are ready to be sewn into four patches, and a good many are those other colours (though I'm sure there are blues too!). I spent a little time last night cutting some yellow, pink and purple 1 1/2" squares to add to my leaders and enders bag. I need to even things out a little.

I'm linking up with Freshly Pieced again today. I hope you find time for your works-in-progress too.





May 06, 2013

Follow the Pattern

Devotion for the Week...

As quilters, we follow patterns. Patterns may come from books, magazines, blogs or from our own ideas. Wherever they come from, we follow the pattern to know how much fabric we need and in what colours. We follow it through the making of units and blocks, then through assembling those pieces into a completed quilt top.

Some of the patterns I've been following lately

Usually, we play with the colours so the quilt we make is an expression of our own style, even if it was designed by someone else. That's why six different quilters can use the same pattern and get wonderfully different results.

Even when we change the colour scheme, we are still following the pattern. Deviating from it can cause problems. If I don't pay attention to the cutting instructions, my pieces won't fit together. Ask me how I know this! If I want my quilt to go together smoothly, I have to obey the pattern.

Writing to the Romans, Paul said, "Through [Jesus] and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ." (Romans 1:5,6)

In The Message paraphrase, Eugene Peterson writes it this way, "Through him we received both the generous gift of his life and the urgent task of passing it on to others who receive it by entering into obedient trust in Jesus. You are who you are through this gift and call of Jesus Christ!"

I find it interesting that Paul isn't focused on salvation here, though that certainly comes only through faith in Jesus. Here, Paul is looking at things from a slightly different angle. We belong to Jesus and we have been called to the obedience that comes from faith, to obedient trust. Which begs the question - obedience to what, exactly?

In John's gospel, chapters 14 and 15, Jesus had this to say about obedience.

"If you love me, you will obey what I command." (John 14:15)

"Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." (John 14:21)

"If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching." (John 14 :23, 24)

"If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love." (John 15:10)

So, first, we are to obey his commands. In John 15:17, Jesus said, "This is my command: Love one another."

That's not exactly an easy command to obey. It's easy to love my husband, my boys, my parents and my friends. It's not so easy to love people who are annoying or obnoxious or who make me uncomfortable. But Jesus makes it clear in the Sermon on the Mount that we aren't expected to love only those who are easy to love. "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew 5:43-44)

Ouch. I don't have anyone that could be even remotely considered an enemy, but I still have trouble loving everyone around me. Obviously, I still need to work on my obedience.

We are also to obey his teaching. Jesus taught about many things. Prayer, worry, judging others, the love of money and much, much more. How can we obey His teaching on all these things if we don't know it?

We can't.

We have to read our Bibles, coming back to them again and again, seeking to learn and understand a little more each time. Then, when we understand His teaching, we have to obey it.

When I follow a quilt pattern, there is still freedom to express my unique personality. Likewise, in obeying Jesus, there is still freedom to be me. How I show love to others may be different from how you do. Our personalities will influence our actions and that's fine, as long as our actions express our obedient trust in Jesus.

Obedience doesn't come easy. But we want our lives to follow God's pattern, and that requires learning to live in the obedience that comes from faith.

May 01, 2013

WIP Wednesday - Hexagons and a little treat

I haven't touched the FMQ on my scrappy log cabin quilt in a while, so there's no progress to report on that. Maybe I'll get at it again tonight.

I have been basting more and more hexagons. I have quite a collection now.
There are enough here for 26 more flowers, plus I have 7 fully stitched flowers. I also used a bunch for a project you'll see later in the month, for the Say it With Flowers blog hop. For this quilt I'm thinking of doing either 7 rows of 7 flowers or 8 rows of 7 flowers, so I need either 49 or 56 flowers.  I haven't decided if I will do partial flowers around the edges, or just finish it with the blues I'm going to put between the flowers. I probably won't be able to decide until I have all the full flowers finished and I can lay them all out together.

These treats are a work in progress only because they haven't cooled enough to eat yet!

I love cinnamon rolls, especially these ones. The recipe comes from my aunt Diane, who makes a batch every single week. When I was growing up, she used to sometimes show up at our house with a batch so fresh she hadn't even been able to cover the container before she left the house. Now I live too far away for that, so I have to make my own (though not every week).
Don't you just want to make your own?

Diane's Cinnamon Rolls


3 cups flour
4 tsp sugar
8 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup shortening
1 1/4 cups milk
1 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon
margarine or butter

Preheat oven to 350.
Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in shortening until the size of peas. Add milk, mix to blend. Knead 20 times.

Roll out on lightly floured surface. Spread with margarine or butter (I use Becel).

Mix brown sugar and cinnamon, then spread over dough. Roll, starting from a long side and cut about 1 1/2" thick. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool.

Whether you make another batch next week is entirely up to you!

I'm linking up at Freshly Pieced again today.
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