November 29, 2014

#igminiswap Quilting

I've been working on the quilting for my #igminiswap. First I did stitch-in-the-ditch for the whole quilt, and then I could start playing.
 I'm really liking how it's looking so far!

I love how the threads show up on the back. I've finished with this light blue thread and now I have to do the yellow and pink threads. They'll really show up on this dark blue backing fabric!

I should be on track to have it finished in time to mail on Monday, or Tuesday at the latest. I can't wait to see what my partner thinks of it!

November 26, 2014

Finished #igminiswap Quilt Top

I have finally finished the quilt top for my #igminiquiltswap partner!
My partner said she loves low volume, but equally loves brights. As I said in my last post, my low volume stash is almost non-existent, so brights it is! I sure hope she likes it!

I also hopes she doesn't mind that I was just a little short on the light blue solid fabric. For three of the triangles I had to add a seam to make the piece big enough to fit. I don't think it will be very noticeable when the quilting is finished.
Now I just need to get it basted, quilted and bound...quickly. It's supposed to be in the mail by December 1st (5 days from now). I see a lot of quilting in my near future!

November 25, 2014

Round Trip Quilts - Round 2

Boy, did I ever struggle with this round of Round Trip Quilts! This is Liz's quilt, as it looked when I received it from Jennifer.
Beautiful, isn't it? But I didn't know what to add to it! I knew almost right away that I wanted to work with the navy blue that shows up in some of the prints that both Liz and Jennifer used, but that was as far as I could get for days. I'd take it out and admire it, imagining different possibilities, but nothing really clicked.

Then Renee, of Quilts of a Feather, shared her finished traveling quilt on Instagram. You can see it in her blog post here. I loved the feather border someone added to her quilt, and immediately thought of Liz's quilt. So I finally had a plan!

The feathers are from Shape Moth and I had seen a few renditions of them and wanted to try them for myself, so I was pretty excited to give them a go. I knew they would take a long time though, and I was really pushing it close to the mailing deadline, so I decided to do two feathers, rather than the four that surrounded Renee's quilt.
My low volume stash is almost non-existent, so I didn't have enough of any one fabric to do the two borders, so I planned to piece the section to go with the feather. I didn't want the feather to stand out as a block, though, so I used a variety of background fabrics there too. When I had the feather half-pieced I really doubted that decision, but I kept going, hoping I would like it more when the whole feather was finished. And I did! Hopefully Liz does too.
 I used a few different dark blues for the feather.
I had heard from Renee that the three sections of the stem on the feather are tough to line up, so I was extra careful there. I pinned, then used a wide basting stitch for just the stem part of the seam. That's a trick I learned from Kristy of Quiet Play, and it worked perfectly. I could check that the stem lined up properly, then sew the whole seam with a smaller stitch. The extra step saved me from having to rip and re-sew.
Then I pieced the section to complete the borders. This was as close to improv piecing as I've ever gone, even though the pieces were all precisely cut. And I still found it stressful! Trying to make it look random, while keeping pieces of the same fabric sufficiently separate, nearly drove me crazy, especially since I wasn't actually working with that many different fabrics. In the end, though, I think the feather block blends with the rest of the border rather than standing out as a separate block, so it worked.
I added this skinny teal border to separate Jennifer's HSTs from my feather border because it looked too busy when I put them side by side. There needed to be some sort of division, and this fabric has some of both the teal and the navy.
I sure hope Liz likes what I added to her quilt!
Chelsea has finished her addition to my quilt and I love what she did with it! You can see it here.

If you want to check out all the quilts in the group, Jennifer has a page on her blog where she has all the updates for each quilt. You can find it here. Thanks, Jennifer, for putting it all in one place for us.

Next up for me will be Heather's quilt. She has chosen the theme "Wishes for my Daughter" and I can't wait to get started (though I have no plan yet)!

November 24, 2014

Selective Memory

Devotion for the Week...

Have you ever noticed how we tend to remember some things and forget others? I've heard people pine for the days when their kids were toddlers and say "I'd have them back there if I could. They were so easy then." Ummm, do they not remember temper tantrums and potty training accidents? Speaking as someone who has been in toddler-town for 12 years now, between my own kids and the ones I babysit, I can assure you it's not all easy! Those who wish their kids were that age again are remembering only the sweet snuggles and the adorable 'helping' with the chores.

The Isrealites did a little selective remembering too. "The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, 'If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!'" (Numbers 11:4-6). This whining about the food they missed from their time in Egypt would have been understandable had they been vacationing in Egypt, eating an abundance of rich foods while relaxing by the pool. It would have been understandable if they had lived there happily, or even if they had passed through on their way somewhere else and eaten an amazing meal. But none of those scenarios were the case. Not even close. 

The Isrealites had been slaves in Egypt. At one point, Pharoah had commanded that all their baby boys be killed because he thought there were too many slaves in the land and, fearing a rebellion, he wanted to reduce their population. Now they are traveling in the desert, sustained by God who gives them food from heaven every morning, and they remember longingly the variety of foods they used to eat, but they have forgotten the cost. In fact, they have forgotten it so completely they even say, "We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost." 

There are some Christians who have a selective memory too. They read their Bibles or hear sermons preached and they latch onto the promises of God, but they forget quickly that some of those promises come with a cost, or a condition.

There are many who believe that all they have to do is ask and God will give them the desires of their hearts. But the verse they are referring to has a condition attached to it. "Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:4). Take delight in doesn't just mean be happy because He gives you everything you ask for. It doesn't mean ask for whatever you want and, as long as you go to church on Sunday, He will give it all to you. It means something more along the lines of find all your happiness in Him, which means that you will be desiring things which would be pleasing to Him, which He will give you. Taking delight in God will mean that your desires line up with His desires for you, but many people forget that portion of the verse.

A promise that is often quoted is "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14). We often fail to remember that God's promise to heal the problems of our land hinges on His people's commitment to prayer and repentance.

Then there are some really tough verses. Jesus said, "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins" (Matthew 6:14,15). We Christians are quick to celebrate God's forgiveness, as we should be, but we are much, much slower to follow through on our obligation to forgive others.

And there are those who think the Christian life is supposed to be easy. God will bless us each and every day with sunshine and roses and nothing will ever go wrong. I'm not sure where they get that idea, because it certainly doesn't come from the Bible. They are forgetting multiple verses that promise exactly the opposite, in fact. Jesus said very plainly, "In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). James even tells us we should "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance" (James 1:2,3). God hasn't promised us an easy life, but Jesus did say, "But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). No matter what trouble we may face, Jesus is stronger.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

So, how is your memory? Have you edited out the parts of God's promises that you don't want to have to deal with? James wrote, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says" (James 1:22). Which, of course, means doing all of it, not just the parts we like and find easy to obey.

November 18, 2014

'Twas the Night/ Blogathon Canada

Yay! It's blog hop time again! Welcome all hoppers, especially those who are visiting my blog for the first time! This post is doing double duty as today is my day for two different blog hops.
Sew Sisters Blog

Blogathon Canada is a fun hop organized by Sew Sisters Quilt Shop as a way for Canadian quilting bloggers to get to know each other a little better and introduce ourselves to new friends. There are giveaways on the Sew Sisters blog every day this week, so be sure to pop over, check it out and find the list of all the participating blogs.
And I'm so excited to finally get to share my projects for the 'Twas the Night hop hosted by Mme. Samm of Sew We Quilt, with Marlene of Stitchin By the Lake as our cheerleader/head elf. Mme. Samm's blog hops are always fun and inspiring, but this one has an extra special element. Since the theme of the hop is last minute gifts, we were all asked to make a little something for the person after us in the schedule. It was a lot of fun to plan out what I would send (mine went to Bente, of I Like to QuiltBlog in Germany), and then I couldn't wait for my package from Carolyn, of Sew. Darn. Quilt, to arrive.

What wonderful goodies she sent me! Even the packaging was fun since she had little notes written on each of the parcels. And mmmmmm, Werther's!
The pincushion is fantastic, and has been getting a lot of use already. I'm using the notebook to keep track of my daily to-do list and you can never have too many measuring tapes, right? I've never had a scissors fob before, but it sure is pretty.
 As for this cross-stitched Christmas tree ornament...wow! Absolutely beautiful, and personalized too!
 Thank you so much, Carolyn! I love it all!

As soon as I signed up for this hop, I knew I wanted to make ornaments. I love to give ornaments to lots of the people on my list, so it was fun trying to come up with something I could sew quickly. Except the process was anything but quick! My first attempt didn't work out at all.
 

I used batting, but I found that made it too stiff. I had an opening left from turning the ornament right side out and I stitched it closed by machine, but I didn't like that the red thread showed on the white fabric. I also found the stitching made the whole ornament look really messy. The fact that I caught the ribbon in the stitching only made it worse.

So, on to attempts number two and three. I was pleased with both of those, so I sent them to Bente. She is sharing them on her blog today.

After that I kept playing around with different ornament ideas, since I knew I wouldn't be sharing the ones I sent to Bente. That's when I found these fantastic free-motion Christmas trees. After a little more trial and error, these are my ornaments.
There's no batting, and because the front is all one colour, the thread I used for the topstitching doesn't stand out and take attention away from the trees. I turned the ornaments and stitched the opening closed by machine, then quilted the trees. The one on the far right distorted a little because of all the stitching, so when I make more I'll try adding a thin stabilizer of some sort. My favourite design is the pebble tree.

My next idea came to me when I was trying to think of what to make for the kids I babysit this year. Eventually, I settled on a bean bag toss game. The bean bags are made of scrap fabric, while the targets and the pouch are made of recycled denim. I have a couple of shelves stuffed full of old jeans that I've been keeping for 'someday' and this seemed like a good project to actually use some of it.
I made four sets of the game, including one for a family with three kids. Rather than make three sets of everything, I made each of them their own bean bags and then one set of targets and one pouch to hold it all.
If you have kids who would enjoy the game, my Bean Bag Toss tutorial will show you how to make your own. I'm working on a separate tutorial for the Denim Pouch because one tutorial for all of it would have been too long, but I ran out of time to get it finished before today. I'll get it finished up and posted in the next couple of days, then I'll add the link here and to the Bean Bag Toss tutorial.

If you're finding yourself really short on time this year, I will be making some ornaments and some bean bag toss games available in my Etsy shop.

Don't forget to go to the Sew Sisters blog so you can see the list of Canadian bloggers, and here is the list of today's 'Twas the Night participants:


Thanks for hopping by!

How to Make a Bean Bag Toss Game

Bean bag toss games are always fun, and bean bags are amazingly simple to sew up, so these little games make great gifts for kids. You can customize them by using fabrics in the recipient's favourite colours, or you can do like I did and assembly line a whole bunch of them at once.


Make the Bean Bags

 

You will need:
* 4 1/2" squares of fabric. You need two squares for each bean bag. I included 3 bean bags in each game, so I used 6 squares.
* Dried beans
*Thread to match the fabric



Pin two fabric squares right sides together. After accidentally sewing all the way around things in the past, I like to use two pins to remind myself to leave a gap for turning the bean bag right side out. On this one, I started sewing at the single pin on the top right and stopped at the two pins on the top left.
 Stitch around the squares using a 1/4" seam and leaving a gap for turning. Clip the corners.

Turn it right side out, gently poking out the corners. Press.
Fold the seam allowance in along the gap and press that as well.

Pour in dried beans. You don't want to fill the bag, but put in enough to give it a nice heft. Pin the opening closed.

Using thread to match the fabric, stitch close to the edge all the way around the bean bag.
And there you have it! Three bean bags ready to go.



Make the Targets

 

You will need:

* 6" squares of fabric, two per target. I included 3 targets, so I used 6 squares. I used denim for my targets, but it would work equally well with quilting cotton.
* Contrasting fabric for the numbers. I used the same fabric as for my bean bags.
* Paper-backed fusible web
* Threads to match both the fabric for the targets and for the numbers.


Pin two squares right sides together. Again, I use two pins to remind myself to stop so that I leave a gap for turning it right side out.
Stitch around the squares using a 1/4" seam and leaving a gap for turning. Clip the corners.
Turn it right side out, gently poking out the corners. Press. Fold the seam allowance in along the gap and press that as well.

Using thread to match the fabric, stitch close to the edge all the way around the target. Because I was using denim I found it helped to use my walking foot for this step. It dealt with the extra bulk at the corners much better than my regular foot.

I drew my numbers freehand, but you could print them out if you prefer. Don't forget to reverse them for fusible applique. I used my high-tech lightbox to reverse mine.
Following the manufacturer's instructions, fuse one number to the middle of each target.
Using thread to match, machine stitch around the edge of each number. I used the basic running stitch, but you could use a decorative stitch if you prefer.

And the targets are finished!
I meant to have the tutorial for the Denim Pouch with Flap Closure ready to post along with this one, but I ran out of time. I'll have it finished in the next couple of days, and then I'll add the link here.

November 17, 2014

What's She Really Like?

Devotion for the Week...

Have you ever met someone new and then gone to someone who knows that person well and asked "Is she really that nice all the time?" Or asked something similar, just to see if your first impression of the person was accurate? I do it sometimes with teenagers I don't know well. I'll ask my husband, who is a high school teacher and so sees them on a regular basis, if so-and-so is as good a kid as she (or he) seems.

We all form opinions of others based on what we know of them, what we have heard about them and what we expect them to be. We form opinions about ourselves too. With ourselves, though, we tend to focus on our failures, our fears and our shortcomings. We remember negative things people have said about us and take them on as part of our identity, while having trouble believing praise from other people. Because of that, many people have a distorted image of themselves as being less capable, less likeable and just generally less than they really are.

God's view of us is never distorted, though. I've said before that Romans is my favourite book of the Bible, and I've been reading it lately in The Message paraphrase whenever I'm waiting to pick up one of the boys. Last week this verse jumped out at me: "God pays no attention to what others say (or what you think) about you. He makes up his own mind" (Romans 2:11) It was the 'or what you think' part that really got my attention. How many people have trouble believing God loves them because they think they're unworthy of His love? How many can't believe He wants to use them because they don't think they're good at anything? Of course, The Message is a paraphrase, not a direct translation, so I checked out some translations to see how they translated this verse. 

First, though, a little context. In this chapter of his letter to the Romans, Paul was writing about those who judge others as sinful, while they themselves are also sinning. He then goes on to say:

"But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will repay each person according to what they have done." To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism" (vv. 5-11 in the NIV translation).

'First for the Jew, then for the Gentile' means that God's judgement is impartial, with no distinction made based on race, nationality or anything else. Each person will receive 'trouble and distress' or 'glory, honor and peace' based on God's righteous judgement of their life.

Other translations render verse 11 as "For there is no partiality with God" (NKJV), "For there is no preferential treatment with God" (Phillips) and "for there is no respect of persons with God" (ASV), all of which agree with the NIV 'God does not show favoritism.'

At first glance, it may seem that Eugene Peterson has gone astray with his paraphrase, since "God does not show favoritism" doesn't seem to mean the same thing as "God pays no attention to what others say (or what you think) about you. He makes up his own mind." But the more I think about it, in this context, the more I think Peterson got it right.

God doesn't look at the external markers of who we are. If you were to write the bare facts of my identity, you would say I am female, Canadian, a wife and mother, a quilter, a writer and a blogger. All of which is true, but none of which makes any difference to how God will judge me at the end of my life. If we were each to write out a list about ourselves, we would add characteristics like shy or outgoing, along with things maybe no one else knows about us, like private struggles we share with no one but that affect our perception of who we are. But again, none of that affects how God will judge us. 

God knows the truth about us, without needing to check in with others to see if His impression is right. He doesn't need to ask us if we're worthy, or hear reports about our behavior from the town gossips. He knows us. He knows whether our hearts are turned towards Him, or whether we reject Him even while we pretend to be one of His own. 

However others may define you, or whatever they (or you) may say about you, God will judge you by your heart.

November 10, 2014

Giving an Account

Devotion for the Week...

Occasionally, Paul will speak to me when he thinks I've been too hard on one of the boys, or I'll speak to him when I think he has. Usually we've been harsh not because what the child did was so awful, but because we're tired or frustrated and taking it out on an undeserving target. 

Other times I catch myself being critical or judgmental about someone and sharing thoughts that would be better dismissed completely. James wrote, "All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison" (James 3:7,8). How very true! Our tongues often seem to have a mind of their own, don't they, spewing out words before the mind takes the time to think.

Matthew records a warning Jesus gave to the Pharisees, the religious leaders of His day, "But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matthew 12:36,37). The Message paraphrase renders it as "Let me tell you something: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation."

Those are sobering words, aren't they? Would we be more careful with our words if we remembered that someday we will stand before God and hear all of our words again?

Often, when I think of being more careful about what I say, I'm thinking about what I say to the people in my life, like being careful to choose words that will not hurt the feelings of the person I'm speaking to, or reminding myself to be extra patient when I know I'm tired. This week, though, I've been thinking more about the things we say about other people. I've been thinking especially about when we're talking about politicians. If we disagree with their decisions or their actions, we tend to speak very negatively, using disrespectful language. We say things like 'stupid' or 'idiot,' words we tell young children not to use. But Ephesians 4:29 tells us "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Though the politicians will never hear the words spoken in my home, do they benefit those who are hearing them? Though it is impossible to always agree with everyone, it is possible to speak respectfully of those whose opinions are different from ours? And I think those words will be easier to account for when we stand before God.

I've also been thinking about how our tone can impact what we say. Though our words by themselves may be okay, the tone we use sometimes changes their meaning. "You are so smart" can be said seriously, in which case it is a wonderful thing to say, or it can be said sarcastically, which is not so wonderful. I would guess that when God asks us to give an account of our words, the tone we used will be a part of the discussion.

As Christians, we are called to be different. Does that difference show in the way we speak?

November 07, 2014

Still Sewing

I am still sewing, even if I haven't been blogging about it much lately. I've been quiet here partly because I've been doing a lot of experimenting to come up with projects for the 'Twas the Night blog hop that starts next week and partly because I've been working on the tractor commission quilt. I'm really pleased with how that's turning out, but it's not much to post about yet.

However, I do have some things I can share. I have finished embroidering the words for another Psalm 19 mini. Now to add the flower applique details, embroider them and then sew on some borders.
Maybe I should have ironed it before taking the picture?
I haven't actually sewn anything onto this next project yet, but it's just so pretty I had to share it. This belongs to Liz, of Green Cheese Quilting. The star in the middle is her Round Trip Quilts starting piece, onto which Jennifer, of Never Just Jennifer, added all those beautiful HSTs. I've had it out, just lying around, for a couple of days as I ponder what I want to add as my contribution. I haven't fully decided yet, but I think I want to pull out the navy that features in some of those prints, especially the Cotton + Steel lions that are peeking out from some of Jennifer's HSTs.
We have a four day weekend starting now, so I'm hoping to get a lot of sewing done during the break. Unfortunately, most of what I'm hoping to get done is for the blog hop, so I won't be able to share much until then. My day to post for that is the 18th, and I'm hoping to have a tutorial ready to go along with my one of my projects. The hop itself starts on Tuesday, the 11th, and everyone is sharing quick and simple gift ideas so there should be plenty of inspiration for just about everyone on your Christmas list. It should be fun!

Have a great quilty weekend!

November 03, 2014

Claiming God

Devotion for the Week...

The kids I babysit often show up in the morning with toys from home in their hands. With Azelyn's toys I never have to wonder later in the day if that doll is hers or our...with three boys in my family we don't have dolls! Kyle and Keeran sometimes bring little toy cars, though, and I often have to check with Nathan or Kyle to identify who owns a particular car. We have so many little cars that there's no way I can keep them all straight, but it's amazing how Nathan knows immediately "that's mine" or "that's Kyle's." Though to me all the cars look alike, they know which ones to claim as their own.

One day last week, during my morning devotions, I read part of Jeremiah 42 and I was struck by the pronouns used to express ownership.

"Then all the army officers, including Johanan son of Kareah and Jezaniah son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least to the greatest approached Jeremiah the prophet and said to him, “Please hear our petition and pray to the Lord your God for this entire remnant. For as you now see, though we were once many, now only a few are left. Pray that the Lord your God will tell us where we should go and what we should do.” 
 
“I have heard you,” replied Jeremiah the prophet. “I will certainly pray to the Lord your God as you have requested; I will tell you everything the Lord says and will keep nothing back from you" (Jeremiah 42:1-4)


Did you see it? The Isrealites first asked Jeremiah to pray to "the Lord your God." Though they were God's chosen people, they weren't claiming God as their own. They saw Him as Jeremiah's God, but not as theirs. Jeremiah said, "I will certainly pray to the Lord your God" thereby reminding them that the Lord was their God too, not just his God.

Of course, at this point in history, the people of Israel had not been following God very well. They were, in fact, so far away from God that Jeremiah was sent as a prophet to warn the people of the terrible judgement that would come if they didn't change their ways. It is understandable, then, why they might see God as belonging to Jeremiah, but not to them. But that wasn't the case at all. Jeremiah had been sent to them precisely because God still desired a relationship with them. He wanted them to change their ways and return to worshiping Him wholeheartedly. He wanted them to claim Him as their God.

The same is true for us. Regardless of what our past has held, God eagerly desires us to turn to Him, to claim Him as our own. The New Testament is full of references to God's love for us and to His desire that we believe in Him. Here are just a few examples.

John 1:12, 13 - "Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God."

John 1:12, 13 - "Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God."

1 John 3:1 - "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"

2 Peter 3:9 - "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."

Through Jesus anyone, anywhere can claim the Lord as their own God, which is exactly what He wants us to do! He wants each and every one of us to be able to say "The Lord, my God."

Do you claim Him as your own?
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