April 29, 2015

A Quilting I Will Go

I've been busy quilting the quilt I'm making for Renee (Quilts of a Feather). All of the red is quilted, except for one section I had to un-quilt yesterday (sigh), and I've started in on the white.
I always use the same thread in the bobbin, which in this case is red, and all that red thread on the solid white backing fabric really stands out. Every little wobble shows!
This mini will soon be ready to fly off to Renee, so I'll be sharing pictures of the whole quilt as soon as she gets it.

And, when I haven't been quilting, I've had a bit of fun playing with a marker. One of the kids I babysit wanted me to colour with them one morning, so I grabbed a scrap of paper and a marker and experimented. I can see me doing more quilt doodles in the future...and I'd love to quilt something like this someday. Maybe a little more practice on paper first, though ;)
I hope you're having a great week. I'm anxious for Friday to get here, so I can finally share the project I made for the new issue of Make Modern magazine (yippee!!). See you then!

I'll be linking with WIP Wednesday, Let's Bee Social, NTT 

April 27, 2015

Permanence

Devotion for the Week...

Last weekend we spent a day out of town visiting Paul's family and drove home after dark. As we drove down the familiar highway, I thought of all the things I wasn't able to see because of the dark. There were places along the road where I knew I should have been able to see a pond or a hill off in the distance, but instead I could only see what was illuminated by the headlights.

The experts say that babies have to learn 'object permanence' - the concept that people and things still exist even when they are hidden from sight. That's why peek-a-boo is so exciting for babies. They think we disappear and they are genuinely surprised when we reappear, until their minds begin to understand that things still exist even when they can't be seen. Understanding object permanence is why we don't panic when we go out in the dark and can't see past our lights, or why a thick fog doesn't make us think the world has vanished, even though it looks like everything is gone.

I think sometimes we would do well to focus on 'God permanence' - the concept that God continues to exist even if we can't see Him or hear Him, that He is there even if we can't pinpoint His hand working in our lives. When things go wrong, we can feel like God doesn't care, or that He's not paying attention, or we may even start to wonder if God is real at all.

It makes me think of 1 Corinthians 13:12, which says, "For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."

Mirrors today are really clear. I can look into the mirror and see every little hair on my head, including the grey one that likes to stand straight up at the top. I can see the room behind me; everything that is within the scope of the mirror is reflected back to me just as clearly as it would look if I turned around and looked at it straight on. But the mirrors in biblical times were not quite so clear. The mirrors then were made of metal, polished so that it could reflect the image of the person using it. Though it could reflect, it wasn't like looking in mirrors that we have today. That explains why Paul wrote that now we see only as in a mirror...the reflection wasn't as clear as seeing face to face would be. What was close to the mirror (ie the person using it) would be most clear. Everything else would be indistinct, if it could be seen at all. In the same way, what was in our headlights was clearly visible, while what lay beyond them was invisible, even though I knew there was more out there. 

I can't see God. I know that He exists, that He is there, but I can't see Him with my eyes. He isn't within the scope of my mirrors or my headlights. I can't always see what He's doing in my life, either, but that doesn't mean that He has stopped caring for me. Now we are seeing only a partial, dull reflection, but one day we will see as clearly as God sees. Then we will understand it all. And while we're waiting, we remember that He is there. That He exists and cares for us, even when He is out of sight.

April 21, 2015

Twirling Star Pattern Available!

 The pattern for my Twirling Star mini quilt is now available in my Etsy and Payhip shops!
Twirling Star Mini Quilt Pattern | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

The mini quilt finishes at 19 1/2" x 19 1/2" and features both traditional piecing (the hourglass blocks) and paper piecing (the pinwheel blocks).
 
Kitty, who blogs at Night Quilter, tested this pattern for me and she did an awesome job with it! You can see her beautiful rainbow version of Twirling Star here. Thank you so much, Kitty!

The pattern includes a colouring page, so you can test out different fabric possibilities before actually cutting into fabric (thanks, Kitty, for the suggestion!).

Though the pattern is only for the mini quilt, it would be easy to make it into a larger quilt, just by making more blocks. A 2 x 2 setting would make a great baby quilt!

Visit my Etsy or Payhip shop to get your copy of the pattern. If you make a Twirling Star quilt, I'd love to see it! You can email pictures or blog post links to piecefullydevoted at gmail dot com, or tag me on Instagram (@devotedquilter).

Linking with Sew Cute Tuesday, Fabric Tuesday, Let's Bee Social,
NTT, 
TGIFF, Can I Get a Whoop Whoop and Finish it up Friday

April 20, 2015

Go Away!

Devotion for the Week...

There are a number of stories in the Bible that I find interesting, often because I wonder, "What were they thinking?" This is one such story:

      "When he [Jesus] arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”
       Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”
       He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region" (Matthew 8:28-34).

The miracle of healing the demon-possessed men is amazing, but that's never really been why this story intrigued me. I've always wondered why the townspeople "pleaded with him to leave their region." They so intensely didn't want Jesus near their town that they begged him to leave. Why? What were they thinking?

Jesus had just miraculously healed two men, which you would think would have made the people welcome him with a celebration, but that healing had caused the death of a large herd of pigs. Someone, or maybe several someones, owned those pigs. Were all of the townspeople somehow affected by this loss and its repercussions? Would that explain why they begged Jesus to leave - so that there would be no further financial consequences? That was the answer I found in the commentaries I read while preparing to write this devotion (you can find some of them here and here if you are interested), and it seems to make sense. In fact, it seems rather prevalent today.

The townspeople were more interested in the here and now than in the kingdom of God which is to come. They were more interested in preserving their financial security than in anything Jesus could offer them, and they certainly didn't want to take any chances that Jesus would change things for them. They quite liked the status quo, thank you very much. We may not have pigs we're worried about safeguarding, but I think we often have the same attitude as these townspeople.

Jesus does not physically walk into our towns, so we do not actually plead with him to leave as they did, but it's possible that our actions are just as unwelcoming to Him. How often do we neglect things like prayer or Bible reading because we're too tired, or too busy with other things? How often do we ignore the Holy Spirit's prompting to stop gossiping or being judgmental? How often do we avoid doing the things we know we should be doing because doing them will be too costly, either in terms of money, time or popular opinion?

If Jesus were to suddenly appear physically in our towns, would we be comfortable with Him? Would we be able to live our daily lives as they are, knowing that we could run into Him at any moment? Would we find ourselves changing the way we live, trying to live up to His standard so that we wouldn't be caught doing things we shouldn't? 

Would we find ourselves wishing He would go away so we could continue living as we always have, without worrying about things like righteousness, holiness and pleasing God?

The fact of the matter is, of course, that though we can't see Him physically, He is actually right here with us. Not only in our towns, but in our homes and workplaces. What sort of reception are we giving Him?

April 16, 2015

Round Trip Quilts - Round 5

For this round of Round Trip Quilts I have had Christina's quilt. Christina blogs at Wips and Tuts and the theme for her quilt is her favourite season - autumn. Of all the quilts being made by this group, this is the one my husband most wishes he could keep! It is so beautiful!

It is also huge!! Outside pictures are out of the question right now because everything here is dirty snow or mud, so in order to take these pictures I taped the quilt to the living room wall - it took up almost the whole space from the crown molding to the baseboards!

I forgot to take a picture before I added my section, so there's no before and after shots, but here's what it looks like now.

When I opened the package from Jennifer, I knew right away that I wanted to add something to help balance out the blue and green that she added with those beautiful trees at the top. It was really hard to get a good picture...those blues are a little more vibrant in real life.
I wasn't sure what I could add, but as soon as I opened the notebook Christina sent along with the quilt, I read the phrase "apple cider at bonfires" and I remembered seeing a campfire block somewhere. When I went looking for it, I also found these tents. Once I checked with Christina that the tents were okay, and not too summery, I was all set to go.
If I could redo it, I'd have used all light greens for the ground and all dark browns for the logs at the base of the fire as the medium toned logs seem to disappear into the background a little more than I would like.
At one time it seemed I had a huge abundance of blue and green fabric, so I consciously try to buy other colours to balance things out. Except it seems I've gone too far the other way and now I didn't have enough of any one blue to do all the sky, or enough of any one green to do all of the ground. I decided to do a bit of improv and mix it up for both the sky and the ground. Only when I was taking these pictures did I notice that the one green fabric that had flowers ended up upside down (oops!).
Joining the tents and the fire into one strip meant taking a little extra care to make sure the ground joined up all the way across and there were no sudden drop offs or cliffs between sections. I'm pretty pleased with how the rather hilly campground looks in the end.
I sure hope Christina likes what I've added! It's hard to believe we're almost finished these quilts...only two more rounds to go. We've been discussing what we want to do next and it seems most members of the group are game for another collaboration of some sort. Whatever we end up deciding, I have a feeling it will challenge my creativity and result in fun projects.

April 13, 2015

Really Looking

Devotion for the Week...

I love to read. Lately I haven't been reading as many books because I'm spending so much time quilting or reading quilting blogs, but I still love a good book. Right now I'm reading The Strangled Queen, an historical fiction written by French author Maurice Druon. The book is number 2 in a series of 7, and is set in France in the 1300s. The series chronicles the end of the Capetian kings, about whom I know absolutely nothing.

When I was reading a couple of weeks ago, this lined jumped out at me: "He had governed men from so high a position and for so long that he had lost the knack of looking at them" (p. 97). The he mentioned in the quote was in charge of the treasury and daily made decisions that affected the lives of everyone in the kingdom, but he had stopped really seeing the people. He had stopped thinking about how his decisions affected them and he had stopped caring about individual people.

I sat for a few minutes, reading the line over and over, before finally getting up and typing it into my laptop for use in a devotion. The contrast was just too great to ignore. There is, after all, no position higher than God. There is no government that is responsible for more people and no politician who has governed longer.

But God hasn't lost the knack of looking at us. He sees every detail of our lives and cares about our well-being. Consider these verses:

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows" (Matthew 10: 29-31).

"You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me" (Psalm 139: 1-5).

He sees us. Really sees us. He cares about us so much that He is always aware of where we are, what we are doing, what we are thinking and what we are feeling. No one could possibly see us more clearly than God sees us, and nothing could ever change the fact that He cares enough to really look at us.

April 10, 2015

Finish-a-Long 2015 - Quarter 2 Goals

One quarter of the year is gone already, which means it's time to make another goals list for the Finish-a-Long with Adrienne of On the Windy Side.

I managed to finish two of the four items on my Quarter 1 list, the wedding quilt (finished one week after the wedding) and Eli's baby quilt. That leaves two projects still hanging on.

1. My Craft it Forward #2 - This will be finished this quarter, I promise! I have actually made progress, so I should be ready to mail it off within a couple of weeks.

2. My Craft it Forward #3 - So, I still haven't started this, but I actually have a plan now so that's progress. I'm really going to work on getting this finished. My Craft it Forward recipients must think I forgot about them, unless they read these quarter goals lists!

3. My brother is getting married tomorrow, so I'm making them a quilt. I debated forever which pattern to use, so once I finally made a decision there was no way I could even attempt to have the quilt finished in time for the wedding.
 
Right now it is a nice, neat stack of blocks and I absolutely love how it is looking. There may be sneak peeks now and then, like this black and white hint at some of the units that went into the blocks, but I won't be sharing much until it is finished and delivered.

4. A mini quilt for a swap with Renee of Quilts of a Feather. I'm doing epp for the top, so it's slow going, but I'm about halfway finished now. I stitched all through my flight to Nova Scotia yesterday.
Again, there may be sneak peeks now and then, but I'd like to keep it more or less secret until Renee has it.

4. Another set of Spin Placemats.
This set of 4 placemats is available in my Etsy shop.
I started this yellow and green version months and months ago and the tops are finished, I just have to baste, quilt and bind them. I'd like to get them finished so I can list them in my Etsy shop. My pattern for the placemats is available in both my Etsy and Payhip shops.
5. At least one more item for my Etsy shop.

That should keep my busy! And I'm sure there will be other things that pop up over the next couple of months, so I'm not likely to be bored!

April 09, 2015

Denim Pouch with Flap Closure

Better late than never, right? Back in November, when I posted my tutorial for the Bean Bag Toss Game, I said I would post the tutorial for the denim pouch "in the next few days." Well, a few days turned into a few months, but here we are - finally!

You Will Need


1 piece of denim 9" x 20". I cut up a pair of old jeans and used the back of one leg. Often the front of the leg either has holes in the knees, or the fabric at the knee is stretched, so it's hard to get a piece long enough from the front, but the back words great.

1 piece of lining fabric 9" x 20"

1 piece of fabric 3" x 4 1/2" for the handle. I used the same fabric for the handle as I used to make the bean bags.

To Make the Handle


With the wrong side facing up, press in 1/4" on both short sides.
 Press in half along the long side, then open again.
 Fold both sides in to the middle crease and press.
Fold in half and press again. Stitch close to the edge along the long side. Don't worry about sewing the short sides now; you'll do that when attaching the handle to the pouch.

To Make the Pouch


**Do these steps for the denim and the lining fabric at the same time.**

With the right side facing up, fold up the bottom, leaving 5" at the top. Pin and stitch both sides with a 1/4" seam.

To press the seam, fold back the top side of the seam allowance and press. Then flip the pouch over and repeat with the other side.
To box the corners, align the side seam with the center of the pouch bottom, forming a triangle. Draw a line 1" from the tip of the triangle. Stitch on the line, then trim away the excess 1/4" from the seam.
To create the shape of the flap, measure in 2" from the side at the top of the bag and cut an angled line to just above the side seam.
Since you have been doing these steps to both the denim and the lining fabric, you are now ready to assemble your pouch. This is always the step where I have to check a tutorial to be sure I'm getting it right - I can never remember which goes inside which! Now I guess I'll be able to check my own tutorial :)

With the denim pouch wrong side out, insert the lining with the right sides facing. Pin around the flap and the top of the pouch. I use two pins together to remind myself to leave a gap for turning the pouch right side out. So, in this picture, I would start stitching at the red pin at the top right, then stop at the two pins together at the top left. Stitch with a 1/4" seam, leaving a gap for turning.
Cut out a notch where the flap meets the side of the bag, to help the fabric lay flat once it is turned right side out. Be careful not to cut through the seam!
Turn the bag right side out through the gap. Press around the flap and the top of the bag. Press the seam allowance under in the gap and pin.
Stitching close to the edge, topstitch around the flap and the top of the bag.

To Attach the Handle


Stand the bag up and center the handle at the top. You don't want it laying completely flat, so leave a bit of a bump in the middle and pin the two sides.
Stitch two lines close together near both short sides of the handle, backstitching a couple of times at the beginning and end of each line of stitching to be sure it will hold securely.

And there you have it! One denim pouch, perfectly sized for a Bean Bag Toss Game, or whatever other treasures you wish :)
If you make one, I'd love to see it! Email me a picture, or tag me on Instagram (@devotedquilter).

April 06, 2015

Joy!

Devotion for the Week...

Happy Easter!

Last week I looked at how it wasn't fair. Jesus had done nothing wrong, but He paid the price for every wrong done by anyone in the world, ever. There are so many elements of that price that must have been awful. There was the emotional pain of being betrayed by a friend, of being abandoned by His other friends, of having one of them deny even knowing Him. There was the spiritual pain of feeling separated from the Father because of the sin He bore. There was the immense physical pain of the whips, of the thorns, of the cross. I can't even begin to imagine the smallest part of any of that pain, let alone all of it bursting upon one person all at once.

Even though it wasn't fair, and even though He didn't deserve it, He did it all for joy, and He did it willingly.

Before Judas came and identified Him to the soldiers, Jesus spent time praying in the garden. He knew what was coming. He knew the pain He would face and He didn't turn away from it. Yes, He prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me." (Matthew 26:39) because He, as a man, didn't want to face that pain if there was any other way. But there wasn't another way, and He offered Himself with the rest of the prayer, "Yet not as I will, but as you will" (Matthew 26:39). Could I have said those words, knowing what was about to come? Could you?

The Bible tells us that Jesus was able to say "not as I will, but as you will" because He had the right motivation. "For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2). Joy? What joy was set before Him? What joy could be so important to Him that He willingly endured the pain of the cross?

Us. Our salvation, our redemption, our eternity safe and secure with Him. 

Jesus knew that His death was the only way to pay the price for our sins. He knew that He would rise again and that His resurrection would be only the first, that after Him all who believe would also be given eternal life. He knew that "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). 

He knew that the pain He suffered would be for our salvation, and so He chose it willingly - for the joy of being our Savior.

April 01, 2015

WIP Wednesday - A Little Progress

I've been making little bits of progress on a bunch of projects this week, so here's a little update on everything.

This lovely stack is half the units I need for a wedding quilt for my brother and his fiancee. It's in black and white so I don't give them any hints about the colours :) I'm not even trying to get this one finished in time for their wedding (which is in 10 days), but I'm really pleased with how well it is coming together. I'm planning to finish the quilt by the summer, so I think I'm on track for now.

This round of the Round Trip Quilts I have Christina's quilt, which has an autumn/woodland theme. So far I have made three little tents to add to it. Our Easter/spring break starts on Friday, so hopefully I'll have lots of sewing time in the next week to finish my plan for this quilt.

The flowers are fused onto my Psalm 19 mini, and I'm about halfway through stitching around them. It will be nice to finally cross this off my to-do list soon.
 

My epp project is coming along nicely too. Unfortunately, I find my wrist hurts if I spend too much time doing this type of stitching, so I have to limit it. That is really annoying because I could happily spend hours and hours working on this, but I'd really pay for it afterwards. The funny thing is, my wrist doesn't hurt at all while I'm stitching! In my tutorial on how to baste hexagons for English Paper Piecing, I said I don't sew through the paper to the fabric on the front, but these pieces are quite a bit larger and I found that stitching only on the back doesn't work as well.

I'll only be sharing little sneak peeks of this project since it is for a swap with an online friend and I want her to be at least a little surprised when she receives it.
So that's where things stand now. Also, the sun is shining and I'm finding my cabin fever intensifying as I just want to get outside! Thankfully, the snow and ice are gone from our roads, so I can finally start running again. Now if only the 3 or 4 feet of snow would melt so the flowers could start blooming...

Linking up with WIP Wednesday, Let's Bee Social and NTT.
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