Jun 20, 2015

Zooming in on Spring

It's that time of the year when the hot weather comes back and Summer is about to make its grand comeback!

So, why not say good-bye to Spring with some shots of those amazing moments when everything looks dry and lifeless, but little spurs of color start peaking out from here and there, reminding us that they're back, and that they will inject a burst of hues where there seems to be none...

Our cherry bushes finally are strong enough to gift us fantastic cherry blossoms! We got them three years ago and we were hoping they liked their little spot - and they do! Each blossom is perfect!

How about the carpet of itty bitty flowers?  Yes, they are weeds! But I must confess there's something inside me that smiles each times I look outside and there's a carpet of lilac with hints of blue...  

I could not resist slowing down and turning back when driving to a friend's house, just to get these beauties! It's a phone pic, so it's not my favorite shoot - no worries!  I just think that having the blessing of enjoying a bit of something pretty at the side of the road should not go unnoticed...  :)

And how about this vibrant pink little flower! It grows on a bush in the back of the house, so it generally sneaks out! I'm glad I didn't miss it this year! :)

How could I forget the first comers... Daffodils! So cheery and beautiful! I thought they looked particularly strong next to the garden lamp that didn't quite make it through the winter...

Hats off to the humble wild rose! Nothing seems to shy her away, and each years it comes back stronger, sturdier and with that fantastic deep pink that manages to make me smile each time... :)  (And I smile even wider when I remember that somebody mowed it more than once... lol He just made it hardier!) 

And how not to mention storms... A mighty witness of the power of nature that invites us to remember God and His multiple blessings!

Another survivor of my non-so-green thumb... I look forward to having blackberries any time soon!

Stay blessed!


Jun 3, 2015

April BOM - Pine Needle Basket

Oh man! That's about as much as I can say when we're already in June and I haven't blogged about the Pine Needle Basket (rolling eyes at myself...).

It seems that we have less and less time every day, and I'm having issues wiggling in some quilting in the middle of it all.  (Sigh!) I may need to become a full-time quilter and part-time worker if I will ever keep up with this.  I must say that I harbor a new admiration for those bloggers that post every week; yes, I salute those bloggers that come back and take care of stuff constantly and have a seamless blog!  Even with a weekly post, their blogging is substantial an interesting - like those books that keep you plugged in page after page, all the way to the end!

I can't go back and make sure that my late blogs match the month they're supposed to. But what I can certainly do is give myself some minutes and share more quilting adventures with this fantastic baskets!  

Yes, baskets are growing on me.  I'm not sure whether I'll ever make another basket quilt. I just know that the experience I am getting is well worth the effort!

So, here is where we were last post... 

Here is what this post is about - the handle. And it's paper pieced!  I just love paper piecing! It allows for so many shapes in a simple and precise way. So, I'll share how I made this handle, hoping that it sheds some light in a dark, far-away quilting corner that has not seen paper piecing before...

The picture above is the template, and it is a mirror image of the finished piece. It does not have a lot of steps, or "sections" of fabric, but it has tricky angles, so you need to make sure that all the areas are covered.

This is what I like to do - folding the paper and make sure that the piece of fabric I'm using goes beyond the area that needs to be covered.

Fold as much as you need to make sure everything will be OK...

Then cut. Leave a bit of extra fabric around, just to be on the safe side.

Also, make sure that all the lines in the template are 'marked.' Try using a ruler, a piece of mylar or a card to fold the template on each of the marked lines; this will make other steps easier.

Fold the template on one of these lines and cut the fabric, 1/4" off. If you prefer, sew the fabric by following the fold line and then cut - it works both ways.

Keep going...

See how the stitch line follows the pattern lines?

Just keep going, making sure you've got enough fabric. Also, remember to open the fabric before cutting - you'll save yourself a huge nightmare!  :)

And here is what it looks like after it is finished and trimmed. You don't even have to worry about the direction to press the fabric.

This basket just needed a pretty pieced handle to be ready...

Don't forget your best friend: the intersections to make everything super accurate.

And here you have it! Pine Needle Basket! 

One more down for the Craftsy 2015 BOM.  We are supposed to start working on applique, too... Which I haven't done before... like never... Quite curious here, with a crafty bone that keeps itching in anticipation... Feels good!  :)

Stay blessed,


May 25, 2015

Jesus Outside the Lines, by Scott Sauls

With a title like this, who would not be curious about reading this book and finding out exactly what the concept of "Jesus outside the lines" means. 

Yes, that is what caught me - the title; the watercolor art was also quite intriguing for me, particularly because of the play on prime colors. Boxes around the title and blending in the colors - I knew I was interested in knowing what was inside the minute I saw the outside. And I was not disappointed. And I could not put this book down. I even read several chunks more than twice, because the reflections are complex. It is obvious that this book is the result of years of thinking and experiencing the outcome of christians' interaction with the non-christian world, whether positive or negative.

Forget about who says what and two sides of an argument! God created everyone, and God loves everyone - whether they agree with us or not. Scott Sauls has created a challenge for christians: being christian, as it is actually defined in the Bible and not by a certain concept, group or social trend. 

Loving people, and not just a nice, fluffy, rainbow-y love, but the one that cares, speaks up and even make people uncomfortable when necessary, for either party, is all throughout this book. Jesus Outside the Lines is all about reaching outside our comfort level and see people for their real worth, the sacrifice of Jesus, and moving towards them because they are eternal beings, with an honest, authentic motivation that reflects the character of God. 

Scott Sauls engages the reader and proves how relevant today's culture is to a christian, in that it is necessary to approach the needs of those who reject God, while loving and respecting them. And here is where the colors in the cover come in... Blue, red and yellow are blue, red and yellow; when they interact with each other, they become a new color. Something wonderful can be created by reaching out to others and being christian, not just by word, but by action.

Also, if anyone would be interested in going deeper into any of the concepts in the book, there is a well-marked pathway in the numerous books, movies and other reference materials. This would be a fantastic study book for those interested in studying the relationship between Christianity and the cultures and movements that mark today's society.

Well supported, easy to read and with deep ideas, I would definitely recommend this book, to christians and non-christians alike. Jesus Outside the Lines is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to know the character of Jesus. It may make some people uncomfortable, but I would suggest to take a deep breath and see if there is a window of opportunity to learn from Mr. Sauls.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers, in exchange for a review. This has not biased my opinion on the book or on the author.

May 8, 2015

April BOM - The basket and precision piecing in action!

Sooooo... Where did April go? Once more, life kicks in and it seems that I cannot have a bit of rest to stop here and keep up with... Almost about anything... I've about decided that I'll never do and that I'd better not sweat it and just enjoy... Somehow... 

After the first four Craftsy BOM blocks amd all its ups and downs, I have been able to see the effects of this course in my quilting habits - and it's fantastic! 

I must confess that I finished the April block on the first weekend of the month... Last month, it is... My quilting is getting better (or at least I woulkd like to think so), but my blogging is not keeping up with it.  Please forgive me. I just hope that you join in the adventure and have fun together!

Let's get started with the (almost) monthly adventure... 

According to the instructions, each piece is cut individually - well, that doesn't happen much in my book - the following instructions part, that is. I'm actually starting with a square for the half-square triangles. It may be the bias cut that gets under contol with this technique, but I found out that this ends up being more accurate, so it works best for me. 

Another thing that I started doing, particularly after my intersection findings, is marking the inner seams, even when it is a straight seam.  Of course, it takes longer, but it's OK. For me, this quilt is all about learning and enjoying each step; almost like enjoying a dessert and taking time to flavor each spoonful... Now, that's making me hungry!

And here is one of those little exciting moments, when the blue line of the border print is right off the seam, so it sort of frames the print.

And here are the basket pieces all ready to be put together, with all their little inner seams marked. I can't say enough how huge of a difference this makes!

Let's start with the triangles. Take a look at the bigger light blue triangle in the bottom. Can you see it looks WAY larger? Well, it will look even larger once his neighbors are sewn together...

Now, this is where the extra step of marking the inside seams comes in supper estra handy. Even here, if you match the intersecting points (can you see the pencil mark?)...

... You will have matching points, even if you end up with "dog ears," that little fabric that goes way beyoind the edges, and fabric edges of different lengths.

And when everything is sewn together, you'll just feel like jumping out of joy! Happy, pointy triangles! Yay!

And again, we have pieces that don't have matching edges...

...but if you "forget" about the edge and focus on the seam, everything will be fine!  Just take a peek at the template on top of the basket. See the corners? Happy precision piecing in action!

Of course, every single part is getting its inner seam marked and that little tailor's chalk has become one of my favorite tools! I tell you, it's getting quite a workout lately!

And this is the reason why I am talking about the inner seams this much. See how easy it is to see where the seams should match? Once you press these poeces open, you won't regret taking the extra steps...  :)

Make sure that the points where the seams intersect does not shift and pin as much as you like.

... As MUCH as you like, like every fabric fold, both ways, just because you like precise piecing and pointy triangles... :)

Ta-da! I didn't even have to cut any fabric to have straight edges!

The sides and bottom of the basket also come together pretty neatly, despite the inset seam. Just make sure to use matching thread! That's right... I was not smart enough to use my super black Isacord, and the chunky cotton thread had to come off! 

Maybe next time I won't get that excited and just pay attention to the (what would seem) obvious.

Well, my dear friends; this was my celebration of finally understanding how to do it! You know, people say that it's only after several tries something works that it's proven true and accurate.

I'll be posting the rest of this block very soon!

Thanks for reading and stay blessed!