The other day I decided to look around my home and make a list of things which could be updated, changed, removed or added to. After consulting with hubby we went off to investigate a few things at the local hardware, arranged for a plumber to come by, and decided upon the basics for a kitchen makeover later in the year. Everything with us is long term because plans need to come together piece by piece, and we also prefer to have the finances saved before we embark on projects.
One simple thing I could do to update our living space was begin to sew new cushion covers, table runners, chair covers, curtains, lap quilts, and hoops filled with embroidered pieces etc. Apart from curtain fabric and sturdy chair covering fabric I have everything needed to make fresh furnishing right in my sewing room.
Those words the Lord gave me early in the year "use what you already have" continue to ring loud and clear in so many areas of life, and now I'm taking them to heart with what I make for our home and also through a new set of tutorials I've begun to share with you.
The other day I completed a square table topper, the pattern chosen after browsing this ebook I purchased from Martingale a little while ago.
It has many small quilt projects from a variety of designers and after I'd chosen three and printed the patterns out I got started on the first one, June Bug, by Camille Roskelley (the mini quilt at the bottom right of the cover).
I have more Tilda scraps than anything in my stash and right now I'm rather partial to using only scraps and avoiding (as much as possible) cutting into yardage or fat quarters.
Initially I imagined myself hand appliqueing the orange peel blocks because I always hand applique - but on a whim I opted to machine applique...which set off a series of events that may have caused me to wince in frustration more than a few times.
Now I appreciate that many of you love to machine applique, my friend Allie especially loves it, but honest, I do not. Sigh.
I had no end of issues with skipped stitches and what felt like relentless unpicking - just on my practice block - but I pushed on because once on a path to learn something I generally follow through. And I'm really glad I did because a problem came to the surface which I had been avoiding of late.
All the stitch skipping was not the fault of my machine - it was mine. I'd overlooked giving my two year old Janome Skyline a CLEAN. And I'm not talking about not cleaning it for a month or two or even three.
I'm talking about not cleaning it for two years.
In my defence (not that I deserve any) 95% of my work is and always has been hand embroidery and only occasionally do I even switch on the machine, that is until a few months back.
After the original stitchery club came to a close, and after the weariness and stress of the floods in February, and then the long process to complete designing, stitching and sewing Phyllis May's Kitchen I discovered a deep and growing enjoyment of creating week by week with my dear sewing machine.
Anyhow, mid way through appliqueing the orange peel shapes (could I have even picked an easier shape? Yet challenge me it did) I pulled the machine apart and spent a good hour apologetically and lovingly cleaning out an abundance of thread and fabric and wadding 'fluff' until the Janome's insides looked rather sparkly.
Needless to say the machine was a DREAM for the rest of the afternoon and never skipped a beat.
I chose to add a white border around the quilt at this stage, the idea inadvertently coming from leaving the project (in it's above state) on my design board while I went off to make a cup of coffee.
Returning with tea cup in one hand and a date scone in the other I surveyed the design board and thought, "Well, that's a jolly nice idea for a finish! A narrow white border before I add the binding."
Funny how fresh ideas come along in the most unimagined ways.
So on went the white border and then I pondered the age old question for small quilts - hand or machine quilt??
I chose to hand quilt...
White Perle #12 thread in the ditch, another thing I rarely do as I prefer outline or echo hand quilting, but I like the gentle puffiness, the homeliness and completely unprofessional finish this gave.
A striped binding to finish the project and my version of the June Bug mini quilt was complete.
June Bug (which I'm renaming July Bug) is currently residing on the centre of our dining table and I'm auditioning plants to be displayed on top.
Have the feeling a pretty, soft fern will be nice so I'll get one next week. In the meantime various plants are being moved in and shifted along each day.
You know God never wastes an opportunity to teach me something, especially when I'm working through a housework, sewing, garden, cooking or business challenge, and He didn't waste my sewing machine oversight this past week either.
It's so easy to overlook what we do not see.
Like with my Janome, which for two years just kept stitching away whenever the mood struck me to play with it. I took it for granted, and even ignored the few instances when the thought "does it need a clean?" popped into my mind last year. I suppose I ignored that idea for so long that this year it never came up again … until I found the stitches were skipping, the threads were always tangling or shredding, and I was in a right old aggravated state and offering a few unworthy expletives.
We can be like that with God, you know.
Plodding along day by day assured of His love and existence but little by little forgetting to acknowledge Him, allowing ourselves to be distracted from His Word by the lure of the internet, social media, sewing groups, shopping days, coffee catch-ups and any number of 'attractions' our flesh prefers.
Then a trial comes along and we're on our knees begging Him to help.
Our faith has diminished, our hope not as strong as it once was, and even though we want Him to intervene we also demand He does it our way so we can be given the result we want.
Humbling ourselves is forgotten and the peace which surpasses all understanding seems to elude us.
When we choose the attractions of the world over time spent right in God's holy presence, when we would rather read a Facebook post, a novel or a gossip magazine instead of the Bible, we are in dangerous territory.
Not maintaining our blood-bought intimate relationship with the Lord will always eventually catch us unprepared for the trials which come across our path - and everyone faces trials, especially when they least expect them. I don't want to be a woman who shakes her fist at God because life is unravelling before me and fearful lonely feelings are closing in - I've been her in the past and she's not someone I want to become again.
No, I choose to maintain a close day to day walk with Him and to offer my heart for an infilling of understanding and wisdom as I read my Bible every morning and at other times during the day. Some days I do get distracted, that's the truth, but those days are rare and I feel nothing but relief and sanctuary next morning when I go sit with my Bible in solitude with our loving Heavenly Father.
What about you?
Is your relationship with Jesus in need of some long overdue maintenance?
"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." James 4:8
That's a promise God makes to you, and He never breaks His Word.
May your blessings be bountiful in grace, mercifully miraculous, and sprinkled with gentle peace.