Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Small Beginnings

I just finished a project that was literally years in the making.

I saw this beautiful quilt, Baltimore Bunnies by Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill Designs, in a local quilt shop seven or eight years ago. I had done very little applique, but I was so taken with this quilt, I decided I had to make one myself.

I got together all the fabrics, changing my mind over and over again as I tried to decide what I would use. I spent hours tracing and cutting out templates. I went to the hardware store and got washers of the appropriate size (to use to make perfectly round circles for flower centers). I made yards of green bias tape for stems and pressed and cut out yards of background fabrics and sashing.

Finally I was ready to begin. I made Block One (the one in the top left-hand corner, the one with 52 little leaves).  It was probably the most hideous thing I have ever made. The leaves were not smooth. The flowers looked like little wavy lumps of wadded fabric. The bunnies were . . . sad.

I looked at that block and realized that I wasn't ready for this quilt.  Sure, I could plow ahead and make it, but I knew already it wouldn't be the quilt I wanted. It wouldn't be that beautiful quilt in the shop.

So I put away Block One, and I tackled another applique quilt, but this one was very simple, just cute little Sunbonnet Sues but with pointed little cat ears coming out of the sunbonnets and tails out the backs of the dresses. It's cute and was a good way to start learning.

Later, after making some small wall hangings with applique, I decided to make Flight of Fancy, a beautiful
appliqued basket of flowers and birds. It turned out well and I was feeling more confident in my skills.

I did Henrietta Squirrel, a cute quilt that was a free block of the month pattern also from Bunny Hill.

Once it was done, I felt ready to try to do the bunny quilt at last. First I revisited Block One. I removed the flowers I had originally done and put on new ones. Though my technique was better at this point, I decided that, like new wine in old wineskins, the new flowers on the old vines and leaves was never going to work. So in June of 2013 I started fresh.

In December of 2014, 917 working hours later (not including all the prep work I did all those years ago) I finally finished my Baltimore Bunnies quilt. I took it to the quilter, and found out it won't be ready until May of 2015. That seems a long time away, especially since I've been waiting for this quilt for years already, but the quilter I took it to is a true artist and I know the wait will be worth it. I can't wait to see it when it's finally done.  And I'm glad I took the time to really learn how to applique before I did this quilt. I can't wait to post some pictures of mine when I get it back!

What does my bunny quilt have to do with anything? I'm not sure, except I always like to plan for the new year. I have so much I want to do. Sometimes I am eager to jump into something, but God in His wisdom knows I'm not ready. It seems like I'm treading water, wasting time, burning precious days of my life in futility, when in truth He is preparing me, training me, seasoning me.

 Zechariah 4:10 says, "Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin." He loves to see us take the gifts He has planted in us and nurture them, use them and grow in them. He wants us to make something beautiful in its time. In His time.

What have you begun that seemed overwhelming to you until you grew into it? How have your small beginnings grown into something beautiful?

DeAnna Julie Dodson has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness and triumph over adversity. She is the author of In Honor Bound, By Love Redeemed and To Grace Surrendered, a trilogy of medieval romances, as well as Letters in the Attic, The Key in the Attic, The Diary in the Attic and The Legacy in the Attic, contemporary mysteries. Her new series of Drew Farthering Mysteries debuted in the Summer of 2013 with Rules of Murder, followed by Death by the Book and Murder at the Mikado in 2014 from Bethany House. Another Drew Farthering Mystery, Dressed for Death, is due out in Spring of 2016. A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with three spoiled cats.


  1. Wow, DeAnna, that's so amazing! Be sure to share a photo when you get it back. I'm just so in awe.

    1. Thanks, Suzie. I will.

      I have some pictures of individual blocks I've made for it, but they're in my camera still. I'll have to download them. :D

  2. Wow! This is the second blog I've read today that referred to small beginnings and Zechariah 4:10. What is God saying to me? That will be some food for thought today, I think. Thanks for sharing!

    And the quilting illustration is wonderful. I only tried quilting once. Not my thing but I love seeing the finished product and what a great life lesson there too!

    1. Thanks for coming by, Elaine. I'm glad you got something out of it. :D

  3. Beautiful! I am a quilt fail. I tried last year, just don't have the patience. I'm glad others do!

    1. It's definitely not for everyone. I got hooked though. ;)

  4. Deanna, I'm in awe of your perseverance.

  5. DeAnna, at the ACFW conference I received the devotional, Daily Guideposts 2015 from my editor and it seems that each one is talking to me about waiting/patience and trust.

    Re the quilting...I should have skipped to the end because I enlarged your pic to see what you meant and could only find nice flowers. Ha! I think I may have you beat though because I still haven't finished the appliqued baby quilt I started when carrying Jessica and she's 23 now!

    I admire your work, girl. Each time I think you've shown it all you come back with more. Thank you for allowing us to see your beautiful handiwork.

  6. Well, the top picture is just from the pattern, so it's not my hideous original Block One. I'll have to download what's on my camera and post more. I don't have any pics of hideous Block One (thank goodness), but I do of the improved (but still far from perfect) version.

    You're too sweet, Anita! I just like to have an excuse to sit and watch hockey without feeling like I'm not accomplishing anything. :D


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