April and May Name Pillows

To purchase a name pillow, visit my shop!

Be strong and courageous, TYLER, do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Be strong and courageous, TYLER, do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, OWEN, as long as I'm living my baby you'll be.

I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, OWEN, as long as I'm living my baby you'll be.

When you lie down, you will not be afraid, MAXWELL, when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:24

When you lie down, you will not be afraid, MAXWELL, when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:24

Be strong and courageous, PIPER, do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Be strong and courageous, PIPER, do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

When you lie down, you will not be afraid, SELAH, when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:24

When you lie down, you will not be afraid, SELAH, when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:24

Be strong and courageous, AMARIS, do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Be strong and courageous, AMARIS, do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Look at the stars, look how they shine for you, EVERETT, and everything you do...

Look at the stars, look how they shine for you, EVERETT, and everything you do...

I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, NADINE, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be.

I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, NADINE, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be.

For I know the plans I have for you, TRUMAN, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, TRUMAN, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11

I have written your name, HANNAH, on the palsm of my hands. Isiah 49:16

I have written your name, HANNAH, on the palsm of my hands. Isiah 49:16

Be strong and courageous, CHARLOTTE, do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Be strong and courageous, CHARLOTTE, do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

I'll love you today, I'll love you forever, GREER, my baby to me, you'll always be.

I'll love you today, I'll love you forever, GREER, my baby to me, you'll always be.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, HARPER, your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, HARPER, your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14

Be strong and courageous, BRENNAN, do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Be strong and courageous, BRENNAN, do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

For I know the plans I have for you, ARLO, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, ARLO, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11

Be strong and courageous, AVERY, do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Be strong and courageous, AVERY, do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

New Beginnings

Well, there's so much I want to talk about.  A lot has happened the past year.  The biggest obvious is that we had a baby!  A beautiful girl name Austen Josephine.  She really is a miracle, my dream come true.  But her story will come later.  For now, I wanted to share where I am at today.

While I was pregnant, I went back and forth basically the whole time whether or not I wanted to stay home or go back to work.  The reason I wanted to stay home was obvious.  I want to be the one to care for my baby.  To feed her, play with her, rock her to sleep.  I also wanted to be able to pick up my big kid from school and spend time with him without rushing to do homework, eat dinner, then get ready for bed.  He loves playing sports but we weren't able to put him on a team because I wasn't able to get off in time to take him to practice.

But I also loved my job and the people I worked with.  My boss is an amazing and generous lady and my colleagues are fun.  The atmosphere at work is one of the best I've ever experienced.  And I had creative freedom in just about every project I worked on.  It was the best.

In the end, I chose staying at home.  What helped me make my decision is that my husband felt at peace with me staying home.  Of course, there are times where we both freaked out about finances but so far, we feel that this is where the Lord has us right now.  I know being a stay at home mom is privilege.  Not everyone has the luxury to do this.  It is a blessing to be the one to care for your kids and raise them and lead them to know the Lord.

The days at home are long and hard sometimes.  There's non-stop nursing, endless amount of fussiness, and barely anytime to take a shower.  There's entertaining the big kid so he doesn't end up playing video games all day.  It's figuring out that cooking dinner in the morning is the best at this time because I never know how the end of the day will play out.  And sometimes we go to Target to walk aimlessly around so the baby can take a good long hour nap.  This "job" is not glamorous by any means.

But there's also quiet time and prayers with the big kid in the morning that have led to life altering questions.  We play soccer in the backyard whenever the baby naps and then when she wakes up, I walk around the neighborhood while he rides his bike.  The mornings are the best because they are slow and no one has to get anywhere right away (big kid is on summer break!).  We all spend time in bed and take our time getting up to eat breakfast.  We talk in high-pitch voices and make silly faces so the baby will smile at us and babble back.  We have picnics in the living room for lunch and have watched all the oldie but goodie movies like ET, The Sandlot, and Princess Bride.  These moments are fleeting and I want to treasure them forever.

But I still have to work being at home.  I have taken on some freelance projects and also illustrating a children's book.  I have started sewing/quilting again and man, I have missed it.  It is good to be dreaming of quilt patterns to write and fabric patterns to design.  My dream has always been to pursue the quilting industry as a professional and I have tried to do that while I was working full time but it was too much.  Now, I feel like that it is the right time and I am excited to see where this future could lead me.

So this is where I am at.  Some days I feel very confident that this was the right decision.  And then some days I have a melt down in my head about how the heck we are going to pay our bills.  But the Lord is faithful like He always is.  In my freak out moments, I have seen orders flood in or potential clients contact me out of the blue.  It is not me who provides, it is Him.  I am grateful that He has allowed me to be home with my children and pursue my design dreams.

 

 

 

Everyone Is Pregnant But Me

The Lord has been telling me to share my stories for a long time.  Not just with my close friends or when I am around other people, but to write them down and put them out into the world.  I've ignored his calling for...over a year now.  It's not that I'm afraid to share.  Ok, I lied.  I am afraid.  I am super private about my life.  I don't like to share the daily happenings let alone overshare all the things that I struggle with.  And then I don't feel like I'm a good enough writer for this.  Which is funny because I used to want to be a writer.  A modern-day Jane Austen (what girl wouldn't want to be?).  I have three posts that I've started a couple of months back that I have started off strongly and then I hit that wall.  Writer's block.  I don't know what type of style of writing I have.  I don't think I am a poetic writer nor do I think I am a comedic one.  So I'm just going to write like I am writing a letter to a dear friend.  And the story I will share is what I am struggling with now.  Here goes.

I want to have another baby.  I want it so bad that I have very vivid dreams of being pregnant and delivering a child every couple of weeks.  I have wanted another baby right after Ben and I got married two years ago.

Every month is the same agonizing wait.  Am I or aren't I?  I over analyze every symptom.  My boobs hurt a lot this time around so I must be.  Oh, these cramps are terrible so this must be the month.  OMG, I'm two seconds late, I'm so pregnant.  And then...the truth comes out.

I used to google all my symptoms, looking for hope in the forums and the articles.  So many hours dedicated to reading run-on sentences written by scared single ladies and abbreviated phrases such as BFP (Big Fat Positive).  Oh, and so much money spent on pregnancy tests and then lots of time spent shifting the stick around under the light to see maybe if there was a very faint positive line.

Gavin came when we were doing everything we can to prevent.  Because of that, I thought having a second baby would be so easy.  Snap my fingers and my belly would grow.  How silly of me to think that.

Ben is very content with just having one.  He got his son, why wouldn't he be content?  But me, I want two.  I actually want three or four but that's just pushing it.  Now, it'll be a miracle if we could just get one more.

Last February I finally ended up pregnant.  I wasn't going to take a test but I drove past a car on my way to work and their license plate read "BPF"...the letters got switched around but they were all there.  Big Fat Positive.  I took the test, became ecstatic with my best friend, and then spent the night watching beautiful birthing videos and crying.  The next morning, I took another test to see if the line had gotten darker.  To my surprise, it was much lighter.  And then I started bleeding.  I prayed and begged God to not let this happen.  I tested every single day while that was happening.  After 4 days, at around 5 weeks, I got a negative, confirming what happened.

I bought this print from Joy Kelley from How Joyful Shop.  A sweet reminder of the little one I have and that I will meet again.

After that, my passion for having another baby quickly died away.  I still wanted one but it was not in the forefront of my mind.  I was grieving over the little one that never got to be.  I later learned that I was idolizing having a baby.  I put God's good gift in front of God.  I obsessed over pregnancy and babies instead of focusing on Him.  So no more Googling symptoms.  No more pregnancy tests unless it's I am several days late.  My focus has shifted back to Him. 

There are many reasons why I want another child.  It's my motherly/womanly instinct.  I also want a redo with my first pregnancy.  I was far from the Lord and it was not special to me spiritually.  I feel that another baby would be the perfect conclusion of Ben and I's redeeming story.  I also don't want Gavin to grow up alone...but it's been 6 years and now I feel that he and a much younger sibling might not have anything in common anyways.

I have prayed for the Lord to take away my desire for having more children if it's not meant to be.  My husband doesn't really want anymore and if his heart is not into it, I don't want mine to be.  The Lord hasn't really given me clear signs to have hope in having more children.  Not in the way that he did when I was praying for me and Ben to be married. 

Children are a blessing from the Lord.  Thank you Lord for blessing me with Gavin.  Seeing as to how HARD it actually is to be pregnant, I am so grateful for having Gavin.  All these things have to go right from beginning to end to create this amazing life and the Lord blessed me with that when I truly did not deserve it.  And I guess I never will deserve it.

So I give it all to God.  What else can I do?

Pennants and Pinwheels with Gleeful Fabrics

The cutest garment and fabric designer ever, Caroline (SewCaroline), asked me if I'd be willing to make something out of her newest fabric line, Gleeful Fabrics.  Um, duh.

gleeful-fabrics-sewcaroline

This line is so fresh, fun, and bold.  It reminds me of the giddiness you feel on the first day of summer!  So I came up with a design that I hope would capture that feeling.  Pennants and Pinwheels...if that does't scream "summer", then I don't know what does!

gleeful-fabrics-sewcaroline-wip

The piece is topped and all I have left is to quilt and bind.  I have a quilting design in mind that I hope I can pull off by myself on a regular sewing machine.  Eek.  I better practice on scraps before attempting on this beauty.

pennants-pinwheels-gleefulfabrics-quilt

And of course, this will quilt will be a pattern soon.  And by soon, I mean this month!  I promise!  Hooray!

Thanks for letting me play with your pretty fabrics, Caroline!

No Deadlines, Just Dreams

My word this year is "Rest".  After four years of going to school, running a shop, planning a wedding, taking care of my family...I knew this year I needed a break.  So I closed For The Love Of Joy (my old shop) and am working through a small amount of orders and taking the rest of the time to enjoy my family and friends.  It was much needed.  Even though I work full time, I don't bring any of my work home and I actually get to sit and eat dinner with my family, play games, take a walk, and crash on the couch at night.  It's been so good for my soul to have that rest.

Easter 2014

Easter 2014

Picnic with his best buddy

Picnic with his best buddy

Last Spring Preschool Program

Last Spring Preschool Program

Mother's Day 2014

Mother's Day 2014

Last Soccer Game.  He scored 4 goals!

Last Soccer Game.  He scored 4 goals!

Riding an old timey tractor.

Riding an old timey tractor.

Our favorite place to get tacos: Yucatan Taco Stand.

Our favorite place to get tacos: Yucatan Taco Stand.

I don't have plans to reopen my shop.  My custom order days are done  But I still love to quilt and want to be apart of that community one way or another.  So if I'm not going to do, I'm going to teach.  I'm no expert...but I do have experience (I think?!).  I'm slowly writing up quilt patterns to add to the shop, free quilt tutorials to share on the blog, and a little e-book on how to quilt from start to finish.  My focus is for beginners, to help those who are wanting to learn this timeless craft get their foot in the door.  If I can help just one person discover this love for quilting, then I will be completely satisfied!

Michelle Monk Photography - The Joy of Quilting - Anna Joy French Designs

I got together with my one of my best friends, Michelle, to help me take photos for the e-book.  I packed up all my sewing supplies as well as my quilts and decor, and we decorated her studio space.  This is all my stuff but how come my room doesn't look like this at home???

Michelle Monk Photography - The Joy of Quilting - Anna Joy French Designs
Michelle Monk Photography - The Joy of Quilting - Anna Joy French Designs
Michelle Monk Photography - The Joy of Quilting - Anna Joy French Designs

I have no deadline for these patterns I'm making.  Whenever I finish, I'll finish.  But no more late night work (unless I want to), no more telling my kiddo to "hang on, Mama's working", no more letting my husband hang out by himself at night because I'm in our room quilting up a storm...life is much too short for all that.  From now on, my family will come before my dreams.  But that doesn't mean I don't have dreams.  I do...lots of dreams.  Only that I'm not in a rush to see them come true...I'm going to enjoy the process of getting there whenever I do.

 

The Joy Of Quilting // Simple Bow-Tie Quilt Pattern

I began sewing 7 years ago and quilting 2 years after that.  I learned completely on my own, never attending a class.  All I did was looking up sewing tutorials, watched youtube videos, and borrowed sewing books from the library.  There weren't a lot of resources back then like there is today.  If you have the passion and patience, you will be able to learn on your own as I did. This doesn't mean you shouldn't take a class.  I was a student and then a young mother who didn't have the time or the finances to attend a class.  You might be in that same position.  That is why I am now starting a new sewing series called "The Joy Of Quilting".

This series is geared for women of all ages who want to learn to quilt but don't know where to start.  You either bought yourself that $100 sewing machine from the fabric store, borrowed your mother's, or found a vintage one at a yard sale but now you don't know what to do with it.  This is where I hope I can help.  All the patterns for this series will be for beginning quilters.  Lots of simple patterns that I hope will really help you learn to quilt and fall in love with this timeless craft. I don't know all the technical terms of quilting.  There's still so much I can learn myself.  I'm at a point in my quilting where it wouldn't hurt to take some classes from seasoned professionals. But if you're just starting out and you have a full plate on your schedule, or don't have the resources to pay for classes, then I hope you will find something to learn from here.  

So to start it off, I present you a tutorial on bow-tie quilts!

The Joy of Quilting - Simple Bow Tie Quilt
The Joy Of Quilting - Simple Bow Tie Quilt
The Joy Of Quilting - Simple Bow Tie Quilts

 

I love bow-tie quilts.  It's the simplicity and sweetness of them that I really love.  Also, they are the perfect quilts for when you just want to hand-tie knots!  For this quilt, I designed a layout that wouldn't take up so much time putting together.  Usually you should have bow-ties on every other square.  But for this one, you only need to make 18 bow-tie blocks and then you assemble everything together.  You could have this top pieced in 2 hours if you really tried!

This tutorial is only for the quilt top. Perfect for beginners who already know most sewing/quilting terms. 1/4" seams.  Approximately 50"x70". Feel free to make for yourself, for your family and friends, or to sell but please give credit where credit is due.

MATERIALS
-3.5 yards of main fabric
-1/4 yard of bow tie fabric

CUT
From your main fabric:
- 72= 5.5" x 5.5" squares
-19= 5.5" x 10.5"
-6= 13" x 10.5"

From your bow tie fabric:
-36= 2.5" x 2.5" squares

Bow-Tie Quilt Tutorial - Anna Joy French Designs

Align your 2.5" square to the bottom corner of your 5.5" square, right sides together.  Sew a diagonal line on top of your 2.5" square from top right corner to bottom left corner.  Do this to all 36 squares.

Bow-Tie Quilt Tutorial - Anna Joy French Designs

Using your straight edge, measure out a 1/4" seam from where your stitches are and then cut off the rest.

Bow-Tie Quilt Tutorial - Anna Joy French Designs

This is what it should look like after cutting.  Discard your scraps.

Bow-Tie Quilt Tutorial - Anna Joy French Designs

Fold down the triangle of your 2.5" square and press it.  Then trim up your square so that it's nice and straight.  We will now call these corner-triangle squares.  Not a technical term.  Just describing what I see. 

Bow-Tie Quilt Tutorial - Anna Joy French Designs

After doing this to all 36 squares, it's time to piece your blocks together.  Take one solid 5.5" square and place it right sides together with your corner-triangle square.  Make sure the side of the triangle is the one being sewn together with the other square.

Bow-Tie Quilt Tutorial - Anna Joy French Designs

Now sew the two pieces together.

Bow-Tie Quilt Tutorial - Anna Joy French Designs

Voila!  You have a bow-tie block.  Now it's time to sew the rows.

Bow-Tie Quilt Tutorial - Anna Joy French Designs

The top row will have 3 bow-tie blocks and 4 5.5"x10.5" pieces sewn together.  There will be 4 rows altogether. The bottom row will have 2 bow-tie blocks, 1 5.5"x10.5" piece, and 2 13"x10.5" piece sewn together.  There will be 3 rows altogether.

Bow-Tie Quilt Tutorial - Anna Joy French Designs

This is the layout of your quilt when you are done!

Made a quilt from one of my patterns?  Share on Instagram and use #thejoyofquilting to show it off!  

Blessed Is She

In the summer of 2011, I was living with my boyfriend and our three year old son and and we had no plans to get married anytime soon.  He was against it, I was for it.  I was distraught wondering if our relationship was going anywhere.  We had already been together for 5 years.

Our disagreements finally led up to a day that summer where I told him I couldn't live and love someone who I had no future with.  I told him I had made a plan for how we would handle our family situation after we went our separate ways.  After I told him everything on my heart, he took my hand and looked at me and said, " God will save our family."

At this time, we didn't know God.  I knew God, had a deep relationship with him, but had decided to leave him and take care of myself 5 years earlier.  Ben found God but never developed a relationship with him.  So when those words came out of his mouth, when we didn't even allow God in our life, I knew right then the Lord was about to do some mighty things to us and our family.

Blessed Is She - Anna Joy French Designs

 

God gave me this verse when I began praying over my family and declaring that He would save us.  Because honestly, sometimes I felt like I was going nuts.  Did I really hear him say he was going to save us?  Am I just holding on to something because I'm too scared to let go?  Surely God will not save us because we have done too much wrong (which that is a lie folks.  There's nothing that we have done that is "too much wrong" that is outside of Jesus' redemption).

Anytime the outside voices, or Satan's voice, or my voice made me doubt the promise that God laid in my heart, I prayed this verse over myself.

So if there is something that the Lord has promised to you and you feel like you must be going crazy, I hope this verse will encourage you through the waiting season.

"Blessed is she who believes that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her." -Luke 1:45

Purchase this print in the shop.

So This Won't Be Awkward // Intro Post

You know when you meet someone for the first time and you introduce yourself but then don't know what to say after that?  Yeah, that won't be happening here.  If this was real life, it would've been awkward.  But in blog land, where I have time to write and rewrite and rewrite some more, I'm going to be able to say everything that I want to.  I think.

French Family - by Unearthed Photography

My name is Anna.  My friends will tell you one of two things about me: I am creative person or I really love to eat.  Both are correct.  I graduated last December with a degree in Visual Communications (a fancy way to say graphic design) from University of Texas in Arlington.  I now work as a graphic/web designer for a marketing firm.  I am also a self-taught sewer/quilter.  My love for sewing began when I wanted to make my baby boy a quilt and from there it grew. By God's grace, I ran and operated a sewing business for 4 years.  It allowed me to stay home part time and go to school part time.  I no longer run this shop because I now work full time but I do have plans to continue doing SOMETHING.  Not sure what that looks like but that's a fun part of the journey. I am obsessed with all things natural: food, cleaning products, hygiene products, essential oils, etc.  I can spend hours researching about this topic.  Although I believe in living the all natural life, I will eat the heck out of some concession stand hot dogs and popcorn.  If I'm going to eat bad, I'm going to eat really bad and have no regrets afterwards. Winky face.  I am an introvert that craves being social. I get tongue tied very easily.  I really only let my true colors out when I am with my closes friends and family.  And although I do love a good spontaneous adventure, I am a very cautious and careful person.

French Family - by Unearthed Photography

I am married to Ben, my best friend, for almost a year.  I have been with him for over 8 years, basically all of my 20's.  He is the opposite of me in almost every way.  Laid-back, Texas boy who is fanatic for all things sports and hunting. He loves being a dare devil and is so good at talking.  You know, the type of person who just always knows what to say and who is really quick on his feet with punch lines and jokes?  We have opposite interests but I like it that way.  It is nice to not be with someone who doesn't need to be creative 24/7 like myself.  It allows me to take a break.  And the same for him.  The things we do have in common?  Being rooted in Christ for ourselves and for our family and loving every person that comes in our lives.   We both also love to go camping and be outdoors and we dream to one day own acres of land with a little house on it.  

French Family - by Unearthed Photography

We have an almost 5 1/2 year old son, Gavin.  Yes, do the math.  Not the most ideal situation to be pregnant in but God was in control the whole time.  Gavin was the baby I never knew I wanted.  I know God has mighty plans for our little man.  At this age, he loves everything superhero, building legos for hours, and playing and running freely outside.  He wants a dog so badly and a little brother to play with (maybe one day soon).

French Family - by Unearthed Photography

So what will this blog be about?  Ultimately the whole reason I am blogging again is because God had laid on my heart that it is time to share my story.  The story that He is writing for my life. Of how I knew the goodness of walking with the Lord but I decided to throw it away because I wanted to control my own life.  And when I was deep in my disobedience, He never left my side, my heart, my soul.  I could hear him whispering my name for 5 long years to come back to him. And then how he changed my husband's heart, something that I have tried so hard to do on my own but couldn't.  So when I finally surrendered my family to God, he saved us.  It's a long story so I will write bits and pieces of it through out the year.

Oh, and I also want to start sharing free sewing tutorials and free prints and just a bunch of free stuff.  Speaking of free, writing a quilt tutorial right now to share with you hopefully in the next day or so!

Photos by my good friend Jennifer from Unearthed Photography!