East Dakota Quilter

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Fall Attire – Sunday Brunch Jacket

Inspiration: Purl Bee

I blogged before about the quilt I wanted to make for my friend’s baby as soon as I found out she was pregnant. Although I knew the quilt would take awhile, that didn’t stop me from planning all the other projects I could do later. One such project emerged when I stumbled across a really adorable Sunday Brunch Jacket from Oliver + S, blogged about on the Purl Bee. What really caught my eye was the elephant fabric, which I knew my friend would love. (The stuff I used was similar but not identical.) I hurred online to buy the no-longer-current pattern and propped it against some books on my bookshelves–in the kids’ section, naturally–for months.

A few months later, I packed up my apartment and put most of my things in storage when the boyfriend took a job in another city. The other day, I found the pattern in with some papers I kept out of the storage unit and realized with a shock that my friend’s baby is about to be too big for the jacket! I had to make it in a hurry!

Nevermind that I haven’t made clothes before. Or used interfacing before. Or gathered fabric before. I’m a learn-on-the-fly kind of girl. Which means it’s lucky I am okay with a few imperfections in creative work, something I can’t say for my professional work.

My biggest challenge was the interfacing. At the quilt expo I attended earlier this fall, Nancy Zieman’s tips included something about interfacing; she said a particular brand is miraculous. I wanted to try the difficult version so I would have a basis for comparison. I really should have done it her way! I understand there was a right side and a wrong side of the interfacing for ironing, but for the life of me, I couldn’t get the stuff to stop sticking to the dish towel I “borrowed” from my sister (brand new – photos of gunked-up towel below). I’m just glad I tested it first! I followed the directions to a T, but to no avail. In the end, I held the iron just above the interfacing, steamed the heck out of it, and got it to adhere without actually touching the stuff with my iron. Took forever, but it worked!

I was amazed to learn how easy it is to gather fabric. I expected that would be my challenge!

Finally, I give myself about a 70% when it comes to sewing curved lines. Not a passing grade, but still about 65% higher than when I tried making a stuffed octopus with a circle piece in the template. (And the 5% I gave myself for the octopus project was more for effort than results.) I would actually consider tackling this pattern again.

2012 oliver + s sunday brunch jacket by EastDakotaQuilter

P.S. My mom and sister went shopping this weekend and bought me a new ironing board cover. No more ugly stains from zealous project work! Also no more interfacing from this project!

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Embroidered Onesie: the Collaborative Version

I’m not a stereotypically artsy person. I am not laid-back. I don’t spontaneously have an idea that I have to sketch out without using other art as reference. And I’m not good at laughing at myself. So when my boyfriend started offering unsolicited advice about my most recent project, I was kind of peeved, to say the least. Then EVERY SINGLE ONE of his suggestions improved my project! Now I have to offer an awkward thank you for his help.

My aunt had a baby last week, which means I have a new cousin! I knew I wanted to make her something. The baby blankets/quilts/play mats I’ve been making don’t seem to be terribly useful, so I wanted to try something new. I decided to embroider a onesie after seeing this post by Sew Lovely Embroidery.

Shopping for onesies is hard, by the way. I don’t have kids, so I was really out of my element at Target. The regular clothing racks only had pre-designed onesies. I knew there must be blank ones somewhere, so I kept searching. Eventually, I found some plain onesies between the bibs and the blankets in a regular aisle, not the clothing area. They were mostly white. I know you can dye fabric with Rit, but let’s be honest: I wanted to start right away. (I found a few onesies that I thought were blank and colorful, but they had really hideous bears on the front! Ugh.)

I got the onesies home and realized right away they were too thin for embroidery, that my threads in back would show through. I decided I would just embroider on a separate patch of fabric. Enter boyfriend. “That square looks kind of weird. You’re just going to stick it on there?” Um, yes, that was the plan. “Maybe you can change the shape. You know, make it more organic.” Hmm… He rifled through the contents on my desk (NoNoNo!) for a paper and pen to sketch what he meant. His original sketch looked scary, but when I played around with it, I found a hexagon was actually pretty similar to his suggestion. Definitely better than my plain rectangle, but also not as difficult as a circle.

While the boyfriend read a book, I started stitching. I finished the animal and the baby’s name and got to the hearts in my pattern. “These should be the same color as her name, right?” I asked, turning to him. I thought if I asked a directed question, he would just agree—especially since he was reading and not really paying attention—but noooo. “They should probably be a different color,” he replied. “Red?” I asked suspiciously. “Yeah, red.” He’s going to ruin it, I thought to myself. I continued my project, secretly pleased I could blame him when it didn’t turn out. Only the red was really cute. I decided to do red stitching around the hexagon, too, and voilà:

I bought a few more onesies while I was at it. I think they’ll be good gifts. I mean, even the mom with everything can work a personalized onesie into her baby’s wardrobe. I will also try VERY hard to be more receptive to good advice! For example, I have read on various blogs that some people embroider with 2-3 strands of floss instead of all 6. I might give that a try next time.

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Tutorial: Designing a Pixelated Portrait Quilt

Earlier this summer, the Happy Zombie posted a quilt-along called the Ron Swanson Along. I don’t watch much TV and haven’t seen Parks & Recreation, but I still thought her quilt was AMAZING. I mean, who doesn’t love a giant, quilted moustache? Although I haven’t gotten far on my sampler quilt and have at least a few others in the works, I couldn’t help taking a closer look.

One of her blog followers commented that when she is sick, it would be comforting to cuddle up with Ron via her quilt. That got me thinking. Who else is comforting and might make a good quilt image?

My friend Jessica lost her dad several years ago–around the time I met her. I was with her a few years later on the anniversary of his death. We were traveling together in Japan for work, and over the weekend, we just happened to be visiting a temple where people were painting memorial tiles for the roof. She painted one in memory of her dad.

I thought a lot about her dad and the tile she painted. There was something beautiful about that moment, such love. I wanted to capture it somehow. At first, I thought I could paint his portrait, but the photos I wanted to work from had poor resolution, and I don’t have enough skill to paint a smaller size. I couldn’t work it out. But a quilt? A quilt?! A chance to marry my novice sewing skills with something meaningful? That’s exactly what got me started quilting in the first place. In the end, I decided that a memorial quilt might not go over so well. Jessica is a special friend, and I know she keeps the memory of her dad alive however she can, but it maybe seemed a bit too personal. Of course, I didn’t make that decision until I had completely designed my version.

If you want to do a Ron Swanson quilt, I definitely recommend following the Happy Zombie’s plan. But if you want to sew your own portrait, here is how I turned my photo into a quilt template:

Select a photo, desaturate (make it grayscale), then divide it into 3 squares wide by 4 squares tall. The photo should be taller than it is wide to avoid distortion.



Further divide each of of the blocks above into smaller blocks, 10 x 10. I made a 10 x 10 graph in MS Word, then copied and pasted a bigger square from the first 3 x 4 version into the document behind the graph (one by one, creating a separate document for each of the original 12 squares). That way, I could re-use the same 10 x 10 grid for each of the blocks using Save As without having to measure each time. My Word screen looked like this:

MDP Grid 2 by EastDakotaQuilter

Next, make five squares. Fill in one of them with white and the others with different shades of gray from lightest to darkest. I used gray in my design template even though I planned to use varying shades of blue fabric for the actual quilt.

Color Scale by EastDakotaQuilter

One 10 x 10 block at a time, determine which of the 5 color options (white to dark gray) best matches each square (with the photograph superimposed). I put my scale at the bottom of each Word document, then copied and pasted the best-suited color square on top of the photo. The squares often have a range of grays, including everything from white to black. For these squares, try to determine which of the color options covers the biggest percentage of the square.

Photo Editing

I saved each 10 x 10 block as a separate document. Because I couldn’t wait to see the finished product, I copied each 10 x 10 grid into a single Word document, side by side. Here’s what my quilt would have looked like:

MDP Quilted by EastDakotaQuilter

And here are is the photo side-by-side with my anticipated result:


MDP Images by EastDakotaQuilter

At this point, you can also start experimenting with the color tone of your quilt. Just use four shades of a particular color, light to dark, in place of the gray. (You can get an idea by using Picture Tools > Color.

colored photos by EastDakotaQuilter

Note on sizing: Using 2 1/2″ squares, this will make a 60″ x 80″ quilt. You can make the squares bigger if you want a bigger quilt.