East Dakota Quilter


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Colonial Knots Tutorial

As my blog name implies, if there is a project I can’t figure out on my own, I run to Google or Pinterest for help. I found lots of helpful tutorials for embroidery stitches online, including this series by Rocksea (links on the right).

Most tutorials do a great job of showing where the needle should go into and come out of the fabric by using an A-B-C method. I found it was a little difficult to follow for knots since knots are created by winding the floss around your needle, not by the order in which you pull the needle through the fabric. Photo tutorials can be difficult to see. I also found there is a lot more content about French knots than colonial knots. Here’s my tutorial, which I hope clarifies some of the questions I had when I first tried to make a colonial knot:

colonial_knots_tutorial_by craftprowler

The descriptive version is:

From the embroidery piece, place the floss over your needle. Continue to pull it under the needle then back up toward the needle tip. Loop the floss around the tip of the needle. Put your needle back into your embroidery piece a few strands away from where the floss came out of the fabric. I like to pull the floss until the knot is up against the needle (instead of in the middle of the strand of floss), then press my thumb gently against the needle to prevent the knot from moving up the strand of floss. Otherwise, you can end up with a knot in your thread instead of where the knot is intended to be.

This is a photo of the floss placement:

colonial knot photo by craftprowler

This is what some finished knots look like:

colonial knots by craftprowler

Now that I am finished with my Gatsby embroidery (I’ve seen the movie, and thank goodness I still like the book!), I have been working again on my Barn Quilt. I used the full six strands for the Gatsby piece, but I am using only three strands for the Barn Quilt.

I was cutting an arm’s length of floss, separating it into two sets of three strands each, then using one set while trying not to tangle the other. I wished I had multiple, pre-separated strands ready to use. I saw this post on the PrettyByHand blog about some beautiful Lecien embroidery floss bobbins that hold 3+ skeins of floss and decided to recycle the idea for my Barn Quilt project. I cut a cardboard piece (it came with a fat quarter of fabric) into these simple cards/bobbins:

floss bobbin by craftprowler

Each slot is smaller than a typical embroidery floss bobbin, both because there are fewer strands and because the length is much shorter. The cards have been working great so far!

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Marcelle Medallion: Nearly Complete!

My poor sister. I have been staying with her the past few months during a geographical transition, and she has had to put up with fabric scraps all over our apartment for weeks! It all started when I saw the Marcelle Medallion quilt on a few blogs.

marcelle medallion in liberty love, via craftprowler

Within the month, I bought a copy of the book Liberty Love by Alexia Marcelle Abegg that features the quilt. I was actually looking for a copy of the UK magazine Love Quilting & Patchwork, which has the quilt as its cover star, but it was sold out everywhere! (I finally located a copy of the magazine a month after starting the quilt.)

love quilting and patchwork

Both Liberty Love and Love Quilting & Patchwork have several other projects I want to try. I usually do not follow patterns or tutorials (not even for piecing my Sampler Quilt), so that’s saying a lot. Happy to have BOTH!

medallion love via craftprowler

Since my last post about the Marcelle Medallion quilt, I’ve added additional borders. I can’t say I have found piecing them as “addictive” as some other bloggers described. I am too impatient! What I find addictive is seeing the new borders finished and added. It’s turning me into a bit of an antisocial monster. Good thing the center was the most difficult portion; the rest has been going pretty smoothly.

marcelle medallion center by craftprowler

marcelle medallion border 2 via craftprowler

This is one busy quilt! But I do like having so many different things to look at in a single quilt top. I also like that I was able to incorporate little pieces of so many past projects, including Lotta Jansdotter’s Bella line from a baby quilt I’m working on, lots of greens and purples from my Mardi Gras quiet book, some red-and-whites from a new quilt that’s percolating, and random reds, aquas, and yellows from the quilt I use now.

marcelle medallion border 2 by craftprowler

By Border 4, my measurements were a little off. (Alexia warns of this in the pattern, so it’s not a big deal.) My quilt ran short, so I just removed one triangle from each side. Now I’m back on track.

marcelle medallion border 5 by craftprowler

My Marcelle Medallion involves a number of firsts for me:

  • It is the first quilt I have made from a pattern;
  • I made my first [successful] Y-seams (I tried to use them in my first-ever quilt – HA!);
  • This was the first time I made flying geese;
  • It was also the first time I sewed triangles (other than HSTs); and
  • It was my first large project that includes at least 50% scrap fabric from my stash.


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Embroidering Hollywood: The Great Gatsby

Have you seen the movie remake of The Great Gatsby yet?

I remember seeing the preview. When I saw the bright colors and all the excess, I thought, Finally! A movie where CGI glitz actually makes sense! I want to see it! Then I looked over at my boyfriend, Johann, expecting to see his face disfigured with a nasty expression. It wasn’t! We even decided we would re-read the book together before going to the movie.

That was months ago, and I am still waiting to see the movie! Since then, Johann started teaching and has revitalized his family’s business. (Read: I don’t even get to complain about the delayed movie premier except on this blog since what he’s doing is productive. Grr.)

In the meantime, I think I looked up every photo from the movie that was available online. Eventually, I moved past movie-specific infatuation and found myself admiring the era’s clothing. I decided to work on some Gatsby-related project to alleviate my stifling anticipation. Here’s the embroidery design I came up with:

Gatsby Embroidery by Craft Prowler

I didn’t decide whether this is supposed to be Daisy and Gatsby, Nick and Jordan, or some other couple at one of Gatsby’s parties.

I’ve never been a great drawer, so I used some engagement photos to see what it looks like for couples to walk side-by-side, a Robert Redford movie shot to determine I should have his hand in his pocket, and countless other photos of clothes from the Roaring Twenties to help with the beads, feathers, and dropped waistline. I always thought original drawings needed to come straight out of someone’s head. I found my method is actually more like making a collage — and it worked!

gatsby embroidery by craft prowler

I wanted to photograph the piece outdoors. I drove to a forest preserve near my office over lunch, thinking how great it would be to prop it against a tree and include the textures of grass and bark. Know what? They don’t mow the grass around trees! And I should have known because I grew up in the country with an enormous yard; I mowed the lawn all the time. Here’s the best I could do:

gatsby embroidery by craftprowler

Process:

I typically use three strands of floss for embroidery, but since this is 8″ x 10″, I used all six to make the lines thicker and to fill the space. I used fewer strands for the facial features to keep them from getting bulky.

Most of the embroidery is done with backstitching. Exceptions are the eyes, buttons, and necklace (made with colonial knots, tutorial to follow), and…

gatsby embroidered necklace by craftprowler

…the skirt trim and headband (made with chain stitch).

gatsby embroidered skirt by craftprowler

The outline is nice, but I think it still looks a little blank. What do you think? Should I try using crayon to fill in the image? (I’ve had success with this before, even after the stitching was finished.) I am especially concerned about his hair.

gatsby embroidery by craftprowler


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Boston Blocks: Assuaging Tragedy with Fabric

Have you heard about the Modern Quilt Guild’s request for quilt blocks in response to the Boston Marathon bombing ? I thought they did a great job of requesting manageable quilt blocks, and some fabrics I’m using for a current project match their color preference.

Blocks should be 12½” on one side by the size of your choice on the other. The preferred colors are those of the Boston Marathon: blue, yellow, gray, and white. Click here for more info.

I made a few myself, later than most bloggers I think, hoping that even a small submission will be useful. Here are the blocks I am submitting:

boston blocks by craftprowler

block for boston by craftprowler

I’m planning to mail my blocks this week to

Quilts for Boston
P. O. Box 79225
Belmont, MA 02479

You can also contact bostonmqg@gmail.com with questions. Submissions should be mailed by May 24, 2013.

UPDATE: Check out the completed quilt where one of my blocks ended up here.


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Month of Mail

I just discovered Rebecca Ringquist’s blog, DropCloth, and I love it! I even feel like we have some things in common… especially when I started looking for coincidences. ; )

Her name is Rebecca, same as my only sister. Her grandma Dorothy was sick back home in the Midwest in February. My grandma Dorothy was sick back home in the Midwest in January. In tribute to my grandma’s memory, I plan to make a quilt with her pajamas:

grandma quilt template by craftprowler

Grandmas Pajamas

She’s in the process of making a quilt with her grandma’s housecoats. She talks of needing to get out of the city (Brooklyn) sometimes, which is just how I feel about Chicago! (She went to school and taught in Chicago.) Of course, she just co-hosted an embroidery event at the NYC Public Library with Liesl Gibson of Oliver + S fame and is a professional artist whereas I embroider in my car over lunch breaks, but still. Blogger soul mates, right?! : )

Rebecca participated in Mail Month, which I hadn’t heard of before. If you know me, you know it’s CRAZY that I missed a chance to send or receive mail! I love mail. And stationery. And office supplies in general. I decided to start my own Mail Month. Hers coincided with Valentine’s Day, which makes a lot of sense since you’re supposed to reach out to loved ones on that holiday. But mine has the advantage of alliteration: May = Mail Month!

Don’t you just love when someone you don’t even know inspires you from the interwebs?! Based on some pinspiration (oh yes, I did), some of the items I’m sending loosely qualify as “mail art” (redacted to protect privacy):

carrier_pigeon_by_craftprowler

return address by craftprowler

may day by craftprowler

chicago collage by craftprowler

chicago collage in color by craftprowler

The first few were easy: a May Day letter, some graduation cards I would have sent even without the challenge, and a thank you to Rebecca for posting the idea. If you want to start your own mail month, get some ideas by clicking the graphic below:

Month of Mail


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New [Photo] Perspectives… Coming Soon

True to spring, the April weather has been unpredictable, but the fluctuations became even more drastic when I traveled for work the past few weeks. I went from a partly cloudy 88 degrees in Dallas one day to 22 inches of snow in Minnesota the next!

ice possible warning

Ever since I saw this post by Dana of Dana Made It, I’ve been wanting to see the Mustangs of Las Colinas (a fountain), which I discovered is just minutes from my company’s Dallas office. Who knew?! I went one day over lunch:

mustangs of las colinas

mustangs of las colinas

My photos don’t do it justice. You can walk right up to some of the horses, which are bigger than life-size, and you can cross the water in a few places, too. When you step back, you notice that the little fonts by the horses’ hooves make it look like they are splashing through the water. I loved it. I will say I had a little trouble finding it because I didn’t expect it to be in an office park!

Because of all the travel and a nasty bout of the Plague, I didn’t get much done on the creative front, so I photographed some works in progress instead. First up are the two embroidered quilt blocks I finished for my barn quilt:

barn quilt blocks

tractor block

barn block

Ultimately, the quilt should look something like this:

barn quilt template

The images on the quilt include those places that are dearest to me: my grandparents’ house, my childhood home, my grandpa’s tractor, etc.

The on-point setting made the quilt blocks awkward to photograph, however. So did being in public. Do other bloggers live in more rural areas [than Chicago], or do they just have a ton more confidence when taking photos? People walked by me every 5 seconds or so, and several had comments, which ranged from “That’s cool!” to the incoherent and/or hostile. (I live in an “interesting” neighborhood.) Still, I saw two really amazing places I wanted to use as backgrounds but just didn’t have the guts. I was really glad I skipped one of the two since a guy who glared at me walked past me into the building a second before I’d planned to photograph it with my quilt blocks. Eek!

I complained a few weeks ago that most of my poor photos are due to getting home too late to catch the natural light. For the photos above, I did at least have the last shreds of light for the day. I think the photos are still mediocre at best, so… I think I’m taking my first-ever photography course! A community college near where I work offers it as continuing education. The course is on Mondays, which would leave the rest of the week free for work travel, and it’s late enough in the day that it shouldn’t conflict with most of my meetings. I am really excited.

With that bit of info, perhaps you can excuse the poor lighting of the following late-night shots. Since I’m sewing a million little blocks together, I’ve been doing them in strands, and they make the cutest banners:

lotta jansdotter banner

I like looking at the colors in even the unfinished state of the quilt:

scraps

When I was designing the quilt, I was on a lunch break and couldn’t actually touch the fabric. I made this little doodle while I daydreamed about the colors:

journal doodle

With any luck, the blog will soon go from shady instagram sketches to magazine-quality photos!