East Dakota Quilter


1 Comment

Homemade Christmas Gifts 2013

It seems as though most people have already shared the gifts they made for Christmas LAST year. (I can’t believe we’ve already begun 2014!) I didn’t want to ruin any surprises before the holiday. Afterward, I got caught up trying to finish some projects/errands before the year ended. I am finally sharing some photos of the projects I made for family this year.

My absolute favorite was a case for my mom’s new Kindle Fire. I used this tutorial, but with substituted measurements for the Kindle. Does it fit? I can’t really say. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize my mom bought herself the Kindle Fire Tablet instead of the normal-sized Kindle Fire. Hopefully this little guy can find a new purpose.

2013 kindle fire case by EastDakotaQuilter

Next up, my sister asked for potholders for Christmas. Between these and the Kindle case, I broke exactly 43 needles in just over a week. Time for a new machine! (I did try servicing my current machine to no avail. Thankfully, one of my gifts this year was a price match on the model I’m thinking of getting, a Janome.) But I think the potholders turned out okay.

EastDakotaQuilter Potholders_2013

I used this tutorial for the oven mitt (except I quilted 9″ x 15″ rectangles, drew lines 1/4″ inside the pattern edges and sewed on the line, and then cut out the mitt shape 1/4″ outside the lines) and this one to add loops to the potholders, which were quilted 8″ x 8″ squares with one layer of batting and one of Insul Bright. I practiced machine binding all these items… with some challenges because of the continually breaking needles.

My godmother asked for a breast cancer awareness magnet for her car. A series of errors caused me not to get the magnet, but I did make her a breast cancer awareness mug rug (free paper piecing quilt block pattern here) and a Starbucks You Are Here mug from D.C. for her mug collection. Sadly, I forgot to take a photo.

I also made a gift for my dad. He’s the kind of guy who wore every ugly M&Ms tie we bought him for Father’s Day and proudly displayed our macaroni art. A cardboard “Buckle Up For Me” reminder I made him in third grade stayed in his Buick, sun faded, until he sold the car almost 15 years later. He’s exactly the kind of person who I thought would appreciate a homemade gift. I presented him with a tractor pillow for his camper.

2013 tractor quilt block and pillow cover by EastDakotaQuilter

The back has cowboys, as his favorite shows include Gunsmoke and Rawhide. I found the fabric at a thrift store in Chicago (Unique Thrift) and knew I would someday incorporate it into a gift for my dad.

cowboy fabric pillow by EastDakotaQuilter

If you want to make a tractor pillow (or quilt block) of your own, I suggest using this tutorial, which my iPhone Google didn’t find (but my computer Google did–a few weeks too late!). Otherwise, I’ll try to post the pattern I made for my dad’s pillow soon.

Finally, a non-sewing gift I made for a friend was a version of The Nutcracker starring her two kids! Using an assortment of photos, I turned her kids into cartoons and included as many details from their home as possible: a shot of the house from outside, their real kitchen cabinets, their sofa, etc. The kids’ great-grandpa also starred in the book (instead of the uncle, it was Great Otata who brings the Nutcracker as a gift). Below are some of the in-progress illustrations. I took advantage of holiday sales to have the final version printed via Shutterfly.

kids illustration by EastDakotaQuilter

nutcracker illustrations by EastDakotaQuilter

Note: The pages were cropped down in Shutterfly, which meant the wonky edges were all edited out. Text was also added over the images where you see blank space.

Hope you all had a nice holiday!

I am seeing a lot of resolutions for the new year on Instagram, and I am pleasantly surprised that most other quilters/sewers are posting about 4-5 projects each. Sometimes I feel like I am the slowest finisher EVER! Knowing that other people have a similar number of creative goals for the year makes me happy… even if it’s not a good idea to compare. Thanks to slow progress in 2013 (a project begun in July), I almost have my first finish of 2014! I’ll post when it’s done. For now, I just wanted to focus on the great creative start to a new year.


Leave a comment

DIY Personalized Stamps

I thought for sure I would finish the Marcelle Medallion quilt top as designed this week (although I will add some extra borders later to make it full size). I wanted to bring it for show-and-tell at the first-ever quilting event I plan to attend, the monthly meeting of the Crystal Lake Modern Quilt Guild. (I live in Chicago but find this suburban group has a strong online presence and seems really energetic.) Then my machine’s feed dogs fell and refused to be coaxed back up. I’m taking her to the repair shop tonight.

broken feed dogs

With my sewing machine out of commission, I amused myself with other projects through most of last week. One of these was carving rubber stamps. I bought some tools from Blick Art Supply to print my own fabric for a longer-term project, and I thankfully had the foresight to buy extra rubber because carving is fun! After seeing this pin on Pinterest, I decided to make some portraits.

Would making my own face into a rubber stamp appear too vain? I couldn’t tell, but I figured if it was merely practice for stamps of kids’ faces that would accompany a homemade, educational activity book… well, then I was in the clear! Here’s how my own stamp turned out:

craftprowler hand carved portrait rubber stamp

And these are the stamps I made of my friend’s kids:

craftprowler hand carved rubber stamps - kid portraits

The mustache on the top kid isn’t natural, as you might imagine. I bought them some stick-on mustaches last October and thought this would be a cute way to prolong the fun. The photo of the little miss is courtesy of Susanna Bayer’s Photography.

With any luck, my sewing machine will be ready to go for the quilt guild’s sew-in. But I have to admit I’ve enjoyed making stamps in the meantime!


1 Comment

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


Leave a comment

Elephant’s Child & Marcelle Medallion Love

An amazing former roommate discovered on Craigslist has sinced moved away, but I have kept in touch. I attended her overseas wedding a few years ago and later celebrated the birth of her baby girl with this quilt and this jacket. This past weekend, I visited her new home in Boston and FINALLY got to meet her baby — just before her first birthday! I wanted to bring a gift and decided a stuffed elephant and a copy of the book The Elephant’s Child would fit the bill.

elephant pattern by funky friends

I used this pattern for the elephant, which had the added bonus of giving me a second chance at sewing circles following last weekend’s chicken, whose round bottom was difficult for me. I saw the elephant’s pattern maker recommended by several stuffed animal enthusiasts. She has lots of other cute stuffed animal patterns, and this project wasn’t too difficult. You might even see the hippo or the lion on my blog someday soon since I got a buy 2, get 1 free deal.

elephant foot sewing

stuffed elephant in the making by craftprowler

In other news, I called several dozen stores trying to get my hands on a copy of the sold-out (even at the printer!) UK magazine Love Quilting and Patchwork, but to no avail. Fortunately, the featured product that caught my eye also appears in the book Liberty Love by Alexia Marcelle Abegg: the Marcelle Medallion Quilt.I picked up a copy while passing by the Harvard Bookstore and spent the baby’s naptimes pondering fabric selections. I can’t wait to get started!

liberty love

In other news, I am not doing such a great job with my fabric diet. I bought these fun fat quarters (which I had trouble photographing on the go) from the Cambridge Quilt Shop:

fabric

Maybe some of them can be incorporated into the Marcelle Medallion…?

I must say I was impressed that the store’s fat quarter section was so robust! The store had many fun fabrics (especially modern ones), and most were available in fat quarter cuts. I often find the fat quarters pretty picked through when I visit fabric stores. The clerk was also kind to me, whipping out a “T” (bus) schedule from behind the counter and directing me to the best stop.

Since my friend was working Friday and I was taking PTO, I backpacked around Cambridge/Boston until it was time to take the commuter rail to her house. It was quite the adventure! At first, I worried people would kick me out of their stores, mistaking me for a vagrant. But I actually got some fun comments when proprietors saw the embroidery hoop strapped to my pack!

backpack w embroidery hoop


4 Comments

Stuffed Chicken [with Pouch] Tutorial

I found an amazing stuffed chicken sewing project on Pinterest but was disappointed when the link stopped working. Other users reported inappropriate content. However, I had no trouble with the link to the blog’s main site (which I typed in manually), and I was able to view older posts until I eventually found the chicken pattern here.

chickens by EastDakotaQuilter

Since the website is in Chinese, I thought it would be helpful to provide the English-version tutorial. I am NOT trying to take credit for creating the pattern, just trying to make it available in the English-speaking market. I could not find the link to Sunny’s Lovely Quilt that is listed (via photos) on the Chinese site and on the chicken pattern itself. If someone finds the link and discovers this tutorial already exists in English, please let me know! We don’t want any copyright violations around here! In this spirit, I also did not include photos in this tutorial of anything that already appeared in the original link.

Download the pattern on the original website, then follow these instructions. (Note: I re-sized the chicken to fit a printout of 11 x 17” because I wanted it bigger.) All seams are ¼ inch unless otherwise specified.

Materials needed:

Cotton fabric (different colors for head, wattles/comb, beak, outside of chicken, and lining)
White felt (I used a combo of interfacing or batting instead)
Beads for eyes
Filler of your choice (I used polyester stuffing)
Needle, thread, scissors, etc.

Instructions

1. Print the pattern four times.

2. Add a seam allowance. I measured ¼” from each line and did a connect-the-dots thing, but I’ve seen you can also tape two pencils together and draw along the lines (the pencil tips will be approximately ¼ inch apart).

adding seam allowance by EastDakotaQuilter

Trace the chicken pieces as follows:

On the first printout, draw along the side of the beak, wattles, and comb that connect to the chicken body. Continue by tracing along the rest of the pieces. You can also draw along the entire chicken bottom on this printout.

parts of a chicken drawing by EastDakotaQuilter

On the second printout, draw along the side of the chicken head that connects with the body. Continue around the rest of the chicken head.

On the third printout, draw along all edges of the chicken body (excluding the connecting pieces you have already traced). On this page, I also traced around the beak. There was slight overlap, but I traced the small beak onto another piece of paper rather than printing a fifth chicken.

On the final printout, trace along the entire chicken body including the head but excluding all other pieces.

2. Cut out all the pieces. This is your final pattern.

3. Cut the following pieces of fabric:

Head: 4 pieces with two reverse
Body (no head): 2 pieces for outside of chicken with one reverse
Body (with head): 2 pieces of lining with one reverse
Bottom: 2 pieces consisting of one outside piece and one lining piece
Beak, wattles, and comb: 2 pieces each with one reverse each

On the body (lining) pieces, trace the wing outline using the water- or air-soluble ink of your choice. Do the same for the X shape on the bottom lining piece.

4. Cut off the seam allowance for the body (with head) and bottom pattern pieces. Cut one bottom piece plus one normal and one reverse body piece of white felt. These should be a quarter inch smaller than the fabric pieces on all sides. (I used the instructions to cut interfacing and batting instead of felt.)

A photo of the pieces you should have appears on the original website.

5. Sew along the sides of the beak, wattles, and comb that do NOT connect with the body with right sides together. Turn the pieces right-side-out and stuff. Baste along the sides that will connect to the body to keep stuffing in. (This is pictured on the original site.)

6. Sew one head piece to the corresponding body piece (outside piece). Repeat for opposite side of chicken.

7. Layer one body piece with head added (outside) and corresponding lining piece right sides together. Sew along the edges, leaving about 2” along the bottom unsewn so you can flip the chicken right-side-out. After flipping, insert the felt lining and sew the 2” hole closed. Repeat for opposite side of chicken.

8. Sew along the wing outline and remove the line. (You are basically quilting the wing. I added feathers to my wing shape.)

9. Repeat steps 7-8 for the bottom piece, layering the outside and lining pieces, sewing all but 2 “, flipping right-side-out, inserting felt, closing the hole, and quilting the X.

10. With the two remaining head pieces, sew along outside (leaving a hole), stuff, and close hole. This will be called the “head stuffer” in step 13.

11. Pin comb, beak, and wattle to the lining side of one quilted body piece. Sew using slightly less than a ¼” seam (so the stitching won’t show when you sew the two body pieces together). This is pictured on the original site.

12. Place outside sides of body together. Sew from the tip of the tail to the bottom of the chicken, but not along bottom. Sew from the back of the head, over the top of the head, to the bottom of the chicken. Do not sew the back or bottom of the chicken! All seams in this step should be as close to the edge as possible.

13. Put the “head stuffer” into the chicken head and place one eye on either side of the chicken. Using a tapestry or other long needle, connect the eyes through the head stuffer to keep it in place.

14. Pin the bottom piece to the chicken and sew around it. Because I am still pretty new to curved lines, mine didn’t turn out perfectly, and I can’t tell whether it’s a pattern issue or a sewing issue. (My oval for the bottom was too big.) I suggest checking the size of your oval before sewing to the chicken. Still, it’s pretty cute – and it’s lined with leftover bird fabric from a baby quilt I made.

inside chicken by EastDakotaQuilter

Uses:

The chicken was originally intended to hold eggs, according to the earliest pinner on Pinterest, but I will use it to hold chicken bean bags from this tutorial. The goal is to play this game or this game at the park with my cousin and her kids when they visit later this spring.

If you have questions, please leave a comment. Thanks for stopping by!


5 Comments

Mardi Gras Quiet Book

In a recent post, I mentioned I was working on a project with a palette too specific to share without giving away the intended recipient. Today is the big reveal!

mardi gras quiet book cover by EastDakotaQuilter

A dear friend of mine moved to Illinois from New Orleans several years ago to be nearer her husband’s family. She enjoys visiting her hometown several times per year but sometimes receives negative comments related to Mardi Gras. I’m not sure Midwesterners (which I am) tend to understand that Mardi Gras can be so much more than just the Girls Gone Wild fodder of Bourbon Street. The last two years, she has posted this article about the fun things she’ll be doing with family. I wanted to help her celebrate her hometown and teach others about the nicer traditions by making her kids a Quiet Book with a Mardi Gras theme.

This is my “design wall” to show how the fabrics coordinate (definitely a cohesive palette!). My design wall was created by sticking fabric to the wall with washi tape–hardly high-tech.

design wall for mardigrasbook by EastDakotaQuilter

Below are photos/descriptions of my quiet book pages.

history of mardi gras by EastDakotaQuilter

I wanted to start the book with the history of Mardi Gras. Even though my friend’s not Catholic, religious influences played a big part in forming the holiday.

hold_hands by EastDakotaQuilter

The objective of this page is to have the boy hold his mother’s hand and move to the sidewalk.

club nola

 

This page represents the musical influence of New Orleans. It was intended to look like one of New Orleans’ distinctive buildings with large, shuttered windows, plantation-style white doors, and European details. I decided to skip the shutters and doors at the last minute because they would have hidden the band members. I decided I liked the balcony appearance without them.

jazz band finger puppets

The band members are also finger puppets!

make king cake by EastDakotaQuilter

The pages above relate to baking a king cake. The spoon and whisk pull out of an elastic holder and are connected with a strand of embroidery floss. The refrigerator doors and cupboards on the opposite page open to reveal the ingredients for king cake. The refrigerator has detachable magnets with photos of the kids and their parents(redacted to protect their identity).

I wasn’t sure whether I could make the magnets stick to fabric or felt, so I had to find a way to sew them on. I repurposed a piece of plastic packaging to achieve this. I heated a pin until it was red-hot and pushed it through the squares of plastic I had cut and marked. I melted a set of holes in each corner. Then I attached once piece of plastic to each magnet, two per photo (one for the fridge, one for the photo itself), by sewing it to the fabric/felt. It worked pretty well!

mardi gras quiet book by EastDakotaQuilter

Once the king cake is mixed on the previous pages, it’s time to bake and serve the cake. The oven comes with an oven mitt. (See the discussion about my Pinterest board below for sources.) The finished cake is a puzzle, and there is a detachable knife and felt numbers to count the pieces.

mardi gras masks by EastDakotaQuilter

On this page, the kids can select a mask for the little girl.

fright night image by EastDakotaQuilter

fright night boy by EastDakotaQuilter

fright night girl by EastDakotaQuilter

Some suburbs celebrate “Fright Night,” which is very similar to Halloween in that kids dress up in costumes. For this set of pages, there are several costume options for the boy and girl.

mardi gras parade by EastDakotaQuilter

mardi gras parade loot by EastDakotaQuilter

Toys from the page on the left can be detached and put into the bag on the right, which mirrors the catching of “loot” during the many parades of Mardi Gras. I also embroidered a ladder, which is how young children are able to see the parade over the heads of adults. My friend pointed out that if she has trouble keeping track of any of the pieces, she can put them into the bag on this page – it’s huge!

mardi gras krewe by EastDakotaQuilter

There are numerous “krewes” at Mardi Gras, including the Mardi Gras Indians and Bacchus. On these pages, the kids are asked to look at the characters on the left to determine which of them belongs to the krewe on the right.

mail a letter by EastDakotaQuilter

felt mail by EastDakotaQuilter

On these pages, the kids can select one of the polaroid photos I took of them (and their favorite stuffed animals) this weekend, put them into a buttoned envelope, and mail them home to friends to share the Mardi Gras experience.

Processes:

I used the thickest Pellon interfacing I could find to stiffen my pages (interior design strength!). I thought it would be easier than quilting each page with batting in the middle and mostly liked the result. Unfortunately, the Pellon was not like the sticky-on-both-sides interfacing I’ve used before, so I wonder if I shouldn’t have sewn pages together in the middle in addition to the sides.

I elected not to use metal clips to hold the book together because I feared it would turn into a Noisy Book! I also opted against sewing the thick pages into a binder-type binding because I was lazy and it sounded hard. In the end, I used a hybrid of the most common forms of quiet book binding to make my binding with eyelets and ribbon.

I pinned lots of inspirational photos/graphics of Mardi Gras and New Orleans to a Pinterest board. It was secret so my friend wouldn’t know about my project, but I have since made it public. You can check it out here.

I made my book 8 1/2 x 11″ so I could use a standard-sized sheet of paper when designing and sizing my images. It also made it easy for me to test out different options in MS Word.

Making a book for kids when you can’t remember the skill levels at each age is kind of difficult, but I had fun using different claps, closures, and notions. I didn’t really think this would become as time-consuming as it did. I somehow thought I could do the whole book in just a few hours after I did the planning. HA! I can only laugh at myself in hindsight. I could probably have made a whole quilt in the time it took me to complete this project. You might be able to tell which pages I worked on at the beginning versus which ones I had to rush to be done before I went to visit my friend this weekend! But I’m not complaining about the time spent; it was mostly relaxing (when I wasn’t sewing pages together backward).


5 Comments

Christmas Ornaments – Owls

Prowl: Juicy Bits

It seems the biggest trend in the crafting world this year is foxes, but I still have a few friends who love the outgoing owl. I made two sets of these ornaments: one for my sister and one for a friend. They were stitched by hand and didn’t take too long. Since my family has a tradition of gifting ornaments well before Christmas (in advance of tree decorating), I’m not spoiling any surprises!

owl ornaments

backs of ornaments

single owl


Leave a comment

Embroidered Notebook Cover

Prowl: Lucky Jackson

I’m in the middle of many projects right now, but they’re taking so long to finish! As a treat, I decided to work on a project I knew would only take a few days.

Lucky Jackson does some neat embroidered portraits with two or more fabrics. I knew if I drew an original portrait or did anything very involved, it would quickly go from a 2-day project to another of the unfinished projects that make my head ache. Instead, I decided to try to apply the technique to clip art.

My boyfriend was recently offered a job with the U.S. government. His favorite time of day is the morning when he’s drinking his coffee and reading internet news. With the new job, I probably won’t see as much of him during this golden part of his day. I decided to make him a notebook cover. In the notebook, he can jot thoughts or follow-up notes from his online foray. He’s in his 30s but jokes about being a doddering old professor someday, so I thought this image, which I found for free online, would be perfect. I added the coffee cup.

Embroidered Old Man With Computer

I saw a product at the store that would’ve prevented fraying, but I’m okay with the way it turned out. I was equally lazy in tracing the notebook and adding a seam allowance instead of doing the proper measurements. I’m not bothered. If I try the technique again, I’m sure the next one will be better.

Finished_Notebook_Cover

It’s so rewarding to finish a project! Frankly, I doubt my boyfriend will use the notebook much. It’s not really something you whip out in front of your professional colleagues. But he knew I was thinking about him and had a smile.