East Dakota Quilter


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Simple Baby Tie Quilt

My cousin and his wife will soon become parents! I wanted to make them something, but I am really bad with deadlines when it comes to quilting. The projects always take longer than I expect they will. Babies are born without regard to whether the baby quilt is finished, so I needed a manageable project.

I selected fabrics mostly from Lotta Jansdotter’s Bella line…

bella_fabric

…for a tie quilt comprised of simple squares. I used high-loft polyester batting to give a bigger impact to the tie quilting.

tie quilting

There is family history involved, too. My dad’s grandma made my parents a tie quilt for their wedding. It’s the only tie quilt we own, so to me, tie quilts symbolize beginnings.

Also, I thought tie quilting would be faster and easier than machine quilting. I still am not sure since I haven’t machine quilted a whole quilt yet, but I will say tie quilting gave me some blisters! I was surprised that a straight needle seemed to work better than the curved needles I tried. The curved metal was weak, so I broke at least three of them.

bandaids

The mom-to-be is outgoing and isn’t afraid of color. I selected fabrics that I thought would reflect this. I also wanted gender-neutral colors since I didn’t know the gender of the baby when I started.

I used a sheet as backing (pink! – gender revealed a few months ago) and a light gray fabric with a fern print (from Joann’s) for the binding.

binding by craftprowler

This was the first time in my life I didn’t mind hand-sewing something. I was cursing a little as I bound the first side of the quilt, but I found my zen as I rounded that first corner!

The pattern isn’t difficult, but I still like this quilt for its energetic colors. I hope the baby enjoys it, too. And as an added bonus, I even finished before the baby’s birth!

simple tie quilt by craftprowler

simple tie quilt by craftprowler

simple tie quilt by craftprowler

If I remember correctly, this quilt is twin size: 63″ x 87″. I started so long ago that I don’t know if I can trust my notes!

I blogged about this quilt before here. You can find a photo of the quilt that inspired me here.

Have you tried tie quilting? Do you like it? Do you think it’s easier or harder than machine quilting? I’d love to compare notes!

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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!


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Quilt Planning & Practice

Quilting – Sampler Quilt

I paid to have both of the quilts I’ve pieced so far quilted for a variety of reasons: my domestic sewing machine is old , I didn’t want to bunch up the quilt under the arm, I was afraid I would ruin my patchwork by sewing crooked quilting lines, having someone else help was too inexpensive to pass up and a time-saver… But I wanted to take a new level of ownership with my sampler quilt. I wanted to do the piecing and the quilting. Plus, I wanted to highlight the shapes of some of the blocks with the quilting, and I thought it might seem lazy if I had someone else do it within such specific parameters. So I needed to learn about quilting.

Somewhere on Pinterest in the last year, I found an article that said rows of quilting should be 4-6″ apart. I am planning to use this quilt-as-you-go method with my sampler quilt, and I figured the 6″ guideline would be close to what I was planning. Some squares might be a little farther apart, some closer. Could it really be that big a deal? Having determined my quilting method, I promptly put the issue out of my head.

Now I have only a few of the 49 blocks left to piece. That means the time for quilting is almost upon me! Terrified, I revisited my previous research. I found this excellent article on Sew Mama, Sew! about the requirements for different types of batting. The article says most cotton battings (which I’d planned to use since I have leftovers from some baby quilts I made to practice) require quilting every 2-3″ because cotton shifts much more than polyester. That really doesn’t fit with the quilt blocks I made, which will be [about] 12″ finished.

My new plan is to use a blend: the Warm & Natural brand Amy suggests in her article. It was 50% off when I went to the store last week, and it says you can go 10 whole inches (!!) between quilting lines, so I bought 3 packages of queen-size batting. I plan to make my quilt 3 layers thick for extra warmth if I can manage it in my sewing machine. (For some reason, this makes me a nut job to other quilters.) The lady behind me in line at checkout couldn’t help telling me how amazing the brand is… and about the rag quilts she’s making for her granddaughters, one of whom is picky and a teenager. I love fabric outings where everyone wants to tell you about their current projects!

warm & natural batting

All that said, I wish I could use the batting I already own. My boyfriend (Johann) was funny the other day when he asked in a nonchalant way, “Oh, is this fabric new? It looks good…” He was quiet a minute, then added, “Didn’t patchwork quilts traditionally used to be made with leftover fabric from stuff like clothes?” Nuance is not normally his thing, so I found this endearing–not that it stopped me from buying 10 yards of fabric for the sashing and border. At this point, I figure I’m in so deep with fabrics and batting, I don’t want to ruin the whole thing by putting some ugly, low-thread-count sashing all over. I selected Moda’s Warm Memories in Chocolate Brown. I had an amazing afternoon looking at all of Moda’s fabric collections, past and present.

sashing

Embroidering – Barn Quilt

In the same way I have traditionally not quilted my own things because I was scared I’d ruin the patchwork, I was worried I would ruin a piece of embroidery I’m working on when it came time to add knots. I am making a tractor for my barn quilt, and I wanted to include rivets. Too many rivets. I’ll be a regular Rosie the Riveter by the time I finish!

French knots aren’t my thing. When I do them, they look floppy. Below are some French knots I did on the first quilt square I completed for the sampler quilt. They’re buttons on a coat. They’re ugly and really uneven.

french knots

Since the next-most-popular knot seems to be the colonial knot, I decided to try that for my tractor rivets. No practicing first, of course. (How often I have regretted this enthusiasm!) The finished product isn’t perfect, but it’s much better than the coat buttons!

colonial knot

I had read that colonial knots consist of figure eights around the needle (with the thread) and that you need both hands. That advice was useful on both counts. I used the graphic from this website to make the knots, and I pressed the knot against the fabric while pulling the thread through to keep the knots tight. Whew! Much more even than the embroidered coat buttons, which I have chosen to consider “charming” and homemade.

Another concern is the traced lines. Each block will be based on a photo from my childhood. Once I’ve finished drawing the template, I size it and trace it onto the fabric. (Wish I could freehand it, but let’s be serious.) I tried air-soluble ink, but that left me with NO LINES when I let the project sit for a few days. Not good. So I switched to water-soluble ink. I read that even water-soluble ink can dissipate in time due to humidity in the air. Since I don’t want to wash my quilt right away, even though the DMC floss I’m using is supposed to be color-safe, I am going to try to use the humidity concept to my advantage and take out the water-soluble lines with a steamer. Wish me luck!

tracing lines

Block Arranging – Sampler Quilt

While I don’t spend much time practicing the more critical techniques like knots or quilting, I spend all the time in the world drawing and computer imaging what the finished quilt will look like. I want to see the result well before the pieces are finished. Below is an image that shows where I started with my sampler quilt (a grid on two different-sized pieces of paper where I drew every quilt block I liked that didn’t have circles or applique or otherwise look too difficult) to where I was mid-stream (closer color approximations since I didn’t have the correct colored pencils when I did the drawing version) to how I expect the finished quilt to look with sashing, using a combination of finished block photos and computer images for blocks I’m still working on.

13 left progress


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Farmhouse Baby Quilt

I loved having lots of cousins growing up, but, like most families, not all my cousins lived nearby.  My grandma moved to South Dakota from Michigan in 1956, so much of her family is still there (or at least not in South Dakota). My Great Aunt Andrea and Tolerable Uncle Henry, as he calls himself, did an amazing job of road tripping to visit us every few years. It’s for that reason alone that I am at least familiar with my cousins from that side of the family.

It was probably 4-5 years after I moved to Chicago that it dawned on me how easy it would be to visit family in Michigan. Until that point, I was amazed every time I learned some other city was within road trip distance. I decided to make an effort to visit more often. I attended a few weddings, went to the Greenfield Village Halloween event, and recently celebrated the pending births of the new generation of cousins. I stayed with a cousin I didn’t know well but whom I found is living the life I’ve planned for myself in a few years: farmhouse, a few animals, small acreage very near civilization. (In other words, not at all the hardworking farms from back home, but the fun kind.)

The baby shower gifts I gave were a product of work-related travel: gift cards–versus the baby blankets I wanted to make but didn’t have time to begin, much less complete, when I was away from home almost every weekend for several months. Of course, since planning the colors and design is the most fun part of making a project, I had already started gathering supplies. My favorites were for the cousin I stayed with. I’d selected various shades of blue and gray. I didn’t know the gender of the baby and hoped she’d be okay with blue even if she had a girl. Not that it’s a problem when you don’t complete a project. I was disappointed I’d put so much thought into a project that seemed like it would probably never be finished.

Then I stayed in her guest room, which was converted into a nursery shortly after I left. It’s blue. And the hourglass pattern I selected seemed to fit the beautifully renovated farmhouse perfectly. So I decided to finish the baby blanket as a hostess gift. You can find the sites that inspired me here (Purl Bee) and here (Diary of a Quilter). My project:

A word on pressing: I found the layers started getting thick, which resulted in my thread breaking repeatedly. A friend told me it’s a good idea to press the edges to one side instead of pressing seams open because it strengthens the quilt and makes it last longer. I continued to press edges to one side, but I pressed the edges for each piece to a different side:

And a word on binding: I followed the Purl Bee’s tutorial for the most part. However, I find that corners can be a little difficult. I have a tough time sewing to ¼ inch, even if I use a marker to show where I should stop sewing. I’ve been marking the spot instead with a pin, sewing right up to it and then reversing the machine, and that works well for me.

And here is the finished product:

By the way, it’s a girl!