East Dakota Quilter


Steampunk & Scrapbooking: Today is brought to you by the letter “S”

Two of my great-aunts have supported my blog and are accomplished sewers/crafters themselves. Over the years, their projects have included cross-stitch, dolls, scrapbooking, costumes, and crochet. I have received a number of gifts from them, from handmade items (like the hand warmers below, teddy bears, and dolls) to family heirlooms.

hand warmers by dorothy

(The hand warmers came with adorable paper cutouts of hands inside to indicate they were NOT beer cozies, haha.)

I wanted to show my appreciation, but what do you give someone who can make things with more skill? –especially when I didn’t want to send something that would just collect dust.

For one of the two aunts, I decided on a pillowcase, but not just any pillowcase… an embroidered steampunk pillowcase!

My aunts have attended steampunk events the past few years. Since I have no experience with steampunk and a pretty fluid concept of history, I didn’t want to make a mistake and include items from different decades/centuries that didn’t make sense together. Then it dawned on me: I could embroider an image of my aunt in the costume she made!

I present Lady Leontine:

lady leontine pillowcase by eastdakotaquilter

lady leontine by eastdakotaquilter

steampunk detail by eastdakotaquilter

The pillowcase even has French seams! I used this super simple tutorial.

The second of these two great-aunts makes incredible scrapbooks. For her, I made a scissors-themed mug rug. The block was inspired by the one in the book Patchwork 318 (see a similar block here), although I had to make my own pattern since the book is unfortunately no longer in print.

scissors block by eastdakotaquilter

Also included in the package was a cute necklace I bought at a craft fair in D.C. called Crafty Bastards. The chain is tiny, but I couldn’t resist.


The Big Move… and a New Sewing Room!

I loved living in Chicago; however, I am settling happily into my new place in the Washington D.C. Metro Area. The proximity to other destinations along the east coast is really exciting. Perhaps best of all? My new sewing room!

My boyfriend built a pegboard for my sewing supplies, and I finally have someplace to hang the only oil painting I’ve ever made so Myrna Loy is not smirking at you while you watch TV, use the restroom, etc.


Here’s a close-up of some of the things I keep on my pegboard:


 I have a place to spread out my Marcelle Medallion while I’m working on it so it doesn’t get crushed:


The room is doubling for now as a guest room, and there is some spillover with extra books. (*cough cough* The dresser might be full of fabric, though. And all the plastic tubs and blue crates, too.)


Here’s my sewing machine. She’s on her last leg, but goodness, I love her!


I even have room for some family heirlooms!



I still have a lot of unpacking and organizing to do (and wall space to fill – yay!), but I love that I have a dedicated creative space. I hope to get back on track with this blog and begin to post more projects in the next few weeks.

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Strange Sightings in the City

It takes me a long time to finish projects. Not only do I have to cram exercise, dinner, and hobbies into about two hours every day, but I am also the slowest person ever. I decided this week to share some colorful inspirations I’ve seen around the city of Chicago the past few weeks.

...because who doesn't put mosaic tiles all over her car?

…because who doesn’t put mosaic tiles all over her car?

i suppose if you have a flat tire in the city, carrying a replacement through the train station isn't so strange...

i suppose if you have a flat tire in the city, carrying a replacement through the train station isn’t so strange…

whale street art

whale street art

street art

street art

someone has a batman cutout leering over the fullerton el stop... love it

someone has a batman cutout leering over the fullerton el stop… love it

cow sighting

cow sighting

perhaps the strangest sight of all, i found a sold-out copy of Love Quilting & Patchwork! it was at the barnes & noble in oak brook

i found a sold-out copy of Love Quilting & Patchwork!


We interrupt our regularly scheduled quilting broadcast to bring you… International Quilt Festival 2013

My Marcelle Medallion progress has been painfully slow the past few weeks. After a late night yesterday, I have just one final border–not part of the original design–to add before my quilt top is finished. In the meantime, I wanted to share some photos I took at the International Quilt Festival in Chicago a week and a half ago. The photo quality isn’t great; I wasn’t sure whether a large camera would be allowed in the conference space, so I used my iPhone.

First up is a portrait quilt of the quilter’s mother. It’s called “Make You Happy” by Brigit Aubeso Bell-Lloch of Girona, Catalunya, Spain, and won first place in the Art – People, Portraits, and Figures category. (For a tutorial on making your own pixelated portrait quilt, click here.)

Quilt Festival 2013 photo by CraftProwler

Next is another portrait – “Raven Blanket” by Lynn Czaban of Vancouver, Washington, USA. It won Honorable Mention.

Quilt Festival 2013 photo by CraftProwler

This is called “Departure.” It won first place in the Traditional Pieced Category. It was made by Kiyomi Takayanagi of Kitanagoya, Aichi, Japan.

Quilt Festival 2013 photo by CraftProwler

This one is “Mabel – 1952 REO” by Susan Cane of Canaan, Connecticut, USA. It won second place in Art-Pictorial.

Quilt Festival 2013 photo by CraftProwler

This colorful quilt is called “Colorstrips #1.” It was sewn by Lynda Faires of Louisville, Colorado, USA. It won first place in Art-Abstract, Large. (The stripe across the bottom is the barrier tape used to keep visitors from getting too close or touching the quilt.)

Quilt Festival 2013 photo by CraftProwler

This quilt is “Flamenco” by Jin Gook Yang of Suji-gu, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do, Korea.

Quilt Festival 2013 photo by CraftProwler

This quilt is “5-HTP Squared” by Jennifer Carlton-Bailly.

Quilt Festival 2013 photo by CraftProwler

The next quilt is “Ladies of the Sea” by Carolyn Stine of Springfield, Illinois, USA. I was surprised by how much I liked this quilt. Nautical themes aren’t my thing, and on first glance, it was more traditional than some of the other quilts I favored. Then I noticed the amazing variety of ships: everything from a pirate ship to a junk to a rowboat with sails! I also like how she incorporated color into the borders.

Quilt Festival 2013 photo by CraftProwler

Next was the Berne House Quilt. It was made by the members of the Bernese Quilters for an exhibition in Berne, Switzerland, in 2010.

Quilt Festival 2013 photo by CraftProwler

It was much more impressive as you got closer and saw individual houses:

Quilt Festival 2013 photo by CraftProwler

I loved the monochromatic look with just a pop of color in “Rainy Day – San Francisco, Monday, October 25, 2010” by Sally Wright of Los Angeles, California, USA. (That was a mouthful even to type!)

Quilt Festival 2013 photo by CraftProwler

This quilt didn’t especially catch my eye the first second since it looked like a photo printed on fabric (versus a pieced portrait quilt):

Quilt Festival 2013 photo by CraftProwler

…but then I noticed the quilting. Metallic thread was made to look like the sun’s rays streaming across the beach and the little girl. The quilt is “Childhood Exhilaration” by Julie Brandon and Valerie Schultz of Williamson, New York, USA.

Quilt Festival 2013 photo by CraftProwler

This beautiful house was the subject of “Lazy Afternoon” by Michelle Jackson of Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.

Quilt Festival 2013 photo by CraftProwler

There were, of course, many more quilts. These were just a few that I personally considered highlights. I also stocked up on some pretty sweet fabrics. In all, it was not a bad way to spend a few hours after work on a Friday night.

Quilt Festival 2013 photo by CraftProwler

If you’d like more details about any of the quilts, send me a message or leave me a comment. I took photos of the placards for all the quilts I posted above.

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Bonus Borders & Fabric Shopping

I’m plodding along on my Marcelle Medallion quilt (prior posts here and here and here and here). I finished all the original borders, plus one “bonus border” that brings my quilt a few steps closer to full-size.

Marcelle Medallion WIP by craftprowler

Marcelle Medallion Bonus Border by craftprowler

The clothesline photo above was taken at a friend’s house. It was fun to get out of the city for a weekend, but this trip was extra-exciting because she had given me a gift certificate for my birthday in January, and we planned to cash it in at her local quilt shop during my visit. The store, Old Times Quilter’s Heaven, specializes in florals and traditional prints. It took me a few minutes to get out of my Marcelle Medallion/ modern quilting mindset! Once I did, I found these fabrics, most of which I plan to sew into kids’ clothes:

Fabric Purchases 06 2013

I have just a few bonus borders left on my Marcelle Medallion, all with less piecing than the original borders. I’m crossing my fingers I’ll be finished next week!


Exploring Quilt Shops Near Madison, Wisconsin

I had a fantastic weekend. My boyfriend and I decided to get out of the city. Since we didn’t want to spend the whole weekend driving, we settled on nearby Madison, Wisconsin. Most of our weekend activities don’t really relate to this blog: we ate at cute restaurants, went to a museum, walked through the capitol building and the university arboretum, etc. But I did squeeze in a few minutes at two of Madison’s fabric stores: the Sewcial Lounge and Mill House Quilts.

Madison_Medley by EastDakotaQuilter

I regularly check the blog In Color Order. The blog’s author teaches classes at the Sewcial Lounge, which is how I heard of the store. I was excited to visit a store specializing in modern fabrics. In fact, the shop doesn’t bother with any non-modern prints! It was nice not to sort through “filler fabrics.” I expected the store to contain a lot of fabrics with a small sewing space, but quite a large portion of the space was a dedicated sewing area/lounge. The small shop was bustling when I went in, so it seems I was not the only one who appreciated the fun colors! I especially liked a print with small houses and cats (which I thought they were foxes at first). I’m kicking myself for not getting at least a small piece since it’s not on their website and I haven’t been able to identify the fabric with Google since returning home. This might warrant a phone call at some point…

Comparatively, Mill House Quilts is enormous. I don’t know why I don’t remember seeing them at the Quilt Expo last September. Maybe their booth was so full of people that I decided not to stop, or maybe the fabric selection was so wide that I felt overwhelmed. Maybe I got distracted by coffee… In any case, I see the sign every time I drive from Chicago to visit my parents in South Dakota, only I don’t want to make the ten-and-a-half hour drive take longer than necessary. I was glad for a chance to stop without cutting into family time.

mill house snowman

The store was frankly even better than I’d expected. Again, I was expecting some kind of megastore the size of a warehouse. It wasn’t that. But it was still the biggest fabric store I’ve seen that wasn’t a Joann’s, and I would have been happy to receive as a gift almost any fabric in that store. There were dedicated areas for civil war prints, modern fabrics, batiks, etc. There was a whole room full of sale fabrics. I think the best part, though, was the variety of quilts hanging from the rafters of the store. There were many styles, many colors, and it SO made me want to go home and start a new project! I took a brochure with me and was a little awed by the large number of classes. I only wish I lived closer (and didn’t spend 3 hours a day in commuter traffic already) so I could attend some of them!

DMC floss at MillHouseQuilts by EastDakotaQuilter

modern brights at MillHouseQuilts by EastDakotaQuilter

MillHouseQuilts sample by EastDakotaQuilter

MillHouseQuilts civil war section by EastDakotaQuilter

EastDakotaQuilter purchases at MillHouseQuilts

Okay, so I broke down and bought a few red and white fabrics for an idea that’s been percolating–even though I’m not finished with the myriad other projects I’ve started. That’s me standing outside the store with my purchases!

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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!