East Dakota Quilter


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Vintage Quilt Revival Color Play

This past weekend, I attended a great event hosted by the D.C. Modern Quilt Guild at the Anacostia Arts Center. Speakers were Katie Clark Blakesley, one of the authors of Vintage Quilt Revival, and Laura Gunn, artist, “color expert,” and fabric designer.

The combo of these two speakers was pretty great! On one hand, Katie talked about updating traditional designs with bright colors and using neutrals or inversing colors in a quilt block to change the aesthetic. Here she is with her Cut Glass Baby Quilt, which is featured in the book.

CutGlass photo by eastdakotaquilter

Then Laura showed us how to make a color look brighter or darker based on the colors around them. I knew that certain palettes work and some don’t, but it was frankly mind-blowing to think of starting a quilt design not with a group of similarly-sized color chips, but with colored pieces spread out across a board. (Perhaps that’s how some people use their design walls, but I just hang up finished blocks and see after-the-fact whether it looks like I planned it out on the computer.) 

Here, Laura shows how cream and aqua look different based on background color.

LauraGunn photo by eastdakotaquilter

Audience members got involved and helped create a palette/design.

quiltboard photo by eastdakotaquilter

Vintage Quilt Revival was on my wish list for quite awhile, but I didn’t let myself buy it until just before the event because the anticipation ensured I wouldn’t stay home sewing at the last minute, haha. It was surprisingly better than I’d hoped it would be.

I have been working through my own design processes lately and wasn’t too keen on starting  a new quilt from a pattern before testing out some new designs of my own, but I have to admit, I think the book convinced me otherwise. It has big, glossy pictures. And even if a particular block is less appealing than another block, each block also comes with tips that can be applied to any quilt design. Even the brief “Did you know…?” type discussions about the history of quilting were interesting. Liberty Love has my favorite quilt design so far, the Marcelle Medallion, but I think Vintage Quilt Revival is my favorite quilting book.

Following the event last weekend, I set about trying to plan out a quilt not with a palette, but with color placement, using some of the blocks featured in the book.

I love the Riviera block, and especially the versions made by Holly at Bijou Lovely and Karen at Lady K Quilts. I figured I would start easy, making mostly black and white Riviera blocks with one or two blocks in color to break things up. Then I realized I didn’t like that the secondary pattern, which looks like a spiderweb to me, was more prominent than the stars in the center of each block.

riviera sketch by eastdakotaquilter

riviera spiderweb by eastdakotaquilter

The Stardust Quilt featured in the book includes both the Riviera block and another block, the Dakota Star block. Although I love the Dakotas as a geographical location, the quilt block is not my favorite. I decided to use the same concept: the Riviera paired with another block, but mine is the Geometric Star (from the Cut Glass Baby Quilt, my favorite quilt in the book).

I started with my B&W Rivieras.

black and white rivieras by eastdakotaquilter

Next, I thought I would add modified primaries: mustard yellow, rusty/dark red, and a dusty blue.

rivieras and primaries by eastdakotaquilter

I wasn’t sure I liked it. Let’s make those colors brighter!

mixed blocks by eastdakotaquilter

Now what if we add some color to the center block?

mixed blocks by eastdakotaquilter

Hmm, not sure I liked that. What if we just mix up the colored blocks, switching out the pinks and greens on two of them? 

mixed blocks by  eastdakotaquilter

I liked that a little better, but I still wasn’t sure it was quite right. I decided to change my block placement so there were two color/star blocks (each)  in the top and bottom rows, one in the center, alternating with the Riviera blocks.

mixed blocks by eastdakotaquilter

That was my favorite iteration, but I still wasn’t sure I wanted to go to the effort of sewing those blocks in that formation. I decided to try again, this time with the Double Windmill block.

double windmill by eastdakotaquilter

Again, I tried to mix a black and white concept with a few blocks of color, and I tried to invert the background of one of the blocks. I made a second attempt, too:

double windmill by eastdakotaquilter

In the end, I think I still want to play with the Cut Glass Baby Quilt design. Did I mention it’s my favorite? But I really enjoyed starting with color instead of with fabrics for once.


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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.


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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.

EastDakotaQuilter_sewing_room

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

EastDakotaQuilter_sewing_room

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

EastDakotaQuilter_marcelle_medallion

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.)

EastDakotaQuilter_sewing_room

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

EastDakotaQuilter_sewing_view

I even have room for some family heirlooms!

EastDakotaQuilter_iron_heirloom

 

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.