East Dakota Quilter


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QuiltCon 2015 – Recap

Disclaimer: This is going to be a LONG post. I have a few goals:

  • First, I want to share photos for anyone who wasn’t able to attend QuiltCon this year.
  • Second, I had a lot of questions about what to expect for my first-ever QuiltCon experience, so I want to share tips for future attendees.
  • Third, I bought a Janome machine at QuiltCon and thought it might be helpful for others to know how the negotiation process worked. (Spoiler: I paid the price they asked, but it was way below retail.)

Awhile back, I noted I was in the market for a new sewing machine. Fellow members of the DCMQG told me I should consider buying my next machine at a show, that their purchases were made significantly below retail value. That decided it for me: I would use my anticipated savings to attend QuiltCon. It was a bit of a gamble, but it totally paid off! And I had the best time.

Before I go any further, let’s look at some of the awesome quilts in the show. I obviously didn’t photograph them all, but here were some that caught my eye:

Quilts of QuiltCon - Photo by East Dakota Quilter

The quilts above are: (1) [The American Context #16] Christina’s World by Luke Haynes, (2) Holy Sh*t, Sherlock by Kristy Daum, (3) Woodcut by Holly DeGroot, (4) Wavelength by Lee Heinrich, and (5) Huckleberry by Bryan House Quilts.

A few of the quilts begged for a close-up.

Double Elvis at QuiltCon

Above is [The American Context #68] Double Elvis by Luke Haynes. I’d always wondered what his appliqué looked like up close!

Quilts of QuiltCon 2 - Photos by East Dakota Quilter

(A) Bauble by Emily Cier, quilted by Angela Walters; (B) Geometric Rainbow by Nicole Daksiewicz; and (C) Eggs and Darts by Amanda Leins, pieced by Susan Bishop.

The next four quilts have unknown makers but are all from the collection of Bill Volckening:

Bill Volckening Collection at QuiltCon

Okay, now where to begin with my experience? I got into Austin, Texas, late Friday night, arriving around 1am.

Pro tip: I didn’t have extra vacation time, but if you can swing it, I definitely recommend arriving at the start of the show. I missed the Moda Party, some of the Cotton + Steel fabric I had hoped to buy was sold out, I missed some of the workshops/lectures I would have found most interesting, and I missed certain other promotions. It wasn’t the end of the world, but I think the extra few days would have been worthwhile.

Registration on Saturday started at 8am. The process was professional and easy. I scanned my barcode (received in an email and printed out at home), although you can also search by name. Then my official nametag was printed, and I received a sweet swag bag.

Pro tip: Each nametag has a barcode that is used to scan the attendee into sessions (s)he has registered for.

I showed up promptly at 8am. There was no line. I was finished in less than 3 minutes. My workshop didn’t start until 9am, and the exhibition hall didn’t open until 10am, so I went to check out the contents of my swag bag, review my schedule, and get a coffee. Here’s a photo of some of the contents of the swag bag (charm packs of fabric didn’t fit into the photo):

QuiltCon Swag Bag

My first workshop was English Paper Piecing with Katy Jones (on Instagram as @imagingermonkey… but you already knew that!). I thought the session was great. She picked a project with enough different shapes so skills will translate to other projects. There was fairly minimal instruction. She showed us how to do each shape the first time, then let us make repeat pieces. Once we’d worked for awhile, she showed us how to connect the pieces. The cool thing about the class was having someone check our work and give one-on-one feedback (increase stitch length, don’t pull so tight, etc.). The class size was less than 30 people, so we all had the opportunity to ask questions. As Katy joked, I feel confident in my new English Paper Piecing skills because I learned them from someone English!

Pro tip: Full-day sessions have a two-hour lunch break from 12pm-2pm. Vendors are in their booths during this time, and the quilt show is open. There are also some demonstrations that are open to all attendees.

The workshop was scheduled from 9a-5p. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how I would do handwork for that long without getting squirmy. I needn’t have worried. First, there was a lunch break. (This also answered for me when I would contact a sewing machine sales rep about getting a good deal.) Second, Katy said she would buy a drink for anyone who made it even halfway through the project; she didn’t think it was possible. I’m hugely competitive, so that was all I needed to hear. I worked like a madwoman. I got close but didn’t make it. Here we are with the work I completed in class:

KatyJones_EPP

(Dunno why my face was flushed like I just ran up the stairs to the top of the Empire State Building, but a little B&W adjustment fixed that!)

Katy teased me about the template I made with Microsoft Word and brought to class. But I know it made me cool, haha.

EPP_Template_Quiltcon

During class, I learned that Katy’s magazine, QuiltNow, is finally being sold at Barnes & Noble in the U.S. I haven’t seen it in stores yet, so I’m really excited to get my hands on a copy!

I had my sights set on a Janome Horizon Memory Craft 8900 and told my fellow EPP classmates while we stitched away. They had excellent news! A Janome rep visited all the workshops a day or two before I arrived and said the 8900 was the machine being used at the show. Attendees could get a machine (used in workshops for the 4 days of QuiltCon) at an extremely reduced rate. The only “catch” was that only a limited number of machines were available.

Janome Horizon Memory Craft 8900

If you think talking about money is gauche, please skip the next paragraph. However, it’s difficult to find sewing machine prices online, you don’t always have a ton of local vendors to be able to shop around, and so I appreciated reading past bloggers’ experiences. I want to share mine in case it helps someone else.

I already knew the Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) had gone down $1,000-2,000 to $4,000 recently. Other bloggers mentioned getting their machines at a show for $2,500 or $2,300. I was hoping for a rate like that. Instead, I got my machine even less expensively… for just under $1,900!!! The rate included shipping to my house and was either inclusive of taxes or not subject to taxes (because Texas).

After the show, all the machines are going back to the local rep’s warehouse, and they’ll ship from there within the week. I also bought a table to go with the machine. They’re not sold by the same company, and the tables ordered for QuiltCon didn’t arrive in time, so that will ship approximately 3-4 weeks from now. I’m sure the rate was somewhat reduced, but nothing near the 50% discount on the machine!

The machine-buying experience, which I’d planned to span the 2-hour lunch break, was complete in less than 15 minutes. (When I asked the rep whether it was the fastest sale he’d made, he responded with a curt, “No.”) I have to admit that, as awesome as QuiltCon was, the next few hours were a tiny bit anti-climactic after the awesomeness of buying a machine. For hundreds less than anticipated. With a table into the bargain.

QuiltCon was surprisingly smaller than some of the other shows I’ve attended (blogged here and here). That said, I felt the vendors present were more targeted to the type of quilting I enjoy, so the smaller size wasn’t at all a detriment. (Example: I’m not the biggest fan of batiks, so it was nice to have one or two batik vendors instead of having to navigate between what seemed, at other shows, like a million of them.)

One of the most-photographed booths at QuiltCon had to be Cotton + Steel. It was divided into sections. To the far left was the Tinsel line and a mock fireplace. To the right of that was a sewing station. You could pick through boxes of C+S “scraps” (some of which were bigger than FQs) to make either a pincushion or a headband. To the right of that were the apparel fabrics. And on the far right was a temporary tattoo booth and the B&W prints, many of which were part of a Halloween theme.

Cotton + Steel at QuiltCon

I was most excited about the Tinsel and Black & White lines of fabric when I arrived, but Melody Miller personally pointed out to me some new rayon fabric that will make great apparel (it felt amazing and draped beautifully), so now I’m equally excited about those. This also comprised my most embarrassing “sewlebrity” experience. I got completely tongue-tied. I think all I told her about the rayon was, “This is great.” Then I went and stood in line for a temporary tattoo—not because I was disinterested in the fabric or talking with Melody Miller, but because I knew I couldn’t be counted on to say anything more intelligent than that! Talking with Sarah Watts about a temporary tattoo was easier because at least there was a clear course for the discussion – “I like this tattoo best. Here’s my left arm. Thank you.” Haha. I did stick around long enough to learn that B&W comes out in April, other lines in May, and Tinsel in July.

QuiltCon - Temporary tattoo by Sarah Watts

Pro tip: You will get to see a lot of the new fabric lines at QuiltCon, but you won’t actually be able to buy them yet. Manufacturers make display items from the strike-offs to show their lines before all 3,000+ yards are printed and available to the public.

All the C+S girls were friendly and gracious. One of the cutest QuiltCon moments for me was watching them help some up-and-coming quilters sew their projects at the sewing station in the booth. Here are Alexia and Melody helping:

C+S Help at Quiltcon

Alexia also took a photo with me. I am so excited!!! You might recall that I sewed her Marcelle Medallion pattern awhile ago. It is still my favorite quilt pattern.

QuiltCon - Alexia & Tiffany

Marcelle Medallion

I was also really excited to see a photo of my Pixelated Panda quilt on display in the YouPatch booth. Andi was kind enough to take a photo with me and a photo of the quilt:

EastDakotaQuilter and YouPatch Andi

In terms of other booths, there was great fabric from all the vendors, but I think the one with the widest selection on the bolt and therefore the longest lines was Island Quilter. Many of the other vendors focused more on half yards or FQs. It makes sense: pre-cut fabric is way easier to transport. It was also a nice way to get a wide vareity of fabrics.

Kona Cotton’s booth had a popular game where you could try to name 30 preselected fabric colors in 2 minutes. After your guesses, you could spin a wheel to win a pin, a FQ, or a color card. (I got a pin.) Elisabeth Woo was the rep by the color cards when I was there, and I had another sewlebrity blank-out moment. I’m blaming this on the adrenaline crash after buying my new sewing machine for such a fantastic value!

Quiltcon - Kona Color Wheel

Pro tip: Check in advance which booths are manufacturers versus retailers if you’re looking to buy something specific. Aurifil’s booth was right next to the Kona prize wheel. They had a lovely display, hosted a game with prizes, and, as sponsors, provided nice things in the swag bag, but I was surprised you couldn’t buy vast quantities of Aurifil thread on-site at the Aurifil booth. Similarly, you couldn’t buy C+S fabric at the C+S booth. Both were sold at the booths of their retailers. However, they were great about directing you to the appropriate booths.

After my EPP class, I also attended the keynote by the quilters of Gee’s Bend. It wasn’t at all what I expected! Instead of talking exclusively about technique, they also talked about their experiences growing up and sang songs, my favorite of which was, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” Mary Ann Pettway is the head of the group. She said she works on many projects at once. If someone wants to buy a quilt of hers, she says, “Go ahead and pick out your favorite of my WIPs. If you can wait 2 years, I’ll get around to it!” Haha. The next day, I ran into her on the floor of the quilt show, and she took a picture with me!

Mary Ann of Gees Bend

QuiltCon - Gees Bend Quilt

The coolest part was that she wanted to show us the label on the back of her quilt. As attendees, we obviously aren’t supposed to touch the quilts, but she pulled up a corner to our audible gasps. She said, “It’s my quilt! I suppose I can touch it.” She was friendly and so funny!

After the keynote, I went out to explore Austin, settling on Stubb’s BBQ for dinner. I think moving QuiltCon to other cities is a nice idea (the next event is in Pasadena, and the one after that is in Savannah) so more people can attend locally, but am sad that not everyone will experience Austin. It didn’t feel like other Texas cities where I’ve spent significant time (Houston, San Antonio, Dallas). I think a whole blog could be—and probably is—dedicated just to the facial hair of Austin. Ginormous beards were the norm. I saw some interesting variations, too. One guy dreadlocked his beard and tied up the strands at the top of his head. Another had a waxed moustache that stuck out at least 3 inches past his face on each side. (He also wore a top hat.) Studded jackets and military gear were everywhere. I noticed that although some of the style is “tough,” the people I talked with were universally friendly. I loved that.

I was back to my hotel around 8.30pm. Probably I should have gone out with other attendees, but I was exhausted! It was weird. I know I got in late the night before, but I spent almost the whole day sitting in one spot, working on EPP. That’s not exactly exhausting work! However, I noticed the same thing the following day: being bone-tired as soon as the events were finished for the day.

Pro tip: For this reason, I suggest traveling with or meeting a specific friend so you are forced to make the most of your time. I didn’t fight it and instead got halfway through my EPP project by staying in.

EPP by East Dakota Quilter

The next day, I already knew that the vendor hall/quilt show wouldn’t open before my workshop, so I got a later start. My class was Compositional Drawing with Krista Withers (on Instagram @lolablueocean). It was fantastic!

My current Singer machine is great for piecing but is a total pain for quilting. It is difficult to get the tension even on both sides, so I’ve been resigned to straight line quilting, and even that has unfortunate puckering for any crossed lines. There’s also no speed control, and the foot pedal sometimes stalls, then drives about 100mph. Needless to say, I am SO excited about getting a new machine, and this class was perfect for helping me know where to start with quilting.

Krista’s method (which I won’t describe in detail since it’s not mine to share) involves breaking the quilt into sections and then quilting those sections across the quilt. It’s weird, but I actually felt a sense of relief in the class, like, “Wow, I’m not going to have to figure this out on my own once my machine arrives.” Watching her do her thing was my favorite part of the class.

QuiltCon - Krista Withers Workshop

She assured us we can develop muscle memory in quilting. I hope to goodness that’s true. I need the help. Since my flight was canceled in the middle of class, I spent a lot of time on phone with the airline and skipped using my ruler for most of the session to save on time. My test piece is UGLY as a result. Seriously. Still, I got great ideas to bring home. We also got some plastic to practice with in the course kit, so I will be drawing on the plastic (set on top of the fabric) over and over before my new machine arrives!

At the end of class, Krista also agreed to take a photo with me.

QuiltCon - Tiffany & Krista

My afternoon lecture on Sunday was the time slot I was most excited about. I attended Heather Ross’ discussion about what she’s learned over 20 years of designing fabric. I don’t plan to start a line or anything, but I am a huge Heather Ross fan (not just the fabric; her books are SO worth reading!) and found that most of the concepts she discussed apply equally well to creative ventures more broadly. I am impressed any time a speaker can have a “conversation” in a huge room with an audience. It felt a lot more intimate than it was—although it was a smaller session than I’d expected. Heather’s lecture was funny, heartfelt, informative.

Heather Ross Lecture at QuiltCon

Pro tip: The show is WAY emptier the last afternoon as everyone heads for the airport. If the stuff you want to buy isn’t sold out, it’s a much quieter time to make purchases.

After the lecture, I went to her book signing at the Stitch Lab booth. I’m on my fourth copy of How to Catch a Frog since I keep recommending and lending it to people. I would buy the book twice as many times again… although I won’t be lending out this copy:

IMG_5751

My favorite essay in the book is about the Polar Bear Plunge. Her husband is the hero of the story, and I read it while wedding planning, so it stuck with me in a big and happy way. Of course, when she asked if there was anything in particular I would like her to draw, I realize in hindsight that a strawberry or cat or flower or frog or ANYTHING featured in her fabric lines might have been a more obvious choice. But I just love this book and the sketch! After my book was signed and I was already walking away with a big dumb grin on my face, she asked, “Do you want a picture?” “Um… YES!”

QuiltCon - Heather Ross & Tiffany

The best part about the book signing was obviously the book signing experience itself. But the next best thing was seeing who else was in the line with me. It was almost like scrolling through my Instagram feed of all-stars!

Heather Ross Book Signing

Heather’s new collection is called Tiger Lily by Windham Fabrics. She said it should be in stores in July. A FQ bundle arrived at the Windham booth just before her lecture, and I stopped by to see it after the book signing:

Fat Quarter Bundle of Tiger Lily

It was still wrapped with a bow when I saw it, but check the Instagram feed of @emmylizzy to see it spread out. You can at least see the colors in this photo. We also got to see a few sneak peaks during the lecture, and I’m really excited about the Climbing Trees print. Heather said it was one of the more difficult prints to design since it includes lines (vertical lines of tree trunks). It’s hard to see much of it as just one FQ (guess I’ll just have to buy some yardage!), but it looks incredible! Many thanks to Windham for the charm packs of Far, Far Away from when I stopped to coo over Tiger Lily.

And with that, QuiltCon was over. My flight situation didn’t really resolve itself. Due to weather, I was delayed a day. The silver lining is that late last night, I finished my EPP project! Hooray for one less WIP! I still have to make it into a cushion/pillow cover and quilt it with some contrasting thread, but it was fun.

EPP by East Dakota Quilter

Now I’m thinking about starting a La Passacaglia quilt. Sewing all 2900 pieces by hand. Because I’m insane. I may have already invested a small fortune on the pattern… although, compared with competitors’ prices, my purchase at Paper Pieces was reasonable. I even got 20% off by Googling a discount code – EPPFB. Until Paper Pieces bought 200 copies of the book, it was difficult to get in the U.S. So I’d rather have the option to spend a lot of money to get the stuff I want than not have that option. Besides, my husband is perfectly content with ramen noodle dinners, haha.

Passacaglia_Purchase

Katy mentioned La Passacaglia as the ultimate EPP project in her class, and Jenny Fox-Proverbs from Love Patchwork & Quilting magazine, in conjunction with the C+S team, gave a demonstration of how awesome each cog of the quilt can look.

QuiltCon Demo - La Passacaglia

As many photos as I’ve included in this post, there are so many moments I didn’t photograph. I saw a ton of designers (of fabric, quilt patterns, and otherwise) I admire. I didn’t go out of my way to run into them. In fact, like I said above, I was so tongue-tied that I needlessly avoided some. But just to give you an idea of the awesomeness of QuiltCon, I saw the following people with my own two eyes: Katy Jones, Krista Withers, Katy Jones, Alison Glass, Nydia Kehnle, Tula Pink, Alexia Abegg, Melody Miller, Sarah Watts, Rashida Coleman-Hale, Kimberly Kight, Denise von Minden, Holly DeGroot (@bijoulovely), Heather Jones, Alex Veronelli, Gemma Jackson (@prettybobbins), Jen (from Love Patchwork & Quilting magazine), the quilters of Gee’s Bend, Lizzy House, Sherri Lynn Wood, Kristi McDonough (@schnitzelandboo), Cat (@hellofromcat of Cat and Vee), Elisabeth Woo, Matt Wheeler, Andi (from YouPatch). I’m sure there are more I can’t remember at the moment; my method of listing them was a casual scroll through my IG feed. I might be bragging, but that’s not my intent. What I really want to illustrate is just how accessible the entire quilting community is at QuiltCon! It was amazing!

Arrival at DCA

I blogged about the QuiltCon registration process here. I hope to review my new machine soon. If you have other questions, I’ll be happy to try to answer them in the comments section. I’m not sure I’ll ever be lucky enough to attend another QuiltCon (I did just spend a bunch of money on a new machine, after all), but this was a really great experience. Thanks to the MQG for putting it together!

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Embroidered Engagement Portrait

Some sweet friends of mine were married this summer. I was sad I couldn’t attend their wedding, so I knew I wanted to do something extra special for them in addition to a normal gift. I decided to finally try my hand at an embroidered portrait.

Lucky Jackson did 365 days of awesome portraits awhile back. Personalized family portraits are also big right now on Etsy and Instagram (see examples here and here and here and here). I decided to combine the concepts for this hoop art:

Portrait by EastDakotaQuilter

I actually gifted the couple with the portrait at my own wedding because it was the only time I expected to see them this year. It felt tacky to me, but I was too excited not to share! The down side is I didn’t manage to take detailed photos of the finished project because I was too busy doing other wedding-related things.

A few details:

  • Her dress and his tie are painted with watered-down watercolor paints. I didn’t paint right to the edge because I worried the paint would bleed. It was fun to watch as the paint moved outward from the area I’d painted.
  • The buttons on his vest and jacket sleeve are real, miniature buttons! They were left over “eyes” from Christmas ornaments shown here and here.
  • I chose a rose fabric for the background to imitate the actual background of their engagement photo.
  • I used an iron-on stabilizer behind all but the background fabric to reduce fraying. I actually used two layers behind the cream-colored fabric so the other fabrics wouldn’t show through as much.

It was a lot of fun to make, and I’m thrilled it went as well as it did. As always, I learned a few things I’d do differently next time… if there is a next time! I worried the portrait could be received poorly, especially if my poor art skills meant one of the two looked deformed when I was finished; the final few stitches can ruin hours of work. I’m happy with this portrait, but I’m not sure I’d put myself through the mental anguish again!


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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.


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Sewing A Rag Doll

I have gotten some great gifts from my Great Aunt Carol over the years, but perhaps the most-loved of all were the dolls she sent my sister and me one year for Christmas. The dolls were the same style without being identical, which we loved. I named mine Elise; my sister named hers Gretchen. Here we are opening the presents. (I’m on the left with the new permanent teeth and awesome gold scrunchie.)

Christmas Dolls

Some of my earliest sewing (and hot gluing) projects were clothes for Elise. My sister and I created a doll suitcase out of a gutted casette tape holder. We loved the dolls and still have them–only a little worse for wear.

dolls from carol by EastDakotaQuilter

Remembering how much I loved my own doll, I wanted to make a doll for my friend’s daughter–the same girl who received the first quilt I ever made and the Sunday Brunch Jacket. I scoured the internet for a pattern. None of them seemed right. I concluded I didn’t just like having a doll, I liked having the specific style of doll I received from Carol–not too big, not too small, and cuddly. I had to make that doll.

Fortunately, my mom was able to help me create a similar pattern.

doll by EastDakotaQuilter

I bought the materials when my friend’s little girl was born… two years ago this Easter Sunday! But I was too scared to start. I was especially worried about sewing the hair. For one thing, my mom’s pattern didn’t have a seam in the back like Carol’s did, and Elise had yarn hair sewn into the back seam. For another, I wasn’t certain exactly how much hair (yarn) would be needed. And I was scared the yarn would be difficult to distribute evenly. What if it was thin on top and bunched at the nape of her neck as I worked my way down the seam?!

It wasn’t as bad as I expected, but I will say I have an even greater appreciation for the doll Carol made me after trying to make one of my own!!! I definitely learned a few tricks in the process. And she looked like Frankenstein in the process.

unfinished doll by EastDakotaQuilter

One of my favorite things about the doll I got from Great Aunt Carol was the number of outfits she had. She could be dressed for tea one moment and wearing pajamas the next. I knew I wanted to make several outfits for this doll, too. My favorite is the pair of pantaloons made out of a lacy material.outfits by EastDakotaQuilter

doll outfits by EastDakotaQuilter

I also made one of Jeni’s drawstring bags to hold the extra doll clothes. She was gifted wearing the outfit most like a salwar kameez.

clothes bag by EastDakotaQuilter

My friend’s little girl scooped the doll up to give her a big hug right away. She “changed the doll’s diaper” (pantaloons) and wiped the baby with a baby wipe. Then she put the doll on a chair, realized it was as big as she was, and got scared, haha.

Did you have a favorite doll, or do you have a favorite doll pattern? Little girls seem to remember their favorite childhood dolls, so I hope this will be a happy part of my friend’s sweet little girl’s childhood.


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1930s Reproductions, Pajamas & Memories: A Quilt Story

My grandma’s death last year was difficult. She’d had Alzheimer’s for many years, so in a way, our loss was more about the years we lost during her life than about her death. Alzheimer’s also meant there were no attics to search for treasures, no inspiring little finds; those things had been done long ago. All that was left with her really were the pajamas she wore in the nursing home and a favorite print she’d received as a gift from her brother. I decided to use the pajamas to make a memory quilt.

Grandmas_Pajamas by eastdakotaquilter

I decided to incorporate small pieces of the pajamas with larger 1930s reproduction prints. It wasn’t until I started researching 1930s repros that I realized where my grandma got her style. All those cartoon kittens and ducks? Straight from the 1930s!

1930s repro prints by eastdakotaquilter

I decided on a layout that would showcase both the repro prints and the pajama pieces.

grandma quilt layout by eastdakotaquilter

At first, I thought I would use a white background. Then I realized some of the pajamas were a little dingy from multiple washings. A quilt store employee in my home state suggested I use a darker color to make the smaller pieces pop. Although pinks and purples aren’t my style, they were my grandma’s. I decided to use a purple (Robert Kaufman’s Quilter’s Linen).

basting by eastdakotaquilter

With a color scheme my grandma would have liked, I decided to include a few details that would also make it more “me.” I wanted this to be a quilt that linked us through the generations.

In particular, I wanted a pop photograph of my grandma on the quilt. I think on one hand she would have hated it and thought it was too ostentatious. On the other hand, I think she would have been flattered and would have thought I was being goofy. It makes me smile to think that she would have teased me for my selection. I turned a photo of hers into a Spoonflower design and had it printed.

grandma portraits by eastdakotaquilter

My grandma was BIG on sending birthday cards, sympathy cards, letters, etc. She kept every card she ever received. Ever. I wanted to somehow incorporate that part of her into the quilt. I used her birthday calendar to get samples of her handwriting, then embroidered her name and dates onto one of the quilt squares. I was lucky she had several friends with the same first name, and obviously family with the same last name, so it was easy to cobble together her name!

grandma signature by by eastdakotaquilter

When it came time to bind the quilt, only one color would do. Fuscia was her favorite.

quilt strips by eastdakotaquilter

(Don’t you love my washi tape “design wall”?)

langdon house by eastdakotaquilter

fuscia binding on gma quilt by eastdakotaquilter

For the quilt back, I used up the remaining portrait fabric. (I bought a yard so I would be sure to have at least one full portrait, plus a few extras in case I messed up.) I also used smaller pieces of 1930s feed sacks that I bought on Etsy, along with 1930s repro prints.

quilt back by eastdakotaquilter

I kept the quilting simple, using straight lines along the outsides of the bigger/repro squares with painter’s tape to mark the lines. The finished quilt is lap size.

This is a quilt I think my family will appreciate for a long time. My mom (whose mother is memorialized in this quilt) has first dibs, and if she decides the colors are too bright, my sister has expressed interest. My sister said the sweetest thing, “There aren’t many things left from Grandma. If I have kids someday, I would love to show them this quilt and tell them what I remember about her. It would be my way of passing along her memory.” How could a quilt be more appreciated?! I am so glad to have created a piece of family history.

Another great thing about this quilt is it was finished in February, which means my current finish rate is one quilt per month! I don’t know that I can keep it up, but I feel such a sense of accomplishment in 2014 so far.


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First Finish of 2014!

I have noted in past blogs how slow I am to finish projects. I am therefore incredibly excited that I finished my first project of the year in the first month of the year. I made a baby quilt for a dear friend who is expecting:

waterfront park quilt by EastDakotaQuilter

The fabric is Violet Craft’s Waterfront Park line.

This is the first non-mini quilt that I quilted myself, so I’m kind of proud of that–especially with the high loft polyester batting I used to make this beast fluffy!

quilted by EastDakotaQuilter

My mitered corners have also vastly improved compared with past projects, and it’s the first time I’ve actually enjoyed sewing on the binding.

binding by EastDakotaQuilter

And the colors are so cheerful!

Finally, I embroidered a label in the form of an owl since my friend’s late mother collected owls. (The free embroidery pattern is available here.)

owl label by EastDakotaQuilter

My friend’s daughter was so funny when she said her prayers the day I gave them the quilt. She said, “Dear God, thank you for Tiffany so now we will have a blanket for the baby.” I’m sure the baby would have made do without me. 😉

Here’s hoping I am able to finish many more projects this year!


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Quilt Guild Meeting & Father’s Day Gift

I attended my first-ever quilting event that involved talking with other quilters: the Crystal Lake Modern Quilt Guild monthly meeting and sew-in. Unfortunately, I missed the show-and-tell portion. (I was late for a variety of reasons. I HATE being late for anything.) I had most been looking forward to that part of the meeting, but it was at least fun to look around the room and see what kinds of projects others were working on.

The prospect of talking with other people about quilting scared me. I only know what I have found on the internet, and some of my methods are “non-traditional.” In other words, I anticipated more judgment for some reason. I am far less secure with my creative abilities than my professional abilities. I needn’t have worried; everyone I talked to was nice. I received only kind comments about my Marcelle Medallion, which was the project I brought to the meeting. Since the quilt pattern is all over the internet, I was surprised not everyone knew about it already. I was happy that I could share useful information with quilters who are more experienced than I am.

Proof I was sewing in public:

CLMQG Meeting

I finished the piecing for my first “extra” border to convert the quilt to full-size but didn’t quite have time to sew the border to the quilt top. Instead, I took a small break this week to make my dad a gift for Father’s Day.

My dad grew up in rural South Dakota and has been going back to the family farm a few times a month for as long as I can remember to help with things like mowing the massive lawn (it’s a house in the middle of the prairie, so I’m sure you can imagine), putting up hay, fixing things, etc. My grandma recently sold the house she and my grandpa built together, but the family still owns some land. What this means for my dad is he still had the responsibility of farm work but no place to stay. It wasn’t a huge deal since my parents’ home is within driving distance, but when a used camper came on the market, my dad decided it would work perfectly as a home-away-from-home. It stays on the farm property and gives him a place to stay when he’s helping out. I made him this to make it a little more like home:

camper hoop art by craftorowler

The hoop is tiny, just 3″! The pattern is Sublime Stitching’s Camp Out.

What are you doing for Father’s Day? Does your family have any traditions? I had a hard time thinking of what to make or do, as I do every year. I thought a fun project another time would be to make a Dresden plate pillow out of all the ugly ties we gave my dad when we were kids. How many M&Ms ties can one man wear?!


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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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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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the sampler quilt that was finished… and then wasn’t

I felt like a rockstar last week when I completed all 49 blocks of my original 7 x 7 sampler quilt design:

49 sampler blocks by craftprowler

It is decidedly more traditional than the quilts I’ve begun in the meantime.

In my original design, I included a border on either side to round out the queen-size requirements. I chose this over another row of blocks. But I’m not sure how well the quilt-as-you-go method would work for borders, and I also felt silly avoiding 7 blocks when I’ve already come so far. So… I have a new goal of 56 total blocks (design below).

56 sampler blocks by craftprowler

Since I started working on the quilt in September, I typically completed either 4 blocks per week or absolutely 0 blocks. This means I completed about 7 blocks each month for 7 months. Of course, this includes the time spent graphing my blocks, cutting fabric, and all the preparatory work, plus the holidays and a death in the family where progress halted. Could it really take a whole ‘nother month to finish a portion of a project that I had nearly written off as complete?! On the other hand, I made room for some fun new blocks that I only discovered after cutting all the pieces for my original 49, so I am excited in spite of myself.

My sister’s dog, a pit bull, wanted to be sure he wasn’t missing dinnertime when he heard me moving around.

dog helping by craftprowler

Top left:

sampler quilt top left by craftprowler

Top right:

sampler quilt top right by craftprowler

Bottom right:

sampler quilt bottom right by craftprowler

Bottom left:

sampler quilt bottom left by craftprowler

Earlier posts about this quilt (in chronological order): Starting a Dear Jane Quilt, Quilt Expo – Madison, Wisconsin (embroidering the Sarah Jane Studios design for one of the blocks), Sampler Quilt Progress, Sampler Quilt Update: First 12 Blocks, Sampler Quilt Progress Report, [Needle]working Through Grief (several blocks appear at the end of the post), and Quilt Planning & Practice