East Dakota Quilter


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Owls, Owls, Owls!

My sister loves owls. I wrote two years ago about these owl ornaments I made her. My tradition is to gift my parents and sister each with an ornament on Thanksgiving so they can think of me when they decorate their Christmas trees. I wrote last year about how my sister’s small, apartment-sized tree was looking a little full, so I made her this scandalous pillowcase instead.

This year, I combined the two ideas and made her an owl pillowcase. She got one of the throw pillows from my wedding (the pig pillow), and I thought she might appreciate a Christmas-themed cover to swap out over the holidays.

Owl Pillow by East Dakota Quilter

Here’s a closer view of the background fabric:

Owl Fabric by East Dakota Quilter

I included three buttons on the back side to secure the cover. Even they are owl-shaped!

Owl Button by East Dakota Quilter


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Frozen Pillows = VERY Happy Mail

My husband and I will be sending our thank you cards shortly. It’s a great time to send those last few gifts that I meant to hand deliver to people at the wedding (because I am crazy) but didn’t manage to finish in time (because… wedding). One of these finally-finished WIPs was a set of paper pieced pillows for my two youngest cousins.

Frozen Pillows by East Dakota Quilter

Frozen Pillowcases by East Dakota Quilter

Anna Block by East Dakota Quilter

I can just imagine the two girls curled up together with their pillows, watching the movie “one more time” and singing along. Hope these are a fun surprise before the holidays!

Both quilt blocks are available for FREE on Craftsy. Visit Sew Much Mischief’s shop.


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I’m Sailing Away…

I may have mentioned that I loved our wedding photographer. She had a ton of energy, an eye for detail (“Here, let me just move these leaves on the ground so I don’t have to edit them in PhotoShop later.”), and was so certain about what she was doing that she could get great photos of the guys in just a few minutes. They all came to tell me afterward how awesome it was not to stand there for hours. I got to peek at her camera screen a few times, and let me tell you, I cannot WAIT to see the final photos!

In the meantime, I’ve been in a secret race with her. I made her a baby blanket. (Yep, she did all that great work while visibly pregnant!) I wanted to finish it and send it to her before the wedding photos were ready so it wouldn’t look like a quid pro quo, thank-you-very-much-for-the-photos-here’s-your-reward. Mission accomplished! She received the package today.

I went with an underwater theme. (Border and backing fabrics are from City Quilter in NYC. I am definitely going back there.)

Boat Quilt by East Dakota Quilter

The back:

Underwater Quilt Back by East Dakota Quilter

The low volume squares between the boats are quilted with outlines of different oceanic creatures/items, including a scuba diver, a crab, a pelican, a dolphin, a fish, a whale, an anchor, a conch, a mermaid, an octopus…

Octopus by East Dakota Quilter

…and a seahorse.

Seahorse by East Dakota Quilter

It was great practice with the curvy shapes that are so popular right now in the quilting world. And although I need to learn how to bury my quilting threads, I think it turned out pretty great! It’s also the first time I’ve pre-washed a quilt and gotten to see it crinkle. I’ve always been scared the quilt would shred in the wash with my rental-unit washing machines, and I wanted the recipient to at least see my hard work first!

Package from East Dakota Quilter

She’s expecting a boy. Which of course reminds me of this meme:

Velociraptor by WeKnowMemes

Congratulations either way!


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It threw a little wrench in things…

My dad was out of town for his birthday, so I couldn’t send something to arrive that day. I am pretending it threw a wrench in my plans, but really, the gift I decided to make for him wasn’t finished until the day of his birthday, anyway. At least I called him!

I sew and draw and do right-brained things. My dad is an engineer. Growing up, I didn’t always see what we had in common. When I finished law school and was studying for the bar exam, I saw a job posting for an in-house attorney at a machine tool company. Naturally, I called my dad to see if he knew anything about the company. He did. I worked at that company for the next five years, until I moved from Chicago to D.C.

I will always be grateful to that job for bringing me a little closer into my dad’s world. He still sells tooling for machine tools, and my company sold machine tools. He could tell me things about our competition, and I would call to tease him when his competition bought breakfast for our office. I also understood more about the products that made up his work days and were responsible for his problem solving.

This was his first birthday where we are no longer working in the same industry, so I wanted to make something that was a little nod to both our differences and commonalities over the past few years. Presenting… the wrench pouch! wrench pouch by EastDakotaQuilter wrench interior by EastDakotaQuilter I figure he can use it to organize his suitcase since he travels for work most weeks. The wrench is a nod to our tooling/machining shared interest. And it’s sewn because he gave me the opportunity to follow my own path.

Happy birthday, Dad!  

 

Project details: I used the Open Wide Zippered Pouch DIY Tutorial (free) by Noodlehead. I made a hybrid size: the 12″ width of the medium bag, but 11″ tall instead of 9″. I wanted more of a square shape. I made the wrench paper piecing pattern myself in Microsoft Publisher. Then I ignored my own numbering scheme and had to re-sew the back end of the wrench. Twice.


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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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Drawstring Bags – Photographer & Knitter Gifts

Have you seen Jeni’s FREE drawstring bag tutorial on her website, InColorOrder? The bags have been popping up on Instagram for a long time. I liked them right away but couldn’t think how to use them. Then I had a few ideas!

One of my friends is a photographer. I made this bag for her.

drawstring bag by eastdakotaquilter

I bought the camera print probably over a year ago. I love photographs, but I didn’t want people to see it and expect my photos to be awesome as a result. They’re not. (Did you see that iPhone beauty above?! My camera lens has been severely damaged since July 2013.) Every time I saw the fabric, I thought “Laila’s the real photographer.” You can see her work here. I decided to use the fabric to make her something! I like the way it turned out.

drawstring bag by eastdakotaquilter

Another of my friends is a knitter. I actually don’t know her super well since she’s a friend-of-a-friend, but she has been very welcoming since I moved to D.C., where she’s been living for several years. She even invited me to join her book club. I just wanted to make a little something to say thank you, and when I saw this sheep fabric, I knew just what to make!

drawstring bag for knitting by eastdakotaquilter

inside drawstring bag by eastdakotaquilter

I was surprised how quick these were to make, especially since I sew slow. I’m excited to make more soon. You know, it’s tax day in the U.S. One of these bags could probably hold a lot of receipts! 😉


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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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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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‘Tis the Season… to finish sewing any gifts you want to give this year

Inevitably, I reach December every year and think, Huh, I guess it’s way too late to make any of the gifts I hoped to make. Guess they’ll have to wait for next year. I am the slowest sewer on earth, and I am only able to carve out a few hours each week to sew. The formula doesn’t exactly make for an abundance of handmade holiday gifts.

However I started early this year and kept the projects simple. I showed off this Alexander Henry print (“Hurry Down the Chimney”) at my first meeting of the D.C. Modern Quilt Guild. Everyone agreed it was outrageous and wonderful.

Thanks to Jessie of the DCMQG for this photo

Thanks to Jessie of the DCMQG for this photo

My plan was to make a pillowcase for my sister.  Each year since I have lived too far to come home for Thanksgiving, I have sent each member of my immediate family an ornament so they can think of me the day after when they decorate the tree. (Never mind that the tree decorating has been pushed back over the years until now we usually do it on Christmas Eve when I’m home.)

The first ornament I gave my sister was a hideous flamingo. I sent it with a story about how my sister and I used to shop together and laugh and laugh at all the tacky things. The flamingo reminded me of her because no one else would have appreciated the humor in such an ugly thing. Only my sister saw the ornament before she read the card and asked, “Why do I get the ugly one?!” After that, you’d best believe my sister got every ugly ornament I could find: a pinecone squirrel (“enhanced” beautifully when her dog ate a big chunk of its tail), a flamingo wearing a Hawaiian shirt, roosters, handmade monstrosities, etc. Her apartment-sized tree now bends under the weight of these awful baubles each year. I thought a tacky pillowcase would be a nice way to mix up the holiday cheer:

pillowcase by EastDakotaQuilter

What do you think? Awesome or mean?

Don’t spoil the surprise! She doesn’t read this blog and won’t open the package until the day after Thanksgiving.

If you want to make a quick pillowcase of your own for the holidays, this is the tutorial I used.


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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