East Dakota Quilter


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Boston Blocks: Assuaging Tragedy with Fabric

Have you heard about the Modern Quilt Guild’s request for quilt blocks in response to the Boston Marathon bombing ? I thought they did a great job of requesting manageable quilt blocks, and some fabrics I’m using for a current project match their color preference.

Blocks should be 12½” on one side by the size of your choice on the other. The preferred colors are those of the Boston Marathon: blue, yellow, gray, and white. Click here for more info.

I made a few myself, later than most bloggers I think, hoping that even a small submission will be useful. Here are the blocks I am submitting:

boston blocks by craftprowler

block for boston by craftprowler

I’m planning to mail my blocks this week to

Quilts for Boston
P. O. Box 79225
Belmont, MA 02479

You can also contact bostonmqg@gmail.com with questions. Submissions should be mailed by May 24, 2013.

UPDATE: Check out the completed quilt where one of my blocks ended up here.

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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!


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Palette Restraint

Coming off the successes of my first two projects, I wanted to make something (a) I didn’t have to give away; and (b) with modern color or design that flies in the face of the more cautious approach I use daily as a lawyer. It was also important not to get so excited about fabrics that color would transform into the nasty mess that is my Ugly Quilt. I thought that by limiting myself to a gray palette, I could accomplish all these goals.

The first obstacle was that although I knew what a palette is in theory, I didn’t know what one looked like in an actual project. What became one color too many? A girl I knew from high school posted on facebook about some of her projects, and I somehow found the gumption to contact her, even though I didn’t know her really well. She was sweet. She directed me to some websites and sent some color wheels of her own.

My next step was searching for fabrics (online since my local fabric store is meh) with gray in them. That’s when I really discovered how trendy gray is right now. There were grays and reds, grays and aquas, grays and yellows, grays and tangerine… the combos were endless. Then I had an idea: grays and primaries, variations on a theme. I selected fabrics with reds, aquas, and butter.

The quilt design was inspired by the Purl Bee, a blog my high school classmate helped me find. While I waited for fabrics to arrive over the course of the next few weeks (which felt like a decade!), I created a template on my computer:

One thing I love about people who work with sewing and/or crafts? They’re so darn friendly! Even the fabric I received from online purchases came with cute little cards, thank you notes, ribbon, and in one case even a teeny-tiny origami crane!

As with my first quilt, I got help finishing my quilt. I requested simple, stitch-in-the-ditch (i.e. stitching along the seams instead of big, looping designs) quilting. I didn’t want to detract from the fabrics I had so painstakingly selected. The woman who did the work told me her quilting friends all protested that my quilt was too plain but that she understood what I wanted and was going to deliver. And she did. I kind of like plain. And I love my quilt (photographed in my parents’ house).

Unfortunately, the box I used to ship the quilt to the woman who finished it had grease stains I didn’t notice… until the final product carried telltale signs. Preliminary research (again, google) suggests dry cleaning solution might work without ruining the quilt. Here’s hoping! I’ll post results if it works.

UPDATE: The dry cleaning kit I used worked surprisingly well! I wasn’t too optimistic about getting a grease stain out.