East Dakota Quilter


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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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DIY Personalized Stamps

I thought for sure I would finish the Marcelle Medallion quilt top as designed this week (although I will add some extra borders later to make it full size). I wanted to bring it for show-and-tell at the first-ever quilting event I plan to attend, the monthly meeting of the Crystal Lake Modern Quilt Guild. (I live in Chicago but find this suburban group has a strong online presence and seems really energetic.) Then my machine’s feed dogs fell and refused to be coaxed back up. I’m taking her to the repair shop tonight.

broken feed dogs

With my sewing machine out of commission, I amused myself with other projects through most of last week. One of these was carving rubber stamps. I bought some tools from Blick Art Supply to print my own fabric for a longer-term project, and I thankfully had the foresight to buy extra rubber because carving is fun! After seeing this pin on Pinterest, I decided to make some portraits.

Would making my own face into a rubber stamp appear too vain? I couldn’t tell, but I figured if it was merely practice for stamps of kids’ faces that would accompany a homemade, educational activity book… well, then I was in the clear! Here’s how my own stamp turned out:

craftprowler hand carved portrait rubber stamp

And these are the stamps I made of my friend’s kids:

craftprowler hand carved rubber stamps - kid portraits

The mustache on the top kid isn’t natural, as you might imagine. I bought them some stick-on mustaches last October and thought this would be a cute way to prolong the fun. The photo of the little miss is courtesy of Susanna Bayer’s Photography.

With any luck, my sewing machine will be ready to go for the quilt guild’s sew-in. But I have to admit I’ve enjoyed making stamps in the meantime!


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How I Started Sewing

When I found out a former roommate was going to have a baby, I was excited. I had known her since before she had met her husband, so I had the unique privilege of watching her family story unfold. I wanted to gift her with something special—something that would show I still considered her a good friend, even though we no longer live in the same city. Since she grew up overseas, I reasoned that people would be more likely to send cash or other items easily sent via mail. I thought it a tragedy that her baby wouldn’t have anything homemade. Having grown up on a farm with many homemaker moms as aunts and a seamstress grandmother, plus countless crafty distant relatives, I had crocheted AND knit baby blankets, lots of clothes, bibs, etc. So I made it my personal objective to make something for the baby.

Never mind that I hadn’t really sewn anything before. My grandma taught me how to use a sewing machine when I was little. She is probably also how I learned to knit and crochet, although I barely remember how and never learned to start the first row. The extent of my sewing skills was basically holding fabric scraps against Barbie dolls, hand stitching an outfit inside out, and learning through osmosis when my mom was going through one of her crafty phases. Still, how hard could it be?

I had a moment of brilliance when I started. I decided to make a “practice quilt” before starting on the baby’s project so I wouldn’t totally screw hers up. That practice quilt is now known affectionately as the Ugly Quilt and still isn’t finished. My first square—which I quickly learned from google is called a “block”—wouldn’t lay flat. I had to google a whole new set of block options that weren’t so involved. Only later did I find out that even professional quilters use tricks (like breaking parallelograms into triangles) to sew their blocks more easily. Tell me which version below looks easier:

quilting blog 1 by EastDakotaQuilter

 

(In case it’s not obvious, I tried version 2 with the Ugly Quilt.) This is the difference between the way version 2 bubbled versus the comparatively little bubbling after I adapted:

bubble comparison by EastDakotaQuilter

Once I settled on an easier pattern for the baby quilt, things went much more smoothly. I used simple squares:

easy block by EastDakotaQuilter

Since my old roommate and her husband use nicknames for each other (in Gujarati) that are birds, I selected a variety of bird-related prints. One of the birds I incorporated was an owl because she remembered I wore owl socks to the bar exam the year we lived together; it was a way for me to be part of the baby’s life! Considering how little experience I had (AND HOW LITTLE MEASURING I DID!), I was excited by the result.

full length bird quilt top by EastDakotaQuilter

2011 bird quilt by EastDakotaQuilter

binding on bird quilt top by EastDakotaQuilter

Here’s the back:

backing by EastDakotaQuilter

And finally, a progress shot:

progress by EastDakotaQuilter

I have been an avid Pinterest stalker and google searcher ever since, always looking for inspiration either to copy with my own fabrics or to incorporate into an otherwise original idea. I hope my skill improves with each project. I’m impatient, so improvement may prove a little slow!