East Dakota Quilter


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The Good News, Bad News Dresden

When there is good news and bad news, I like to get the bad news out of the way first. The bad news is two-fold: (1) the photo I took was a nighttime shot that doesn’t make the project look great but does a FANTASTIC job of capturing the threads on my couch, and (2) this pillow cover was meant to be a decoration for the holidays last year.

But I think the good news outweighs the bad by far this time. This is my first-ever Dresden block, and it worked great (once I took out one of the pieces)! It was finished well in advance of Christmas this year… which means I got to put out one decoration in advance of my husband’s strict day-after-Thanksgiving rule. I’m such a cheater! And I no longer have a WIP mocking me from atop my scrap fabric cart. Or at least there is one less of them. Plus, this project was a great scrap buster for all my leftover red, green, and Christmas fabrics. Success!

Dresden Pillow by East Dakota Quilter

In the spirit of finishes, I also made the unicorn herringbone skirt I mentioned in an earlier post. It fit okay, which was a small miracle considering all the changes I made to the pattern without knowing the first thing about sewing or designing clothes. There was enough room for improvement that, although I wore the skirt to work one day, I don’t think I’m quite ready to post it here. Stay tuned, though. I’m sure to have a more promising clothing finish soon!


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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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‘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.