East Dakota Quilter


1 Comment

Pixelation Paradise (a.k.a. the Pixelated Panda)

I used an amazing program to plan this quilt, but let’s start with the background story.

Some friends of ours are about to have a baby girl. The mom-to-be loves pandas and watched baby Bao Bao on the National Zoo’s Giant Panda Cam almost every day when it first came out. The dad loves computers. To marry the two interests, I thought a pixelated panda quilt would be perfect!

Pixelated Panda by East Dakota Quilter

I didn’t want to make the quilt too girlie, so pink on the front side of the quilt is relegated to binding.

On the back? More pink… and a lot more pandas!

Back Side of Pixelated Panda by East Dakota Quilter

For once, I even remembered to include care instructions and a gift tag (back side, not pictured). I kind of hate making labels and I’m not really sure why.

Gift Tag by East Dakota Quilter

I pretty well destroyed our apartment while I was working on this one. There were various-sized pieces that covered our kitchen table. Each time I finished a block, I washi taped it to the wall. I had little sections ALL OVER the apartment.

Messy Workspace by East Dakota Quilter

I think the finished quilt was worth the mess!

While I still hate chain piecing, the program I used made it as painless as possible. Does anyone here remember the tutorial I wrote about how to turn a photo into a pixelated quilt? I really enjoyed the manual process and it’s FREE… but you guys, I don’t think I’d ever do it again. The year after I published my tutorial, a husband and wife team developed a website called YouPatch that does the pixelation for you. Maybe you’ve heard of it. I’ve seen other bloggers write about it, but after trying it for myself, I wanted to tell the whole world how amazing it is! They’re not paying me to write this. Their website is just AWESOME.

For a reasonable price (less than $10 for the quilt I made), here’s the process:

1. Upload the photo you want to turn into a quilt. I used a photo of a panda, removing the background. Eliminating the background makes the main subject of the photo really stand out. I was also pleased that YouPatch did a great job with my poor quality photo!

Pixelated Comparison by East Dakota Quilter

Once the photo is uploaded into YouPatch, you decide whether you want the orientation of your quilt to be portrait, landscape, or square. I picked portrait.

2. Pick how many fabric colors you want to use. I chose 8 for my quilt. The current maximum number is 15. The higher the number, the more detail in your quilt… and also the more work you have to do. You get to preview the difference for each option, which is insanely cool. I would have been happy with fewer options, but I really liked the control this gave me.

YouPatch Step 2 - Size and Detail

3. Pick a finished quilt size. Why? you might ask. Can’t I just use the grid of pieces the software generates to do my own sizing? Well, yes. But a few things: (a) you’re crazy if you want to do quilty maths that the program would do for you; and (b) based on the size you select, the program will tell you how much fabric to buy!

4. Change out colors if you want. My quilt was grayscale. You could do crazy-different colors (a pop of lime on plum), or you could do a quilt using the same concept as grayscale (light to dark) using a specific color like blue. (I bought my Kona solids on fabric.com. They were out of Kona Silver, so I substituted Kona Shadow.)

YouPatch Step 3 - Selecting Fabrics & Colors

You also have the option to manually change a pixel, which is cool. If I hadn’t deleted the background on my photo before uploading it, I would have used this feature to manually remove any distracting details.

YouPatch Step 3b - Option to make manual changes

Then you just pay for the pattern (less than $10 for me), and they email it in pdf format. Mine was very detailed, with 17 pages of instructions, illustrations, and ideas. I didn’t need all the provided info, but it was nice to gauge whether I was on the right track at times.

I wondered was whether each pixel would be an individual, standard-sized square or whether YouPatch would group side-by-side pixels of the same color. Probably I could have researched this in advance, but I didn’t. They do #2 (grouping). I love this. The pattern tells you what size blocks to cut. Due to grouping, not all pieces are the same size. I received another email when I was about halfway through sewing this quilt that said the grouping has been even further improved. There’s definitely a balance between grouping as many pieces as possible so there is less sewing and trying to ensure the pieces can be assembled into standard-sized blocks that don’t require you to read a complicated “map.” I did some minor adjusting on my own but would be interested to see the changes.

The pattern also gives you layout ideas for each fabric color to ensure all your blocks can be cut from the amount of fabric recommended.

YouPatch - Fabric Cutting Guide

Once your pieces are cut, the pattern the shows you how to assemble the pieces into equal-sized blocks. Put the squares together and voila! Finished quilt!

There are plenty of instructions if you’re new to quilting. I got by using only the grid (pieces to blocks assembly) because it was clear on its own. Yay for feeling like a pro!

The customer service was great, too. I actually received a follow-up email about an hour after I received my pdf pattern that contained some suggestions and even a second pattern choice. If I hadn’t already decided to review YouPatch, this would have been the clincher.

Yes, I elected to sew way too many pieces on a deadline, but I loved using YouPatch and I really like the finished quilt. If you’re thinking of trying it, I can definitely say I recommend the YouPatch program.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Simple Baby Tie Quilt

My cousin and his wife will soon become parents! I wanted to make them something, but I am really bad with deadlines when it comes to quilting. The projects always take longer than I expect they will. Babies are born without regard to whether the baby quilt is finished, so I needed a manageable project.

I selected fabrics mostly from Lotta Jansdotter’s Bella line…

bella_fabric

…for a tie quilt comprised of simple squares. I used high-loft polyester batting to give a bigger impact to the tie quilting.

tie quilting

There is family history involved, too. My dad’s grandma made my parents a tie quilt for their wedding. It’s the only tie quilt we own, so to me, tie quilts symbolize beginnings.

Also, I thought tie quilting would be faster and easier than machine quilting. I still am not sure since I haven’t machine quilted a whole quilt yet, but I will say tie quilting gave me some blisters! I was surprised that a straight needle seemed to work better than the curved needles I tried. The curved metal was weak, so I broke at least three of them.

bandaids

The mom-to-be is outgoing and isn’t afraid of color. I selected fabrics that I thought would reflect this. I also wanted gender-neutral colors since I didn’t know the gender of the baby when I started.

I used a sheet as backing (pink! – gender revealed a few months ago) and a light gray fabric with a fern print (from Joann’s) for the binding.

binding by craftprowler

This was the first time in my life I didn’t mind hand-sewing something. I was cursing a little as I bound the first side of the quilt, but I found my zen as I rounded that first corner!

The pattern isn’t difficult, but I still like this quilt for its energetic colors. I hope the baby enjoys it, too. And as an added bonus, I even finished before the baby’s birth!

simple tie quilt by craftprowler

simple tie quilt by craftprowler

simple tie quilt by craftprowler

If I remember correctly, this quilt is twin size: 63″ x 87″. I started so long ago that I don’t know if I can trust my notes!

I blogged about this quilt before here. You can find a photo of the quilt that inspired me here.

Have you tried tie quilting? Do you like it? Do you think it’s easier or harder than machine quilting? I’d love to compare notes!


Leave a comment

Fall Attire – Sunday Brunch Jacket

Inspiration: Purl Bee

I blogged before about the quilt I wanted to make for my friend’s baby as soon as I found out she was pregnant. Although I knew the quilt would take awhile, that didn’t stop me from planning all the other projects I could do later. One such project emerged when I stumbled across a really adorable Sunday Brunch Jacket from Oliver + S, blogged about on the Purl Bee. What really caught my eye was the elephant fabric, which I knew my friend would love. (The stuff I used was similar but not identical.) I hurred online to buy the no-longer-current pattern and propped it against some books on my bookshelves–in the kids’ section, naturally–for months.

A few months later, I packed up my apartment and put most of my things in storage when the boyfriend took a job in another city. The other day, I found the pattern in with some papers I kept out of the storage unit and realized with a shock that my friend’s baby is about to be too big for the jacket! I had to make it in a hurry!

Nevermind that I haven’t made clothes before. Or used interfacing before. Or gathered fabric before. I’m a learn-on-the-fly kind of girl. Which means it’s lucky I am okay with a few imperfections in creative work, something I can’t say for my professional work.

My biggest challenge was the interfacing. At the quilt expo I attended earlier this fall, Nancy Zieman’s tips included something about interfacing; she said a particular brand is miraculous. I wanted to try the difficult version so I would have a basis for comparison. I really should have done it her way! I understand there was a right side and a wrong side of the interfacing for ironing, but for the life of me, I couldn’t get the stuff to stop sticking to the dish towel I “borrowed” from my sister (brand new – photos of gunked-up towel below). I’m just glad I tested it first! I followed the directions to a T, but to no avail. In the end, I held the iron just above the interfacing, steamed the heck out of it, and got it to adhere without actually touching the stuff with my iron. Took forever, but it worked!

I was amazed to learn how easy it is to gather fabric. I expected that would be my challenge!

Finally, I give myself about a 70% when it comes to sewing curved lines. Not a passing grade, but still about 65% higher than when I tried making a stuffed octopus with a circle piece in the template. (And the 5% I gave myself for the octopus project was more for effort than results.) I would actually consider tackling this pattern again.

2012 oliver + s sunday brunch jacket by EastDakotaQuilter

P.S. My mom and sister went shopping this weekend and bought me a new ironing board cover. No more ugly stains from zealous project work! Also no more interfacing from this project!