East Dakota Quilter


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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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Design: A New Frontier

I chose “craftprowler” as a blog name because I never, ever thought I would be able to design my own projects. I figured I would just make minor alterations to the projects I found on Pinterest. However, I’ve spent a lot of time designing projects since the last time I posted photos. The burst of creativity feels amazing, but there is blessed little to show for my efforts so far!

Design Book

I bought the notebook featured above at Target. It is responsible for maybe 30% of the projects I’ve designed so far. (Another 40% is Pinterest, and 30% is me.) The reason? It has gridlines, with heavier lines around every 8 boxes. It’s perfect for sketching out quilt ideas.

I haven’t gotten far with sewing the Marcelle Medallion quilt, but I selected all the fabrics and cut out the middle pieces already. This is the layout so far:

marcelle medallion center by craftprowler

(Confession: I actually did start sewing the middle, but the Y-seams stopped me short. I am going home tonight to rip out some of the seams and try again. Apparently, marking is important. Oops! I like the pattern enough that this is the first time I won’t just plow forward with the awkward, first-try version.)

I’ve also drawn several more templates for my Barn Quilt, including this 1982 Buick LeSabre:

1980 buick by craftprowler

I drew a fox to grace either a purse or a pillow – haven’t decided just how to use it yet. Embroidery? Appliqué? Both are possibilities. If you want to use the image and end up making something before I do, please email to let me know! I’d love to see your projects.

After seeing some neat images at the Etsy store of cheesebeforebedtime, I tried doing a self-portrait with the intent to post it as my thumbnail here on the blog. The first result was embarrassing. The second definitely looks like a person, but not like me. Let’s just say it might take a few more tries before it’s worth posting online.

I have also been scheming the past few weeks about how to take better photos for my blog. A major issue is my work schedule. My evening commute is around 2 hours, so even if I get out at a decent time, there’s not much daylight left by the time I get home. The windows of my apartment also face directions/buildings that are not conducive to natural light. My new goal is to work on projects a week ahead of time so I can photograph them on weekends. (Disclaimer: Procrastination may still mean low-resolution iPhone photos.)


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Stuffed Chicken [with Pouch] Tutorial

I found an amazing stuffed chicken sewing project on Pinterest but was disappointed when the link stopped working. Other users reported inappropriate content. However, I had no trouble with the link to the blog’s main site (which I typed in manually), and I was able to view older posts until I eventually found the chicken pattern here.

chickens by EastDakotaQuilter

Since the website is in Chinese, I thought it would be helpful to provide the English-version tutorial. I am NOT trying to take credit for creating the pattern, just trying to make it available in the English-speaking market. I could not find the link to Sunny’s Lovely Quilt that is listed (via photos) on the Chinese site and on the chicken pattern itself. If someone finds the link and discovers this tutorial already exists in English, please let me know! We don’t want any copyright violations around here! In this spirit, I also did not include photos in this tutorial of anything that already appeared in the original link.

Download the pattern on the original website, then follow these instructions. (Note: I re-sized the chicken to fit a printout of 11 x 17” because I wanted it bigger.) All seams are ¼ inch unless otherwise specified.

Materials needed:

Cotton fabric (different colors for head, wattles/comb, beak, outside of chicken, and lining)
White felt (I used a combo of interfacing or batting instead)
Beads for eyes
Filler of your choice (I used polyester stuffing)
Needle, thread, scissors, etc.

Instructions

1. Print the pattern four times.

2. Add a seam allowance. I measured ¼” from each line and did a connect-the-dots thing, but I’ve seen you can also tape two pencils together and draw along the lines (the pencil tips will be approximately ¼ inch apart).

adding seam allowance by EastDakotaQuilter

Trace the chicken pieces as follows:

On the first printout, draw along the side of the beak, wattles, and comb that connect to the chicken body. Continue by tracing along the rest of the pieces. You can also draw along the entire chicken bottom on this printout.

parts of a chicken drawing by EastDakotaQuilter

On the second printout, draw along the side of the chicken head that connects with the body. Continue around the rest of the chicken head.

On the third printout, draw along all edges of the chicken body (excluding the connecting pieces you have already traced). On this page, I also traced around the beak. There was slight overlap, but I traced the small beak onto another piece of paper rather than printing a fifth chicken.

On the final printout, trace along the entire chicken body including the head but excluding all other pieces.

2. Cut out all the pieces. This is your final pattern.

3. Cut the following pieces of fabric:

Head: 4 pieces with two reverse
Body (no head): 2 pieces for outside of chicken with one reverse
Body (with head): 2 pieces of lining with one reverse
Bottom: 2 pieces consisting of one outside piece and one lining piece
Beak, wattles, and comb: 2 pieces each with one reverse each

On the body (lining) pieces, trace the wing outline using the water- or air-soluble ink of your choice. Do the same for the X shape on the bottom lining piece.

4. Cut off the seam allowance for the body (with head) and bottom pattern pieces. Cut one bottom piece plus one normal and one reverse body piece of white felt. These should be a quarter inch smaller than the fabric pieces on all sides. (I used the instructions to cut interfacing and batting instead of felt.)

A photo of the pieces you should have appears on the original website.

5. Sew along the sides of the beak, wattles, and comb that do NOT connect with the body with right sides together. Turn the pieces right-side-out and stuff. Baste along the sides that will connect to the body to keep stuffing in. (This is pictured on the original site.)

6. Sew one head piece to the corresponding body piece (outside piece). Repeat for opposite side of chicken.

7. Layer one body piece with head added (outside) and corresponding lining piece right sides together. Sew along the edges, leaving about 2” along the bottom unsewn so you can flip the chicken right-side-out. After flipping, insert the felt lining and sew the 2” hole closed. Repeat for opposite side of chicken.

8. Sew along the wing outline and remove the line. (You are basically quilting the wing. I added feathers to my wing shape.)

9. Repeat steps 7-8 for the bottom piece, layering the outside and lining pieces, sewing all but 2 “, flipping right-side-out, inserting felt, closing the hole, and quilting the X.

10. With the two remaining head pieces, sew along outside (leaving a hole), stuff, and close hole. This will be called the “head stuffer” in step 13.

11. Pin comb, beak, and wattle to the lining side of one quilted body piece. Sew using slightly less than a ¼” seam (so the stitching won’t show when you sew the two body pieces together). This is pictured on the original site.

12. Place outside sides of body together. Sew from the tip of the tail to the bottom of the chicken, but not along bottom. Sew from the back of the head, over the top of the head, to the bottom of the chicken. Do not sew the back or bottom of the chicken! All seams in this step should be as close to the edge as possible.

13. Put the “head stuffer” into the chicken head and place one eye on either side of the chicken. Using a tapestry or other long needle, connect the eyes through the head stuffer to keep it in place.

14. Pin the bottom piece to the chicken and sew around it. Because I am still pretty new to curved lines, mine didn’t turn out perfectly, and I can’t tell whether it’s a pattern issue or a sewing issue. (My oval for the bottom was too big.) I suggest checking the size of your oval before sewing to the chicken. Still, it’s pretty cute – and it’s lined with leftover bird fabric from a baby quilt I made.

inside chicken by EastDakotaQuilter

Uses:

The chicken was originally intended to hold eggs, according to the earliest pinner on Pinterest, but I will use it to hold chicken bean bags from this tutorial. The goal is to play this game or this game at the park with my cousin and her kids when they visit later this spring.

If you have questions, please leave a comment. Thanks for stopping by!


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Sewing an Owl Purse

Prowl: Madeleine bag by Imagine Gnats

I posted before that my sister loves owls. I wanted to make her one last Christmas gift with that theme and decided on the Madeleine purse tutorial I found on Pinterest. A woman with blue hair (read: probably more creative than I am) at the fabric shop told me the owl fabric I picked was cool. That made my day!

Then the project turned into a nightmare.

At the Quilt Expo, I attended a class by Nancy Zieman of Sewing with Nancy. She had this great trick for using Steam-a-Seam-2 (“SAS2”) instead of normal interfacing on certain projects. I had trouble the first time I used interfacing, compared with a stunning victory when I tried SAS2 for the next project. I decided I would save myself a headache by using SAS2 for the purse project… and learned that Steam-a-Seam has its limitations.

First, my sewing machine hates sewing through paper. I see all kinds of cute projects online and have even attempted a few, but alas, I make it about 2 inches into the project and throw my hands up in despair at the hundredth broken thread. (Preempting: Adjusting tension, stitch length, needle size, etc. doesn’t help.) When sewing through two interfaced layers of the purse, I was also sewing through 2 layers of paper, plus the sticky interfacing itself. My needle was gummed up and the thread broke constantly. Not fun. I even experimented with removing the paper in favor of a tape and wax paper concoction. (Worse!) And toward the end of the project, I had to figure out how to get the paper out from between the lining and the exterior after flipping the purse right-side-out. (Solution: I removed the paper in advance and hand sewed the seam! I hate hand sewing stitches that are not even visible when the project is finished!)

The tutorial itself was pretty good. However, I strongly urge a better interfacing selection if you decide to try this project. Some additional points of clarification:

1. The pleats are not box pleats (both left and right sides tucked toward a center point). You can just bring the pleat lines together and fold either right or left. Be consistent with your direction.

2. On the final sewing step (sewing the lining and exterior together), the wrong side of the lining should be the outermost layer (clear in the pattern) and the purse exterior, which is tucked into the lining, should have the sticky/interfaced side out, with the front side of the bag facing in toward the lining. It’s possible I did a fantastic job of attaching the two, double- and triple-securing the strap, only to find the exterior was facing the wrong direction…

finished owl purse

As an added bonus, I did the owl embroidery (patterns here) while my sister was sitting right next to me! She was just home from the ER, I had food poisoning, and we were too self-absorbed to worry about each other while we watched Christmas movies together. About 45 minutes after I started, she asked what I was working on, and I told her it was a project for another friend. She didn’t ask to see it! Whew!

cleaning pins

When I was all finished, I had to wipe down with rubbing alcohol all the pins that had secured the interfaced pieces. They were extremely gunked up!


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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!