East Dakota Quilter


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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!


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New Medium – Coche Crochet

Early in my newfound sewing inspiration, I spent a lot of time on the Purl Bee website. I fell in love with their receiving blankets project, bought some flannel and wool, and put the materials in my projects box to gather dust. Since I’ve spent the last few weekends traveling for work, I have really missed my creative outlet. I decided to resurrect the project because it is mobile, unlike my million ton 1970s sewing machine. This was also a good project because I have decided I have to finish most of my current projects before doing anything new… and I have lots of new ideas!

But this project didn’t quite go as planned.

First, the flannel was a pain to sew. You have to fold the edges under so they don’t ravel, and since it’s a baby blanket, I figured it was too small to bother with changing out my needle, etc. The result was that my thread broke at each of the four corners, sometimes more than once. Ugh.

Next, I thought winding my beautiful wool yarn into a ball would take about 10 minutes, so I started it as a relaxing exercise 10 minutes before I wanted to go to bed. The final ball, sans the last several yards that got tangled and were cut from the rest after some cursing, took an hour and a half.

Yarn

That was just the preparation to make my project mobile.

While I love the creativity of Purl Bee, I found these instructions a little confusing for someone who has only ever crocheted a few lines, and those several decades ago. I’m not saying Purl Bee did a bad job; I was just had trouble following instructions that took a few minor details for granted. I would have liked some comments of affirmation and a little further instruction, such as:

When starting the project, don’t worry about that tail of yarn. It’s supposed to be there. You’ll take care of it later. It won’t cause the rest of the crocheting to unravel, I promise.

and

Yes, you’re going to put your needle through the same hole. But don’t make the loop around your crochet hook bigger to reach from the edge of the blanket to the hole. Instead, you’ll be pulling thread from the back up to reach the loop. If you make the loop bigger, you’re going to have a mess that will cause you to re-read and re-do steps 1-50.

You know, those sorts of helpful hints. Also, I didn’t like working with such thin yarn, as it was tricky to get one loop through another with such a mischievous, tiny needle. It was easier to catch strings of the flannel than it was the yarn!

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I am finally finding my groove. It’s fun being able to work from my car over lunch breaks – makes me really look forward to them. And I learned some valuable tips about crocheting. (For example, my cup holder is the perfect size for a ball of yarn.) I expect my next project should go better as a result.

crocheted edge blanket by dakota patchwork

UPDATE: It’s finished!crocheted edge blanket by dakota patchwork

P.S. Translation: Coche means “car” in Spanish.


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Starting a Dear Jane Quilt

In April 2012, I got to go to Purl Soho in NYC, the store behind the Purl Bee blog. It was kind of bizarre seeing in-person the projects I had seen so meticulously photographed for the blog. Naturally, I treated myself to some fabrics. Since I was in the middle of a half dozen projects (most of them unrelated to crafts/sewing), I put the fabrics in the busted-up UPS box that serves as my sewing room. It’s pretty classy.

Now that I’ve finished most of my other projects, I’ve started thinking about what to do with the fabrics. I have two sets: my “citrus fabrics” and my “autumn fabrics.”

I love and am inspired by color, so of course I bought the fabrics before I had any idea how I would use them. I overbought for the bird quilt, so I decided to show more restraint in quantities when purchasing fabric from Purl Soho. The result is I have a half-yard each of the 7 autumn colors and two yards each of the citrus colors. Fabric. Fail.

What I needed was a way to stretch my fabric by supplementing with some kind of solid. So now I’ll do a variation on a Dear Jane quilt with my autumn fabrics, using a cream solid to tie the pieces together AND make the fancy fabric I bought go further.

Even reducing the number of pieces by roughly half wasn’t enough to complete the quilt, though. See, I planned for fat quarters of 18 x 22″. In hindsight, it’s obvious that the fat quarter dimensions don’t take into account selvage, crooked cutting or lazy ironing, etc. But it was a surprise when I first measured.

I used an old-school cut-and-paste method to ensure I’d have enough fabric for all my blocks. I had planned very carefully, but based on the optimistic measurements:

My first idea was to buy a coordinating fabric and make some of the blocks from it. I did this, got it home, and was disappointed how poorly it matched the other fabrics. Then – DUH – I checked the selvage to see who the designer was. I quickly identified the fabric as Robert Kaufman’s Quilter’s Linen line. Which appears not to be a fabric being sold anymore this season. Ugh! Fortunately, I did find a website with most of the colors I needed. I only had two fat quarters of each color to begin with. Now I have an additional half-yard of each, so I’m back to over-buying!

The best part of making quilts is the design planning. Below are sketches of the quilt blocks I plan to make. I used seven colored pencil colors that don’t really coincide with my fabrics but that are easy to distinguish on paper.

The original Dear Jane quilt was sewn by Jane A. Blakely Stickle, finished in 1863. There are whole groups of women called Janiacs who follow Jane Stickle’s original pattern. I knew nothing about Jane or her quilt when I conceived the idea for my quilt. I wanted to put together lots of different blocks for variety. I searched for Pinterest photos of quilts with different block designs. Other pinners had these posted on boards with names like “Dear Jane Quilt.”  Seemed pretty straightforward. I have heard of quilting bees where each person contributes a block toward a quilt, and I imagined a few of Jane’s cousins sewing quilt blocks (next to a warm hearth, of course) and mailing them to Jane for her project.

After reviewing the history of her quilt and searching for images of Dear Jane quilts online, I can no longer tell whether the only Dear Janes are those that follow her original design or whether each quilter has some creative license. I hate sewing circles and isosceles triangles, so I gave myself permission to omit those designs from my quilt. I won’t do Jane’s border or scalloped edges. And my squares will probably be 12”. With quilt blocks using grids of 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, 12” blocks will be easier to calculate than 8” or 10” squares. So I just found quilt blocks I liked and decided to call my quilt a Dear Jane anyway. Probably half the squares are “farmer’s wife” blocks. Mis-named with great excitement, I can’t wait to get started sewing!

P.S. Please feel free to comment if you know whether Dear Jane quilts have to follow Jane’s original design.