East Dakota Quilter


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Frozen Pillows = VERY Happy Mail

My husband and I will be sending our thank you cards shortly. It’s a great time to send those last few gifts that I meant to hand deliver to people at the wedding (because I am crazy) but didn’t manage to finish in time (because… wedding). One of these finally-finished WIPs was a set of paper pieced pillows for my two youngest cousins.

Frozen Pillows by East Dakota Quilter

Frozen Pillowcases by East Dakota Quilter

Anna Block by East Dakota Quilter

I can just imagine the two girls curled up together with their pillows, watching the movie “one more time” and singing along. Hope these are a fun surprise before the holidays!

Both quilt blocks are available for FREE on Craftsy. Visit Sew Much Mischief’s shop.

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Birthday Exceptions

I got married a little over a week ago and had an absolutely perfect day! Friends and family pitched in to decorate, cook, and welcome people to our newly-extended network.

Soon after our engagement, I started thinking of projects to make our day special. I knew I would have limited time to pull it all together, but I couldn’t help getting wrapped up in the excitement. It meant my blog pretty much stopped because I wanted the little touches to be a surprise to our guests. Pretty much all my creative efforts were tied up with wedding projects.

There was an exception. A few months ago, I put out this call on Instagram:

Handmade_Birthday

It received a positive response, and we kicked off the club with a September birthday. The project I selected for our first birthday girl was a welcome change of pace after months of wedding to-dos. In response to a questionnaire I circulated, Katelyn mentioned she liked blues and grays as a color combo, loves pillow covers, and admires the work of Elizabeth Hartman. I used those suggestions to make an Aviatrix Medallion pillow cover.

Aviatrix Medallion by East Dakota Quilter

Elizabeth’s instructions are great, but I did have a moment of inspiration for connecting the diamonds. She suggests matching up the dots on her pattern with a pin. I printed two paper copies of the diamonds, matched up the dots with a pin, and used double-sided tape to stick the pieces together. Then, all I had to do for matching up diamonds was place the fabric diamonds over my paper template for perfect placement every time. It made the whole thing SO EASY!

Aviatrix Medallion Templates

Here are a few more in-progress shots… just because I have them. 🙂

Black and White by East Dakota Quilter

Aviatrix Closeup by East Dakota Quilter

Ready to Bind by East Dakota Quilter

Since I wrote “Happy Birthday!” on the package, Katelyn’s mom hid it until the appropriate day. Thanks, Mom, for making the birthday extra-special! If you want to see the other gifts, check out the Instagram hashtag #birthdayclubhandmade.

Now that the wedding is over, I’m trying to source photos of all the projects I mentioned. Can you believe that except for one selfie, I didn’t take a single photo the day of my wedding?!

 


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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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Frozen Queue & Anna Block

You might be wondering why, although I have only two sides left to bind on my Marcelle Medallion quilt, it’s still not finished. Good question. I already posted that I took a break to finish a doll in time for a little girl’s birthday party last weekend, but I also have a new quilt block to share today:

Anna Frozen block by EastDakotaQuilter

This is Anna from the movie Frozen. I still have to embroider her nose and white hair streak, but I am excited by how well it turned out! The pattern is free on Craftsy and was drafted by Sew Much Mischief. You can see her blog post about this block here. Of course, it only made sense that I would buy the movie soundtrack and listen to it on repeat while sewing this block!

I made a couple of changes. I enlarged the block to be 12.5″ unfinished (12″ finished) so I can pair it with some snowflake blocks that are the same size. Considering how small the pieces were for her eyes, I’m doubly glad I made that adjustment! Also note the Elsa pattern as two letter M pieces; if you look at the piecing order, you’ll see right away which would should actually be an N. Finally, note that not all blocks are the same size. You may need to adjust if you plan to make a quilt with the blocks.

Anna block back by EastDakotaQuilter

Perhaps best of all is that I made this block entirely from fabrics I already owned. I got a high five from my fiancĂ© for that! I wasn’t too sure about the hair color at first. It’s an oakshott cotton with woven threads in brown and blue, but it looks great against Anna’s purple cape. Most of the rest were various Kona fat quarters.

Sew Much Mischief also has free Craftsy patterns for Elsa, Olaf, Kristoff, and Sven. Happy sewing!


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Sew Kitschy BOM – 2 more months!

Although I was a day late on March’s block of the month, I now have both March and April finished! March was a mixing bowl:

bowl by eastdakotaquilter

April was a teapot:

tea by eastdakotaquilter

Considering that the weekend I planned to work on the March block of the month was the WEEKEND I GOT ENGAGED, I’m not feeling too badly about my late finish! You can see my blocks for January and February here.


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Sew Kitschy Cookie Jar

This is month two of the Sew Kitschy Block of the Month (“BOM”), and I’m not sure why I’ve never done a BOM before! Sewing just one block per month is really easy (at least if you’re not participating in multiple groups!), and at the end of the year, you basically have an entire quilt top.

I re-worked last month’s block a tiny bit since I was lazy about lining up the last seam:

Jan Sew Kitschy BOM by EastDakotaQuilter

Still not perfect, but much improved.

My month 2 block came out much better, in my opinion. It’s a cookie jar. I’m going to embroider the word “cookies” on the jar once I select a font.

sew kitschy cookie jar by EastDakotaQuilter

 

I’m also subscribed to the Lucky Stars BOM, but I haven’t selected the colors or fabrics for it. I am thinking I might just try to hammer out both years’ worth of blocks once they’re all released and see which strategy I like better. If you’ve had a favorite quilt-along, I’d love to hear about it.


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Paper Piecing: Practice Makes Perfect

I am SO excited that Kristy at Quiet Play is making her Sew Kitschy quilt block designs available for FREE as a block-of-the-month (BOM) quilt along. Check out details about the Sew Kitschy BOM here, or download the first pattern at her Craftsy site here.

Quiet Play

I already traced (kind of) the blocks to create a coloring sheet so I can determine a palette for my blocks.

Sew Kitschy planning by EastDakotaQuilter

My plan for Sew Kitschy is to use bright colors. The only way I can justify starting a new project when I have so many pending is to use scraps or fabrics I bought solely to add to my stash. I am embarrassed how much money I spent on hobbies last year. I am even more embarrassed when I consider how few projects I finished. But no matter.

fabric selection by EastDakotaQuilter

I even finished January’s block, an oven mitt and pot holder:

sew kitschy potholder by EastDakotaQuilter

It was working great until the very last seam: the bottom of the oven mitt doesn’t line up exactly. I’m hoping it’s less noticeable once there are more blocks. I think the colors will look better together once there are more blocks, too.

While sewing this block, I also learned the important lesson that big prints are okay, but you shouldn’t use two prints with the same background color (e.g. white) side-by-side if a shape is supposed to emerge.

When I’m finished with all the blocks, I hope to make a lap quilt for my sister. How perfect a gift will this be for a pastry chef?! To make the gift more personal, I used some of the same fabrics for the January BOM block as the fabrics I used to make her a real oven mitt and potholders for Christmas!

EastDakotaQuilter Potholders_2013

I’ve only done one other paper piecing project so far, so I am especially looking forward to a new challenge. I am also looking forward to watching other quilters’ color selections. There’s still time to join the BOM!


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New [Photo] Perspectives… Coming Soon

True to spring, the April weather has been unpredictable, but the fluctuations became even more drastic when I traveled for work the past few weeks. I went from a partly cloudy 88 degrees in Dallas one day to 22 inches of snow in Minnesota the next!

ice possible warning

Ever since I saw this post by Dana of Dana Made It, I’ve been wanting to see the Mustangs of Las Colinas (a fountain), which I discovered is just minutes from my company’s Dallas office. Who knew?! I went one day over lunch:

mustangs of las colinas

mustangs of las colinas

My photos don’t do it justice. You can walk right up to some of the horses, which are bigger than life-size, and you can cross the water in a few places, too. When you step back, you notice that the little fonts by the horses’ hooves make it look like they are splashing through the water. I loved it. I will say I had a little trouble finding it because I didn’t expect it to be in an office park!

Because of all the travel and a nasty bout of the Plague, I didn’t get much done on the creative front, so I photographed some works in progress instead. First up are the two embroidered quilt blocks I finished for my barn quilt:

barn quilt blocks

tractor block

barn block

Ultimately, the quilt should look something like this:

barn quilt template

The images on the quilt include those places that are dearest to me: my grandparents’ house, my childhood home, my grandpa’s tractor, etc.

The on-point setting made the quilt blocks awkward to photograph, however. So did being in public. Do other bloggers live in more rural areas [than Chicago], or do they just have a ton more confidence when taking photos? People walked by me every 5 seconds or so, and several had comments, which ranged from “That’s cool!” to the incoherent and/or hostile. (I live in an “interesting” neighborhood.) Still, I saw two really amazing places I wanted to use as backgrounds but just didn’t have the guts. I was really glad I skipped one of the two since a guy who glared at me walked past me into the building a second before I’d planned to photograph it with my quilt blocks. Eek!

I complained a few weeks ago that most of my poor photos are due to getting home too late to catch the natural light. For the photos above, I did at least have the last shreds of light for the day. I think the photos are still mediocre at best, so… I think I’m taking my first-ever photography course! A community college near where I work offers it as continuing education. The course is on Mondays, which would leave the rest of the week free for work travel, and it’s late enough in the day that it shouldn’t conflict with most of my meetings. I am really excited.

With that bit of info, perhaps you can excuse the poor lighting of the following late-night shots. Since I’m sewing a million little blocks together, I’ve been doing them in strands, and they make the cutest banners:

lotta jansdotter banner

I like looking at the colors in even the unfinished state of the quilt:

scraps

When I was designing the quilt, I was on a lunch break and couldn’t actually touch the fabric. I made this little doodle while I daydreamed about the colors:

journal doodle

With any luck, the blog will soon go from shady instagram sketches to magazine-quality photos!


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Sampler Quilt Progress Report

I must admit I didn’t get much sewing work done last week because I had a birthday to celebrate. So far, being “old” is awesome! My boyfriend and friends threw me a surprise party. Since then, I’ve been working on three different projects:

1. Scanning & organizing family photos. My grandma’s health is failing, and I would really like to honor her by organizing some photos to share at the funeral that will likely happen this weekend. While the circumstances are not great, it has been incredible to see how meticulously she kept photo albums, indicating how much she valued the people in them. She also had some interesting documents from my grandpa’s service in World War II.

2. Sampler Quilt. I finish a quilt block every now and again, and I’m done with 23 of the 49 total blocks. (My original grid below shows I’ve finished 24 blocks, but one of them turned out ugly, even if the measurements were correct and the corners lined up. I felt cheated.)

grid

blocks

3. Barn Quilt. My sampler quilt requires use of a sewing machine, so the project has limited mobility. But ever since I crocheted the edge of a baby blanket, I have enjoyed working on smaller projects during my lunch break. (Much of the Windy Hill onesie was done in my car.) I have decided my new “mobile” project will be a “barn quilt.” There will be 13 embroidered blocks, each featuring an image from my childhood in South Dakota. Examples include my grandparents’ house, the house I grew up in, our barn, my dad’s 1980 Buick LeSabre (which we had looooong after the 1980s), our mailbox, the first tractor my grandpa bought brand-new, etc. This is general layout, minus some of the photos I’m still collecting:

BQ template

I plan to use a patterned tan-and-navy border in a primitive style–and since I already purchased 5 yards from Primitive Gatherings, this plan is almost certain to become reality! I also purchased several skeins of matching embroidery floss and traced the main lines of four different photos, so I am ready to begin as soon as I finish the most urgent family photos.

This project was originally inspired by the Barns of Wisconsin set I saw featured at the Quilt Expo in Madison (September 2012). I thought I was being clever by using a color other than red and including buildings other than barns, but I have since learned that bluework is a popular style of embroidery, and I discovered this set of quilt blocks, too. Mine will still be one-of-a-kind and feature images that are special to me, so I eventually found peace with not being as original as I’d hoped.


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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.