East Dakota Quilter


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La Passacaglia: Big 4 Complete!

Hooray! I am SO EXCITED to finally be finished with all four of the “big rosettes” in the La Passacaglia pattern – those with a double ring of stars. I’m happy with how the Liberty Tana Lawn Mabelle print in blue and red looks, too:

East Dakota Quilter - 4th Large Rosette

My overall progress looks something like this:

East Dakota Quilter - Passacaglia Progress
Yeah, I can’t believe I failed to blog about that little guy in the bottom middle, either. I guess I thought I must have done it when I posted to Instagram instead. Bonus rosette!

East Dakota Quilter - Passacaglia Rosette

Now I’m trembling with naïve optimism that, with the most time-intensive rosettes finished, the rest of the pattern should practically sew itself and be finished in the next month or so – HA! Never mind it took me over two years to get to this point. And I will be having a baby in a month or two, depending when she decides to arrive.

Speaking of which… I have been disappointed when bloggers suddenly shift directions and turn a blog about home DIY into a blog about polar bears. Just for example. I didn’t want to do that with this blog, so feel free to check out the secondary blog I created, Building Home & Family, if you’re into home renovations and family life. We’re just starting both ventures, so I expect a lot more content should start flowing in future months!

Building Home and Family Collage on East Dakota Quilter

I do have a few sewing-related posts over there:

Planning for a Market + Quilt
Free Boppy Cover Pattern
Crib Sheet to sew crib sheets

Reader Question: Is there any interest in having my family-focused sewing projects appear here, too? Or are you more interested in quilts-and-only-quilts? Most blogs seldom receive much feedback anymore, so it’s difficult to anticipate what readers might want without going the ol’ trial and error route.

That said, there is one question that keeps popping up in relation to this blog, and I thought I’d answer it here for posterity:

Q: How do you create your “progress” images for the La Passacaglia?
A: It’s really time-intensive. Kind of like hand sewing the Passacaglia itself. But if you’re still interested, read on…

Step 1: I used the pattern image from the book and desaturated it (i.e. turned it from color to black and white). Don’t have the pattern? It’s in the Millefiori Quilts book, available here. (The vendor I used is sold out, but the linked Etsy shop owner is someone I met through the DCMQG when I lived out east, and she’s great.)

Step 2: I photograph my latest rosette finish, preferably against a neutral background to make editing easier.

Step 3: In Photoshop, I open the photo and delete/remove the background, including the extra “tails” on the triangles of the rosette to get a clean shape.

Step 4: Finally, I open the full pattern image, copy and paste my newest rosette, and resize/transform/rotate it until it covers the space allocated in the pattern. I aim for “pretty close” vs. perfect because even an overhead photo of a rosette tends to have at least a little bit of angle that makes the proportions a tiny bit wonky.

A few people have asked me to share some of the templates I’ve created for my personal use in designing my La Passacaglia, but I think it’s important not to violate the designer’s intellectual property rights. She worked hard on the design, folks! Given all the hours I’m putting into my quilt, I feel the cost of the book is probably the lowest per-hour book cost I’ve ever spent! And I DEVOUR books!

Check out my WIPs page for links to all my La Passacaglia posts.


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Bonnie & Camille-Inspired Triple-Zip Pouch

August marked the last month of my #birthdayclubhandmade swap… although I’m only posting about it now! I learned a lot from hosting my first swap, and I got to know some quilters a little better since most of my “sewcializing” is done online. August’s birthday girl listed as inspiration mom and daughter duo Bonnie & Camille. I present the Bonnie & Camille-inspired triple-zip pouch!

triple-zip-pouch-front-East Dakota Quilter

(Sorry for the poor iPhone photos; I was in a hurry to post the package!)

triple-zip-pouch-swoon-back-East Dakota Quilter

I found that, although I like Bonnie & Camille fabrics, I didn’t have many in my stash. However, I had lots of fabrics that were in more or less the right colorway. I also had a Thimble Blossoms pattern: the mini swoon.

The mini swoon finishes at 8″. To fit the back of the pouch, I reduced by half. The swoon above is just 4″! Some of those HSTs are 1/2″. Who knew something so small could take so long to sew?! I know the number of pieces is more important than size in determining sewing time, at least in theory. I always forget when I decide to sew something small, haha.

Each of the interior pockets is a different color, too. I stitched a piece of vintage ribbon into the biggest pocket. It matched perfectly!

Triple-zip-pouch-interior-East Dakota Quilter

triple-zip-pouch-vintage-ribbon-East Dakota Quilter

The triple-zip pouch is a pattern I have used before on several occasions. I love it!

Triple Zip Pouch by East Dakota Quilter

Triple Zip Pouch by East Dakota Quilter

On one hand, I’m sad the birthday swap is over. It was fun watching my Instagram feed to see what others in the group had made. On the other, I can’t wait for all of my sewing time to be spent on “me projects” for awhile! I also have a bunch of big life changes on the horizon, so fewer commitments will be a good thing. Thanks to everyone who participated or followed along!


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La Passacaglia: New Rosette + New Template

At a rate of about one rosette every two months, I’ve finally finished my second!

East Dakota Quilter La Passacaglia Fire and Ice

With saturated red-oranges, prints resembling snowflakes (at least if you squint), and wintery novelty prints (polar bears and Heather Ross/munki munki ice skaters), I call this my “fire and ice” rosette. I mentioned in earlier posts (here and here) that I plan to make my entire quilt in blues and oranges.

Progress 2 by East Dakota Quilter

I know I also said this before, but the rosettes are HUGE! I took a photo with my feet for perspective.

Fire and Ice La Passacaglia by East Dakota Quilter

Here’s a progress shot to show how I work. I got the hour basket as a swap gift for my birthday (#birthdayclubhandmade) and keep pretty much everything I need inside it so I can take it with me to the coffee shop on weekends.

Passacaglia Progress by East Dakota Quilter

Probably my rosettes would go a lot faster if I worked only on one at a time from start to finish. Instead, I usually finish the center of one, start basting (hand sewing), get bored, and sew another center or two in the meantime. I am currently started on three other rosettes.

One of my new rosettes will feature a single image in the center. Some quilters have done an incredible job of lining up individual pieces. I plan to shortcut the process and combine a few pieces at once. Here’s the process I’m using:

Passacaglia Center Template by East Dakota Quilter

First, I made a template of the rosette center. I think this is no major feat since anyone can line up a few diamond shapes, and it’s pretty obvious how they fit together if you’ve seen a photo of even a single rosette. The trick to La Passacaglia is how all the rosettes fit together. Definitely get the book if you want to make the quilt! After printing a template, I cut out the center of one of the images.

Cut Out Passacaglia Template Center by East Dakota Quilter

I lined up my fabric underneath the cut template.

Lining up Passacaglia Fabric under Template by East Dakota Quilter

Then I cut around the outer edge of the template to add 3/8″ seam allowance. Since the lines are traced by hand around the paper pieces, I used an acrylic ruler with my rotary cutter (for the outer edge) and Xacto knife (for the center piece). When you’re done cutting, you should have two pieces (one fabric, one template) like this:

Passacaglia Center Template by East Dakota Quilter

You could start basting your fabric to the center template at this point, but I wanted to glue mine in place for precision.

IMG_9487

Place your fabric wrong side up. Line up the seam allowance piece around the outer edges of your fabric.

Passacaglia Center by East Dakota Quilter

Place the center piece (with diamonds meeting in the middle) wrong side up. Glue the back of the center piece using either a fabric glue pen or a washable glue stick. Glue the center piece to the fabric (obviously glue side down), lining it up with the seam allowance piece. Then remove the seam allowance template and press.

Note on laser printers: Since laser printers use heat to bond ink to paper, running your iron over laser ink is like getting paper wet when it’s been written on with washable marker: the ink will smear. If you’re using a laser printer, I suggest placing a piece of scrap fabric over the template before pressing. Also, it’s best to press without steam since the humidity from steam will curl your paper.

Here’s the final piece held up to the light so you can see the seam allowance through the fabric:

Center Passacaglia Piece by East Dakota Quilter

One final note: I traced around each piece separately when making my template so I could use it as a single piece or remove any portion (e.g. removing one diamond to use a different fabric). However, it is much easier to baste convex corners (corners pointing outward) than concave corners (corners pointing inward), so keep that in mind if you remove a portion of the center template.

Check out my WIPs page for links to all my La Passacaglia posts.


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A New Favorite: Aneela Hoey’s All In One Box Pouch

There’s another birthday for my #birthdayclubhandmade in July, and when I saw the recipient’s inspiration board for the Heather Ross mini swap, which included hexis of a few munki munki prints, just a few photos down my Instagram feed from Aneela Hoey’s new all-in-one box pouch pattern, I knew it was a match made in heaven!

All in one Box Pouch by East Dakota Quilter

All in one Box Pouch by East Dakota Quilter

All in one Box Pouch by East Dakota Quilter

All in one Box Pouch by East Dakota Quilter

I’m usually good about giving away the things I sew. They’re sewn with a particular person and his or her tastes in mind. This pouch, on the other hand… I had to talk myself into packaging and shipping it. Guess I’ll have to make a second one for myself!

The pattern itself was well-written and easy to follow. I especially liked her method of boxing the corners, where you cut the fabric BEFORE you sew it — that was novel to me!

It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of sewing curved lines OR zippers, so combining the two was a bit of a challenge. (“A curved zipper?! What have I gotten myself into?!!”) But I didn’t even have to rip out the seam. I’d say it’s a project for an enterprising beginner or an intermediate sewer. The only seam I had to rip was the one with the pouch tab at the top. The thick layers caused me to sew a little crooked, and instead of stopping and fixing it right away, I thought I could fudge a little bit. The moral of this story is DON’T DO IT, haha.

I like that there is ample space inside the pouch but also some clear pockets for smaller items you want to be able to find quickly. It’s been a real pain finding my thimble and needle when I take my La Passacaglia quilt with me to a coffee shop. I also like the simple back pockets for storing things as you work. I might keep my mini scissors in the bag when I travel, but it will be nice to have a quick place to tuck it as I spread out my project. I love the pattern, and I think the finished product is a success!


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Tudor: Twice!

I made a Tudor Bag late last year for a birthday gift. It was the first bag I’d sewn, and I enjoyed it so much that I decided to make my mom a Tudor Bag for Mother’s Day. (You can buy the pattern and read the pattern maker’s blog entry about the bag here.)

Tudor Bag by East Dakota Quilter

I did a few things differently with this bag compared with my last bag. First, I installed the optional shoulder strap. It was extra-special for me that the hardware came from a trimmings store in NYC; I knew I would make the bag enough ahead of time that I was able to grab the items on a trip early in the new year. Second, the closure on the front of the bag has a zipper instead of a metal clasp. And third, I added a “bonus pocket” to the back of the bag — with no closure for easy access. (I accidentally aligned the pocket with the bottom of the bag, rather than the top of the purple trim, so it was shorter than I’d planned. Oops!) Fourth, I added purse feet. Fancy! Finally, I redistributed the widths of the interior pockets.

Tudor Bag by East Dakota Quilter - side

Tudor Bag by East Dakota Quilter - zipperTudor Bag by East Dakota Quilter - back

Perhaps the best feature of all? It goes with black! All the girls in my family wear way too much of it.

One final little perk I included was a pink flamingo notebook from Rifle Paper Co. Rifle is one of my favorite companies. When I was in Orlando, Florida, for a work event a few years ago and had two hours to kill before my return flight home, I decided to do something that would give me a sense of the local flavor. I am a nerd who actually looked up local stationers and found that Rifle was in nearby Winter Park, Florida. I figured I’d drive on local roads, check out the area, and buy some gorgeous paper yet besides. I arrived to a decent-sized space that was recently opened. The clerk was friendly but still new enough that she asked my opinion about whether a certain product should go “here” or “there.” I’ve been the biggest fan ever since. So when I was planning a trip to NYC a few weeks ago and saw on Anna’s (the illustrator/owner) Instagram account that she was attending a launch party for her recent collaboration with Le Sportsac, I jumped at the chance to say hello! Isn’t she gorgeous? Friendly, too.

East Dakota Quilter and Anna Rifle Bond

And guess what?! I snagged a sold-out pouch online in advance for my sister since I knew they’d go quickly at the event. I’ve been congratulating myself for about a week now. 🙂


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First Passacaglia Rosette & More EPP Fussy Cutting Tips

I know I always underestimate how long it will take me to complete a project, but we’re talking whole new levels with the La Passacaglia quilt. (If you don’t know what quilt I’m talking about, check out my earlier post here.) I worked on it with all my free time last week and only made it through three rings on the first rosette. Now I am finally FINISHED… with the first rosette of many, haha. Here’s my first blue & orange rosette:

Passacaglia Rosette by East Dakota Quilter

It’s big! It takes up an entire café table. The photo below was taken earlier in the afternoon, when I thought I was finished. Then I noticed my error and had to re-sew a section. Can you spot the issue? The lighting was much better for the mix-up than the final version. Bummer!

Passacaglia Oops by East Dakota Quilter

In case you’re curious, here’s the back side of my La Passacaglia.

Passacaglia Back by East Dakota Quilter

I also came up with another fun technique for fussy cutting. In my last post, I described using a wet erase pen on acrylic templates to ensure multiple cuts of fabric have an identical pattern. It worked pretty well. But I thought to myself, If I could just copy the fabric pattern and somehow see through it, I could line things up, and there wouldn’t be the user error of my not marking perfectly or accidentally lifting half the marker off the acrylic with my fingers. That’s when I came up with what might be an even BETTER idea than the wet erase/acrylic method!

Did you have a math class in the 1990s? If so, you might remember your teacher standing at the overhead projector, using his/her wet erase marker to complete math problems that were photocopied onto a transparency sheet. Those transparency sheets are still available for sale, believe it or not. (I got mine here; no affiliation.) I just put my fabric in a copy machine, inserted a transparency sheet, and hit copy at 100%. Do make sure the scale of your copier is correct by lining up the transparency over the fabric after copying the first print.

Fabric and transparency side-by-side (Sorry - reflective surfaces are difficult to photograph)

Fabric and transparency side-by-side, but one is backward (also, reflective surfaces are difficult to photograph)

I photocopied onto paper before using the paper copies to make transparency sheets. I wanted to be sure I got all the important elements on a single sheet first. The paper copy made it easy to try multiple configurations and to test the repeat pattern before cutting into the transparency sheet. For this part, I skipped the seam allowance to see what the finished pieces would look like.  When you’re happy with the selection, you can use an acrylic template to cut around the transparency version, then double-stick tape the transparency to the acrylic. From there, just line it up over the fabric to make multiple, identical cuts. What could be easier?! (Reminder: Be sure to include the seam allowance here, even if you skipped it for the step above.)

East Dakota Quilter - Fussy Cutting w Photocopies

East Dakota Quilter - Fussy cutting w transparency sheets

Of course, this doesn’t work if you don’t have access to a copier, but if you do… BAM! You’re welcome. This method (photocopying fabric onto either paper or transparency) also makes it easy to see whether two images on the fabric are too close together to get separate cuts. (Be sure to include seam allowances.) Fussy Cutting Tips by East Dakota Quilter

You could also use washi tape on the bottom of an acrylic template to hide seam allowances and really see what portion of the fabric will show on the final piece. (You don’t need to see that the outer edges line up with the fabric because you can already see through the transparency!) My first passacaglia rosette was made before I thought of the photocopy/transparency method. I am confident my next few rosettes will be even better! I’ve already started on my second.

Check out my WIPs page for links to all my La Passacaglia posts.


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La Passacaglia & EPP Research

I mentioned in my QuiltCon blog post that I intend to begin a La Passacaglia quilt. I thought I’d summarize some things for anyone else who wants to do this project because it is blowing up all over the interwebs!

THE BOOK THAT STARTED THE CRAZE

First, we’re talking about the La Passacaglia Quilt pattern from the book Millefiori Quilts, which features 19 of Willyne Hammerstein’s quilts.

Millefiori Cover

Millefiori Contents

The Italian does a great job of describing the style: millefiori is a combination of the words “mille” (thousand) and “fiori” (flowers). Passacaglia comes from the Spanish “pasar” (to walk) and “calle” (street). Think walking or dancing down the street—perfectly appropriate if you imagine winding, cobbled lanes and compare that against the many curves in the quilt.

Instructions in Millefiori Quilts are for machine piecing the quilts. However, if you’ve ever done a Y-seam, you can understand why a majority of people are choosing the English Paper Piecing (EPP) method instead.

I bought pretty much every item available on the market to start this project. I got them from paperpieces.com.

Passacaglia set by East Dakota Quilter

Items include the book, acrylic templates, and all the paper pieces necessary to make the quilt. I would buy a smaller set of papers if I had it to do over again since you can just reuse them, but it’s nice not to have to.  Between these items and the fabric, it’s probably going to be the most expensive quilt I’ll make… but have you seen how awesome it looks?! I’ve also seen acrylics on Etsy that have holes at the intersection of each seam allowance in case you want to machine piece and mark your Y-seams.

LA PASSACAGLIA INFORMATION

The La Passacaglia Quilt includes approximately 2900 pieces in five different shapes/sizes as follows:

Piece A (1¼” diamonds for 5-pointed stars): 468 Pieces
Piece B (1¼” diamonds for 10-pointed stars): 206 Pieces
Piece C (1¼” pentagons): 640 Pieces
Piece D (¾” pentagons): 272 Pieces
Piece E (1¼” isosceles triangles): 1368 Pieces

 

Passacaglia Shapes by East Dakota Quilter

This info comes from the number of pieces in paper piecing packs, rather than the pattern itself. I was surprised not to see any hexagons and also that there were only five shapes for the entire, very busy quilt top.

EPP GENERAL INFORMATION

Cutting the Fabric

Standard EPP protocol is to add 3/8” of fabric around each side. Common alternatives are ¼” or ½”. Acrylic templates are available in each of these size preferences.

Measuring the Pieces

In EPP, most pieces are the same measurement along all sides. (An exception from the pieces above is the isoscolese triangle, which is equal on the two long sides but has a shorter “bottom” that matches the length of the pentagon sides.) EPP pieces are measured along one of the equal sides.

EPP Measurement by East Dakota Quilter

Basting Each Piece

There are several methods of basting EPP pieces.

One method is to sew around the shape. Even this has several different versions. In one version, you just tack the fabric along each corner of the piece. In another, you weave your thread along the length of fabric between each corner. I plan to do the first of these since that’s the method I learned in my EPP workshop with Katy Jones of imagingermonkey. And it’s faster and doesn’t mean ripping any paper at the end of the project.

Another method is to glue baste. Some glue pens are specifically made for gluing fabric; I have the Fons & Porter version. I’ve also read that a plain, washable glue stick works well. (It worked great when I glue basted a zipper on this bag.) I have been gluing some of the fussy cut fabric pieces lightly to the papers to keep them from shifting while I hand baste around the edges. It’s been working pretty great. So far, I’ve only used the glue pen, but I’ll likely switch to the Elmer’s when that runs out.

Glue for EPP by East Dakota Quilter

Creating Patterns from Fabric (and being consistent)

Solids are a great choice for EPP. However, one reason I’m excited about this project is a chance to make repeatable patterns from fabrics. I’ve mentioned BEFORE that while I like the look of a repeatable pattern across an entire quilt, I deplore the monotony of chain piecing. Now is my chance to let precision shine! By “fussy cutting” fabrics, you can highlight a portion of the design. It works great with florals/swirls. I’m also thinking about including a few Heather Ross novelty prints. If you don’t know where to start, Google Amy Butler, Tula Pink, and Anna Maria Horner prints to see fabrics with repeatable patterns.

The tricky part about fussy cutting is ensuring all the pieces are consistent. Florence of Flossie Teacakes had the genius idea to make her own plastic templates and draw with pencil the outline of her repeating fabric pieces.  Modifying this concept, I have been using erasable marker on the acrylic templates I purchased. It is working great and wiping off cleanly.

Wet Erase Marker for EPP by East Dakota Quilter

UPDATE: For another, even more accurate fussy cutting method, check out my overhead projector method here.

Selecting the Right Thread

For the back of your EPP, you can use any thread you want. I still use Aurifil brand thread for this because it doesn’t break or tangle as easily as other threads, but since you aren’t relying on it to hold long-term, you can use anything that will last until you stitch your pieces together.

For stitching pieces together, some threads are less visible than others, so you can decide how “handmade” you want your EPP to look. A woman in my EPP workshop said she swears by silk thread for connecting pieces. Florence blogged about a polyester thread (Superior Threads brand, Bottom Line type – bought mine here) that piqued my interest.

I can’t tell whether I like it. I admit the end result is much prettier/less visible stitching, but the thread is kind of “bouncy” to sew with. When I pull the thread tight at the end of each stitch, it’s kind of like a bungee cord; it stretches longer than it seems it should, then bounces back to a resting position. So it feels weird to sew with but looks fantastic! I think I will continue to use it. I hope it’s durable when I’m putting so much time into one project! I’ll post photos of my first Passacaglia rosette when it’s finished so you can compare.

UPDATE: I decided I prefer plain old cotton thread and have switched back to Aurifil’s standard weight – both for sewing around the EPP cardboard pieces and for connecting the finished pieces.

RESOURCES

Other bloggers who have written about the La Passacaglia quilt that I found inspirational (obviously not an exhaustive list) include:

Flossie Teacakes – here and here and here
TheLittleRedHen – or here on Flickr
Mommy by Day, Crafter by Night
Lilabellelane
Michal Erika
Seldear
Pattern Jam (feat. Ashley Spilman)

You can see about a million more great passacaglia photos on Instagram. Check out:

tulapink (especially the behind the scenes in Artists & Makers magazine; you can see her Passacaglia in the background), lilabellelane, carriestraka, alexouq, kamiemurdock or hashtags #lapassacaglia and #passacagliaquilt

A few more on Flickr:

Michal Peter-Anderson (via Rossana Ramani), Melissa (@honeythorpe)
Lorena Uriarte of ikwilt doesn’t feature a Passacaglia but does great fussy cutting.
If you are interested in EPP but don’t know where to begin, here are some resources:

EPP: Where to Begin
How to Fussy Cut Fabric for EPP
EPP Basics
Stitching for EPP

OKAY, I’M READY TO START!

I plan to make my La Passacaglia in blue and orange. It’s my favorite combination, and I found a crazy amount of inspiration from @elisabew’s Farmer’s Wife and blue & orange Marcelle Medallion quilts. I’m concerned the cogs might flow together a little bit, but Pinterest user Quilt Passion (Åsa Holmér) did a good job of distinguishing hers using only a blue and white palette. My quilt will have blue and orange AND white, so with a whole extra color, I should be fine… right?!

Well, I think that about covers EPP generally and La Passacaglia more specifically. There’s nothing left but to dive in. Which is exciting… but also a little unfortunate since the planning/research is my favorite part, aside from having a finished quilt to show off. Since it’s going to take me forever, I have a WIPs page (tab at the top of the blog) available so it is easy to track my progress on this and a few other long-term projects.


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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.


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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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I’m Sailing Away…

I may have mentioned that I loved our wedding photographer. She had a ton of energy, an eye for detail (“Here, let me just move these leaves on the ground so I don’t have to edit them in PhotoShop later.”), and was so certain about what she was doing that she could get great photos of the guys in just a few minutes. They all came to tell me afterward how awesome it was not to stand there for hours. I got to peek at her camera screen a few times, and let me tell you, I cannot WAIT to see the final photos!

In the meantime, I’ve been in a secret race with her. I made her a baby blanket. (Yep, she did all that great work while visibly pregnant!) I wanted to finish it and send it to her before the wedding photos were ready so it wouldn’t look like a quid pro quo, thank-you-very-much-for-the-photos-here’s-your-reward. Mission accomplished! She received the package today.

I went with an underwater theme. (Border and backing fabrics are from City Quilter in NYC. I am definitely going back there.)

Boat Quilt by East Dakota Quilter

The back:

Underwater Quilt Back by East Dakota Quilter

The low volume squares between the boats are quilted with outlines of different oceanic creatures/items, including a scuba diver, a crab, a pelican, a dolphin, a fish, a whale, an anchor, a conch, a mermaid, an octopus…

Octopus by East Dakota Quilter

…and a seahorse.

Seahorse by East Dakota Quilter

It was great practice with the curvy shapes that are so popular right now in the quilting world. And although I need to learn how to bury my quilting threads, I think it turned out pretty great! It’s also the first time I’ve pre-washed a quilt and gotten to see it crinkle. I’ve always been scared the quilt would shred in the wash with my rental-unit washing machines, and I wanted the recipient to at least see my hard work first!

Package from East Dakota Quilter

She’s expecting a boy. Which of course reminds me of this meme:

Velociraptor by WeKnowMemes

Congratulations either way!