East Dakota Quilter


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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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QuiltCon 2015 – Recap

Disclaimer: This is going to be a LONG post. I have a few goals:

  • First, I want to share photos for anyone who wasn’t able to attend QuiltCon this year.
  • Second, I had a lot of questions about what to expect for my first-ever QuiltCon experience, so I want to share tips for future attendees.
  • Third, I bought a Janome machine at QuiltCon and thought it might be helpful for others to know how the negotiation process worked. (Spoiler: I paid the price they asked, but it was way below retail.)

Awhile back, I noted I was in the market for a new sewing machine. Fellow members of the DCMQG told me I should consider buying my next machine at a show, that their purchases were made significantly below retail value. That decided it for me: I would use my anticipated savings to attend QuiltCon. It was a bit of a gamble, but it totally paid off! And I had the best time.

Before I go any further, let’s look at some of the awesome quilts in the show. I obviously didn’t photograph them all, but here were some that caught my eye:

Quilts of QuiltCon - Photo by East Dakota Quilter

The quilts above are: (1) [The American Context #16] Christina’s World by Luke Haynes, (2) Holy Sh*t, Sherlock by Kristy Daum, (3) Woodcut by Holly DeGroot, (4) Wavelength by Lee Heinrich, and (5) Huckleberry by Bryan House Quilts.

A few of the quilts begged for a close-up.

Double Elvis at QuiltCon

Above is [The American Context #68] Double Elvis by Luke Haynes. I’d always wondered what his appliqué looked like up close!

Quilts of QuiltCon 2 - Photos by East Dakota Quilter

(A) Bauble by Emily Cier, quilted by Angela Walters; (B) Geometric Rainbow by Nicole Daksiewicz; and (C) Eggs and Darts by Amanda Leins, pieced by Susan Bishop.

The next four quilts have unknown makers but are all from the collection of Bill Volckening:

Bill Volckening Collection at QuiltCon

Okay, now where to begin with my experience? I got into Austin, Texas, late Friday night, arriving around 1am.

Pro tip: I didn’t have extra vacation time, but if you can swing it, I definitely recommend arriving at the start of the show. I missed the Moda Party, some of the Cotton + Steel fabric I had hoped to buy was sold out, I missed some of the workshops/lectures I would have found most interesting, and I missed certain other promotions. It wasn’t the end of the world, but I think the extra few days would have been worthwhile.

Registration on Saturday started at 8am. The process was professional and easy. I scanned my barcode (received in an email and printed out at home), although you can also search by name. Then my official nametag was printed, and I received a sweet swag bag.

Pro tip: Each nametag has a barcode that is used to scan the attendee into sessions (s)he has registered for.

I showed up promptly at 8am. There was no line. I was finished in less than 3 minutes. My workshop didn’t start until 9am, and the exhibition hall didn’t open until 10am, so I went to check out the contents of my swag bag, review my schedule, and get a coffee. Here’s a photo of some of the contents of the swag bag (charm packs of fabric didn’t fit into the photo):

QuiltCon Swag Bag

My first workshop was English Paper Piecing with Katy Jones (on Instagram as @imagingermonkey… but you already knew that!). I thought the session was great. She picked a project with enough different shapes so skills will translate to other projects. There was fairly minimal instruction. She showed us how to do each shape the first time, then let us make repeat pieces. Once we’d worked for awhile, she showed us how to connect the pieces. The cool thing about the class was having someone check our work and give one-on-one feedback (increase stitch length, don’t pull so tight, etc.). The class size was less than 30 people, so we all had the opportunity to ask questions. As Katy joked, I feel confident in my new English Paper Piecing skills because I learned them from someone English!

Pro tip: Full-day sessions have a two-hour lunch break from 12pm-2pm. Vendors are in their booths during this time, and the quilt show is open. There are also some demonstrations that are open to all attendees.

The workshop was scheduled from 9a-5p. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how I would do handwork for that long without getting squirmy. I needn’t have worried. First, there was a lunch break. (This also answered for me when I would contact a sewing machine sales rep about getting a good deal.) Second, Katy said she would buy a drink for anyone who made it even halfway through the project; she didn’t think it was possible. I’m hugely competitive, so that was all I needed to hear. I worked like a madwoman. I got close but didn’t make it. Here we are with the work I completed in class:

KatyJones_EPP

(Dunno why my face was flushed like I just ran up the stairs to the top of the Empire State Building, but a little B&W adjustment fixed that!)

Katy teased me about the template I made with Microsoft Word and brought to class. But I know it made me cool, haha.

EPP_Template_Quiltcon

During class, I learned that Katy’s magazine, QuiltNow, is finally being sold at Barnes & Noble in the U.S. I haven’t seen it in stores yet, so I’m really excited to get my hands on a copy!

I had my sights set on a Janome Horizon Memory Craft 8900 and told my fellow EPP classmates while we stitched away. They had excellent news! A Janome rep visited all the workshops a day or two before I arrived and said the 8900 was the machine being used at the show. Attendees could get a machine (used in workshops for the 4 days of QuiltCon) at an extremely reduced rate. The only “catch” was that only a limited number of machines were available.

Janome Horizon Memory Craft 8900

If you think talking about money is gauche, please skip the next paragraph. However, it’s difficult to find sewing machine prices online, you don’t always have a ton of local vendors to be able to shop around, and so I appreciated reading past bloggers’ experiences. I want to share mine in case it helps someone else.

I already knew the Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) had gone down $1,000-2,000 to $4,000 recently. Other bloggers mentioned getting their machines at a show for $2,500 or $2,300. I was hoping for a rate like that. Instead, I got my machine even less expensively… for just under $1,900!!! The rate included shipping to my house and was either inclusive of taxes or not subject to taxes (because Texas).

After the show, all the machines are going back to the local rep’s warehouse, and they’ll ship from there within the week. I also bought a table to go with the machine. They’re not sold by the same company, and the tables ordered for QuiltCon didn’t arrive in time, so that will ship approximately 3-4 weeks from now. I’m sure the rate was somewhat reduced, but nothing near the 50% discount on the machine!

The machine-buying experience, which I’d planned to span the 2-hour lunch break, was complete in less than 15 minutes. (When I asked the rep whether it was the fastest sale he’d made, he responded with a curt, “No.”) I have to admit that, as awesome as QuiltCon was, the next few hours were a tiny bit anti-climactic after the awesomeness of buying a machine. For hundreds less than anticipated. With a table into the bargain.

QuiltCon was surprisingly smaller than some of the other shows I’ve attended (blogged here and here). That said, I felt the vendors present were more targeted to the type of quilting I enjoy, so the smaller size wasn’t at all a detriment. (Example: I’m not the biggest fan of batiks, so it was nice to have one or two batik vendors instead of having to navigate between what seemed, at other shows, like a million of them.)

One of the most-photographed booths at QuiltCon had to be Cotton + Steel. It was divided into sections. To the far left was the Tinsel line and a mock fireplace. To the right of that was a sewing station. You could pick through boxes of C+S “scraps” (some of which were bigger than FQs) to make either a pincushion or a headband. To the right of that were the apparel fabrics. And on the far right was a temporary tattoo booth and the B&W prints, many of which were part of a Halloween theme.

Cotton + Steel at QuiltCon

I was most excited about the Tinsel and Black & White lines of fabric when I arrived, but Melody Miller personally pointed out to me some new rayon fabric that will make great apparel (it felt amazing and draped beautifully), so now I’m equally excited about those. This also comprised my most embarrassing “sewlebrity” experience. I got completely tongue-tied. I think all I told her about the rayon was, “This is great.” Then I went and stood in line for a temporary tattoo—not because I was disinterested in the fabric or talking with Melody Miller, but because I knew I couldn’t be counted on to say anything more intelligent than that! Talking with Sarah Watts about a temporary tattoo was easier because at least there was a clear course for the discussion – “I like this tattoo best. Here’s my left arm. Thank you.” Haha. I did stick around long enough to learn that B&W comes out in April, other lines in May, and Tinsel in July.

QuiltCon - Temporary tattoo by Sarah Watts

Pro tip: You will get to see a lot of the new fabric lines at QuiltCon, but you won’t actually be able to buy them yet. Manufacturers make display items from the strike-offs to show their lines before all 3,000+ yards are printed and available to the public.

All the C+S girls were friendly and gracious. One of the cutest QuiltCon moments for me was watching them help some up-and-coming quilters sew their projects at the sewing station in the booth. Here are Alexia and Melody helping:

C+S Help at Quiltcon

Alexia also took a photo with me. I am so excited!!! You might recall that I sewed her Marcelle Medallion pattern awhile ago. It is still my favorite quilt pattern.

QuiltCon - Alexia & Tiffany

Marcelle Medallion

I was also really excited to see a photo of my Pixelated Panda quilt on display in the YouPatch booth. Andi was kind enough to take a photo with me and a photo of the quilt:

EastDakotaQuilter and YouPatch Andi

In terms of other booths, there was great fabric from all the vendors, but I think the one with the widest selection on the bolt and therefore the longest lines was Island Quilter. Many of the other vendors focused more on half yards or FQs. It makes sense: pre-cut fabric is way easier to transport. It was also a nice way to get a wide vareity of fabrics.

Kona Cotton’s booth had a popular game where you could try to name 30 preselected fabric colors in 2 minutes. After your guesses, you could spin a wheel to win a pin, a FQ, or a color card. (I got a pin.) Elisabeth Woo was the rep by the color cards when I was there, and I had another sewlebrity blank-out moment. I’m blaming this on the adrenaline crash after buying my new sewing machine for such a fantastic value!

Quiltcon - Kona Color Wheel

Pro tip: Check in advance which booths are manufacturers versus retailers if you’re looking to buy something specific. Aurifil’s booth was right next to the Kona prize wheel. They had a lovely display, hosted a game with prizes, and, as sponsors, provided nice things in the swag bag, but I was surprised you couldn’t buy vast quantities of Aurifil thread on-site at the Aurifil booth. Similarly, you couldn’t buy C+S fabric at the C+S booth. Both were sold at the booths of their retailers. However, they were great about directing you to the appropriate booths.

After my EPP class, I also attended the keynote by the quilters of Gee’s Bend. It wasn’t at all what I expected! Instead of talking exclusively about technique, they also talked about their experiences growing up and sang songs, my favorite of which was, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” Mary Ann Pettway is the head of the group. She said she works on many projects at once. If someone wants to buy a quilt of hers, she says, “Go ahead and pick out your favorite of my WIPs. If you can wait 2 years, I’ll get around to it!” Haha. The next day, I ran into her on the floor of the quilt show, and she took a picture with me!

Mary Ann of Gees Bend

QuiltCon - Gees Bend Quilt

The coolest part was that she wanted to show us the label on the back of her quilt. As attendees, we obviously aren’t supposed to touch the quilts, but she pulled up a corner to our audible gasps. She said, “It’s my quilt! I suppose I can touch it.” She was friendly and so funny!

After the keynote, I went out to explore Austin, settling on Stubb’s BBQ for dinner. I think moving QuiltCon to other cities is a nice idea (the next event is in Pasadena, and the one after that is in Savannah) so more people can attend locally, but am sad that not everyone will experience Austin. It didn’t feel like other Texas cities where I’ve spent significant time (Houston, San Antonio, Dallas). I think a whole blog could be—and probably is—dedicated just to the facial hair of Austin. Ginormous beards were the norm. I saw some interesting variations, too. One guy dreadlocked his beard and tied up the strands at the top of his head. Another had a waxed moustache that stuck out at least 3 inches past his face on each side. (He also wore a top hat.) Studded jackets and military gear were everywhere. I noticed that although some of the style is “tough,” the people I talked with were universally friendly. I loved that.

I was back to my hotel around 8.30pm. Probably I should have gone out with other attendees, but I was exhausted! It was weird. I know I got in late the night before, but I spent almost the whole day sitting in one spot, working on EPP. That’s not exactly exhausting work! However, I noticed the same thing the following day: being bone-tired as soon as the events were finished for the day.

Pro tip: For this reason, I suggest traveling with or meeting a specific friend so you are forced to make the most of your time. I didn’t fight it and instead got halfway through my EPP project by staying in.

EPP by East Dakota Quilter

The next day, I already knew that the vendor hall/quilt show wouldn’t open before my workshop, so I got a later start. My class was Compositional Drawing with Krista Withers (on Instagram @lolablueocean). It was fantastic!

My current Singer machine is great for piecing but is a total pain for quilting. It is difficult to get the tension even on both sides, so I’ve been resigned to straight line quilting, and even that has unfortunate puckering for any crossed lines. There’s also no speed control, and the foot pedal sometimes stalls, then drives about 100mph. Needless to say, I am SO excited about getting a new machine, and this class was perfect for helping me know where to start with quilting.

Krista’s method (which I won’t describe in detail since it’s not mine to share) involves breaking the quilt into sections and then quilting those sections across the quilt. It’s weird, but I actually felt a sense of relief in the class, like, “Wow, I’m not going to have to figure this out on my own once my machine arrives.” Watching her do her thing was my favorite part of the class.

QuiltCon - Krista Withers Workshop

She assured us we can develop muscle memory in quilting. I hope to goodness that’s true. I need the help. Since my flight was canceled in the middle of class, I spent a lot of time on phone with the airline and skipped using my ruler for most of the session to save on time. My test piece is UGLY as a result. Seriously. Still, I got great ideas to bring home. We also got some plastic to practice with in the course kit, so I will be drawing on the plastic (set on top of the fabric) over and over before my new machine arrives!

At the end of class, Krista also agreed to take a photo with me.

QuiltCon - Tiffany & Krista

My afternoon lecture on Sunday was the time slot I was most excited about. I attended Heather Ross’ discussion about what she’s learned over 20 years of designing fabric. I don’t plan to start a line or anything, but I am a huge Heather Ross fan (not just the fabric; her books are SO worth reading!) and found that most of the concepts she discussed apply equally well to creative ventures more broadly. I am impressed any time a speaker can have a “conversation” in a huge room with an audience. It felt a lot more intimate than it was—although it was a smaller session than I’d expected. Heather’s lecture was funny, heartfelt, informative.

Heather Ross Lecture at QuiltCon

Pro tip: The show is WAY emptier the last afternoon as everyone heads for the airport. If the stuff you want to buy isn’t sold out, it’s a much quieter time to make purchases.

After the lecture, I went to her book signing at the Stitch Lab booth. I’m on my fourth copy of How to Catch a Frog since I keep recommending and lending it to people. I would buy the book twice as many times again… although I won’t be lending out this copy:

IMG_5751

My favorite essay in the book is about the Polar Bear Plunge. Her husband is the hero of the story, and I read it while wedding planning, so it stuck with me in a big and happy way. Of course, when she asked if there was anything in particular I would like her to draw, I realize in hindsight that a strawberry or cat or flower or frog or ANYTHING featured in her fabric lines might have been a more obvious choice. But I just love this book and the sketch! After my book was signed and I was already walking away with a big dumb grin on my face, she asked, “Do you want a picture?” “Um… YES!”

QuiltCon - Heather Ross & Tiffany

The best part about the book signing was obviously the book signing experience itself. But the next best thing was seeing who else was in the line with me. It was almost like scrolling through my Instagram feed of all-stars!

Heather Ross Book Signing

Heather’s new collection is called Tiger Lily by Windham Fabrics. She said it should be in stores in July. A FQ bundle arrived at the Windham booth just before her lecture, and I stopped by to see it after the book signing:

Fat Quarter Bundle of Tiger Lily

It was still wrapped with a bow when I saw it, but check the Instagram feed of @emmylizzy to see it spread out. You can at least see the colors in this photo. We also got to see a few sneak peaks during the lecture, and I’m really excited about the Climbing Trees print. Heather said it was one of the more difficult prints to design since it includes lines (vertical lines of tree trunks). It’s hard to see much of it as just one FQ (guess I’ll just have to buy some yardage!), but it looks incredible! Many thanks to Windham for the charm packs of Far, Far Away from when I stopped to coo over Tiger Lily.

And with that, QuiltCon was over. My flight situation didn’t really resolve itself. Due to weather, I was delayed a day. The silver lining is that late last night, I finished my EPP project! Hooray for one less WIP! I still have to make it into a cushion/pillow cover and quilt it with some contrasting thread, but it was fun.

EPP by East Dakota Quilter

Now I’m thinking about starting a La Passacaglia quilt. Sewing all 2900 pieces by hand. Because I’m insane. I may have already invested a small fortune on the pattern… although, compared with competitors’ prices, my purchase at Paper Pieces was reasonable. I even got 20% off by Googling a discount code – EPPFB. Until Paper Pieces bought 200 copies of the book, it was difficult to get in the U.S. So I’d rather have the option to spend a lot of money to get the stuff I want than not have that option. Besides, my husband is perfectly content with ramen noodle dinners, haha.

Passacaglia_Purchase

Katy mentioned La Passacaglia as the ultimate EPP project in her class, and Jenny Fox-Proverbs from Love Patchwork & Quilting magazine, in conjunction with the C+S team, gave a demonstration of how awesome each cog of the quilt can look.

QuiltCon Demo - La Passacaglia

As many photos as I’ve included in this post, there are so many moments I didn’t photograph. I saw a ton of designers (of fabric, quilt patterns, and otherwise) I admire. I didn’t go out of my way to run into them. In fact, like I said above, I was so tongue-tied that I needlessly avoided some. But just to give you an idea of the awesomeness of QuiltCon, I saw the following people with my own two eyes: Katy Jones, Krista Withers, Katy Jones, Alison Glass, Nydia Kehnle, Tula Pink, Alexia Abegg, Melody Miller, Sarah Watts, Rashida Coleman-Hale, Kimberly Kight, Denise von Minden, Holly DeGroot (@bijoulovely), Heather Jones, Alex Veronelli, Gemma Jackson (@prettybobbins), Jen (from Love Patchwork & Quilting magazine), the quilters of Gee’s Bend, Lizzy House, Sherri Lynn Wood, Kristi McDonough (@schnitzelandboo), Cat (@hellofromcat of Cat and Vee), Elisabeth Woo, Matt Wheeler, Andi (from YouPatch). I’m sure there are more I can’t remember at the moment; my method of listing them was a casual scroll through my IG feed. I might be bragging, but that’s not my intent. What I really want to illustrate is just how accessible the entire quilting community is at QuiltCon! It was amazing!

Arrival at DCA

I blogged about the QuiltCon registration process here. I hope to review my new machine soon. If you have other questions, I’ll be happy to try to answer them in the comments section. I’m not sure I’ll ever be lucky enough to attend another QuiltCon (I did just spend a bunch of money on a new machine, after all), but this was a really great experience. Thanks to the MQG for putting it together!


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It threw a little wrench in things…

My dad was out of town for his birthday, so I couldn’t send something to arrive that day. I am pretending it threw a wrench in my plans, but really, the gift I decided to make for him wasn’t finished until the day of his birthday, anyway. At least I called him!

I sew and draw and do right-brained things. My dad is an engineer. Growing up, I didn’t always see what we had in common. When I finished law school and was studying for the bar exam, I saw a job posting for an in-house attorney at a machine tool company. Naturally, I called my dad to see if he knew anything about the company. He did. I worked at that company for the next five years, until I moved from Chicago to D.C.

I will always be grateful to that job for bringing me a little closer into my dad’s world. He still sells tooling for machine tools, and my company sold machine tools. He could tell me things about our competition, and I would call to tease him when his competition bought breakfast for our office. I also understood more about the products that made up his work days and were responsible for his problem solving.

This was his first birthday where we are no longer working in the same industry, so I wanted to make something that was a little nod to both our differences and commonalities over the past few years. Presenting… the wrench pouch! wrench pouch by EastDakotaQuilter wrench interior by EastDakotaQuilter I figure he can use it to organize his suitcase since he travels for work most weeks. The wrench is a nod to our tooling/machining shared interest. And it’s sewn because he gave me the opportunity to follow my own path.

Happy birthday, Dad!  

 

Project details: I used the Open Wide Zippered Pouch DIY Tutorial (free) by Noodlehead. I made a hybrid size: the 12″ width of the medium bag, but 11″ tall instead of 9″. I wanted more of a square shape. I made the wrench paper piecing pattern myself in Microsoft Publisher. Then I ignored my own numbering scheme and had to re-sew the back end of the wrench. Twice.


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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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Homemade Christmas Gifts 2013

It seems as though most people have already shared the gifts they made for Christmas LAST year. (I can’t believe we’ve already begun 2014!) I didn’t want to ruin any surprises before the holiday. Afterward, I got caught up trying to finish some projects/errands before the year ended. I am finally sharing some photos of the projects I made for family this year.

My absolute favorite was a case for my mom’s new Kindle Fire. I used this tutorial, but with substituted measurements for the Kindle. Does it fit? I can’t really say. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize my mom bought herself the Kindle Fire Tablet instead of the normal-sized Kindle Fire. Hopefully this little guy can find a new purpose.

2013 kindle fire case by EastDakotaQuilter

Next up, my sister asked for potholders for Christmas. Between these and the Kindle case, I broke exactly 43 needles in just over a week. Time for a new machine! (I did try servicing my current machine to no avail. Thankfully, one of my gifts this year was a price match on the model I’m thinking of getting, a Janome.) But I think the potholders turned out okay.

EastDakotaQuilter Potholders_2013

I used this tutorial for the oven mitt (except I quilted 9″ x 15″ rectangles, drew lines 1/4″ inside the pattern edges and sewed on the line, and then cut out the mitt shape 1/4″ outside the lines) and this one to add loops to the potholders, which were quilted 8″ x 8″ squares with one layer of batting and one of Insul Bright. I practiced machine binding all these items… with some challenges because of the continually breaking needles.

My godmother asked for a breast cancer awareness magnet for her car. A series of errors caused me not to get the magnet, but I did make her a breast cancer awareness mug rug (free paper piecing quilt block pattern here) and a Starbucks You Are Here mug from D.C. for her mug collection. Sadly, I forgot to take a photo.

I also made a gift for my dad. He’s the kind of guy who wore every ugly M&Ms tie we bought him for Father’s Day and proudly displayed our macaroni art. A cardboard “Buckle Up For Me” reminder I made him in third grade stayed in his Buick, sun faded, until he sold the car almost 15 years later. He’s exactly the kind of person who I thought would appreciate a homemade gift. I presented him with a tractor pillow for his camper.

2013 tractor quilt block and pillow cover by EastDakotaQuilter

The back has cowboys, as his favorite shows include Gunsmoke and Rawhide. I found the fabric at a thrift store in Chicago (Unique Thrift) and knew I would someday incorporate it into a gift for my dad.

cowboy fabric pillow by EastDakotaQuilter

If you want to make a tractor pillow (or quilt block) of your own, I suggest using this tutorial, which my iPhone Google didn’t find (but my computer Google did–a few weeks too late!). Otherwise, I’ll try to post the pattern I made for my dad’s pillow soon.

Finally, a non-sewing gift I made for a friend was a version of The Nutcracker starring her two kids! Using an assortment of photos, I turned her kids into cartoons and included as many details from their home as possible: a shot of the house from outside, their real kitchen cabinets, their sofa, etc. The kids’ great-grandpa also starred in the book (instead of the uncle, it was Great Otata who brings the Nutcracker as a gift). Below are some of the in-progress illustrations. I took advantage of holiday sales to have the final version printed via Shutterfly.

kids illustration by EastDakotaQuilter

nutcracker illustrations by EastDakotaQuilter

Note: The pages were cropped down in Shutterfly, which meant the wonky edges were all edited out. Text was also added over the images where you see blank space.

Hope you all had a nice holiday!

I am seeing a lot of resolutions for the new year on Instagram, and I am pleasantly surprised that most other quilters/sewers are posting about 4-5 projects each. Sometimes I feel like I am the slowest finisher EVER! Knowing that other people have a similar number of creative goals for the year makes me happy… even if it’s not a good idea to compare. Thanks to slow progress in 2013 (a project begun in July), I almost have my first finish of 2014! I’ll post when it’s done. For now, I just wanted to focus on the great creative start to a new year.


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The Big Move… and a New Sewing Room!

I loved living in Chicago; however, I am settling happily into my new place in the Washington D.C. Metro Area. The proximity to other destinations along the east coast is really exciting. Perhaps best of all? My new sewing room!

My boyfriend built a pegboard for my sewing supplies, and I finally have someplace to hang the only oil painting I’ve ever made so Myrna Loy is not smirking at you while you watch TV, use the restroom, etc.

EastDakotaQuilter_sewing_room

Here’s a close-up of some of the things I keep on my pegboard:

EastDakotaQuilter_sewing_room

 I have a place to spread out my Marcelle Medallion while I’m working on it so it doesn’t get crushed:

EastDakotaQuilter_marcelle_medallion

The room is doubling for now as a guest room, and there is some spillover with extra books. (*cough cough* The dresser might be full of fabric, though. And all the plastic tubs and blue crates, too.)

EastDakotaQuilter_sewing_room

Here’s my sewing machine. She’s on her last leg, but goodness, I love her!

EastDakotaQuilter_sewing_view

I even have room for some family heirlooms!

EastDakotaQuilter_iron_heirloom

 

I still have a lot of unpacking and organizing to do (and wall space to fill – yay!), but I love that I have a dedicated creative space. I hope to get back on track with this blog and begin to post more projects in the next few weeks.


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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!


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How Marcelle Medallion Brought Balance to My Week

I completed the center of my Marcelle Medallion quilt… finally! I’ve been spending much less time indoors with the nice spring weather, plus I have been hosting visitors from out of town, including my parents. But I’m pleased with the result now that it’s finally done:

MM center by EastDakotaQuilter

MM center block by EastDakotaQuilter

In particular, I’m happy to have made it through the y-seams. I tried four different times the first night and started to think that I’d either cut the fabric crooked or was lining it up wrong until a quick google search revealed that marking is really important with y-seams. I was under the impression it was a waste of my time. I mean, it was easy to line up the other pieces! (Hmmm… this flat end must line up with that corner…) But that whole trick of marking the y-seam corners was magic.

I am finding in blogland that quilters often apologize for imperfections. I myself planned to throw in a comment that my y-seams still weren’t perfect, but that I’m happy with them because they add character, right? Then I realized: quilting is probably the one area of my life where I don’t fret about imperfections. It is so liberating to decide a y-seam is good enough and seriously not give it another moment’s thought. It might not be the reason I started sewing, but it’s definitely the reason I’m still doing it. I had to laugh when I thought what it would mean if I used the same philosophy at work: Well, the acquisition is finished and the employment contracts are drafted, but I couldn’t work out the details of the non-compete clause, so I left it out. Now the former employees are starting a competing business across the street. It adds character to our business! Yeah, that’d get me fired. But my y-seams definitely have character. 🙂

I have the fabric for the remainder of the quilt and I’ve planned which fabrics to use for most of the borders. The hardest part of the quilt, the center square, is complete. I’m really looking forward to seeing the final product, imperfections and all!

MM center by EastDakotaQuilter

MM Fabrics by EastDakotaQuilter

MM planning by EastDakotaQuilter


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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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Sampler Quilt Update: First 12 Blocks

Lest anyone worry I abandoned my quilt, I wanted to post a status update. I have actually completed the first dozen blocks between other projects.

I am really concerned about doing the quilting myself. I think I can manage straight lines and the quilt-as-you-go method, but I don’t want the backstitching to show, and hiding all the threads with an open-eye needle seems like a lot more work than I bargained for. Perhaps I can ponder this while sewing the next dozen blocks? I’m really excited that at least that the fabrics look nice together and my corners line up (if you don’t look to closely)!

12 sampler blocks