East Dakota Quilter


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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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Colonial Knots Tutorial

As my blog name implies, if there is a project I can’t figure out on my own, I run to Google or Pinterest for help. I found lots of helpful tutorials for embroidery stitches online, including this series by Rocksea (links on the right).

Most tutorials do a great job of showing where the needle should go into and come out of the fabric by using an A-B-C method. I found it was a little difficult to follow for knots since knots are created by winding the floss around your needle, not by the order in which you pull the needle through the fabric. Photo tutorials can be difficult to see. I also found there is a lot more content about French knots than colonial knots. Here’s my tutorial, which I hope clarifies some of the questions I had when I first tried to make a colonial knot:

colonial_knots_tutorial_by craftprowler

The descriptive version is:

From the embroidery piece, place the floss over your needle. Continue to pull it under the needle then back up toward the needle tip. Loop the floss around the tip of the needle. Put your needle back into your embroidery piece a few strands away from where the floss came out of the fabric. I like to pull the floss until the knot is up against the needle (instead of in the middle of the strand of floss), then press my thumb gently against the needle to prevent the knot from moving up the strand of floss. Otherwise, you can end up with a knot in your thread instead of where the knot is intended to be.

This is a photo of the floss placement:

colonial knot photo by craftprowler

This is what some finished knots look like:

colonial knots by craftprowler

Now that I am finished with my Gatsby embroidery (I’ve seen the movie, and thank goodness I still like the book!), I have been working again on my Barn Quilt. I used the full six strands for the Gatsby piece, but I am using only three strands for the Barn Quilt.

I was cutting an arm’s length of floss, separating it into two sets of three strands each, then using one set while trying not to tangle the other. I wished I had multiple, pre-separated strands ready to use. I saw this post on the PrettyByHand blog about some beautiful Lecien embroidery floss bobbins that hold 3+ skeins of floss and decided to recycle the idea for my Barn Quilt project. I cut a cardboard piece (it came with a fat quarter of fabric) into these simple cards/bobbins:

floss bobbin by craftprowler

Each slot is smaller than a typical embroidery floss bobbin, both because there are fewer strands and because the length is much shorter. The cards have been working great so far!


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Stuffed Chicken [with Pouch] Tutorial

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

chickens by EastDakotaQuilter

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

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

Materials needed:

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

Instructions

1. Print the pattern four times.

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

adding seam allowance by EastDakotaQuilter

Trace the chicken pieces as follows:

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

parts of a chicken drawing by EastDakotaQuilter

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

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

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

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

3. Cut the following pieces of fabric:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

inside chicken by EastDakotaQuilter

Uses:

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

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


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Sewing an Owl Purse

Prowl: Madeleine bag by Imagine Gnats

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

Then the project turned into a nightmare.

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

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

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

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

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

finished owl purse

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

cleaning pins

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


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New Medium – Coche Crochet

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

But this project didn’t quite go as planned.

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

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

Yarn

That was just the preparation to make my project mobile.

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

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

and

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

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

IMG_2049

 

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

crocheted edge blanket by dakota patchwork

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

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


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Project 2: From “I Made A Quilt” to “Quilter”

My first sewing project was a quilt–an ambitious project considering I didn’t even know how to thread my sewing machine. I had intended it to be a baby blanket, much smaller in size. Then I started thinking how a small blanket would be outgrown quickly, so I expanded the idea, ensuring my [forced] position in the baby’s life forever!

With plenty of leftover fabric scraps at the end of Project 1, I found that for my second project, I could revisit the idea of a baby quilt. I found a more advanced block (than squares, so it’s not saying much) to challenge myself, made it big, then googled binding. (For my original quilt, I hired help. I don’t think my poor, tired sewing machine could have handled a big quilt.) Purl Bee had some great instructions!