East Dakota Quilter


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Sewing A Rag Doll

I have gotten some great gifts from my Great Aunt Carol over the years, but perhaps the most-loved of all were the dolls she sent my sister and me one year for Christmas. The dolls were the same style without being identical, which we loved. I named mine Elise; my sister named hers Gretchen. Here we are opening the presents. (I’m on the left with the new permanent teeth and awesome gold scrunchie.)

Christmas Dolls

Some of my earliest sewing (and hot gluing) projects were clothes for Elise. My sister and I created a doll suitcase out of a gutted casette tape holder. We loved the dolls and still have them–only a little worse for wear.

dolls from carol by EastDakotaQuilter

Remembering how much I loved my own doll, I wanted to make a doll for my friend’s daughter–the same girl who received the first quilt I ever made and the Sunday Brunch Jacket. I scoured the internet for a pattern. None of them seemed right. I concluded I didn’t just like having a doll, I liked having the specific style of doll I received from Carol–not too big, not too small, and cuddly. I had to make that doll.

Fortunately, my mom was able to help me create a similar pattern.

doll by EastDakotaQuilter

I bought the materials when my friend’s little girl was born… two years ago this Easter Sunday! But I was too scared to start. I was especially worried about sewing the hair. For one thing, my mom’s pattern didn’t have a seam in the back like Carol’s did, and Elise had yarn hair sewn into the back seam. For another, I wasn’t certain exactly how much hair (yarn) would be needed. And I was scared the yarn would be difficult to distribute evenly. What if it was thin on top and bunched at the nape of her neck as I worked my way down the seam?!

It wasn’t as bad as I expected, but I will say I have an even greater appreciation for the doll Carol made me after trying to make one of my own!!! I definitely learned a few tricks in the process. And she looked like Frankenstein in the process.

unfinished doll by EastDakotaQuilter

One of my favorite things about the doll I got from Great Aunt Carol was the number of outfits she had. She could be dressed for tea one moment and wearing pajamas the next. I knew I wanted to make several outfits for this doll, too. My favorite is the pair of pantaloons made out of a lacy material.outfits by EastDakotaQuilter

doll outfits by EastDakotaQuilter

I also made one of Jeni’s drawstring bags to hold the extra doll clothes. She was gifted wearing the outfit most like a salwar kameez.

clothes bag by EastDakotaQuilter

My friend’s little girl scooped the doll up to give her a big hug right away. She “changed the doll’s diaper” (pantaloons) and wiped the baby with a baby wipe. Then she put the doll on a chair, realized it was as big as she was, and got scared, haha.

Did you have a favorite doll, or do you have a favorite doll pattern? Little girls seem to remember their favorite childhood dolls, so I hope this will be a happy part of my friend’s sweet little girl’s childhood.

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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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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.