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Friday finishes

Ironing Board WIP, by StitchifiedAfter years of dedicated service, my ironing board cover was pretty sad looking. Nothing like spray starch, interfacing gunk, and burn marks to make an iron cover feel loved, right? Truth be told, I meant to make a new cover ages ago and picked up some canvas at IKEA. But the project was pushed to the side, and the old cover got progressively (and impressively!) worse and worse.

New Ironing Board Cover, by Stitchified

But, no more! Check out my shiny new ironing board cover! The entire project took just a few hours thanks to Amanda Jean’s tutorial. Threading elastic through the very long casing is no picnic, but the finished product seriously makes me happy every time I use it! And, yes, I know that choosing white canvas for my cover was a brilliant move. It is sure to wear well, and that bright white will definitely hide the inevitable stains. Ingenious decision making, really :)

Vintage Inspired Penguin Plush, by StitchifiedBut my biggest victory this week came in penguin form. As some of you know, I have been struggling to finalize a penguin prototype for weeks now. I was inspired by a vintage pattern by Pamela Peake, and after a complete overhaul, I am finally happy with my version. I smoothed out some of his lines, and rounded out others — playing up the vintage charm while giving him a modern update. Now he is plucky and perfectly chubby in all the right places. Huzzah!

A trio of penguin prototypes, by StitchifiedMy better half has adopted the earlier prototypes (read: he won’t let me toss them!). So, I’m happy to report that they will live out the rest of their lives with us and the littles. We’re becoming a regular Island of Misfit Toys!

Linking up with Finish It Up Friday!

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Most nights I sit down at my sewing machine and accomplish something. It might be a quilt block, a stuffed animal’s face, a bit of embroidery — some small bit of satisfaction that carries me through to my next stitch-fix. But the past few days? Not so much. I have been wrestling with a new prototype, and I have nothing to show for it. Well, ok, *almost* nothing.

Penguin Prototype, by Stitchified

I have clipped, resewn, redrafted and seam-ripped my way to a more acceptable version of this little guy, but I’m not there yet. And while throwing in the towel is a very appealing option, my husband is encouraging me to push a little bit harder to do right by Mr. Penguin.

And so here I am, futzing around with freezer paper templates. Over and over again until I get it right. This time in bright orange and chocolate brown — Am I the only one who prototypes in increasingly gaudy colors?

WIPMaybe I’ll spend tomorrow distracting myself with a new project. I’ve totally jumped on the La Passacaglia band wagon and have been loving every second of slow stitching. I’m planning to do a small mini for my sewing room. I have to be *the* slowest EPPer ever though, so even the mini might take me years. It blows my mind how folks manage the full quilt!

A photo posted by Jen (@stitchified) on

A photo posted by Jen (@stitchified) on

Linking up with Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday!

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2015 Recap

2015 has been an amazing year for me — we settled in as a family of four, slowed our lifestyle down as my husband transitioned into becoming a SAHD, and spent more time being mindful of the things that matter. I feel so incredibly fortunate!

I was also pretty productive this year on the sewing front, especially towards the end of the year. There were quite a few quilts:

Quilt Collage 2015, by Stitchified

A hexie quilt for a friend’s son, my first legit mini quilt for my mom (hi Mom!) using Cotton +Steel basics and a doublegoosed pattern from jelliquilts, a scrappy HST and patchwork quilt for another friend’s daughter, and a scrappy flying goose quilt and delight quilt  for my youngest.

And there was a plethora of toy-making:

2015 Toys, by Stitchified

A unicorn plush for SewMamaSew’s soft toy drive, twin confetti yetis, a fluffy purple guinea pig, a parliament of owls, doll clothes, a velveteen rabbit, a group of mice, and even some baby toys. I also perfected my pattern for cloth dolls, based off a pattern by Jill Hamor. More on that in the New Year!

There was even a little bag making in 2015, thanks to some last minute teacher gifts.

Coarline Wristlets, by Stitchified

But the biggest sewing accomplishment in 2015 was absolutely my new sewing room. It has revolutionized my hobby in ways I couldn’t have imagined, and I credit it with my year end productivity. I also rounded out my sewing machine collection with a vintage zigzag machine, and while I cannot say my collection is complete… I can say that it is closer to complete :)

As I was looking back over my year of sewing, I realized two things: 1) I kept my sewing machines busy and 2) my blog was entirely too neglected. It’s always a compromise: spend what little free time I have writing and editing vs. jump right into sewing. But at the same time, I’m so glad to have this blog as a written record of my creations. So, that’s going to be my big goal for 2016 — more consistent blogging! Other goals for 2016 include:

  • Improved photography – a close family friend was kind enough to give me a lesson. I hope to put his tutelage to good use!
  • Get back to my Economy Block quilt
  • Finally quilt my sister’s wedding quilt. Does that mean I have to learn to use a long arm? I don’t know, but it’s time to decide!
  • More sewing with my oldest – She has a few small projects under her belt and is getting more independent with the machine. I’m looking forward to more mother-daughter sewing days.

How about all of you? What were your favorite finishes in 2015, and what are you planning for 2016?

Linking up with Crazymomquilts and wishing you all a safe and happy New Year!

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A Handmade Christmas

Santa’s elves were especially busy this year. I entered what I lovingly dubbed the “Bonus Round” of Christmas making, and still managed to finish the very last present just before midnight on the 22nd. In previous years I’ve sewed past midnight on Christmas Eve, so I’m marking this year as a solid victory!

Here we have the Christmas toy line up in an early phase, before some of them had to go in the mail:

Handmade Christmas Toys, by Stitchified

The confetti yeti is the long lost twin of a yeti who now lives in California with my cousin. He is made from long shag faux fur and white fleece using the Confetti Yeti pattern. Working with faux fur should be a four letter word, but it’s done so we’ll use a ten letter word instead — Hallelujah!

The velveteen rabbit is for my niece, who is almost two. I’m sending along a copy of Margery Williams’s book as well (you can find my post with my feelings about this wonderful book here). Her bunny is made of cotton velour in fawn and baby pink; with organic cotton sherpa for his tummy and little cotton tail. I hope she loves him!

The little pink haired doll was commissioned by a close family friend for her granddaughter. I only just finalized the pattern for these dolls (based on a pattern by Jill Hamor of Bybido), and I was thrilled to put this together. More about dolls in the New Year!

The grumpy owl pincushion snuck into the Christmas line up, though he’s actually a belated birthday present. Oh, and he is missing his eyebrows in the photo lineup. He is made from Heather Bailey’s “Edgar Owl and Poe” pattern.  I love this pattern! There are a lot of little parts, but it all comes together in a really cool way. This is my third time making an owl, but my first time adding eyebrows. Here he is with his eyebrows, right before he jumped in the mail.

EdgarOwl, by Stitchified

I love him and was very tempted to keep him! He has since joined my good friend MamaPeaches in her craft cave. Happy Birthday, MamaPeaches!

I also made two outfits for my niece’s collection of Monster High Dolls. At my SIL’s request, I tried to make the clothing a little more, um, modest. Not an easy task because because the whole process made me feel like a crotchety old lady saying things like “when I was a kid…”. Haha! The first dress is a sheath dress in yellow. The second dress (below) is a little halter top number with a vintage-inspired full skirt, and a little taffeta under-skirt to help fill out said skirt.The halter dress even accommodates her wings, so yay! Both dresses are fully lined. If anyone is interested in the pattern, please let me know. I didn’t make a formal pattern, but if there’s interest I could put one together.

Halter Dress for Monster High Doll, by Stitchifed

And the last of the toys include three little mice, who are pincushions to a few of my in-laws who are aspiring sewists! The pattern for these came from Love Patchwork and Quilting. Once they have pins in them, they can double as hedgehogs. Here’s an extra picture of the three of them ready for wrapping :)

Pincushion Mice, by Stitchified

DoubleGoosed Mini, by Stitchified

I even made a few things that weren’t toys! There’s this lovely mini quilt, which is a wall hanging for my mom’s office. I love this pattern (double goosed by Jeliquilts!) almost as much as I love Cotton + Steel, so it seemed like a good combination. I had a lovely time piecing this one – just some mindless stitching while I watched The Great British Baking Show on my iPad.

OMGMagicDreamCloud, by Stitchified

I also made a very special blanket with Nani Iro and wool batting. I am officially calling this blanket a “OMGMagicDreamCloud Blanket” because it is truly all of those things. If the materials weren’t so very very pricey I would make one for myself (and maybe make it three times as large!). I ordered the fabric way in advance from Japan, and almost panicked when I wasn’t able to find the wool batting online with Amazon Prime. I managed to find a package and get it delivered in time, but it was awfully close! If you’re interested in making your own OMGMagicDreamCloud Blanket, you can find the tutorial here.

 

Coarline Wristlets, by Stitchified

And last, but not least I threw together three Coraline wristlets for my daughter’s Montessori teachers. Swoon patterns are fantastic, though for me, there is always a little bit of a learning curve — I am not a bag maker! These came out just fine, though I did struggle with a wonky zipper on the first one I made. Sometimes it’s good to stretch yourself — I always learn a lot when sewing one of Alicia’s patterns!

 

Quilted Baby Lovey, by Stitchified

Even my oldest daughter got into the holiday making and sewed the baby a new lovey. She pieced the quilt top all by herself (seriously!) and backed it with some minky. I did handle the rotary cutter because she’s not allowed to use that until she’s 21! I also took care of the quilting and put the binding on, but still! Not bad for a freshly minted five year old!

Phew! As you can see, it was a very handmade Christmas over here. I loved making this year’s presents, though I am a little glad that crunch time is over.  Now it’s time to settle in with a nice scotch. Happy Holidays!

Linking up with Finish it Up Friday!

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Santa’s workshop has kicked into high gear over here, and it has left me with very little that I can safely share! On the bright side, once the gifts have been given and there’s no more risk of spoiling the surprise I’ll have plenty of makes to share. In the meantime, I do have a few finishes to share for Finish It Up Friday.

Hexi stocking, by Stitchified

The first is a stocking for our new baby which has been in my WIP pile for the better part of a year. It feels great to finally get it done! I made the rest of the family’s stockings almost three years ago, as one of my very first sewing projects. It was pretty entertaining to go back and revisit an old project. I remembered it being a little more involved, but this one really did get slapped together quickly and without issue. I designed the baby’s stocking to compliment her big sister’s, by choosing a similar color palette of lime, pink and aqua. To piece the stocking, I used a mini hex-n-more ruler and rocked a lot of baby wearing. I’m happy to say that my piecing lined up pretty well, which is good because tiny piecing + having to rip out a million stitches makes me cranky! So, there we have it, one last stocking to represent the baby who finished completed our little family of four.

Family Stockings, by Stitchified

I love seeing all four stockings hanging on the wall. Each one is as individual as its owner, but they all work well together — it’s like our family, but in stocking form.

My second project was a little last minute, but a lot of fun. We had the pleasure of meeting up with some friends and their new baby a few days after Thanksgiving, but I didn’t have time around a sewing machine over the Thanksgiving break. So I quickly cut out a few pentagons and hand stitched a set of stuffed toy balls (haha, there must be a nice way to phrase that? Hmm…) with EPP. The baby has a little Boston Terrier at home, so I was pretty excited to find the perfect fabric in my stash. I added a bit of crinkly paper and a makeshift raffle and BOOM! Insta-baby present.

EPP baby toy, by Stitchified

And now I’m diving back in to finish up some last minute Christmas gifts to put under the tree. Wishing all my readers the best of luck with their holiday sewing!

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The herd is growing again!

Brother select o matic, restored by Stitchified

I love vintage sewing machines. Their all metal construction, brilliant engineering, and retro lines make me swoon. I wish I could bring home every vintage machine I come across, but I’m pretty much at capacity over here. So I’ve tried to be selective and hold out for the perfect vintage zigzag machine. And that is why I pretty much imploded when I came across a craigslist ad for this beauty — my dream vintage zigzag machine, a Brother Super Select-o-matic or Brother HZ3B3 Model 100. It took a week to coordinate the sale, but it was so worth it. Restoring it took a couple of weeks, but I’m so in love with her now that she’s finished!

Before picture from craigslist ad

Before picture from the Craigslist ad. Such a dirty girl <3

The seller was an absolutely lovely woman. If we had had more time I could have spent hours talking to her! She explained that the machine had belonged to her late mother in law and hadn’t been used in years and years. Another fun fact? This beast is H-E-A-V-Y. In its solid 8 drawer cabinet, the machine easily weighs over 100 pounds. I’m sure my husband and I were quite the picture maneuvering this behemoth out of a second floor bedroom, but we succeeded.

Brother select o matic, restored by Stitchified

Action shot: cabinet restoration

I spent two weeks restoring the cabinet, which was definitely showing its age. It took over a dozen coats of Tung Oil and a lot of elbow grease, but it looks a million times better. It is still a little weathered looking, but I love it. It’s the perfect vintage piece to ground an otherwise bright space.

Brother select o matic, restored by Stitchified

The machine itself was really very clean inside, but the outside? Not so much. There was a lot of odd yellow staining. And.it.was.stubbon.  Given its age, I assume that it was nicotine staining? I used a lot of Qtips and barkeeper’s friend to remove the stains and polish the chrome. Unfortunately, I took off a little paint getting rid of the staining. I feel pretty badly about that, but I couldn’t leave it as it was either.

Originally, it had been wired with a knee control, but the lever was very squeaky and the cords felt brittle. So, I picked up a new cord block and switched over to a shiny new foot peddle. Once the machine was thoroughly cleaned I oiled it well — it’s been purring like a kitten ever since.

This machine is seriously fun stuff. It looks like an old vintage car with its powder blue paint job and shiny chrome knobs. But what really puts it over the top is the red “Switch Over Knob” which spins as it does the embroidery stitches. Totally gratuitous and squeal worthy! I’m adding a video because it really is too cool not to share.

A video posted by Jen (@stitchified) on

But she isn’t all looks, no, no. This baby sports a 1.2 amp motor — that’s twice as strong as my Janome Horizon. When you put the pedal to the metal, there is a slight but noticeable breeze — it seriously feels like it might take off and I love it! It goes through leather, vinyl, and canvas like butter. She uses a standard class 15 bobbin, so finding replacement parts (if I ever need them!) will be easy. I also love the way her gib pops open with a “snap-out race hook,” no screwdriver needed. It makes removing stray threads a snap (literally!), instead of a nightmare (ahem, I’m looking at you little Featherweight). I can’t wait to make bags on her! Or you know, maybe sailboat sails. Just because I can.

Linking up with Finish it Up Friday!

Pop out race hook

Genius engineering at work: Snap out race hook on the Brother Super Select-o-matic

As a PSA, I’m going to include some more nitty gritty info about this machine. There is very little info about this model on the internet, and I couldn’t find a manual anywhere online. The manufacturer didn’t even have a manual for this model, though they did provide a manual for an earlier model. So, feel free to stop reading here, though you’re welcome to dork out with me below :)

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This machine is a “Brother Super Select-O-Matic” aka “Brother HZ3B3 Model 100,” and was manufactured by Brother in Japan, likely in the 1960s. An earlier version of this machine, “the Select-o-Matic” had a differently shaped Stitch Width Window which was located further to the left. A later version, the “Brother 210” is also similar, but replaced the Stitch Regulator with a reverse button, did away with the separate Stitch Selector Knob, and flipped the bobbin on to the horizontal axis. There is a great blog post about the 210 (and related machines) by Brooke at Custom Style here.

Like other Japanese made machines of the time, these machines were sold as badged machines in the US. That is, the seller’s brand was added on top of or in addition to “Brother” once the machines arrived stateside. As a result, this machine and other “Select-o-matic” models were sold under dozens of brands including Atlas, Wizard, and Coronado just to name a few. Crazy, huh?

As you might imagine, badged machines are notoriously difficult to track. They all have different model names, and even the manufacturer didn’t keep track of serial numbers or production years. I was very fortunate to find the original manual and warranty card in one of the cabinet drawers. I am uploading a copy of the manual (here: Brother Super Select-o-Matic Manual) and created a little diagram below to help explain how this machine works. I also found a Ruffler in the accessories box, complete with instructions. Here’s a copy of the instructions for that, too: Brother Ruffler Attachment – Manual.Diagram Brother Super Select-O-matic, by Stitchified

The machine has three modes: automatic zigzag, semi-automatic, and manual zigzag. The modes are accessed by manipulating the Switch Over Knob (Pull out for automatic and semi-automatic zigzagging, push in for manual zigzagging). The automatic mode is very familiar for modern sewists. In automatic mode you select your settings, and then the machine sews a given stitch (straight or zigzag). But the semi-automatic and manual modes? Whoa, baby. In those modes, the user *manually* swings the Needle Position Knob from left to right in timing with the Stitch Width Window to produce custom embroidery stitches. No, I’m not kidding you. It’s insane.  To quote the manual in all of its vintage glory:

“The variety of zig-zag designs that can be made on this machine by simple manual manipulation is unlimited. It depends entirely on the creative ability of the operator and the skill acquired in timing the movement of [the Switch Over Knob] with the stitch width.”

Well, thank you 1960s for the condescension. I’m not ashamed to admit that this operator has not acquired this skill. I’m seriously awful at it. Haha :)

Alright, that’s all the info I have. If you read this far thank you for indulging me and my dork-out session!

Happy sewing!

 

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My new sewing room

When I first started sewing a few years ago, I would setup shop in the office. Every night I would put away my (crappy! infuriating!) computerized Singer sewing machine and tidy up my mess. Back then, all my fabric fit in one box (haha!) and I would work on one project at at time (LOL). So keeping things tidy was really very manageable.

But within a year I caught the quilting bug, and my fabric collection had became an unwieldy stash. I purchased a big girl sewing machine, and then a smaller Janome for travel, and then a Singer Featherweight. Around that time I started taking over the dining room. For awhile I was diligent and put everything away at night, and then um, I wasn’t. All my sewing stuff piled up with intermittent spells of “Oh my god, company is coming! Hide it all!”

Recently my husband pointed out that “there sure is a lot of dining room furniture in the sewing room, why is that exactly?” It was hard to admit that the dining room had finally lost the war, but it really had. And so, about three weeks ago, we officially began converting the space to a sewing room. Life changing! For the first time ever I can actually see what I have! Sitting in this space makes me so happy, even if it is a work in progress. Shall we take a mini tour of the place so far?

Sewing Room

First up we have a set of three BILLY bookshelves (from IKEA), which are sitting on (still-need-to be-painted) risers so they sit flush against the wall. This set is enormous and gives me plenty of room to display my fabric, fabric cutters, books, pincushions, and my favorite vintage toy sewing machine. I plan to add a curtain for some of the lower shelves to help hide the unsightly side of sewing (I’m looking at you fabric cutters!). And, of course, there is the obligatory craft room TASTRUP rug and little wooden mannequin. They make me silly happy!

I have to say, IKEA really is an awesome one stop shop for organizational goodies. While I was there I picked up a bunch of little organizer baskets and a 4 gallon KNODD bin, which is perfect for storing my unsorted scraps in. I also picked up an ALEX cart which holds all my WIPs, rulers, etc. Organizational bliss, I tell you!

There is still a lot to do in this space. For one, I need to retro-fit one of these sewing cabinets to fit my Janome Horizon. Once that’s done, the cabinet will get a fresh coat of creamy white paint and we’ll be good to go. The other sewing cabinet is newly refinished and houses my new-to-me vintage zigzag machine. More on that in a future post!

I also have plans to add a design wall to this space. I’ve been wanting a design wall for ages, and can’t wait to build it! I also hope to squeeze in a peg board to help organize some of my tools. And then there’s the matter of an old treadle machine that followed me home — I need to find a place for her to live in this new space, too. Maybe then she’ll get some much needed attention, haha.

Ok, there we have it — One WIP sewing room! Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced!

Happy sewing!

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Playing catch up

Hello hello, my poor neglected blog! It’s been too long and I have so much to catch up on! I’ve had a very busy and productive couple months, even if I wasn’t able to keep up with it here on the blog. I did manage to take some pictures along the way though, so for this week’s Finish It Up Friday let’s do a quick recap… let’s see…

Birthday presents were made. Yes, that is totally a guinea pig in purple faux fur. Because, why not? I’m happy to report that he delighted my 8 year old niece.

Guinea Pig, by Stitchified

Late baby quilts were finished for our newest (and last!) addition. This one went right from the dryer on to the baby, so all my pictures are of it in use. Oh well, who doesn’t love chunky babies on their quilts?

Flying Geese Quilt, by Stitchified

My best friend from college welcomed an adorable little boy, and I made my first ever baby quilt for a boy! I’ve been hoarding these fabrics from Birch Fabrics for years now, and I was so glad to put them to good use. I’m particularly proud of the quilting on this one, check out those tiny quilted stars!

Boy Baby Quilt, by Stitchified

And there was this character, who my youngest cousin is entirely smitten with. Actually, I am too. He is now affectionately known as “cousin Melvin.” He was finished in the car enroute to his new home, so please excuse the odd background, haha!

Confetti Yeti, by Stitchified

A new pincushion was made… and then my oldest designed a stuffed animal version (pictured right). She had a blast, and those color choices? Hilariously awesome. Plus, that face is pretty priceless :)

Owl Pincushions, by Stitchified

Another good friend welcomed a baby girl, which was the perfect excuse to use some scraps. You know you love someone (and their child) when you dip into your Heather Ross stash!

HST quilt, by Stitchified

Phew, ok, I think those are all my major makes. Feels good to get caught up, thank you!

I also have some fantastic news to share, though I’m going to hold on to it for a bit longer. It will help encourage me to get back into the blogging habit. Update to follow!

Happy Sewing!

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Introducing Nexus Moon

I’m still on a blogging-hiatus, but I just couldn’t resist playing along with the other makers in the 6 Weeks of Softies contest. If you haven’t checked it out, you should! There is such an amazing showcase of talent going on over there. Thank you to the organizers and sponsors for putting together a great lineup!

My entry was made with a very special girl or boy in mind, but more on that later. Meet Nexus Moon — She is a one of kind unicorn who loves dance parties, reading books under the covers, and cuddle time.

Nexus Moon, by Stitchified

She was made in a silky royal purple corduroy accented by a plush white velour blaze and under-body. Her hooves are made from soft genuine leather and slightly weighted. Her horn was painstakingly crafted from sparkly fabric (seriously, you should see the pile of reject horns that failed to turn correctly). Her mane is an all natural bulky weight wool yarn in variegated purple. Her seams are triple sewn so that she is truly adventure-ready. And, like all my toys, Nexus Moon is stuffed with 100% clean carded wool and filled with “hugs” from the preschooler in residence.

Nexus Moon, by Stitchified

Nexus Moon was adapted from Jill Hamor’s “Vintage Horse” pattern.  In addition to the sparkly unicorn horn, I’ve also modified her hooves, muzzle, legs and mane.

Nexus Moon, by Stitchified

I’ve also included a few details and embellishments for maximum play-ability. She is sporting a removable bridle made from sparkly silver ribbon and iridescent purple flowers. She can be dressed up or down thanks to her fully reversible saddle…  One side features crystal gemstones in a sea of “morning glory” peppered cotton. Un-snap the saddle to turn it over, and presto, her saddle becomes a coordinating floral print from Rashida Coleman’s Koi Collection.

6WeeksOfSofties 017

Regular readers know that I adore sharing my softies with children, but Nexus Moon has an extra special job ahead of her:  She is being boxed up and donated to a soft toy drive to benefit children in foster care, sponsored by Sew Mama Sew. I couldn’t be more thrilled to share her with a child who needs a little more magic in his/her life. I know Nexus Moon has fabulous adventures ahead of her; and I can’t wait for her to meet her new best friend!

Nexus Moon, by Stitchified

 

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Blogging break

We welcomed a happy healthy baby girl in mid-November, and waved buh-bye to a hugely difficult pregnancy with hyperemesis. We couldn’t be happier!  I’m still sewing when I can (read: in five minute increments with a baby strapped to me!), but blogging just isn’t happening between work and home. Kids have these “needs” like eating — pretty selfish, really. Haha :)

I’ll be back to the blog once things settle down here. In the meantime, please follow me on instagram @stitchified. I would love it if you came by to say hello!

Baby Girl

 

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